Baltimore Weekend Getaways: Your Perfect Road Trip to Frederick, Maryland
BY LIBBY ZAY // PHOTOS BY JOHN DAVIS
Once a colonial crossroads, Frederick, Maryland, still offers up historic charm…just, y’know, with awesome craft breweries and galleries on the side. Only an hour’s drive from Baltimore (or D.C.), Frederick is something of a modern-day trading post: the perfect place to window shop, dine well, and connect with locals. But don’t forget the area’s outdoorsy cred, either. Thanks to its location at the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Frederick also happens to be ringed by scenic state parks. If you’re seeking Baltimore weekend getaways, move this one right to the tip-top of your list.
First, a quick detour: on your way down to Frederick, be sure to swing by Gambrill State Park. Just 15 minutes outside of town, this pretty park is located on the ridge of Cacotin Mountain, and offers up 16 miles of trails. Pause at the High Knob for views over the Frederick Valley (hey, that’s your next stop!), or grab a quick cup of something warm in the historic Tea Room—roaring fire included.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of fresh air, it’s time to hit Frederick’s buzzing downtown, which juxtaposes historic red brick buildings with of-the-moment galleries and boutiques. Furniture and housewares store Industrial Home is one to meander around. A showroom for designer Christopher Ritchie, it’s full of covetable leather couches and furniture accented with wrought iron or reclaimed wood. (Don’t worry, would-be decorators—there are more portable pieces too).
Bring home some HGTV-worthy housewares from Christopher Ritchie’s Industrial Home.
Looking to outfit yourself as well as your abode? Nearby, Treaty General Store stocks a range of minimalist basics (plus seriously cozy blanket scarves). Everything here is artist-crafted and responsibly made, so you can also throw a stainless steel flask, cedar-scented candles—even a terrarium or two—in your bag. Just gently, will ya?
Shop Frederick’s authentic craftsmanship at the uniquely stocked Treaty General Store.
Non-drivers: time to indulge. It isn’t a trip to Frederick without an afternoon stopover at Flying Dog Brewery, arguably Frederick’s best-known resident. Founded in Colorado in 1994 but Maryland-based since 2006, this is a brewery with personality. Hunter S. Thompson was a fan, and famed illustrator Ralph Steadman does all their bottle artwork. At the tasting room, sip on their Gonzo Imperial Porter or Snake Dog IPA, and be sure to sign up for a free tour. (Just be sure to reserve in advance on the brewery’s website.)
Hunter S. Thompson’s choice brewery, Flying Dog, gives tours and fills pints in its East Coast location.
You’re probably hungry by now, and there are plenty of places in Frederick worth a try. You can’t miss Sabor de Cuba—quite literally, given that it’s painted in the blue-and-white stripes of the Cuban flag. Inside, the décor is a little more subdued, but there is nothing subtle about the smell of garlic in the air. Feeling somethin’ fancy? Frederick is also home to “Top Chef” alum Bryan Voltaggio’s award-winning Volt. Housed in a 19th-century brownstone mansion, it’s a local fine dining highlight. (Sea urchin with white asparagus and caviar? Yes, please.)
Dig in to empanadas and tres leches cake at Sabor de Cuba.
And if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Frederick on the first Saturday of the month, be sure to stick around in downtown after your meal, when shops and galleries stay open late and you’ll find live music and entertainment along the way.
You don’t get to go on vacation every weekend, so you might as well keep indulging. Kick off day two at Cafe Nola, which is soundtracked by the constant hum of a coffee grinder and the chattering of a diverse crowd. Behind the bar is a row of colorful, house-made liquors, including a habanero- and garlic-infused vodka that makes for an excellent Bloody Mary base. And even if you’re escaping Baltimore for the weekend, you might still want to try the B-More Melt: toasted rye bread, broiled tomato, country ham, fried eggs, and crab gravy, served up in a cast-iron pan.
Café Nola is much more than a coffee shop, with diverse brunch options, garden-fresh veggies, and unique cocktails.
Day two in Frederick is all about the culture. A few doors down from the restaurant is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, a must-see for curious history buffs. Immersive exhibitions and artifacts give visitors a glimpse into what life in Civil War army camps and hospitals was like, while guided tours should uncover all kinds of eyebrow-raising anecdotes.
When Frederick whets your historical appetite, head to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
And then there’s the Delaplaine Arts Center, housed in a historic mill (and open every day, free of charge—bargain!). Across its five galleries, rotating exhibitions often feature talented local artists. The center also puts on classes and workshops, so it’s worth checking their calendar in advance.
Browse free galleries from local artists or attend a workshop at Delaplaine Arts Center.
Once you’ve wound down your in-town exploring, take advantage of your wheels and explore more of Frederick’s natural surroundings before you head back to the city. At Cunningham Falls State Park, you’ll find the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland, as well as plenty of outdoor activities to partake in, including swimming, hiking, fishing, and canoeing. And if you just can’t bear to leave quite yet, you can even rent a campsite or cabin to extend the trip. Road trips don’t get much better than this.
Skip town for outdoor explorations in Cunningham Falls State Park.