VICTUALLING WAREHOUSE MARITIME MUSEUM -- Casks and barrels, ships' riggings and sailors' clothing give a salty flavor to a visit to the historic port, in this exhibit called "Maritime Annapolis, 1751-91." 77 Main St., Annapolis. Daily 11-4:30. Adults, 50 cents, children 6-18, 25 cents. 301/268-5576. ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY LONDON TOWN PUBLIK HOUSE & GARDENS -- From Annapolis, you can take a boat over, dock at London Town and picnic here by the South River. The lovely gardens are a small-scale arboretum.

Like Annapolis, London Town was founded in 1683 as a port for shipping tobacco to England. But its heyday was the 1720s. London Town was the 12th ferry crossing from Williamsburg on the way to Philadelphia.

Only one building remains of the seaport -- the 1758 Publik House. This was an important part of the ferry stop here, well into the 1800s, long after the town died. Very plain from the outside, ye olde publik house looks like a red brick schoolhouse -- albeit a large one. (From 1828 to 1965, it was used as an Almshouse, which is probably why it's standing today.)

Inside, the informative 45-minute docent's tour halts in the central room where men used to gather for cards, backgammon and gambling. Once, a raucous band loaded up a ferry for a horse race with a big purse in Annapolis. The ferry sank, two people drowned, and every one else swam back to London Town and forgot about the race. That's tavern life for you. 839 Londontown Road off Route 253, Edgewater. Adults, $2; students (6-18) $1; under 6, free. Tuesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday noon-4. Closed January-February. 301/956-4900. BALTIMORE COUNTY ASIAN ARTS CENTER -- The collection ranges from a 14th-century Siamese covered bowl to contemporary Japanese pottery, here in the Roberts Gallery, Room 236 of the Fine Arts Building at Towson State University. Monday-Friday 10-4; Sunday 1-4. Free. 301/321-2807. BALTIMORE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY -- Saturday afternoons in the Almshouse, Baltimore County residents drop off their family treasures and junk, with a note card explaining that mother bought the ironer in 1925 for $40, and so forth.

And somehow the Historical Society finds a place for all the highbutton shoes -- maybe in the sewing room, bursting with laced and stayed corsets and billowing with petticoats and bristling with long slender hatpins. Quilts are consigned to the bedroom, to be layered one over the other on the four-poster. Perhaps there are sufficient flowers here made of human hair. And one dance card decorated with a dead yellow bird like a rosebud is enough.

The Almshouse, with its sun-flooded rooms, was used as a home for the destitute from 1872 to 1958. It was a place where they had to take you in. A lockup was used when residents came in roaring drunk. And outdoors behind the stone Almshouse still MARYLAND MUSEUMS ANNAPOLIS BANNEKER-DOUGLASS MUSEUM -- In the Old Mount Moriah African Methodist-Episcopal Church, the focal points are still the baptismal font and rail and the stained glass windows, one with the inscription, "Peace be within these walls." And so it is. In the Victorian Gothic building, this Afro-American community museum houses a small exhibit on "Everyday Life in Maryland's Past," with the requisite rug beater and coffee mill; and on Herbert M. Frisby, Arctic explorer, war correspondent and amateur ethnologist. Recent temporary shows have been on Martin Luther King and on blacks in the military. 84 Franklin St., Annapolis. Tuesday-Friday 10-3; weekends noon-4. Free. 301/269-3955. CHASE-LLOYD HOUSE -- If it smells like a bakery, that's because this elegant house, built by Samuel Chase, one of Maryland's four signers of the Declaration of Independence, is now a home for eight retired ladies of the Episcopal Diocese. It is they who most enjoy the balance and symmetry of the Georgian architecture here and its heavy Palladian influence. Although there is an elevator, the ladies prefer to carefully climb the cantilevered staircase -- past a two-story arched window framing a huge magnolia tree -- to the second-floor landing where niches display alabaster statues. The women eat their midday meal under the chandelier and ornate plasterwork in the dining room. There hangs the portrait of Mary Tayloe Lloyd, who married Francis Scott Key. The wedding took place in this house, and the same piano is here that must've rung out "The Wedding March." 22 Maryland Ave., Annapolis. Tours, first floor only, $1. Tuesday-Saturday 2-4. 301/263-2723. HAMMOND-HARWOOD HOUSE -- Another of the many Annapolis houses that predate the Revolution, this one was built by a young lawyer with high hopes for a marriage, one that never took place. The story goes that Mathias Hammond was so preoccupied with building a house for his lady-love that she eloped with someone else. Hammond hired English-trained William Buckland as architect. The house was built between 1774 and 1775, in the Maryland version of Palladio's five-part plan -- the central main house with two wings connected to it by "hyphens." With its Ionic columns and carved roses, the doorway is considered the most beautiful in what remains of colonial America.

On the eve of the Revolution, Hammond mysteriously retired to the country. Though he had dreamed of it as a house for the summer social season, he never danced there, nor enjoyed that bastion of male chauvinism, the smoking room, nor the men's gaming room, nor did a Hammond wife retire to the women's retiring room. But it is now decorated that way nonetheless -- with no fewer than nine portraits by Charles Willson Peale, and many furniture pieces done by John Shaw, noted Annapolis cabinetmaker, whose name is oft bandied about in the historic homes here. Maryland Avenue at King George Street, Annapolis. November-March, Tuesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 1-4. April-October, Tuesday-Saturday 10-5; Sunday 2-5. Adults $2.50; 18 and under, $1.50; 6 and under, free. 301/269-1714. MARYLAND STATE HOUSE -- In the Old Senate Chamber, the Revolution ended when George Washington resigned his military commission there in 1783. Or so says the tape recording one listens to, while regarding the ancient desks and chairs and the G.W. mannequin straining to speak. Exhibits on Maryland history here as well, in the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use, built between 1772 and 1779. The Tourist Information Center is located here. State Circle, Annapolis. Daily 9-5. Free. 301/269-3400. WILLIAM PACA HOUSE -- From about 1900, the Paca House was the entrance to a 200-room hotel (with 20 bathrooms) built behind it, where the visiting parents of Naval Academy midshipmen were wont to stay. By 1965, the house was slated for demolition to make way for a high-rise condo. Preservationists prevailing, this 1763 Georgian mansion was rescued and restored, its pleasure gardens especially lonely -- a keeper's family could only come aboard for two weeks a year.

