New Miller Library doubling as a tourist attraction in Ellicott City

When my son Dave and his girlfriend Kristen came down from Brooklyn, N.Y., for a belated Christmas celebration last week, the first place we took them was Ellicott City's newest tourist attraction — the Miller Library and Historical Center.

I was delighted and amazed that we couldn't find a space in the vast parking lot and ended up parking in the old library lot and walking over. Inside, the place was teaming with people. It was one of those unseasonal 60 degree days, so even the second floor outdoor terrace area was crowded. I hope the bustle continues — it's a great place.

Tourism Center

I'm on the board of the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation and we had our first meeting of the new year in the new Tourism Center, now on the first floor of the old Post Office building on Main Street. The Center's manager, Ed Lilley, told me that when they first opened in December, folk were still coming in to mail packages — and the Post Office has been closed at that location for three years!

Anyway, the county did a great job renovating the space. There is lots of room for historical displays and brochures and a nice meeting room with attractive acoustic panels hanging from the ceiling. Some of the old brass post office boxes still exist, but are a decorative element these days. From my seat at the table in the conference room I could see across to Yates Market, a perspective I've never enjoyed before. I urge you to check out this new, user friendly space the next time you visit the historic district.

People's choice

The Ellicott City Restoration Foundation has announced the People's Choice winner in its annual window decorating contest in the historic district. This year it's Vintage Bliss Boutique at 8086 Main St. The winner was determined by ballots cast by visitors to the historic district and submitted to the Foundation. The runners-up are A Journey From Junk at 8247 Main St., Attic Antiques and Things at 8241 Main St. and Sweet Elizabeth Jane at 8125 Main St.

The ballot voters submitted also served as an entry form in a drawing for a $75 gift certificate that can be used at the retail shop or restaurant of their choice. Remember that extra incentive for next year's contest.

Retail news

The Wine Bin is celebrating its third birthday starting Friday, Jan. 20, with Spanish night, from 6 to 9 p.m. Festivities include live music and a "Parfections" chocolate tasting. To add to the fun, you can get 20 percent off a case of 12 bottles (if you 'sing, dance, whisper or shout' at the register "I love the Bin.") On Saturday night, Jan. 21, you can party on with a wine dinner coordinated by Moshin Vineyards and Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant. Meet at the Bin at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 410-465-7802.

Down at The Pure Wine Café, they are ushering in the new year with a "Bubbles Party" on Jan. 21, featuring eight courses for $75. Call 410-480-5037 for reservations.

As if that weren't enough, we are also in the middle of "Restaurant Weeks," which runs Jan. 16-30. In the historic district, participating restaurants are Tersiguel's and the Diamondback Tavern. They will be featuring specialty menus with an international flair at special prices.

Holiday Trains

This year's Holiday Festival of Trains is winding down at the B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station. The exhibit closes Jan. 29. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. It might be a bit less crowded now, so you can really check out all the interesting features. Call 410-461-1945 for more information.

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