Tag Archive | maryland

Why You Should Take a Staycation + Four Tips for Locals

It’s day 3 of my staycation. Well technically day 5 if you include the weekend.


Because I had personal days about to expire and relatives in town, I decided to take a few days off from work without a single plan to go on an actual vacation.

I love vacations as much as I love traveling, and I think this was one of the first times I’ve ever separated the two. My first staycation was marvelous.

Day 1, on Friday, we visited Annapolis. Day 2 we enjoyed a typical Frederick summer Saturday by watching the High Wheel Race. Day 3 we museum-hopped in DC. Day 4 we (finally) visited the architectural gem just a couple of hours from our house – Fallingwater. Day 5 was for relaxing and doing absolutely nothing.

If you live in Frederick or anywhere in the D.C. area, here are a few tips for your own staycation:

William Paca's House and Garden.

William Paca’s House and Garden.

  1. Go to Annapolis. Even if you’ve been before, it’s such a charming historic town on the waterfront. Don’t miss the William Paca House and Gardens. You can take a house tour, or you can wander around the magnificent gardens for free (donations welcomed).
  2. Come visit Frederick. I know, I know. I say this all the time. But, really, we’ve always got something quirky and fun going on and there are tons of shops, restaurants, and historic sites to visit.
  3. Don’t forget the museums. Every time we travel and have to shell out $20 to enter a museum I’m reminded of just how lucky we are to have so many free museums in D.C. Be a tourist. Visit them all regularly.
  4. Make the drive to Fallingwater. It took us 7 years, but we finally drove out to Pennsylvania to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. The drive is beautiful and mountainous. After you’re done, reward yourself with a visit to Ohiopyle State Park (which you drove through on the way there). Enjoy the natural waterslides and lots of streams and pools to cool off in. Pack a picnic.
Frederick's Clustered Spires High Wheel Race.

Frederick’s Clustered Spires High Wheel Race.

I head back to the office tomorrow completely rested and refreshed.

My public service announcement: Next time you have vacation days about to expire, take a few days off to stay home.


The Improved Carroll Creek: What’s Next for Frederick?

Alive at 5 on Carroll Creek.

First time I saw Carroll Creek (2008)

The first time I visited Frederick, Maryland I was already hunting for an apartment downtown. I had never even set foot in the city, but had already decided that I would 100% be moving more than a thousand miles to live there. How was I so sure? I had seen so many photos of the charming historic town and, well, it looked like a real-life Stars Hollow. When I finally saw Frederick in person, it was Carroll Creek that really cinched the deal. We happened to be in town on a Thursday in summer, which meant there was a band playing at the amphitheater and tons of people walking, hanging out and enjoying themselves on a beautiful summer evening.

Summer on Carroll Creek

Summer on Carroll Creek

You may have noticed that Carroll Creek is in the process of getting some upgrades. There’s construction in several spots along the creek. I can’t be the only one curious about it, so I got permission from the City of Frederick to post some artist renderings of the project.

First let’s take a look at the map of the Creek. It runs from Baker Park past East Patrick Street. Currently most of the Creek from Baker Park to almost East Street is developed. With the new phase, the developed creek will be almost 1 mile long.

There’s some work being done on the south side of the creek between West Patrick Street and Market Street (more on that at the end of the post). However, the bulk of the new construction is on the east side, particularly from East Street to E. Patrick Street. Check out this artist rendering looking East from the bridge over East Street toward McCutcheons!


This artist rendering is from a 2003 draft park plan of the Carroll Creek Park Project. It does not represent the actual plans. Source City of Frederick.

Here’s a more detailed plan of this portion of the project – bridges, fountains, paths, landscaping and seating.

east-plan copy

From a 2008 Carroll Creek Park Briefing document. Source: City of Frederick.

Some more features from a 2003 plan on this portion include a kayak and paddleboat marina. I don’t know if these are still part of this phase of the project, but if so that would be a great addition to the creek.

From a 2003 draft park plan of the Carroll Creek Park Project. Source City of Frederick.

If you’re curious about the status of the project, the City’s Economic Development group is blogging regular updates of the construction in progress with lots of photos. Here’s a few plans for the other portions of the creek that are part of this phase. Below is a plan from the work being done on the south side of the creek to the west of Market Street.