As much of Navy Point where the museum stands was an oyster shell dump, it's appropriate that an exhibit tells how oysters are gathered. A visit to the Waterfowling Shed reveals all about market hunters, and the Boat Shop shows what's what in boatcraft to make everything shipshape. Navy Point, St. Michaels. Daily 10-4 (10-5 during Daylight Savings Time); Saturdays in the summer, 10-7. January-mid-March, weekends only 10-4. Adults $4; senior citizens $3; children 6-17 $1. 301/745-2916. HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TALBOT COUNTY -- The museum here concentrates on local history, with changing shows from local gardens to the Shakers (the subject of this summer's exhibit). Tuesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 1-4. Adults, $2; children 50 cents. Call ahead about touring the two houses next door. These are an 1810 federal-style townhouse and a 1795 cottage that belonged to the Neall Brothers, both Quakers and both cabinetmakers. 25 S. Washington St., Easton. House tours: adults, $2; children, 50 cents. 301/822-0773. OXFORD MUSEUM -- As Oxford was the first port of entry into Maryland, we find here log books of the early sailing vessels, portraits of captains, ship models, as well as the usual local memorabilia such as bridal dresses. But don't try to donate your local memorabilia to it; the museum doesn't take anything that isn't purely "Oxfordian." Morris and Market Streets. Mid-April through October, Friday through Sunday 2-5. Free. 301/226-5331. OLD JAIL MUSEUM -- The county jail wasn't used much during its time here (1857-1940), except during prohibition. But St. Mary's County did not take kindly to prohibition, and therefore, when members of the community, some of them prominent, were arrested for moonshining, they would only spend a few hours a day in jail. In the morning, they'd check in, then play cards, then go fishing in the afternoons. In the evenings they went home to their families. Sort of a work-release program.

The jail remains a pretty quiet place, as it is the St. Mary's County Historical Society headquarters, library and museum. Here are the furnishings of a female prisoner's cell, and of a doctor's office, representing a 65-year career (he made house calls 'til he retired in 1980). On display here as well are artifacts unearthed in the county -- mostly Indian and a 15-million-year-old whale head fossil. 11 Court Drive, Leonardtown, on the Courthouse lawn. Tuesday-Saturday 10-4. Free. 301/475-2467. ST. CLEMENT'S ISLAND-POTOMAC MUSEUM -- The first Marylanders landed on St. Clement's Island in 1634. However, modern boats are having a little trouble getting there. Boat service to the island from the museum has been temporarily suspended because of flood damage to piers, but may be resumed in mid-summer. Then once again the game preserve can lure visitors into feeling like Robinson Crusoes among the osprey and heron.

On the mainland, the Potomac Museum houses a Maryland history exhibit -- from Woodland Indians through English occupation through the tobacco industry and the watermen's life. It's a community center as well, with a panoramic view of the Potomac. Weekends, noon-6. Memorial Day-October 1, weekdays 9-5, weekends noon-6. Annual Point Lookout Ghost Tour, October 18, by reservation. Bay View Road, Colton's Point. Free. Call the museum to find out if the boat is running and what the fare is. 301/769-2222. SOTTERLY ON THE PATUXENT -- The sheep flecking the rolling hills, the river sparkling beyond -- no wonder this mansion has been lived in since the early 1700s. Growing grain as well as raising sheep and turkeys, the plantation is still a working one.

The house's low-slung white exterior belies the elegance inside -- the Chinese Chippendale staircase and the candlelit drawing room with cut-crystal wall sconces and Sheffield silver candelabra. On the grounds are an original slave cabin, a farm museum (in the 1757 customs warehouse), an 18th-century forge and an 18th-century working smokehouse (the plantation sells the hams to visitors).

On Route 245, three miles off route 235, in Hollywood. June-September, daily 11-5. Other times by appointment. Closed January-March. Adults $4; children 6-12 $1. 301/373-2280. TALBOT COUNTY CHESAPEAKE BAY MARITIME MUSEUM -- At St. Michaels Harbor on the Miles River, the museum takes a long look through history at the watermen's life on the Bay. Even in foul weather, this is a pretty setting for the museum's 15 outbuildings. From atop a transplanted lighthouse is a fine vista of the river, with little inlets cut everywhere along the shoreline, more cutouts than Matisse. The towering 1879 Hooper's Strait lighthouse was moved here in 1966 by the museum. It was days. Split-rail fences run crinkum-crankum down the cedar lane that lines the fields of colonial corn, tobacco and wheat.

