Maryland’s Most Scenic Family Road Trip: 12 Stops, One Weekend
As the weather starts to warm up, it’s the perfect time to pack the kiddos and your parents into the car and set sail on a good old-fashioned American road trip. But to avoid a ton of traffic, tolls and fussy littles ones, we found a trip that’s just the right distance away (2 and a half hours!) and still brimming with new ways to have fun together. Frederick, Maryland is full of indoor and outdoor adventures for guests of all ages. From historic wonders to wineries, you’ll find everything you need to amuse your whole crew.
But in case you need a little extra inspiration, we’ve put together an itinerary for a weekend full of fun:
Are we there yet?
If the inevitable “are we there yet?” chorus starts to creep in from the backseat, you can always make a pitstop along the way. Both Wilmington, Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland are directly on the route to Frederick. Stop into Wilmington, Delaware for a big breakfast or swing by Baltimore to grab a burger and sit by the harbor. The fresh air and food will calm your crazed kiddos. Now back on the road.
After about an hour’s drive you’ll start rolling through the lush mountains and valleys surrounding Frederick. First stop—the Monocacy Battlefield. The historic site is a short detour on your way into town. Stop and snap a few pics of the spot labeled, “The Battle That Saved Washington.” It’s the site of one of the final battles the Confederates would fight in Union territory and a great space to stretch your legs.
What to see (Day 1)
As you make your way in to town, pop in to the Frederick Visitor Center to experience the renovated 19th century industrial warehouse and all of its exhibits, including the award-winning 15 minute film, “A Turn of the Wheel.” Don’t forget to grab your map and a few souvenirs on your way out. Next, continue your journey through the past with a stop at the Rose Hill Manor Park and Children’s Museum. There’s an onsite manor house, icehouse, log cabin, blacksmith shop, carriage collection and two barns. Plus, special programs to teach children about early American life.
Later on in the day, make your way to South Mountain Creamery for an afternoon pick-me-up. With more than 45 flavors of ice cream available at all times, everyone will find a sweet treat to indulge in. Kids will love playing on the farm where they can bottle feed calves and watch cows being milked! If there’s daylight left, try and squeeze in a stroll to the “Community Bridge” Mural along Carroll Creek Park. It’s a great spot for a family photo op and to catch the sunset and part of the larger Downtown Public Art Trail.
Where to eat
End your jam-packed day by refueling at a local eatery. Frederick is chock full family friendly spots like Pistarros, Pretzel and Pizza Creations and the North Market Pop Shop with menus that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Once the kids are tuckered out, ask the grandparents to play sitter and set off for a night cap. Frederick is full of award-winning wineries, breweries and distillers. There’s no better way to unwind from your full day than catching up over a perfect local pint.
Where to sleep
One of Frederick’s greatest claims to fame is the stunning natural scenery and what better way to experience the views all night than to sleep amongst the trees! Catoctin Mountain Park, a National Park, offers tent sites or historic cabin rentals to spend the night sleeping under the stars. There’s onsite showers and fun opportunities all over like nature trails, fishing, swimming and horseback rides. Plus, it’s right next to Cunningham Falls State Park, home to Maryland’s largest cascading waterfall. Less inclined to camp? You can still experience the beauty of the region (while staying cozy indoors!) at the Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort. Luxury cabins feature a variety of amenities while still immersing families in nature.
What to see (Day 2)
Rise and shine, it’s breakfast time! Head to Family Meal, a modern American diner inspired by classic comfort foods. Satisfy your appetite and fill up for the day ahead with favorites like buttermilk pancakes, stone ground grits and chicken pot pie fritters. You might recognize the owner, Chef Bryan Voltaggio, from the show Top Chef. After gathering the troops and packing up the car, make your way to one of the most exciting spots in Maryland for young visitors—the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo. Watch as your kids are wowed by bears, leopards, parrots, monkeys and more. If your children are slightly older, you can opt for a more adventurous final activity instead, like an excursion to one of Frederick’s escape rooms.
On your way out of town, head off the highways and instead traverse through one of Frederick’s two scenic byways—Historic National Road and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground. What a memorable way to end an already exciting trip.
For more information about planning your getaway to Frederick County, Maryland, click here.
This is a paid partnership between Visit Frederick and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio