Founded in 1745 by English and German settlers, Frederick has long been at the crossroads of American history. The city played an important role during the Civil War and was home to iconic Americans like Barbara Fritchie and Star-Spangled Banner author, Francis Scott Key. Located about one hour from downtown Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Gettysburg, this friendly community is surrounded by mountains, farms, breweries, wineries, orchards and close to the Appalachian Trail. But what keeps me coming back season after season is Frederick’s lively downtown!
Start your visit in the Frederick Visitor Museum. You can learn about the important sites to see in the region, as well see an informative film on all that the region offers. Some highlights include covered bridges, a crazy cool National Museum of Civil War Medicine and Frederick’s eclectic architecture. The Frederick Visitor Center is on the site of the former Frederick Spoke Factory, when at the end of the 19th century, the city was a hub for manufacturing.
Museums and Historic Sites
National Museum of Civil War Medicine on Patrick St. is a must-see for Civil War enthusiasts. The museum tells the story of healing and courage and explains how the triage system, still used today, was developed during the battles of nearby South Mountain and Antietam. (before visiting historic sites, museums, attractions verify hours of operation)
My favorite Frederick historic site is the Monocacy National Battlefield Park where you can get in a good hike and learn about this pivotal battle in history that saved Washington DC from the Confederates. If you enjoy hiking, check out my new book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Washington DC. (Available in bookstores and online)
I’m not going to lie. One reason I love Frederick so much is that I love to shop. And no where will you find more irresistible boutiques with such daring, creative independent owners selling more clever alluring merchandise. My favorites are the Delaplaine Art Center, with its classes in mixed media and local art showings, and The Muse, for home goods, crafts, jewelry and books. Antique lovers will find a bounty of home decor in Shab’s Row. Bob’s Tatoo and Curiosities is a must-see! I can’t explain it, you just have to stop in!
You will do that in Frederick! There are just so many inspiring choices to make in this town. Of course Frederick’s most famous chef is Bryan Voltaggio, and he has two restaurants worth visiting. Family Meal is his casual but delicious diner food. And his flagship restaurant Volt allows this Top Chef to showcase his creative, locally sourced menu in an elegant dining venue.
The service at Volt makes you feel like royalty. It’s located in a beautifully restored historic mansion with a sparkly outdoor garden. Stop in and get a drink at the bar if you can’t get a reservation!
If you want to join Frederick at its most fun, visit Brewer’s Alley, The building was the town hall beginning in 1769 for more than 100 years. A key event during the Civil War, included the ransoming of Frederick by Confederate General Jubal Early. The ransom was paid in this building, saving the city from being burned to the ground during the Civil War by the confederates. Today, you can have locally brewed beer and a fine collection of pizza pies at this high energy eatery. Frederick is home to Maryland’s largest brewery Flying Dog, but Attaboy Beer and Monocacy Brewing Company are all making top notch craft beer.
Brunch lovers must dine at Firestone’s’ Restaurant, a gastropub on Market St. They serve lunch, dinner and a fabulous Sunday Jazz brunch. Upscale but casual, this restaurant is in a historic building in the heart of Frederick with an incredible selection of desserts! My other top picks are Lazy Fish for sushi, Tasting Room for seafood, The Wine Kitchen for flavorful American cuisine, and JoJo’s Restaurant & Tap House for hearty fare like burgers and steak. All are just so good. It’s worth driving an hour for any of them.
Another great way to experience Frederick is taking a Taste Frederick Food Tour. Along with tasting items at six or more restaurants and shops, you’ll get an excellent overview of the history and architecture in this special city!
Recreation and Attractions
There’s nothing more enchanting than Instagram-worthy Carroll Creek Linear Park and its lovely canal. In the winter, it’s decked out with small, decorated sailboats, and in the summer, the canal is filled with waterlilies. The Trompe l’oeil paintings on the walls make this bridge walk a one of a kind experience.
Every summer Frederick hosts free, high-quality musical entertainment on Sunday nights in June, July and August at the Baker Park Band Shell as Summer Concert Series kicks off another season in 2018. From reggae and zydeco to classic rock and bluegrass, Summer Concert Series showcases professional musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds.
There’s so much to love about Frederick. Make plans to visit soon. Let me know what you liked best! For more info check out Visit Frederick.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.