Howard County, Md. is a great place to visit because it offers something for everyone. History buffs will enjoy finding out about this region’s role in the Civil War. Nature lovers will have a great time exploring the county’s rolling hills and beautiful landscape. Those who seek local entertainment can explore local shops and art galleries during special events. To help you get started planning your trip, we’ve put together a list of several great free and almost free Howard County events and activities.
Shops and galleries in Ellicott City’s Historic District stay open until 8 p.m. the first Friday of each month April through December. The First Fridays event offers patrons a unique evening shopping experience, with special offers, musical entertainment and more. Read more about First Fridays in Ellicott City on The Wayside Inn’s blog.
In addition to First Fridays, you won’t want to miss Second Sundays in Ellicott City, either. The second Sunday of each month May through September, you can visit the stores along Tongue Row, along with booths set up by local farmers and artisans. Find out more information here.
Howard County is home to numerous parks, including the Patapsco Valley State Park. This 16,000-acre park stretches along 32 miles of the Patapsco River. Its eight developed recreational areas offer opportunities to hike, fish, camp, canoe, ride horses, mountain bike, as well as simply enjoy a picnic lunch stretched out on the grass or in one of the pavilions.
If you enjoy hiking, Patapsco Valley State Park features 170 miles of trails, 70 of them that are maintained. Guided hikes and educational programs are offered at the park, and information about these programs can be found on the website. In addition, you can visit the Avalon Visitor Center, which features an exhibit spanning 300 years of history along the Patapsco River.
Howard County Conservancy also offers opportunities for hiking. The Conservancy maintains Mt. Pleasant Farm, a 300-year-old farm in Woodstock left for preservation in 1993. It is home to more than 140 species of birds and wildlife. There’s quite a lot to do at Mt. Pleasant Farm. You can visit the nature center, where there are nearly always activities to enjoy, explore the farm’s outbuildings, discover the butterfly garden or take a self-guided hike along 4 miles of trails. Free guided hikes are held on the property the second Saturday of each month. Visit the website for more info, including trail maps and a schedule of activities.
History buffs will enjoy exploring various historic sites related to the Civil War in Howard County. Download and print a free guide and make your way at your leisure to various Civil War interpretive markers throughout the county. You’ll learn about the roles Savage Mill, the B&O Railroad Station in Ellicott City (formerly Ellicott Mills) and the Thomas Viaduct played in the war. More information is available at the Civil War Traveler website.
The Wayside Inn is conveniently located in Howard County, making it central place to stay during your visit. Our Ellicott City bed and breakfast is a romantic retreat from everyday reality. It’s the perfect place for you to escape. After a day spent sightseeing, come back to The Wayside Inn where you can relax in one of our six beautiful, quaint rooms. Wake up refreshed and enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast that you’re sure to love.
Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina / Yellow Leaf in Patapsco River/ Flickr