The beauty of a weekend getaway is the option to do whatever we like in the moment.
Whether we're in the mood to hike, eat and drink well, learn history, work up a sweat or simply relax — we need destinations that can accommodate such whims.
Drive an hour west from downtown Baltimore, and you'll arrive in Frederick, an area that seems made for such a 48-hour trip. You'll be close to home without ever feeling like it, with a multitude of options you likely can't experience all in one visit.
"Downtown Frederick is exactly the kind of downtown I'd want to visit if I didn't live here already," Marlene England, co-owner of Curious Iguana and Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts, said with a laugh recently.
Consider this primer a good starting point for the next time you visit Frederick.
The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center: For more than three decades, this gallery, library and education center has enriched downtown Frederick with rotating exhibits across five galleries within the 40,000-square-foot historic building. It's dog-friendly, too. Free. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 40 S. Carroll St. 301-698-0656; delaplaine.org.
Flying Dog Brewery: A name synonymous with Maryland's craft beer scene, Flying Dog's 50,000-square-foot brewery is worth a trip to Frederick. Known for brews like Snake Dog IPA and Pearl Necklace Chesapeake Stout, the state's largest producer of craft beer offers tours and educational events to better inform fans what's in their pint glasses. Pull up a seat at the taproom or, if it's nice out, play cornhole with a beer in hand on Flying Dog's lawn. Tours, from Wednesday-Sunday and via reservation only, are free. Tasting room is open 3 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; noon-8 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 4607 Wedgewood Blvd. 301-694-7899; flyingdogbrewery.com.
Frederick Wine Trail: Located just outside Frederick in the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains, this trail — featuring the wineries Linganore, Catoctin Breeze, Springfield Manor, Loew and Elk Run — introduces visitors to the area's local wine offerings. Prices and times for tastings and tours vary by location. 410-775-2513; frederickwinetrail.com.
Francis Scott Key Monument: Visitors to the Mount Olivet Cemetery can pay their respects to the lyricist behind "The Star-Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, at his burial site. When you're done, continue on a self-guided tour of the cemetery and its more than 40,000 graves. 7 a.m.-sunset daily. Free. 515 S. Market St. 301-662-1164; mountolivetcemeteryinc.com.
National Museum of Civil War Medicine: There's much more to Civil War-era medicine than moonshine and biting a bullet in lieu of anesthesia. Through artifacts and storytelling, learn how compassion and strategic thinking informed the medical decisions of the Civil War. $7-$9.50 (children 9 and under are free). 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 48 E. Patrick St. 301-695-1864; civilwarmed.org.
Carroll Creek Park: What began as a flood control project in the late '70s is now an entertaining mile-plus-long stroll through downtown Frederick. Walk (or jog) the pedestrian paths as you pass public art like the large-scale Community Bridge Mural and the Carroll Creek Amphitheater. Located along South Market Street downtown. Free. 301-600-1492; cityoffrederick.com.
Catoctin Mountain Park: Whether you're a hiking novice or expert, this park of more than 25 miles of trails will offer scenic overlooks and challenging routes. Bring food for a picnic or plan to camp overnight. 14707 Park Central Road, Thurmont. Free. nps.gov/cato.
Frederick History Bicycle Loop: You'll need at least a couple hours to explore this self-guided 10-mile bike ride of downtown Frederick, including stops at Memorial Park, Hood College, the county's original court house and more. Free. visitfrederick.org.
Historic Downtown Frederick Walking Tour: Exploring Frederick doesn't require a tour guide, but for history buffs, it certainly helps. On Saturdays and Sundays, the Historical Society of Frederick County gives walking tours of the town's historic points of interest, including Winchester Hall and the Weinberg Center for the Arts. 11 a.m. Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays. $5-$7 (children ages 5 and under are free). Tour begins at the Museum of Frederick County History, 24 E. Church St. 301-663-1188; frederickhistory.org.
