Take a walk among the old and new in Frederick

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Take a walk among the old and new in Frederick
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By Chris Teale (Photo/Holly Bowers)

With so much to offer for lovers of history, the great outdoors and food and drink, Frederick, Md. has plenty of options to suit everyone. Just over an hour away from Alexandria, it is perfect for a day trip or an overnight visit, and with so many possibilities for enjoyment and exploration it may require multiple trips to get everything in.

Both inside and around the historic city, founded in 1745, there is plenty of American history to discover, especially from the Civil War. Take some time to enjoy the self-guided auto tour of Monocacy National Battlefield to the southeast of the city limits where the Battle of Monocacy took place on July 9, 1864.

Known as “The Battle That Saved Washington,” Monocacy was one of the last Confederate assaults on Union territory, just 44 miles to the northwest of D.C., and today it includes an electronic map orientation to give visitors at least a sense of how the battle unfolded using a moving LED display.

Then, the four-mile vehicle tour takes visitors right around the site, while walking trails allow visitors to get out and try and feel what it was like during the battle. Several veterans organizations have placed commemorative markers on the battlefield, serving as poignant reminders of their sacrifices.

After exploring the battlefield, the nearby restaurant Monocacy Crossing can serve as a good place to refuel. Located at 4424 Urbana Pike, near the end of the auto tour’s route, the eatery has a varied menu for Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner, all in a rustic setting.

Downtown, do even more walking among historic buildings that have stood for two centuries. A free self-guided walking tour from the city’s visitor center can be a good way to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, guiding you past notable landmarks and the historic churches that give the city the nickname “The City of Clustered Spires.”

Be sure to check out the mural on Community Bridge over Carroll Creek, painted in the trompe l’oeil — “deceive the eye” — technique by artist William Cochran and his assistants and now stands as a monument to public art. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine is also a highlight for history buffs, as it explains the challenges associated with health and the treatment of injuries during that period.

Meanwhile, for those looking to bring some history home with them, Frederick is laden with numerous antiques shops in which there are plentiful treasures at reasonable prices just waiting to be discovered.

Downtown is also home to plenty of places to stop for something to eat and drink. For a snack, try the Frederick Coffee Company’s superb sandwiches, soups and baked goods on 100 N. East St. For dinner, consider The Barbara Fritchie Candystick Restaurant, a city institution that has been serving home-cooked meals in a diner setting since 1910 at 1513 W. Patrick St.

Another option is Brewer’s Alley at 124 N. Market St., which was the first brewpub in Frederick County, and serves upscale pub food as well as a long list of microbrews and wines to satisfy any palate. Those who love beer should also check out the Flying Dog Brewery on 4607 Wedgewood Blvd., where you can tour the facility and enjoy beers in combination with cookies baked on site to complement each selection.

For those craving some culture, try the Weinberg Center for the Arts at 20 W. Patrick St., which hosts concerts, theatre, films and visual art throughout the year. Despite a flood in 1976, it has been maintained in the style of 1926, when it first opened.

Those craving a different kind of culture in the summer should check out the Frederick Keys, the Class A-Advanced minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The team’s home diamond of Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium is visible from Interstate-70 and South Market Street.

Travel out of the city and into Thurmont, Md. in Frederick County for a chance to hike at Cunningham Falls State Park, a picture of calm in the Catoctin Mountains but just a stone’s throw from U.S. routes 15 and 77. Take in the surprisingly peaceful 78-foot waterfall, and also enjoy seeing the Scales and Tales Aviary and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.

Also in Thurmont and very close to Cunningham Falls, take some time to enjoy Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery at 11836 Auburn Road, with its beautiful views of the Catoctin Mountains in the distance. Enjoy locally produced wines made using grapes from the manor’s extensive vineyard, while in the spring and summer it produces its own red and white Sangria and hot mulled wine in the fall complete with cinnamon stick and orange peel.

With so much to see and explore, Frederick and the surrounding area offers plenty for visitors, and at such a short distance from Alexandria, you can go back again and again.

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