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3 Reasons to Go to Frederick, MD Before (or After) the Papal Visit

It’s obvious that the Philadelphia papal visit has the city aflutter. From securing prime Airbnb real estate to snagging Regional Rail “Pope Passes”, visitors and locals alike are preparing for the pope’s arrival. But if you’re looking to maximize your trip, we suggest tacking on an overnight getaway to Frederick County, Maryland. Only two-and-a-half hours away from Philly, Frederick and nearby Emmitsburg count several religious sites, tasty restaurants, and plenty of lodging options amongst its ranks. So, whether you’re an out-of-towner or native Philadelphian, you can plan the ultimate religious excursion.

Where to Visit // Emmitsburg is home to National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a site dedicated to the first American-born saint whose unparalleled generosity included the establishment of the first free Catholic school for girls. There are free guided tours offered at the Visitors Center every hour from 10am to 3pm, Tuesday through Fridays. Visitors are invited to explore the Seton Legacy Garden, St. Joseph’s Cemetery and Mortuary Chapel, the Basilica where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is buried, and the Seton Heritage Museum.

Plus, on September 12-14 (in case you make your trip early), there will be celebrations to recognize the 40-year anniversary of Seton’s canonization. If you can’t make it then, there’s an ongoing special exhibit,  “40 Years A Saint: A Premier Exhibition,” that will be on display through August 2016. While you’re there, checkout the exhibit’s standout centerpiece, a banner displayed in St. Peter’s Square on the day of her canonization in 1975.

Nearby attractions include National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Mount St. Mary’s University, which features the oldest replica of France’s Lourdes Shrine in the western hemisphere. A stroll through the grotto’s outdoor shrines and gardens is essential to take in its bucolic setting. The tranquil grotto cave has hundreds of devotional candles, a trickling stream, and benches for reflection and peaceful repose. There’s also a 95-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile topped with a spectacular 25-foot, gold-leafed bronze figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Religious or not, the views are certainly a treat.

Minutes away, you’ll find National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park located at the National Emergency Training Center. The site includes a stone monument honoring members of the fire service who have died in the line of duty since 1981, a brick Walk of Honor and a 9/11 memorial.

Where to Eat and Stay // After a day of scoping out all of the local attractions, swing by Emmitsburg’s Carriage House Inn, a charming restaurant known for its standout seafood dishes like a broiled crab cake platter and imperial stuffed shrimp.

Then, finish your day at one of the area’s many overnight accommodations. At Ole Mink Farm’s luxury cabins in Thurmont, Maryland, enjoy a nontraditional camping getaway with fully-equipped kitchens, bathrooms, cable, Wi-Fi and supplied firewood. Or, for a sweet bed-and-breakfast experience, make a reservation at one of the many properties in downtown historic Frederick: 10 Clarke, Hollerstown Hill and Hill House. (Each of which has been recognized for above-and-beyond hospitality.) And if you need a room in a pinch, try one of the many top-notch hotel offerings. Because let’s be honest, with all of the excitement, you’ll need a restful slumber.

For more information about planning your getaway to Frederick County, Maryland, click here.