You might know Frederick County’s Thurmont best for its close proximity to Camp David, where the president traditionally takes his annual retreat, and we can see why. The small town offers a quaint fall getaway and is close to the nearby Catoctin Mountains, which are typically filled with colorful foliage.
Aside from embarking on hikes in what seems to be an endless number of nature trails in the nearby state parks, the town offers plenty of outdoor and family activities. There’s more than one winery to choose from; a golf course that has attracted film crews and celebrities from around the country; orchards and farms with apple picking, hayrides, freshly baked goods that smell of the season, and if you prefer your fruits airborne, apple cannons for the chucking; and secluded places to lay your head.
We can see why this area is fit for a presidential getaway. Here are just some suggestions on how to squeeze the most out of fall during your Thurmont getaway:
Eats & drinks
Catoctin Breeze Vineyard The local vineyard, which produces and bottles everything on site, is the perfect fall getaway. Choose from the three wine tastings — $12 for premier wines, $10 for signature, and $8 for sweet wines — for a great introduction to the winery’s options. If you find a favorite, choose for a glass and traverse the vineyard on a guided tour ($20 per person) or settle down at one of the many outdoor tables in the lawn area where, on weekends, they play live music. Call ahead for tours. 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. noon-6 p.m. Saturday. noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 15010 Roddy Rd. catoctinbreeze.com.
Springfield Manor Winery, Brewery and Distillery This 130-acre estate has something for everyone. The winery produces 10 varieties of vino, which can be served by the glass, by the bottle or in a homemade sangria. The brewery specializes in craft beers, including quality IPA’s and its boast-worthy Brewhaus; and the distillery, licensed in 2011, produces a variety of liquors, including rye whiskey, bourbon, grappa, brandy and lavender gin. And for the non-drinker, Springfield hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the annual Maryland Lavender Festival, live music and trivia nights. 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday. Noon-9 p.m. Saturday. Noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 11836 Auburn Rd. springfieldmanor.com.
Fitzgerald's Shamrock Restaurant This family restaurant relishes Irish fare like fish and chips, Irish lamb shank and shepherd’s pie. It also cooks up an array of seafood dishes and sandwiches. Leave room for dessert. The Shamrock specializes in freshly baked bread, pastries and cakes, including a coconut cake. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Noon-9 p.m. Sunday. 7701 Fitzgerald Rd. shamrockrestaurant.com.
Thurmont Kountry Kitchen Just off of Main Street, the diner has been a fixture in the community for more than 30 years. The kitchen serves up daily specials and classics like super melts, burgers like the 8 oz. Big Daddy bacon cheeseburger served on a pretzel bun, the bragged-about chicken salad, and the broasted chicken meal, which features a whole chicken fried in a pressure cooker to seal the juices inside a crispy skin, served with three large potato wedges and two sides. If you have room, choose one of their homemade desserts, which include an array of pies, apple churros and cupcakes. 6 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 6 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. 17 Water St. For more information, visit Thurmont Kountry Kitchen’ s Facebook page.
Gateway Farm Market and Candyland Before heading home, why not stock up on some sinfully delicious goodies? This 35-year-old family establishment holds 350 varieties of candy (including sugar-free types), a variety of homemade soft-serve and Hershey’s ice cream flavors, preserves, sauces, select produce and cooking tools to make your own candies — making it the perfect final pitstop. 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. 14802 N. Franklinville Rd. gatewaycandy.com.
Timeless Trends Boutique Stop into this Main Street boutique for an array of knick-knacks, souvenirs, home decor, clothing, candles and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday-Saturday. 10 a.m. 6 p.m. Thursday. Noon- 5 p.m. Sunday. 21 East Main Street. timelesstrendsboutique.com.