Whiskey Creek Golf Course: Designed with the help of professional golfer Ernie Els, Whiskey Creek is a 20-minute drive from downtown Frederick. With views of the Catoctin Mountains in the background, the 18-hole public course boasts cleverly designed holes that should test your handicap. Prices vary depending on date and time. 4804 Whiskey Court, Ijamsville. 301-694-2900; whiskeycreekgolf.com.
South Mountain Creamery: "Kids love to see the calves," said Lori Sallet, South Mountain Creamery's marketing director. Children visiting this Middletown creamery during feeding time (4 p.m. daily) can even hold a bottle to a calf's mouth. Of course, there's ice cream, too. Customers love the Red, White and Blue flavor — a patriotic mix of blueberry, raspberry and vanilla. Walk out with a pint for $4.25. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 8305 Bolivar Road, Middletown. 301-371-8565; southmountaincreamery.com.
Safari at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo: Kids can take a 60-minute ride on the back of an old Army surplus troop carrier as they encounter African zebras, Asian antelope and many other exotic animals from all areas of the world. $12 (not including price of admission, which varies by date and age). Operating hours vary depending on date. 13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont. 301-271-3180; cwpzoo.com.
Frederick Keys game: Watch a game played by the Orioles' minor-league affiliate at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. Who knows — you could see the next Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy, two Orioles who once donned the Keys uniform. Games run until early September. 21 Stadium Drive. 301-662-0013; frederickkeys.com.
Frederick Family Float: Bask in the sun with friends and family as you lazily float down the Monocacy River. Rent an inflatable tube (1-3 hour trip) or take a mini boat out for the day (5-6 hours). Just remember: No flip-flops. $28-$48 tube and boat rentals. 8707 Liberty Road. 240-651-3568; frederickfamilyfloat.com.
Curious Iguana: At just under 1,000 square feet, this independent downtown bookstore has to be selective in the titles it carries. "We take great pride in our selection, and in having books we are excited to share with people," said co-owner Marlene England. You can even find handwritten recommendation notes accompanying certain books. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 12 N. Market St. 301-695-2500; curiousiguana.com.
Hunting Creek Outfitters: A one-stop shop for fishing and camping needs, this downtown Frederick store sells the latest releases from trusted names like Orvis, Barbour, Patagonia, Yeti and more. Stop in and you're likely to find members of the area's fly-fishing community. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 301-668-4333; huntingcreekoutfitters.com.
The Muse: Opened by artist Whitney Bingham in 2003, the Muse sells handmade gifts from jewelry and ceramics to Frederick-themed glassware and colorful yoga mat carriers. More than half of the store's inventory is made locally, too. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 301-663-3632; shopthemuse.com.
Sweet Clover: Though it's typically open only the third weekend of each month, this "vintage barn" is worth carving out time for in your schedule. Housed on a horse farm, it sells repurposed and handmade items and furnishings. Its spring market runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today-Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 4051 Stanford Court. 240-549-0330; sweetcloverbarn.com.
Velvet Lounge: This chic women's clothing store is well-curated, carrying labels like Free People, AG Jeans, Frye and more in an attractive downtown boutique. Personal styling and denim alterations available. 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. 203 N. Market St. 301-695-5700; velvetloungeboutique.com.
Eat and drinks
Black Hog: Smoked beef brisket, Carolina chopped pork, pit ham, spare ribs … should we go on? If the piled-high plates of barbecue aren't enough, there's wings, salads and more. Take a helping of mac and cheese for the road, too. Happy hour is 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Downtown location (118 South Market St., 301-662-9090) is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and closed Sunday. Market Square location (221 Shorebird St., 301-662-9600) is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. blackhogbbq.com.
Brewer's Alley: Open since the summer of 1996, Brewer's Alley features an outdoor patio designed for enjoying cold beers at a leisurely pace. For those in search of a local product, Brewer's Alley contact-brews its beers at nearby Monocacy Brewing Company (1781 N. Market St.). 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 11:30 a.m.-midnight Wednesday-Thursday; 11:30-12:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-11:30 p.m. Sunday. 124 N. Market St. 301-631-0089; brewers-alley.com.