From a 2003 draft park plan of the Carroll Creek Park Project. Source City of Frederick.

The City is also working on finishing up the creek from the Delaplaine (40 S. Carroll Street) to East Street. Here’s an artist rendering of looking at East Street (in the direction of the train station) from approximately the Delaplaine.


From a 2003 draft park plan of the Carroll Creek Park Project. Source City of Frederick.

Can’t wait to share actual photos of the project after its completion!

Note: All images were used with permission from the City of Frederick and are from two documents on the City’s website: 2003 Draft Park Plan (pdf) and 2008 Carroll Creek Park Briefing (pdf).

Andrew Wyeth: Telling the Stories that Nature & Time Built

I’ve been a fan of Andrew Wyeth since the first time I saw his painting Wind from the Sea at the National Gallery of Art.

He captures the American northeast in painting as much as John Cheever does in prose.

I grew up in Louisiana and have lived in Maryland for only 6 years now, but during that time I’ve developed an intense appreciation of the aesthetic up here. The farm house. The seasons. The windsor chair.

Last weekend I attended the Andrew Wyeth exhibition at the Gallery and after seeing dozens of his paintings and sketches and reading about his life and the way he describes his paintings I’m an even bigger fan.

“I love to see what different changes time brings about. Nature does amazing things to life.” – Andrew Wyeth

That quote. It can be seen throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania. Like at the Best House in Frederick, Maryland.


It’s no surprise that I love stories and reading (and writing), so I appreciated the following quote:

“I built my own stories. That is what painting has been to me.” -Andrew Wyeth

Go and appreciate the stories that Wyeth built. The exhibition runs through November 30. I highly recommend it.

Why I have reservations at Firestones for Frederick Restaurant Week

You may remember that last month I went on a preview of this week’s Frederick Restaurant Week. My group of journalists and bloggers went to and sampled the menus of three participating restaurants. By the end of the day, there was one clear winner.

fred restaurant week logoFirestone’s Culinary Tavern.

Let’s back up. Frederick Restaurant Week runs from today (March 3) to Sunday, March 9. The 18 participating restaurants offer a 2 course lunch for $15.14 or a 3 course dinner for $30.14.

Why Firestone’s? Out of all of the menus we tasted, Firestone’s was by far the most thoughtful. It was unique and varied. We tasted sushi grade tuna tempura roll, grilled hanger steak with pickled root vegetables and creamed leek and, for dessert, a lemon tart served with a side of chocolate almond crisps.

After the tasting, all six of us were gushing. The chef (Dave Rusk) came out and amid our chorus of praises he seemed to recede into himself, politely (but concisely) answering our questions. Humble or introverted. Either way he makes amazing food.

It helps that the restaurant is housed in a 100 year old building that began as a sporting goods store, then a pub, and has been Firestone’s since 1999. My favorite part is the mezzanine. And the two-story windows peering down on Market Street.

firestone's tavern

Forgive the poor photo quality. I only had my phone with me.

Some restaurants will feature a separate restaurant week menu, but Firestone’s has decided to keep its entire menu for the week. You can order anything off the menu and it will be within the restaurant week prices (there are several items that have a supplemental fee). You can see the menus here.

So, where will you be dining in Frederick this week? Should I make more reservations?

Frederick is Like Europe: Celebrate an Authentic Holiday

Last year’s Thanksgiving was a bit strange.

We were in Munich.

We ate pork knuckles and sauerkraut washed down with large glasses of German wheat beer.

Although no one else at the restaurant was celebrating America’s Thanksgiving, there was a general festive attitude among the diners and throughout the city.

You see, right around Thanksgiving is when Advent starts. And in Europe, Advent is a huge deal.


Advent in Salzburg

I was not aware of this until I saw it in person last year. In Munich, Salzburg and Zagreb the advent markts were going in full force.

Love the lights, moon, locks, everything

Salzach River and Salzburg looking beautiful.

I’m sure the holidays in Europe get just as commercialized as here in the states, but as an outsider it felt different. It felt authentic.