Catoctin Mountain Orchard The orchard is worth the drive — even if it’s just for the fall treats, which include freshly baked pies, homemade preserves, sauces and ciders, much of them using items made from the orchard. If you prefer to make your own fall goodies, go for the weekend apple picking, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., weather permitting (Call ahead or check their Facebook page for info on apple picking). The orchard is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekends in October. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday in November and December. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday in January. 15036 N. Franklinville Rd. catoctinmountainorchard.com.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve At this Thurmont 50-acre park, the goal is “bringing people and animals closer together,” so don’t be surprised if you find yourself nearly face to- face with the cat-like fossa or rubbing the nose of an eager pig. The zoo, which is geographically organized, features a host of endangered species, including mountain tortoises; an extensive reptile collection; wolves that attempt to race the zookeepers, and the mischievous macaques. Guests can also participate in an on-site safari through 35 acres of land for $14 extra, which allows attendees to encounter more than 30 species, some of which can be fed or petted with supervision. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Nov. 4. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends only through November. $14.75-$19.75. 13019 Catoctin Furnace Rd. catoctinwildlifepreserve.com.
Lawyer's Winterbrook Farm Fall activities abound at Winterbrook, with an annual corn maze, a pumpkin patch, mountain slides, zip lines, games like cornhole and tetherball and the Big Barn where attendees can pet farm animals. Open through Nov. 4. 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Pumpkin patch closes at 5:30 p.m. and ziplines close at 7 p.m. Creagerstown Rd. $7-$10. winterbrookfarmsmd.com.
For the best view of fall foliage, take advantage of Thurmont’s parks, including Catoctin Mountain Park, which includes 25 miles of hiking trails and breathtaking views from Chimney Rock, Hog Rock, the Thurmont Vista, and Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, which is considered the most accessible high vista point in the park. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont. Free. nps.gov/cato. The nearby Cunningham Falls State Park also features a variety of trails, ranging from a half mile to 7.5 miles, and offers up various opportunities to fish, boat, and hunt. 8 a.m.-sunset daily. April-October. 10 a.m.-sunset daily. November through March. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd. Free. dnr.maryland.gov.
Maple Run Golf Club Once a favorite of former President Bill Clinton, this 18-hole par 72 golf course offers a challenge for every level of golfer, with a variety of tees for different abilities. 7:30 a.m.-dusk. weekdays. 7 a.m.-dusk weekends. 13610 Moser Road. $11-$40. maplerungolf.com.
If you’re an architecture buff or just want a cool photo opportunity, visit the three covered bridges in the Thurmont area, which are considered to be the last of the eight known covered bridges in the state. The 101-foot restored Utica Mills Covered Bridge, which was originally built around 1850, is located on Utica Road off of Old Frederick Road over Fishing Creek. The barn-red Loy’s Station Covered Bridge, which was originally built in the 1800s, crosses Owens Creek and has joint park amenities, including fishing, horseshoe pits and picnic tables. 8 a.m.-sunset. 3600 Old Frederick Rd. Or, visit the roughly 40-foot Roddy Road Covered Bridge, the smallest of the county bridges, at 14760 Roddy Rd. 8 a.m.-sunset. visitfrederick.org.
Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort Sitting at the top of the breathtaking Catoctin mountains, the Ole Mink resort features seasonal campsites and camping and luxury cabins, with nearby access to a host of natural trails, a pond and mountain streams to fish, a game room, and an outdoor swimming pool. 12806 Mink Farm Rd. $175-$325 per night. oleminkfarm.com.
Inn at Springfield Manor Turn an overnight stay into an experience at the Inn at Springfield Manor, which has its own brewery, distillery, and winery (a complimentary tasting is included in your stay), as well as a vineyard and lavender field, which makes for an onsite adventure. At night, guests can stay warm by the fire pits while stargazing or enjoy live music on select days. 11836 Auburn Rd. $225 per night. innatspringfieldmanor.com.
Main Street Art & Wine Stroll Local businesses will host artists, wineries and bakers inside their establishments, inviting guests to vibe and imbibe on the historic Main Street. 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 9. Thurmont Main Street, 11 Water St. thurmontmainstreet.com.
Halloween in the Park The annual family-friendly event hosts activities for children of all ages, including a spooky hayride, a magic display, a haunted house and more. 6 p.m. Oct. 27. The rain date is Nov. 3. $3 plus a canned food donation. Thurmont Community Park, 21 Frederick Road. thurmontmainstreet.com.
Christmas in Thurmont Main Street will turn into a Christmas oasis on Dec. 1 with free visits with Santa, holiday performances, prize giveaways and $10 horse and carriage rides. For more information, visit thurmontmainstreet.com.