How to be a Hometown Tourist
It's starting to warm up outside, the rain has stopped and there's no humidity – yet.
I'd say it's time to be a tourist in your own town.
We all have a list of places that we would like visit though we never seem
to get around to it, usually because they're so close you could go anytime,
but don't. Or every year you hear about that one special event that happens
the third Thursday in July (or was it Tuesday?). Anyway, the next time you
are reminded of it is when your friend is telling you what a great weekend
they just had. Darn – missed it again! Well, there's always next year,
right? I know that I usually see and do more around town and around the state
when I have company visiting from out-of-state.
I know that there are a ton of home projects calling your name and your home
(away from home?) office is beckoning you with promises of productivity . .
. but, hey – the sun is out! Back away from the computer and get out
there and enjoy it – but, um, not just yet. Here's why: Below this paragraph
are some really great places you can use to start planning your little excursions.
I'm all for a little sunshine, but being a little prepared can hurt, either,
can it? So read on and you can pick up not only when and where some events
are happening, but also some interesting facts, history and trivia about the
places you visit that you might not find in the brochure.
The first place you should probably start is the Office
of Tourism. Whether you like festivals and street fairs or rafting and
biking, this is the source for some great family fun day trips. This site
definitely has a little bit of everything – from dinner and dancing
to "four-season fun" in the great outdoors. Now, as a resident you are well-aware
of a great deal of what goes on around here, but if you want to start exploring
your home territory the event calendar should be the first place you should
search. It alone will turn a "nothing to do" weekend into a "which one should
I go to" dilemma.
- Wine Tasting: Maryland has vineyards? I know – it surprised
me, too. Your first stop should be Maryland
Wine for maps and information on local vineyards. Your next stop should
be Boordy Vineyards, my
- The B & O Railroad Museum: Everyone
knows where it is, and I think that it should get a little more attention
(of course, that could just be my inner-child talking). This is another wonderful
place for kids of all ages, featuring several exhibits that change throughout
the year. And of course, the tour ends in the gift shop.
- Ghost Tours: For the brave of heart, there are some fun tours that
mix ghost stories with history and trivia about the more-enchanting places
around Maryland (personally, I would prefer such a tour on a warm summer
evening, and not a chilly autumn night). Check out the Ghosts
of Annapolis, "Ye
Haunted History of Olde Ellicott City" Ghost Tours, Candlelight
Ghost Tours of Frederick and Fell's
Point Ghost Tours – if you dare!
- Topiary Gardens: Not as boring as you might think . . . okay, that's
not fair, but it was my first impression when it was presented to me. The
Ladew Estate is known for its fifteen beautiful gardens, each with its
own theme and topiary
– trees and shrubs trained and trimmed into ornamental shapes. But
that is just the beginning – they also have a very busy event calendar
featuring concerts, art shows, dinners and children's events.
- The Maryland Zoo
in Baltimore: The zoo is great. I waited until I had a little
2-year-old princess before finding out for myself just how great it is.
You don't need kids in your company to enjoy the zoo, but it helps (although
you will probably be on their schedule). And of course, the zoo is a
great place to go anytime but – just like all the other locations
listed in this article –
wouldn't it be better to go when something different is happening (especially
if you've already been to the zoo and your three-foot-tall event-planner
"suggesting" another visit)?. Going during a special event would certainly
keep it from becoming "another trip to the zoo". Variety – it's a good
thing (as is moderation). Wear comfortable shoes, and don't try to do the
whole thing all at once – you will enjoy it more if you explore it
- Museums: Of course, when the humidity does come to town (and it
does come to town), indoor attractions can't be beaten. Check out some of
these great, air-conditioned venues. There are museums to fit just about
any interest, from the Baltimore
Museum of Art to the Havre
de Grace Decoy Museum to the American
Visionary Art Museum and the Baltimore
Museum of Industry. There are too many to mention, so your best bet
is to simply point your favorite search engine toward "Maryland Museums."
Hotels also provide guides to local attractions and events; visit their websites
for some ideas. And remember: of all the statewide directories, not one of
them will list everything. If you are looking for some good fun without the
crowds, try your local county and town websites, local public library websites,
and, when all else fails, – there's always Google!