As you prepare for Thanksgiving (and perhaps for the start of Advent on Sunday), try not to let all the Black Friday news and sales and commercialism get you down.

If you live in (or near) Frederick, Maryland you have several ways to do that:

  • Head to downtown Frederick on Friday and, instead of Black Friday, celebrate Frosty Friday. Free hot cocoa, Santa Claus, carriage rides – what’s not to like?
  • Next weekend, head back to downtown Frederick and make your way to the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s ChristKindleMarkt. From December 6 to 8, enjoy German music, traditional market food (like bratwursts!), and handmade Christmas gifts. It will be like I’m back in Europe.
DSC_1696 copy

One year I opened my front door and this was sleigh bells ringing right down my street in Frederick’s historic downtown.

Picture + 100 Words: Contemplating Seasons

DSC_6129Ask me what I miss about Louisiana? You’ll get an earful. Ask me what I love about Maryland? I’ll answer, “seasons.” I saw a tweet that said “Fall in NOLA: when the leaves turn from green to less green.” My childhood memories of fall are playing in piles of pine needles. It was the next best thing to piles of leaves. I love seasons. I love that my physical world changes dramatically throughout the year. I love being this guy. Sitting on a bench in autumn contemplating the metaphors of a tree’s foliage, playing on repeat year after year.

Fifteen Reasons Why Frederick is Stars Hollow

I’m a big Gilmore Girls fan – the rapid witty dialogue, the impossibly close mother-daughter relationship, the quirky Connecticut Ivy League ways. It is one of those shows that I can watch over and over and find myself laughing at jokes again and again.

One of the best parts about the show is the fictional New England town of Stars Hollow where Lorelei and Rory Gilmore live. When I moved to Frederick, Md., with my husband four years ago, I began to notice similarities between Frederick and Stars Hollow. Always a mental tally in my head, I thought these deserved to be cataloged and saved.

Here are 15 reasons why Frederick is just like Stars Hollow:

1) Our mayor owns a bagel shop downtown, much like the mayor of Stars Hollow, Taylor, owns a small grocery store in the middle of town.

2) We have well preserved historic buildings and houses and a walkable downtown. Sometimes it feels like living on a movie set.

3) One night, my husband and I saw seven police cars driving and parking the wrong way down our one-way street. Policemen were sprinting from their cars down the street. We assumed something huge was going down. A few days later we saw in the local paper that they were chasing a man who had stolen a wallet and was hiding in a bush on our street. A wallet thief. Seven police cars.

4) Frederick is the only town in America to have a high-wheel race.

5) We have a Civil War Medicine Museum.

6) We have a Railroad Museum.

7) I was literally composing this post when I saw the following making its way down the street.

8) At any coffee shop downtown, you will notice a large amount of regulars who have certain tables that is forever “their spot.” Much like Luke’s diner in Stars Hollow, our cafes have very dedicated followings. You can meet people in other places and say things like, “Oh, yes, you’re a Cafe Nola person”

9) Throughout the year we have festivals, events and other small town charming events.

10) On any given day, you can find something like this happening in Frederick.

11) Our park has a gazebo. Much like Stars Hollow.

Not a picture of the gazebo, but this is Baker Park.

12) We have antique stores, a dance school, bakeries, floral shops, barber shops, restaurants and inns in our downtown.

13) Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactments? Yes, we have those too.


14) There’s a “cast” of Frederick characters – the drummer man who plays air drums with a pair of drum sticks all around town, the former newspaper man who is always seen walking his dalmatian, the shop owners who remember you if you visit their store fairly regularly, the tattoo kids at Nola, the Bernard, etc. etc.

15) You can find historic markers throughout downtown with claims such as “General Lafayette slept here” and “George Washington hung his hat here” and “Francis Scott Key is buried here.”

Remember that time General Lafayette stayed here?

As I was watching Gilmore Girls while living in suburbia Louisiana, I could never have imagined that one day I’d be living in a pretty-much-real-life Stars Hollow. And I absolutely love it – quirks and all.

I could probably come up with 15 more, but I want to know – what did I leave out? Tell me in the comments.

Update 1/30/16: I couldn’t resist – I came up with eight more reasons here.