A Local’s Guide to Living in Southern Anne Arundel County “South County”

Written By Malcolm Lawson

Rural and slow-paced, Southern Anne Arundel County (or, as the locals call it, South County) is made up of a few towns, including Galesville, Harwood, Shady Side, Tracys Landing, and Friendship. A popular destination for city folk coming from Washington D.C. and Annapolis, all of the towns are also great places to live.

“South County” is generally considered the part of Anne Arundel County between Maryland Route 214 and the top of Calvert County. The small towns have stayed much the same for the past 50 years and have preserved some of their historic buildings for even longer.

Parks in Southern Anne Arundel County

South County is full of green spaces. Although much of it is agricultural land for tobacco, fruits, and vegetables, there are also a few parks. In Shady Side, there’s Churchton Recreation Area and Snug Harbor Park. In Friendship, you have Friendship Pond Park.

One of my personal favorites is Jug Bay. It contains 1,700 acres of freshwater marsh, wetland, and forest. The park contains 17 miles of trails through nature with multiple overlooks into the marsh. There is also a visitor center which talks about the wildlife there and native american Indians who used to live there.  The whole park is a cool place to check out.

Things to do in South County

If you’re interested in history, a top place to visit is Galesville Heritage Museum. Although small, it has an interesting collection of artifacts dating back to pre-Colonial times and spanning all the way to the present day. The museum is open between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sundays, but you can also visit by booking an appointment.

Another museum to visit is Captain Avery Museum. This historic home in Shady Side was built around 1860 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another place on the National Register in Shady Side is Lula G. Scott Community Center — two frame buildings that were originally part of Rosenwald Schools.

There are also several historic structures in Harwood. These include the historic homes Obligation, Larkin’s Hill Farm, and Larkin’s Hundred (also called The Castle).

Finally, Tracys Landing has two historic places on the National Register: a historic tobacco barn called Tracy’s Landing Tobacco House No. 2 and St. James Church.

Things to do in Southern Anne Arundel County

Living In Galesville

Originally called West River Landing, the first settlers in Galesville were Quakers, who founded the town in the mid-17th century. In fact, the town is considered the origin of organized Quakerism in the state. A few years after its establishment, Galesville became an official port of entry. Most significant, though, is that the only place in Anne Arundel County to see military action in the War of 1812 was Chalk Point, across from Galesville.

Throughout its existence, Galesville has never had a population of more than 1,000. Despite this, it has always been an important site of commerce. Today, its main appeal is with tourists, who flock to the boutiques, antique shops, and seafood restaurants. The main industry of the town is pleasure boating.

Galesville can be an excellent place to live if you are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle and a strong sense of community but still wish to be within driving distance of all the action and shopping in Annapolis.


Check out our complete Local’s Guide To Living In Galesville, Maryland

Living In Harwood

Harwood is an incorporated community in South County. Several notable people have lived in Harwood over its history, including former congressman Pete Stark and surgeon and Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Noble Stockett. In addition, George Washington once dined at Rawlings’ Tavern in Harwood.

You will find a lot of farm fields and horse pastures in Harwood with a few homes and neighborhoods sprinkled throughout. Because of this, Harwood can be an excellent choice for anyone willing to commute in order to live in a tranquil surrounding.

Route 2 is the main road that runs through Harwood.  Being the main road to get to southern Anne Arundel County and beyond, this road can see increased traffic in the morning and evenings during the week.

While in Harwood, make sure to pay a visit to Thanksgiving Farm Winery and try some of their locally-made wine.

Things to do in Harwood Maryland

Living In Shady Side

The largest town in South County, Shady Side has a population of almost 6,000. When European settlers arrived here in 1649, they found that the Algonquin natives had abandoned the area due to threats from the Susquehannock people in the north.

Until near the end of the 19th century, Shady Side was mostly agricultural land. This changed when some watermen purchased land near the oyster beds, which transformed the economy. Around the same time, passenger steamers started to run as often as five times a week from Baltimore, bringing visitors to the area, particularly in the summer.

Shady Side offers many opportunities for water views and has several parks that take advantage of these including Shadyside Park and Jack Creek Park.

Because the main road running through Shady Side, Shady Side Rd, sort of curves around and comes back up, this part of Anne Arundel County can be deceptively further of a drive than you may think.  Because of the longer commuting distance for many, you will find that the homes in this city are much more affordable than in other parts of Anne Arundel County.

Things to do in Shady Side Maryland

Idlewilde Restoration Project

Living In Tracys Landing

Another unincorporated community in South County is Tracys Landing. It sits adjacent to the waterfront town of Deale.  This part of Anne Arundel County heavily wooded and undeveloped. This makes it a great location for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. 


Deale is one of those picturesque small towns you may find on a postcard. It is a small fishing town built on the Chesapeake Bay with several marinas within it. It is built around 4 separate creeks that flow into the bay, Rockhold Creek, Parker Creek, Carrs Creek, and Broadwater Creek.

Deale is still heavily used by the Chesapeake Bay waterman but you will also find several waterfront restaurants that cater to the locals and visitors.

If you are looking for some fresh seafood with water views, pay a visit to Skipper’s Pier Restaurant & Dock Bar or Dockside Restaurant & Sports Bar.

There are also several great marinas in Deale where you can rent a boat slip, rent a boat, or just walk around the piers. Check out Herrington Harbour North and Rockhold Creek Marina.

Living In Deal Maryland

Deal Waterfront Homes

Living in South County

South County is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a quiet setting and enjoy history. It’s also a culinary center, with numerous family-owned restaurants. There are plenty of options for meat (particularly barbecue) and seafood like oysters, crab, and fish. Many of the establishments source their produce from local farmers and fishermen. In addition, there are vineyards in the area that produce award-winning Maryland wine.

The entirety of South County is popular with families (for the above-average schools), but some towns also have a high population of retirees or young professionals. This makes for a mix of ages, which adds to the community feel.

Schools Around South County, MD

There are a number of schools around South County.

For elementary, there is Shady Side Elementary, West Friendship Elementary, and Deale Elementary School.

For middle school, you have just Southern Middle School, but Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School offers grades 6 through 12 and Monarch Academy offers K through 8.

For high school, there is Southern High School, Anne Arundel Evening High School, and Phoenix Academy (grade 12 only).

In addition, Marley Glen School, Ruth Parker Eason School, and Central Special School all offer PK and K through 12.

Learn more about Southern Anne Arundel County schools here 

Cost Of Living In Southern Anne Arundel County

As South County is mostly agricultural land, it should be no surprise that homes tend to be farmhouses and cottages, although some of the newest properties are estates.

The availability of properties and prices depends somewhat on the town or community. At the highest end, there is Galesville, where the median house and condo value is $360,200. In Shady Side, the median value is $357,898 and in Friendship it is $351,410. South County has a higher median house value than in Maryland as a whole ($312,500).

Throughout South County, more people own homes than rent. Friendship has the lowest percentage of renters at just 13 percent and Shady Side is almost the same with 14 percent. In Galesville, 60 percent of residents own homes. The median rent ranges from $1,690 to $2,225.

Finding a Place to Live in South County

Whether you’re looking for a traditional farmhouse, a waterman’s cottage, or a large country home, we can help. Our team of real estate experts in the area will find the ideal property for you, no matter where you’re looking to live in South County, Maryland.

Mathew Arnold, Living In Maryland Team

Check Out These Latest South County Homes For Sale

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