This is a recreation of a mid-18th-century tidewater farm -- the outbuildings careful reconstructions, except for the real 1750 tobacco barn. Colonial-days animals roam the barnyards -- pigs and ducks and geese and guineafowl. 3400 Bryan Point Rd., Accokeek. Tuesday-Sunday 10-5. Adults $1; children under 12 free. Colonial craft demonstrations take place Sunday afternoons, usually at 1, and among them: candlemaking, cooking and soapmaking. Also the occasional colonial muster. 283-2113. OXON HILL CHILDREN'S FARM -- A working turn-of the century farm for kids to explore. Milking, hayrides, sheep-shearing, informal turns around the barnyard. Weekend workshops run from scarecrow making to old-fashioned ice-cream making, from horse sense to rabbit talk. Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, Beltway exit 3A. Daily, 8:30-5. Free. 839-1177. RIVERSDALE (CALVERT MANSION) -- A Belgian nobleman, Baron Henri Joseph Stier, had the house built while he was in America seeking sanctuary from the French Revolution. With its ornamental plasterwork and distinctive European style, the five-part mansion is one of a kind. When the Baron returned to Belgium in 1803, he left the house to his daughter Rosalie and her husband George Calvert. Trans-Atlantic letters between father and daughter discuss the progress of the house and gardens in detail.

New family letters have been uncovered, and with them new architectural evidence -- so that full restoration of Riversdale has been delayed. But on Sunday afternoons, tours continue through the rooms, once again decorated in early-19th-century furnishings.

In its time, four different residents of the mansion were members of Congress -- including Senator Hattie Caraway, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right. The Calverts' son, Charles Benedict, served in the House. He was also a premier farmer -- not just making Riversdale into a model farm but helping to found the USDA and the University of Maryland. Oddities on display here: dioramas on Prince George's County history, and a colonial cannon on the lawn. 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale. Sundays, noon-4. Closed January and February. Adults, $1; seniors, 75 cents; children, 50 cents. 779-2011. SURRATT HOUSE -- If Mary Surratt was guilty, they're not saying, these docents in hoop skirts. She was living here when she was found guilty and hanged for her alleged involvement with Booth in the plot to assassinate Lincoln, giving her the dubious distinction of being the first woman executed by the federal government. Six rooms here restored to the Civil War period include a public dining room: Surratt House was not just a family home but a public tavern, with bedrooms rented to men for 25 cents a night.

Memorabilia here include Mrs. Surratt's original tombstone, rescued from the Mt. Olivet cemetery where it was broken, perhaps by a lawnmower. Carved on the simple headstone is a broken rose: Evidently the stonemason thought she was innocent. 9110 Brandywine Road (Route 381), Clinton. March 1-December 15. Thursday-Friday 11-3; weekends, noon to 4. Adults, $1; 55 and over, 75 cents; age 5-18, 50 cents. 301/868-1121. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND ART GALLERY -- When the permanent collection is on display, the strong suit is 200 mural studies done during the WPA period. The university also owns tribal African sculpture and 20th-century prints. The gallery hosts about six visiting shows a year. Room 2202, Art-Sociology building, on the southwestern end of Campus Drive. Monday-Friday 10-4; Wednesday evenings 'til 9; weekends 1-5. Closed July-August. Free. 454-2763. ST. MARY'S COUNTY HISTORIC ST. MARY'S CITY -- At the site of the first Maryland settlement and capital, St. Mary's City recreates 17th-century life. Take yourself back in time with the help of these exhibit areas:

The State House of 1676, the "seat of judicature," a replica of Maryland's first stands the Pest House where poor people with smallpox were sent. 9811 Van Buren Lane, Cockeysville. Saturday 10-3. Free. 301/666-1876. CLOISTERS CHILDREN'S MUSEUM & CREATIVE WORKSHOP -- Children race around in tall paper crowns, but after all, this is a castle. Built in 1932, this was wealthy Sumner Parker's answer to Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria -- call it French Gothic Tudor Revival and leave it at that. Turrets, cloisters, a windmill, a chapel with a vaulted ceiling, high, broad beams and diamond-paned windows, this enchanted castle even has a draft.

From the top of the winding stone stairs come the strains of "Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care." Up there in the playrooms, the kids make their crowns and stencils and "headwreaths," play store or dress up before a magic mirror. If you can pull yourself away from that, there is an early American collection and some medieval art to look at. If certain medieval chairs seem to be falling into disrepair, so be it. These things must be just here for the kids' ambience.

Not the usual stuffy museum, though one occasionally hears a mother say, "If they wanted you to go there, they wouldn't have roped it off, right?" The ropes are few and far between. 10440 Falls Rd., Brooklandville. Wednesday-Friday 10-4:30; weekends noon-4. Adults and children $2; senior citizens $1.50. Free Thursdays. 301/823-2550. ESSEX & MIDDLE RIVER HERITAGE SOCIETY MUSEUM -- Now a Gettysburg diorama sprawls out where the firemen used to sleep in this former fire house and police department. The firetrucks' garage is an avenue of period shops -- a candle shop, a music shop with hundred-year-old pianos, organs and victrolas, a general store, a post office.

Now, instead of prisoners, the cells of the police department hold uniforms (Boy Scout to German) and antique guns (locked up). A no-longer-working still, quilts, a drugstore and a coat made of locally captured raccoons round out the collection. 516 Eastern Blvd., Essex. Weekends 1-4. Closed January and February. Donation. 301/687-5083; or 686-4448. FIRE MUSEUM OF MARYLAND -- A place where you don't necessarily want to yell a certain four-letter word. The more than 50 fire vehicles here are gleaming antiques not poised for firefighting. But there is a working fire alarm system here. 1301 York Rd., Lutherville. April-October, Sunday 1-5. Adults $1.50; children under 12, 50 cents; children under 4, free. 301/321-7500. HAMPTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE -- Something there is that loves a glass of sherry being served when first you sit down in a tea room. That kind of tea room is found here at Hampton. This late Georgian mansion was home to six generations of Ridgelys (the seventh lives down the road) -- and here are all the portraits of the master and mistress (that's what the park rangers here call them).

