purple lotus in bloom on Carroll Creek

Can't-Miss Things to Do Around Frederick

By Jim Meyer
purple lotus in bloom on Carroll Creek

Hip and historic, the city of Frederick charms visitors with award-winning restaurants, cool art galleries, cultural happenings and craft beers loved by locals. It’s no wonder the National Trust of Historic Preservation recognized Frederick as one of “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.” Discover these must-do experiences in and around fantastic Frederick.

Downtown Frederick
man walking past shops and restaurants in Frederick
Visit Frederick

Small enough to walk but big enough to need a long weekend—or more—to explore, this 50-block historic district, named one of the 12 “Prettiest Painted Places in America,” is home to a Public Art Trail, brewpubs, restaurants, boutiques and impressive museums. When it comes to big-city amenities, Frederick punches way above its weight without sacrificing small-town charm.

Catoctin Mountains
spectacular view on rocky outcrop

A place of unparalleled beauty, the Catoctin range once marked the Western Frontier. Now, this slice of wilderness paradise is home to Camp David, the idyllic Presidential retreat. Luxuriate in azure pools scattered about the 78-foot Cunningham Falls, go fishing, or hike, mountain bike and ride a horse through miles of wilderness trails in one of Frederick County’s national and state parks.

Brewery bar

If you prefer your libations sudsy, check out Frederick County’s thriving microbrew and nanobrew scene. Check out the Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, where the small-batch farm-to-glass ales are truly sublime.

Fine Dining
Brian Voltaggio at Thacher & Rye
Thacher & Rye

Indulge in a world-class culinary adventure in Frederick. Chef Bryan Voltaggio, a two-time James Beard nominee who appeared on TV’s Top Chef, commands star power at Thacher & Rye, featuring their 6-course tasting menu. Just a few blocks away, The Tasting Room serves up European-inspired dishes made with fresh, local ingredients (of course, Maryland crab is the star ingredient in soups, dips, pasta and crab cakes). Then across town at Dutch’s Daughter, diners enjoy high-quality steaks and seafood in five beautifully appointed dining rooms, each with a fireplace. You can also opt to dine and sip a signature cocktail in the medieval-themed Dutch’s Dungeon.

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo
Zoo safari at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Mount up for a family adventure on a safari ride at the 50-acre Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. Kids will be thrilled as they go bounding by wild animals such as camels, zebras, wallabies and wolves; they’ll even get a chance to feed some of them from the back of the park’s vintage surplus army truck. After the safari, catch a live feeding at Alligator Bayou. Cameras won’t be the only things snapping!

Local Farms
Pumpkins on a farm

Go right to the source for produce on a pick-your-own adventure at dozens of area farms and orchards. Head out for a hayride or harvest festival or hit one of the local farmers markets for a taste of local food, music and more.

Frederick Keys
baseball players

Take yourself out to a Frederick Keys baseball game on Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium, a jewel of a park that puts you right near the action. Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado are just a few of the stars who played here and rose through the ranks. Take in a farm club game and see the next crop of major league stars.

Frederick Wine Trail
Catoctin Breeze
Kelly Smith, Catoctin Breeze

Close enough to do it all in a day—but you’ll wish you had a lifetime—this tour follows Frederick County’s rolling hills while crisscrossing Civil War battlefields and historic sites. The true stars are wines made by Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery, Linganore Winecellars, Loew Vineyards, Elk Run Vineyards, Hidden Hills Farm and Vineyard and Catoctin Breeze Vineyard. They craft epic wines for distinguished palates in perfect balance with the unique growing conditions of the Maryland Piedmont.

Civil War Heritage
canon at  Monocacy Battlefield
Visit Frederick

See the home of the patriot Barbara Fritchie; it’s now an Airbnb, so you can even stay in it overnight. She inspired the nation by bravely flying her American flag as Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s armies marched by. In Frederick, you can also wander the grounds of Monocacy National Battlefield and South Mountain Battlefield State Park, and tour the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, a former army hospital, to learn more about the patients, medical workers and procedures of the time.

Arts & Culture
A Young Girl Makes A New Friend on the Public Art Trail
Visit Frederick

Frederick is home to a wonderful Arts & Entertainment District, which features everything an art-lover needs—from galleries to outdoor murals. Keep your eyes peeled for one of the most noteworthy murals in town—“The Community Bridge Mural” by local artist William Cochran. Frederick is also home to the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, which presents outstanding performances by artists from all over the world. Visitors also enjoy year-round entertainment at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, a movie palace circle 1926 that hosts concerts, theatrical performances, film screenings, comedy shows and lectures.

Religious Sites
Seton Shrine Historic and Religious Site

Religious heritage and freedom figure prominently in Frederick’s history. Follow the Catholic Heritage Tour through Frederick to visit places such as the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, home of the first American-born saint. Admire the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University, and attend a Mass at St. John The Evangelist, Roman Catholic Church, consecrated in 1837 as the first Catholic church in the Diocese of Baltimore.