Family Meal: Although the Baltimore location closed last summer, Bryan Voltaggio's original diner is still serving refined comfort food, like the towering chicken salad sandwich ($8.99) we devoured. The side of duck fat fries ($5.99), and its trio of dipping sauces, were imperative. (Those looking for the fine-dining Voltaggio experience should visit Volt, 228 N. Market St.) 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. 882 N. East St. 301-378-2895; voltfamilymeal.com.
Gravel and Grind: Owners Tracy Hathaway and James Johnson combined two of their loves: bicycles and coffee. You can grab a cup of coffee they roast themselves, along with baked goods from Stone Hearth Bakery from down the street. While some bike shops "can be intimidating," Gravel and Grind's staff welcomes questions. "When you come into our shop, it's a really warm environment," Hathaway said. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday (Monday-Tuesday by appointment). 124 S. Carroll St. 301-682-2651; gravelandgrind.com.
Magoo's Pub & Eatery: This Irish pub serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in an unpretentious setting. Try one of the house specialties like the Killer Fries' Breakfast — a plate of Old Bay fries topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar, bacon and salsa for $11. 1 W. 2nd St. 8 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. 301-378-2237; magoosfrederick.com.
Children's Festival: Entering its 28th year, this free festival at Baker Park will feature more than 50 booths for kids and parents. The young ones stay busy with hands-on activities and live entertainment, while parents can learn more about local programs and agencies serving the youth. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 29. 121 N. Bentz St. 301-662-4549; childcarechoices.info.
Frederick Festival of the Arts: Painters, sculptors, jewelry-makers, wood carvers and other artists from around the country will display their works at this annual festival, now in its 24th year. Live local music from Willie & His Chaperones, the Frederick School of Rock and more will perform. Free. 7 p.m.-9 p.m. June 2; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 3; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 4. 301-662-4190; frederickartscouncil.org.
The Great Frederick Fair: For more than 150 years, this annual fair has celebrated Frederick's contributions to the local agriculture industry. Aside from educational exhibits, the nine-day event will have live music, carnival rides, a demolition derby and much more. $5-$8 (children ages 10 and under are free). Sept. 15-23. 301-663-5895; thegreatfrederickfair.com.
Maryland Craft Beer Festival: Maryland's craft beer scene continues to thrive, and the fruits of the labor will be poured at this all-day event at Carroll Creek Park. More than 40 local brands will offer more than 180 beers, alongside live music and food vendors. $10-$50. Noon-5 p.m. May 13. 44 S. Market St. mdcraftbeerfestival.com.
National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race: Riders of high-wheel bicycles, both modern and antique, will race around downtown Frederick in two qualifying heats and then a final showdown to crown a champion. The penny-farthing comeback is on. Race begins at 3 p.m. Aug. 12 in front of Brewer's Alley. Free. highwheelrace.com.
10 Clarke: This sophisticated bed and breakfast has the little touches — embroidered bathrobes, wine, freshly baked cookies and, if you're feeling indulgent, massages — that can make a weekend getaway feel like a true vacation. Rooms start at $155 per night. 10 Clarke Place. 301-660-6707; 10clarke.com.
Fairfield Inn & Suites: While Frederick has plenty of bed-and-breakfasts to choose from, there are also more traditional lodging options like this hotel, located two miles from downtown. Rates depend on date and availability. 5220 Westview Drive. 301-631-2000; marriott.com.
Frederick Inn Bed & Breakfast: A renovated 1897 Colonial Revival mansion located five miles from downtown, this three-story bed-and-breakfast has suites with private balconies and decorative fireplaces. Rooms start at $159 per night. 3521 Buckeystown Pike. 240-341-2902; frederickinn.com.