Lovely, but terribly stale, petit fours and other dainties give the rooms that lived-in look. Each room is done in a different period to represent the various Ridgelys -- who were in the shipping business, owned an ironworks, and, above all, kept marvelous gardens. 535 Hampton Lane, off Dulaney Road, Towson. Monday-Saturday 11-4:30; Sunday 1-4:30. House tours every half-hour. Grounds, daily 9-5. Free. 301/823-7054. THE ROSA PONSELLE MUSEUM AT "VILLA PACE" -- As in "Pace, Pace, Mio Dio," in Verdi's "La Forza del Destino." That was the opera with which diva Rosa Ponselle made her debut in 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera, where she reigned for 20 years.

Here in her villa, built to her own stringent specifications, she greeted her guests with song. So it's not surprising to hear her voice piped into every room. She insisted on a decor of cream, rose, blue and gold. But her voice, said the great Pavarotti, was brown. Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson. By reservation only; fully booked up until September. Admission $7.50. 301/486-4616. CALVERT COUNTY CALVERT CLIFFS NUCLEAR POWER PLANT MUSEUM -- They do this thing with mirrors here at the Visitors' Center. A diorama switches from Captain John Smith to the nuclear plant and back again. In exhibits, local fossils (back to the Miocene) are represented, as are alternative energy sources and the tobacco industry (the visitors' center was a tobacco barn).

There are computerized games to play and a flow diagram of the nuclear plant to study. When you're ready, you can raise the reactor rod and shut the plant down. Just playing, of course. You can also ride a bike and see yourself on TV. Trust me. Nice overlook of the plant and the Bay. Routes 2 and 4, Lusby. Daily 9-5. Free. 301/260-4676. CALVERT MARINE MUSEUM -- Near where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay, the museum exhibits fossils discovered at nearby Calvert Cliffs. Denizens of the estuary, where saltwater and freshwater mix, dwell in the museum's "estuarium." "The Life of the Watermen" depicts methods of harvesting fish, clams, oysters and crabs. Here also is a working ship model shop, as well as a small craft shed full of workboats -- log canoes, crab skiffs and the first clam dredge boat used on the Bay.

The high point of the visit is the Drum Point Lighthouse, on the museum's waterfront; this screwpile lighthouse (sort of a cottage on stilts) is one of only three left from 45 that served the Bay at the turn of the century. It was moved here in 1975 from the entrance of the Patuxent, two nautical miles away.

Museum admission is free. Combined admission to the lighthouse and the Oyster House Annex, formerly the J.C. Lore & Sons Oyster House, $1; children under 12, 50 cents. Route 2, Solomons. Weekdays 10-4:30; weekends, noon-4:30. Summer hours: May-October, Monday-Saturday 10-5; Sunday noon-5. See also cruises on the 1899 bugeye the William B. Tennison, May 7 through October, public runs Wednesday-Sunday at 2: adults, $3.50, children 12-5, $2.50, under 5 free. 301/326-2042. CHESAPEAKE BEACH RAILWAY MUSEUM -- The Chesapeake Beach Railway ran from Seat Pleasant through Prince George's and Calvert counties, carrying the sweltering hordes to the beach on the Bay. At day's end, passengers would return to Washington with baskets of live crabs on the seat beside them, and make connections with street cars at the District Line. But storms washed away the beach and boardwalk in the late '20s, and tore up the rollercoaster. Then the Depression and the automobile put the railroad under.

The original Chesapeake Beach Station, built around 1900, still stands, restored about five years ago. Memories of the old line are preserved in a lantern, a conductor's cap, an engine headlight, archival photos and a restored kangaroo from a merry-go-round. Annual antique car show, the Sunday before Memorial Day weekend. Route 261, Chesapeake Beach. May-October, Saturday-Sunday 1-4; June-August daily 1-4. Free. 301/257-3892 (station); 855-6472. JEFFERSON PATTERSON PARK & MUSEUM -- Fertile archaeological sites feed this museum a rich harvest of artifacts. Unearthed nearby, some fragments of the past peoples of the Chesapeake are petroglyphs (Indian rock art), Indian stone tools and pottery, as well as artifacts from the colonial period. Early this summer, visitors will see archaeologists excavating an Indian site (1500-1600 A.D.). Temporary exhibits, nature trail, archaeology trail to the shoreline of the Patuxent River. Mackall Road (Route 265), St. Leonard. April 15-October 15, Wednesday-Sunday 9-5. Free. 301/586-0050. CARROLL COUNTY CARROLL COUNTY FARM MUSEUM -- Life of a landowning family in the late 19th century is recreated in this 1852 farmhouse. Craft demonstrations include quilting, blacksmithing and tinsmithing. See also veterinary surgeon's office, bee room, summer kitchen, animals. Summer Sunday special events: farm show, craft fair, fiddlers' convention, winefest. 500 S. Center Street, Westminster. May-October, weekends noon-5. July-August, Tuesday-Friday 10-4; weekends noon-5. Adults $2; age 6-18 and over 60, $1.50; under 6 free with parent. 301/848-7775. CARROLL COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY -- works out of two early-1800 houses. The society has decorated the Shellman House with period furniture, quilts, costumes, coverlets and kitchen tools. Antique dolls and toys live in the Kimmey House, which is also the society's headquarters. 206 & 210 E. Main, Westminster. Tuesday-Friday 9:30-3:30. Also, June-August, Saturday 9-4; Sunday noon-4. Adults $1.50 adults; senior citizens $1; children 50 cents. 301/848-6494. UNION MILLS HOMESTEAD & GRIST MILL -- Like most homesteads, this grew from a small stake, starting out as four rooms in 1797. The burgeoning house ran the gamut from post office to wayside inn to schoolhouse. Located on the road to Gettysburg, it rose to the occasion of the Civil War, feeding both Union and Confederate soldiers from the huge kitchen, albeit on different days.

