Go here: Frederick may not strike Marylanders as a vacation destination, but its residents know that the city is always an entertaining place to be, with its combination of chic locales and rich Civil War history. Visitors can take a walking tour of Frederick's Civil War trails or watch field surgery demonstrations at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine (48 E. Patrick St., 301-695-1864), and Frederick is only a half-hour from Antietam National Battlefield.
In addition to the Francis Scott Key Mall, downtown Frederick has a number of specialty antique, clothing and smoke shops, including its newest addition, Vibrant Artwear (301 N. Market St., 240-379-6246), which sells unique bohemian clothing and eclectic jewelry for quarters a piece. Something is always playing at the Weinberg Center for the Arts (20 W. Patrick St., 301-228-2828), a 1920s movie theater that features performances by local and national groups, including the U.S. Army Band, the Maryland Regional Ballet, The Capitol Steps and more.
If that isn't enough, Frederick also offers miniature golf, winery and brewery tours, baseball games with the Frederick Keys, and a selection of fine restaurants, tapas bars, sports bars and even a hookah bar. So if you didn't think that Frederick was a city that could keep you on your toes, think again.
Stay here: Hill House Bed and Breakfast, 12 W. Third St., 301-682-4111, hillhousefrederick.com. A three-story Victorian town house built in 1870, Hill House has four charming guest rooms with private baths, and is within walking distance of downtown Frederick's antique shops, restaurants and the city's beautiful public park. The owners, Taylor and Damian Branson, also provide home-cooked meals, which can be taken in the garden, weather permitting. Rooms rates start at $125 per night.
The Inn at Buckeystown, 3521 Buckeystown Pike, Historic Buckeystown, 301-874-5755, innatbuckeystown.com. Just 15 minutes from the heart of downtown Frederick, The Inn at Buckeystown occupies a renovated 1897 mansion with a strong Civil War influence. The inn has eight Victorian-style rooms, five with private baths, and is most well known for its afternoon tea service and its murder mystery dinner theater events. (They book up fast, both with tourists and regulars.) The inn was rated among the Top 10 "most affordable luxury inns" in North America by Inn Traveler Magazine. Rooms range from $115 to $250 per night.
Eat here: Brewer's Alley, 124 N Market St., 301-631-0089. Frederick's first brewery, Brewer's Alley serves a wide range of brews and ales on tap, and a variety of seasonal and holiday beers, along with contemporary American cuisine. The reasonably priced restaurant is even more enjoyable during summer when patio dining is available.
Isabella's Taverna and Tapas Bar, 44 N Market St., 301-698-8922, isabellas-tavern.com. If you've never been to a tapas bar, Isabella's will make you a repeat customer. Tapas are large appetizers that are meant to be ordered in groups and shared. Isabella's offers hot and cold selections of seafood, vegetable and meat dishes, as well as soups, bread and cheese plates, and some unique Spanish selections. The menu also has entrees, with a whole section dedicated to paella.
Brewer's Alley, 124 N Market St., 301-631-0089. Frederick's first brewery, Brewer's Alley serves a wide range of brews and ales on tap, and a variety of seasonal and holiday beers, along with contemporary American cuisine. The reasonably priced restaurant is even more enjoyable during summer when patio dining is available.
After a day of walking the streets downtown, stop in at the Market Street Cafe (14 N. Market St., 301-695-0222) and order the mango sorbet, or walk down the Promenade next to Carroll Creek and visit Rita's Italian Ice of Frederick (538 W. South St., 301-694-8834) for a frozen treat.
Don't miss this: The Great Frederick Fair (797 E. Patrick St.; thegreatfrederickfair.com) is a tradition for Frederick County residents since 1821, when it was a simple cattle show. Now, the 72-acre fairgrounds host craft, farm and garden, beer and wine, baking and livestock competitions, as well as a full-scale carnival midway, a horse pull, a decorated wagon parade, pony and harness racing, motorsports and a concessions street serving everything from pulled pork and boardwalk fries to fried Oreos and funnel cake. There are educational programs for children, live auctions, antique vendors and live concerts every day, with past performers including American Idol's Kellie Pickler, as well as Trace Adkins, Mel Tillis and Ray Price, and Jason Aldean.
Get here: Frederick is a straight shot west of Baltimore, about 50 miles or one hour away. Take Interstate 70 west for about 40 miles, then take exit 54 toward Market Street. Take a slight right at New Design Road, then left at South Market Street and you'll be in the heart of downtown Frederick. Parking is $1 at the garage on Church Street.
For more information: fredericktourism.org.