Looking for the perfect weekend vacation for you and your friends? Ditch the beach and get the gang together on a road trip to Frederick County, Maryland for an unforgettable food and drink experience. With a long list of breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants ranging from chic to casual, it’s the ultimate spot to catch up with your crew.
Bring on the breweries
Craft beer enthusiasts can get their fill by conquering Frederick’s five hotspots for local craft beer.
Be sure to check out the pioneers: Brewer’s Alley Restaurant, Frederick’s first brewpub, offers their own year-round craft classics like 1634 Ale and Kölsch, while Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm is Maryland’s very first farmhouse brewery, serving up hits like Goldie’s Best Bitter and Red Eye Porter.
“Life’s too short to drink bad beer,” is the slogan at Barley and Hops Restaurant and Microbrewery, home of delicious beer like Koha, Working Girl and General Porter, all brewed onsite. (Bonus: Try the savory and sweet B&H wings in buffalo, Old Bay rub, sriracha honey lime, IPA barbecue or brown sugar bourbon. You’ll thank us later.)
Don’t miss Maryland’s largest craft brewery, Flying Dog, for a free tour (reservations only!) and a trip to the tasting room to sample up to 20 beers. Fill a growler with one of Flying Dog’s unique brews like Double Dog or Bloodline, and snag some swag in the gift shop as a souvenir. Nothing says #friendshipgoals like matching t-shirts and shot glasses, right?
Wander through wineries
With nine county wineries hosting regular tasting hours, Frederick really keeps the vino flowing.
Producing an exclusively assembled list of reds and whites, Black Ankle Vineyard is known for their live music every Friday night. Rain or shine, the vineyard comes to life at 6 p.m. with a wide range of musical acts from all genres. Pack a picnic basket and blanket and grab your group spot early.
While the Frederick County vineyard was established in 1982, the Loew family has been making wines since the mid-19th century, back in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Book a tasting at Loew Vineyards to enjoy their long list of varietals and grab a souvenir wine glass. Sample one of their dry reds or whites, semi-sweet and sweet wines, including the delectable Raspberry in Grape, which is best served chilled with chocolate or cheesecake. Yum.
Nestled in the scenic hills of the Catoctin Mountains, Catoctin Breeze Vineyard is a maker of varietal and blended wines, as well as honey mead. Take in the breathtaking sights of the vineyard, which enjoys a constant mountain breeze all summer, and book a private tour for a true insider’s look at the winemaking process. Be sure to stop by the tasting room to sample a wine from the Butterfly or Musical series.
Discover the distilleries
Boasting four premier distilleries, Frederick has the home field advantage on quality alcohol.
Variety is the name of the game at Dragon Distillery, with favorites like Medieval Mint Flavored Vodka, Joust Gin and Fannie Tutt’s Lemon Meringue Moonshine. Swing by for a tour and tasting at this cozy locale, mixing up handcrafted spirits.
Tenth Ward Distilling Company is the quintessential distillery with their branded barrel décor and hard liquors. Try the Claude Countee Corn Whiskey, White Caraway Rye and Applejack apple brandy year-round for a taste of Tenth Ward tradition. The staff is well-versed in their liquor and provides a cocktail guide for enjoying their products.
For smooth, handcrafted drinks, head downtown for McClintock Spirits. Sample the signature no-nonsense staples Forager Gin, Maryland Heritage White Whiskey and Epiphany Vodka. Enjoy them neat or purchase your own products to mix up cocktails at home. (If you and your pals can come up with a new recipe, e-mail the distillery for a chance to get featured on their site!)
Rest, relaxation, and restaurants
With dozens of downtown eateries (and more in the surrounding area) serving any and all kinds of cuisine, the hardest part about your weekend will be getting your group to decide on just one place for dinner.
For fine Spanish cuisine in a chill setting, Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar delivers inspired dishes like gambas al pil pil – sizzling shrimp in spicy garlic oil and caramelized onions – and datiles rellenos, which are crispy bacon-wrapped Spanish dates stuffed with chorizo and mild goat cheese cream. With a seasonally changing menu, Isabella’s also offers tapas trio lunch and brunch menus.
Nido’s has everything you’d expect from a local pizza joint and classy Italian trattoria combined. Chow down on marinated stuffed Portobello, spaghetti Carbonara, chicken cacciatore and baked ziti that can rival your mother’s recipe. If your group is made up of 10 or more, try the family style menu for big, shareable dishes.
Treat yourself with the three-course menu at VOLT, an upscale, award-winning restaurant in a century brownstone mansion. Headed by former Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio, these indulgent savory plates are to die for – like the duck Bolognese, hanger steak, yellowfin tuna tartare and list of inventive desserts. Make a reservation at this fancy foodie paradise in advance.