Across the way, the grist mill operated into the 1940s. As it has been restarted recently, visitors can buy buckwheat and cornmeal ground there. May, and September through mid-December, Saturday 10-5; Sunday noon-5. June-August, Tuesday-Saturday 10-5; Sunday noon-5. Adults $2.75; children 6-12, 75 cents; under 6 free with parent. Mill or house, adults $1.50; children 75 cents. 3311 Littlestown Pike (Route 97), Westminster. 301/848-2288. CHARLES COUNTY CHARLES COUNTY COURTHOUSE -- A reconstruction of the 1819 courthouse of Port Tobacco. Upstairs in the museum, there's a slide presentation on the history of Port Tobacco as well as artifacts from local archaeological digs. Note the restored colonial period homes, privately owned, in the historic village. Chapel Point Road, in the Port Tobacco restored area. Adults $1; age 10-18, 50 cents; under 10 free. April-May, September-mid-December, weekends noon-4. June-August, Wednesday-Sunday noon-4. 301/934-4313. DR. SAMUEL A. MUDD HOUSE -- Louise Mudd Arehart's name is Mudd, and she's proud of it. Her grandfather was the doctor who set John Wilkes Booth's leg after the Lincoln assassination. Although he didn't know who Booth was, Mudd was sent to prison for life. President Andrew Johnson later pardoned him.

Having cleared his name thusly, we note that for his granddaughter, president and founder of the Dr. Mudd Society, this museum is a dream come true: the original Mudd house, filled with family furnishings. If anything is missing, another museum got it first. The boot that Dr. Mudd cut from Booths' injured leg is back at Ford's Theater. Route 232, off 382, off Route 5, between Waldorf and Bryantown. Weekends noon-4. Adults $1.50; 60 and over $1; children 50 cents. 301/934-8464. SMALLWOOD'S RETREAT -- This plantation house reflects the lifestyle of a Southern Maryland gentleman planter of colonial days -- to wit, one William Smallwood, patriot. During the Revolution, he was promoted to major general, the highest rank attained by a Marylander then. Politics ever as usual, General Smallwood became Governor Smallwood in 1785. Costumed guides show you through his house. Smallwood State Park, Route 224, Rison. House: weekends noon-5. Park: 8 to dusk. Free. 301/743-7613. FREDERICK COUNTY BRUNSWICK MUSEUM -- Spreading out on one floor is the entire D.C.-Frederick valley, if you will -- an H-O scale layout of the B&O Railroad and the C&O Canal from Brunswick to the big city. This museum chronicles the life of a rail town from its Victorian-era boom with railroad and canal tools, maps, photographs, period clothing and furnishings. 40 W. Potomac St., Brunswick. April-December, Saturday 10-4, Sunday 1-4. Adults $2; children $1; under 5, free. 301/834-7100. BARBARA FRITCHIE HOUSE & MUSEUM -- " 'Shoot if you must this old gray head / but spare your country's flag,' she said." Immortalized by John Greenleaf Whittier, Barbara Fritchie may or may not have waved the flag at Stonewall Jackson as he marched to Harpers Ferry.

Poetic license also has been taken in this house, which is a replica of the one where the glovemaker's spunky widow lived 'til her death at 95 in 1862. That was three months after "the incident." Fame, you might say, came late to the lady.

Years later, Winston Churchill was visiting the area with FDR and asked to see the Fritchie House. Cigar in hand, Churchill stood outside and recited the entire poem. But it's really not a requirement of your visit. 154 W. Patrick St., Frederick. April-December, Monday, Wednesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 1-4. Adults $1.25 under 12, $1. 301/663-3833. HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF FREDERICK COUNTY -- Besides being the society's headquarters, this federal mansion holds local collections of lustreware (19th-century ceramic pieces with metallic glazes), portraits of early Frederick residents, glass, dolls, period furniture and Indian artifacts. 24 East Church St., Frederick. March-December, Thursday-Friday 11:30-4:30; Saturday 9:30-1:30. Donation. 301/663-1188. ROSE HILL MANOR CHILDREN'S MUSEUM -- About two centuries ago, Maryland's first governor, Thomas Johnson, retired to this home which he had built for his daughter. Now it's a touch-and-play museum, with unlimited hands-on. Children can play dress up and learn about wool-carding, weaving on a loom, quilting and making herb tea and Maryland beaten biscuits.

