What is in your backyard? No, not that overgrown “flower” bed that has become a wonderland for weeds. Think bigger picture. What is there to see right in your hometown, or very near it?
Do hidden gems lay down that street you’ve never had a reason to turn on? Is there adventure to be had right around the corner? Questions I asked myself about my backyard here in Maryland.
I live pretty much smack-dab between Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. While the monuments are certainly inspiring and the free museums are absolutely muse-worthy, I’ve never really gone beyond the usual sights. Maryland has been my home for nine years and I’ve yet to really explore the “Free State”. So I gave myself an assignment… become a tourist in my own backyard, explore Maryland and take you along with me.
Our first stop? Historic Ellicott City, Maryland. So what exactly makes it so “historic”? I can do Doctor Sheldon Cooper proud by being able to answer that it was the original terminus for the famed Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. You can still explore the B&O station, which happens to be the oldest surviving railroad station in America.
Also lending to it’s historical status is the fact that the Ellicott brothers, founders of this quaint little city, were instrumental in revolutionizing farming in this country by convincing local farmers to plant wheat rather than tobacco, the cash crop of the day. Perhaps this is why you can enjoy fresh air and great baked goods on the patios and verandas of Ellicott City’s bistros, bakeries and tea shops.
Part frozen in time, part retro-hip, Ellicott City offers a little something for everyone in the family. Stop into Sweet Cascades Chocolatier for fun and tasty treats. From chocolate-coated marshmallow “Cootie” bugs to the odd combo of chocolate dipped cheese puffs, the kids will love this shop. Have a pallette that craves just a bit more sophistication? Try their Dark Chocolate Cayenne drops, or whip up something for yourself in one of their truffle making classes.
Like to shop? Then Ellicott City is right up your alley. Sweet Elizabeth Jane specializes in all incarnations of awesome. In this fun and funky little shop you’ll find vintage, and vintage inspired clothing, cookery, barware, books and bling galore. Comic Book stores and antique shops share space along the narrow sidewalks with toy peddlers and wine cellars.
Three stories of fun and fantasy comprise The Forget-Me-Not Factory. We even ran into what could have been the world’s grumpiest fairy, resplendent in her crown of sparkly flowers with the disposition of a troll. That said, it sort of added to the fun of this shop that offers everything from costumes to Christmas decorations. They even had a nook filled with hard to find Harry Potter items, I may have bought them out.
Got a craving for Maryland’s famed crab? Then a trip to Phoenix Emporium for their crab stuffed potato skins is in order. With reclaimed stained glass hanging from the ceiling and an impressive selection of cold-ones on tap this eatery has a working-class charm that will put you at ease. Smoky, juicy and bursting with flavor their portabella mushroom burger pretty darn amazing too.
Be sure stop by the welcome center in the heart of the town to find out about local festivals, ghost tours and the plethora of fun goings on that can be found nearly any time of year.
Sit in the shade of the trees in the town square and watch as time slows on the pure Americana clock tower. Though it’s really just a few blocks, this little city packs in quite a bit of magic.
Just a short drive away from DC, Historic Ellicott City nice day trip for those visiting who might like to escape from the crowds on the National Mall. It would make for a sans kids, romantic road trip too. What a great place to find in my own backyard!