Outside, there's a carriage museum with more than 25 restored carriages and sleighs, a farm museum, an antique log cabin, a springhouse, a blacksmith shop and scratch'n'sniff gardens. 1611 N. Market St., Frederick. Over 17, $1; children free. April-October, Monday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 1-4. March, November, December, weekends only. Closed January, February. 301/694-1646. SCHIFFERSTADT -- Built by German immigrants in 1756, this German colonial farmhouse is said to be the oldest building still standing in Frederick. Notable are its sandstone walls measuring 2 1/2 feet thick, its hand-hewn oak beams and its "jamb stove," one of three that were used to heat the house, dated 1756 and inscribed, "Where your treasure is there is your heart." 1110 Rosemont Ave., Frederick. April-December 23 10-4. Donation. 301/663-1611. SHRINE OF ELIZABETH ANN SETON -- The first American-born Catholic saint, Mother Seton established a religious community in Emmitsburg in 1809. Here is a replica of the first classroom in the school she opened for neighborhood children. Her letters and other personal effects are displayed in her "White House" and shrine. Off U.S. 15 (business), Emmitsburg. Daily 10-5. (Closed Mondays November-March.) Free. 301/447-6606. ROGER BROOKE TANEY HOUSE & FRANCIS SCOTT KEY MUSEUM -- Right after the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Key went to his town of Frederick and told his brother-in-law, Roger Brooke Taney, the story of how he wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner." And so flowed another paragraph's worth of ink in history books. Key and Taney shared a Frederick law office. Later, as Chief Justice, Taney swore in more presidents (seven, including Lincoln) than any other chief justice in history.

Here among the memorabilia of the two men is a desk very much like the one on which Taney penned his dread Dred Scott decision. 121 South Bentz Street, Frederick. Admission, $1. By appointment only: 301/663-8703. HARFORD COUNTY HAYS HOUSE -- Thomas Archer Hays was a wheelerdealer if ever there was one. He was responsible for the way Route One travels through Bel Air -- thanks to a payoff he made to the government so that the new road would pass both of his taverns. A lawyer and moneylender, he did a lot of foreclosing. But he was also responsible for building the first school of higher education in Harford County.

He bought his 1788 home in 1811, and now Hays House is the oldest one in Bel Air. Under its gamboled roof and beneath its original oak siding, the furnishings collected in Harford County and Baltimore date up to 1870. 324 S. Kenmore Ave., Bel Air. Donation $1. Fourth Sunday in April-October and for tours by appointment. 301/838-7691. LADEW TOPIARY GARDENS -- "Caution: Horse & Hounds Crossing Ahead," reads a sign by the roadside on the way to Ladew Gardens on the Pleasant Valley estate. Do be aware that on the lawn there, the hounds are green. Not to beat around the bush, rich bachelor Harvey S. Ladew surrounded himself with topiary of every type. Reindeer on a park bench, swans afloat on a rippling hedge, Churchill's top hat, seahorses, Buddha, yew get the picture.

Inside the mansion, his oval library is considered one of America's hundred most beautiful rooms. On a lifestyles of the rich and eccentric tour, you learn about his close friendships -- the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Lawrence of Arabia, and so on. 3535 Jarrettsville Pike (Route 146), Monkton. Mid-April-October. Gardens: Tuesday-Friday 10-4; weekends noon-5. House: Wednesday and weekends, during garden hours. Adults $4 (house and gardens); children 12 and over $3. 301/557-9466. LIRIODENDRON -- is the botanical name for the tulip poplar, and there are a number of them on the grounds here. Liriodendron is also known as the Kelly Mansion, as it was the summer home of Dr. Howard Kelly, one of the original Big Four from Johns Hopkins. He was the first head of gynecology- obstetrics. Built in 1898, the mansion now exhibits antique trains and dolls, china and music boxes and visiting art shows. 502 W. Gordon St., Bel Air. Sunday 1-4; weekdays by appointment. Free. 301/838-3942. STEPPINGSTONE MUSEUM -- Among the orchards and the fields enclosed by stone fences, the Steppingstone Museum takes a leap back to the turn of the century in its recreation of a rural home: complete with woodstove, pump organ, featherbed and chamberpot. The garden here commands a lovely view of the Susquehanna River.

An exhibit of old vehicles now fills the hay barn, and other outbuildings hold various craft shops -- carpentry, cooper and smithy, dairy and timber. The J. Edmund Bull collection of craft tools forms the core of the displays. Some craft demonstrations. Located at the "Land of Promise" in Susquehanna State Park. 461 Quaker Bottom Road, Havre de Grace. Adults, $2; children free. May-October 5, weekends 1-5; other times by appointment. 301/939-2299. SUSQUEHANNA MUSEUM & LOCKHOUSE -- At Havre de Grace, the first lock of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal still stands, 45 miles from the other terminus in Wrightsville, Pa. The canal operated between them from 1839 to 1900. A large lockhouse has been restored and furnished to look as it did during the lock tender's residence there in 1870. Also, revolving displays of Havre de Grace maps, costumes, dolls, and artifacts unearthed during the archaeological dig for the museum. Conesteo and Erie streets, near the Pumping Station, Havre de Grace. April-mid-December, Sundays 1-5. Free. 301/939-1800. HOWARD COUNTY ELLICOTT CITY B&O RAILROAD STATION MUSEUM -- At the end of the first 13 miles of track between Ellicott's Mills and Baltimore, the railroad station building dates back to 1830, which makes it one of the oldest such buildings in the world. Five or six freight trains a day still chug past the station.

The maiden run of the steam engine Tom Thumb on this line was that famed race between horse and iron horse. Those first 13 miles of B&O railroad are displayed here in a working H-O model -- along with B&O Railroad tools, china and linen with the Capitol dome emblem. Maryland Avenue and Main Street, Ellicott City. Wednesday-Saturday 11-4, Sunday noon-5. Adults $1.25; children 5-12, 75 cents 5-12. 301/461-1944. MARYLAND MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART -- Prestige items like flywhisks and brass anklets from Cameroon, sculpted wood figures of mother and child from Nigeria and Mali, and masks from Zaire, Cameroon and New Guinea are being displayed in the museum's temporary quarters at Rockland Arts Center, 8510 High Ridge Rd., Ellicott City. Tuesday 6-8 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday and the first Sunday of the month, 1-4; and by appointment. Free. 301/461-6390. KENT COUNTY BUCK-BACCHUS STORE MUSEUM -- What to buy in a general store in the 18th and 19th century? It's all here. Now, for actual shopping, see the quaint boutiques nearby. On High and Queen streets, Chestertown. Admission 50 cents. May-October, Saturday 1-4. 301/778-0413. GEDDES PIPER HOUSE -- No fewer than 48 Chinese export porcelain teapots are on display in this restored 18th-century Philadelphia townhouse, along with other antiques appropriate to the time. Home of the Historical Society of Kent County. 101 Church Alley, Chestertown. Adults, $1; children 50 cents. May-October, Saturday-Sunday 1-4, or by appointment. 301/778-3499. ROCK HALL MUSEUM -- When Audrey Johnson wanted a place to display her lifetime collection of Indian arrowheads, citizens' groups helped her and her husband find it here in the Rock Hall Municipal Building. Since the museum started in 1975, other local artifacts have joined the Indian relics. Boat models, oyster tongs, and baseball player Bill Nicholson's uniform, shoes and bat (he was raised just down the road and went on to play for the Phillies and the Cubs). Ducks from the shooting gallery in the long-defunct Tolchester Park. And folks, the first X-ray machine in the New World.

Now the rocks are here not because the town is named Rock Hall, but for the kids, because on the Eastern Shore they don't have much more than sedimentary. South Main Street, Rock Hall. Wednesday-Friday 2-4; Saturday 10-2; Sunday 2-4. Donation. 301/778-1399. MONTGOMERY COUNTY CLARA BARTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE -- A relative of Clara Barton's once said that her house looked like a Mississippi riverboat inside. True, the upstairs floors have railings overlooking the central hold, or hall, of this 30-room house. But the analogy doesn't extend to its Victorian exterior. Built in 1891 from boards salvaged from the Johnstown Flood, the house bears a double symbol of the Red Cross in the stained glass under the front eaves. Not a paddlewheel in sight.

On our tour here, we are disabused of the common notion that Clara Barton was a nurse. The founder of the American Red Cross did a little nursing duty during the Civil War, but she was a brilliant administrator by profession. Her house reflects her workaholism. It was not just her residence from 1897 until she died there, at age 90, in 1912. It was also the Red Cross headquarters, a warehouse for its supplies, and a hotel for its volunteers.

About a third of the furnishings here were hers, including a red settee given her by the Duchess of Baden in appreciation for her work with the German Red Cross. The offices are filled with the latest in turn-of-the-century office supplies. Note that to save money, Barton had the walls made of cloth. The strips of cloth look like bandages. 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo. Tours daily 10-5. Free. 492-6245. BEALL-DAWSON HOUSE AND DOCTOR'S MUSEUM -- Built in 1815, this was the town home of Upton Beall, the second clerk of the county court. Only seven of the antiques here, such as a candlestand, belonged to him. But the Montgomery County Historical Society, headquartered here, has found a chair from John Adams and a platter supposedly used to serve Lafayette. It's nice to visit a historic home where the rooms aren't roped off.

Behind the house is a green-and-white one-room building, the former office of one Dr. Edward Elisha Stonestreet on Monroe Street. It was a library for a while, then eventually the fire department put it on a truck and brought it over to the Beall-Dawson house. Inside we find the surgical instruments Stonestreet used in his practice in the 1850s, and old prescriptions of his from a drugstore that was going out of business. You can't read his handwriting, either. 103 W. Montgomery Ave., Rockville. Adults $2, students and seniors $1, under 13 free. Tuesday-Saturday noon-4; first Sundays of the month 2-5. 762-1492. C&O CANAL TAVERN MUSEUM -- The scenery of Great Falls and the canal overwhelms the tavern in appeal. Once called the Crommelin House, in honor of a Dutch family who helped finance the canal, the tavern opened for business in 1831. It served as a hotel and the lockkeeper's residence. Inside in what's now the Visitors Center are canal memorabilia -- a lantern, mule bells, the tavern's books, a lock horn -- as well as recorded oldtimers' reminiscences, when the tape machine is working. 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac. Free. 299-3613. JUDAIC MUSEUM -- Jewish ceremonial pieces are displayed along the lobby of the Jewish Community Center. Museum and gallery shows, often with a Jewish-related theme, alternate in the Goldman Fine Arts Gallery. 6125 Montrose Rd., Rockville. Monday-Thursday noon-4 and 7:30-9:30; Sunday 2-5. Free. 881-0100. NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS -- Well, actually, we've been on the metric system since the 19th century. People have come out to the pocket-sized museum here expecting to see the "standard yard," and gone away disappointed, having only seen the "standard meter." And sophisticated scientific measurement has rendered even that obsolete. Other exhibits relate to the bureau's contributions in radio transceivers, electricity and computers. I-270 and Quince Orchard Road, in the Library in the Administration building (the only tall building at NBS). Monday-Friday 8:30-5. Free. 921-2721. NATIONAL CAPITAL TROLLEY MUSEUM -- In Washington, the trolley clanged for a hundred years, then stopped in 1962. But this museum, built to look like an old railroad station, owns no fewer than seven trolleys that operated in this city at one time or another, as well as some little European jobs. The collection ranges from a four-wheeled Gay Nineties car to a streamliner. Best of all, you can ride some of them. Bonifant Road, Wheaton. Admission is free. Round-trip trolley fares, adults $1; under 18, 75 cents; under 2 free. Weekends noon-5; and Wednesdays in July and August. 384-9797. NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH -- A jukebox here in the Visitors' Center answers more than 150 medical questions. Practicing medicine without a license? Hmmmm. There's a 30-minute slide presentation on the various institutes, and all sorts of free literature to pick up. A working lab with windows for visitors is in the works and may open to view later this year. Building 10, Center Drive, off Old Georgetown Road. Monday-Friday 9-4. 496-1776. JOHN POOLE HOUSE -- Once a general store, always a general store. The town of Poolesville grew up around the log building where John Poole II ran a general store from 1793 to 1817. The post office was there too, and so the town was known as Poole's Store for a while. Now the store sells baskets, handwoven things, local bees' honey and, of course, penny candy -- things that might have been sold in Poole's time. The house exhibits farm implements, and, in the loft bedroom, a quilt made by a Poole family member in the early 1800s. Also on display are Civil War memorabilia discovered hereabouts in this former Union encampment area. A small backyard arboretum fosters indigenous plants of 1750-1850. 19923 Fisher Avenue, Poolesville. Saturday 10-5; Sunday noon to 5. Free. 972-8588. SANDY SPRING MUSEUM -- A watch-this-space museum in the process of moving to new quarters. Five years old, this community museum reflects 250 years of local history. The collection starts with a 1650 "clockwork jack," an early kitchen gadget that automatically turned the spit while the meat roasted. The collection, which includes toys and samplers and early books, comes mostly from the early 19th century.

The museum is named after the Quaker community that settled here in the 1720s. Although the museum is closed until October, it can still arrange tours of the 1817 Sandy Spring Meeting House. The museum will reopen at 2707 Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108). Free. 774-0022. SENECA SCHOOLHOUSE MUSEUM -- In an oak grove planted to shade the schoolyard, this schoolhouse was built in 1866. Teachers taught the golden rule and so forth here until 1910. The schoolhouse has recently been restored, furnished with double desks, a teacher's desk, maps appropriate to the day, and a 35-star flag -- as well as a rogues' gallery of class photos. 16800 River Rd., Poolesville. March 15-December 15, Sunday noon-4. Free. 972-8635. PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BELAIR STABLE MUSEUM & BELAIR MANSION -- The horsing tradition of Belair Mansion and its stable started with Spark and Queen Mab, two of the most famous mounts in the English-speaking world in the mid-1700s. Maryland's provincial governor, Samuel Ogle, owned the horses and the estate. The winning tradition was carried into this century by James Woodward, who made the red-and-white silks of Belair famous when his Gallant Fox won the Triple Crown in 1930. Five years later, the Fox's son Omaha did the same. Woodward was a New York banker and great horseman who was, alas, accidentally shot and killed by his wife.

Though horses come here now only on special occasions (like Bowie Heritage Day, the third Sunday in May), the stables are open for browsing, full of memories and photos, Clydesdales' harnesses and jockeys' silks. A collection of farm tools is artistically arrayed in the carriage room, and the superintendent's quarters are furnished almost exactly as in the 1920s. The nearby mansion -- which Woodward used as a vacation home -- is on the groundfloor of the restoration process, so there's not a lot to see there. Stables: 2835 Belair Dr., Bowie. May-June and September-October, Sunday 1-4. Mansion: 12207 Tulip Grove Dr., Bowie. Wednesdays 10-1; second Sunday of the month 2-4. Free. 262-6200, ext. 302. COLLEGE PARK AIRPORT MUSEUM -- Most museums commemorate events that happened somewhere else, but not this one. It sits on the edge of what claims to be the world's oldest continuously active airport -- there, in 1909, Wilbur Wright instructed the first flying officers of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and from there a woman rode in a plane for the first time. Photos, film footage, charts, bits and pieces of old planes -- the rumble from the airfield outside makes it all authentic. 6709 Cpl. Scott Drive, College Park. Friday-Sunday, noon-4. Free. 864-1530 (during museum hours). W. HENRY DUVALL TOOL MUSEUM -- At the Patuxent River Park, the museum is named for the Prince George's County tobacco farmer who owned these antique tools and farming implements. The kitchen tools include butter churns, apple corers and a ruffling iron for pressing ruffles. About a tenth of the 2,000-tool collection is displayed. The museum is open by appointment only, Tuesday-Saturday. Free. For reservations, call 627-6074. Patuxent River Park, off Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro. MONTPELIER -- Recent architectural research has come up with a 1770-1785 date for when the Snowden family had this Georgian mansion symmetrically built on a high knoll. George Washington slept here twice in 1787, and Martha slept here on her way to his 1789 inauguration.

The plantation includes boxwood gardens and an 18th-century summer house, thought to be one of two such in existence in America. Montpelier Drive & Route 197, near Laurel. Tours given Sundays noon-4 or by appointment. Adults, $1.50; senior citizens, $1; children, 50 cents. Note the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in the modern barn next door. 779-2011. NASA/GODDARD VISITOR CENTER AND MUSEUM -- At the space flight center named for the father of American rocketry, Robert H. Goddard, the Visitors' Center is chock full of space hardware and a moon rock. There's a 1:15 scale shuttle, satellite prototypes, a talking computer, and that old favorite, the communications satellite that talks back (you call the ATS on the phone and listen for your echo).

Outside, a hundred-foot Delta rocket points the way up. You can see more of the space flight center, by reservation only, on a general tour scheduled Thursdays at 2; that takes in Building 14, home of the Satellite Control Room and the communications and computer facilities. Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt. Wednesday-Sunday 10-4. Free. Model rocket launches, first and third Sundays of the month at 1. 344-8981; 344-8103. NATIONAL COLONIAL FARM -- A breezy overlook across the river from George Washington's place slips you back to the original organic gardening.