Craving history? Frederick, Maryland has you covered. Located 50 minutes west of Baltimore, or an hour northwest of Washington, DC, Frederick is a great day trip for those living in the city that want to experience the rich history that Maryland has to offer.
Even if you’re not into war museums or monuments, Frederick, MD has plenty of other things to offer visitors. From a thriving downtown area to some of the best distilleries in the state, amazing green spaces, and more, Frederick probably has what you’re looking for!
Table of Contents
Historic Downtown Frederick MD
If you’ve never been to the historic downtown area of Frederick, this is a must-stop for all visitors or new residents. The city has done a lot to keep this aging but beautiful area in good shape, and it has really paid off for them. This is where I recommend most people spend their time, because there really is a ton to do.
Shopping in Frederick MD
If you want to go shopping downtown, there is a huge selection of locally owned mom-and-pop stores (well over 100) along the downtown strip and in the branching streets. With big sidewalks, walking around downtown is both safe and easy.
Explore Locally-Owned Stores
The Art Collective has a great collection of local and hand-crafted goods made by artists from the area, and is my favorite stop when I’m getting something for someone out of town or new to the area.
Earthly Elements is another great stop, and full of crystals, minerals, gemstones, and even jewelry.
Bookstores in Frederick MD
If you love books, the Curious Iguana is my favorite independent bookstore in the area, and often does book signings or events to keep it interesting.
Frederick Antique Shops
There’s plenty of antiquing available downtown, but I love Emporium Antiques, which is basically a giant warehouse full of tables from a variety of antique vendors. When I say giant, I mean warehouse-sized. It’s amazing.
Great Stuff by Paul is also a fun one to stop into, and the inventory there seems to change pretty constantly – there’s always something new when I visit.
There are plenty of activities downtown, too, if you need a break from shopping or eating.
I Made This! Pottery Studio is a paint-your-own pottery gallery where you can paint mugs, statues, plates, or more. They have everything you need, so just bring yourself.
After you’re done painting your piece, the studio glazes and fires it, and you’ll be able to swing by and pick it up once it’s complete.
There are also two escape rooms downtown, Clue IQ and Escape This. I’ve tried them both, and while I like Clue IQ a little better, both are fun choices!
Don’t leave without doing a ghost tour of the historic downtown area… with literally hundreds of years of history, and a literal battlefield not far away, ghosts have to be close, right?
History and Museums in Frederick
If you’re a history buff, Frederick should be your spot. The Monocacy National Battlefield was an important battlefield during the Civil War, and often does fun weekend special events or recreations, and tour the Worthington House.
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine is a fascinating look at how far we’ve come with science and surgical practices. Plan your day right, and you can go on a walking tour with the museum docent to see the typical day of a doctor or surgeon during the war.
Rose Hill Manor Park & Museum has great child-friend exhibits on the history of the area in the home of Maryland’s first elected Governor, plus a beautiful park to boot.
The Schifferstadt Architectural Museum is located in the oldest standing home in all of Frederick, built in 1758, and remains one of the best examples of German colonial architecture. When open, tours of the house and land are both available.
Frederick Arts & Entertainment
Honestly, I could talk for days about everything Frederick has to offer. It’s such a hidden gem – those who live here know what awesome things Frederick has to offer, but many things get overlooked by visitors.
The Delaplaine Arts Center offers classes for both teens and adults, and has changing exhibits.
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre & Children’s Theatre is a great, unique date night when you’re ‘over’ the typical date night fare.
Located downtown, the Weinberg Center for the Arts has regular music, live theatre, and even films.
Sky Stage is set in an old (think pre-Revolutionary War old) building downtown. The roof was damaged by fire, and now just the core of the building remains. Volunteers clean it up every year, and live music, comedy, and even yoga classes are held inside.
Frederick Parks Provide lots of green spaces!
Let’s step outside downtown for a minute – if you’re looking to get out into nature, or even on the water, Frederick has that, too.
Carroll Creek Linear Park is the most unique park in Frederick, and best visited between June and October if you want to see the water garden in full bloom.
Yes, water garden. It’s a stunning experience filled with art installations, bridges and lily pads in bloom.
Baker Park has a beautiful pond that’s perfect for a picnic.
Staley Park has a baseball field, playground, and basketball court.
Lake Whittier is a little farther out, but it’s beautiful. When you’re walking around the lake it’s easy to forget you’re so close to the city.
Pinecliff Park has a boat ramp if you want to get out on Monocacy River.
Utica District Park is huge, with pavilions you can rent, horseshoe pits, grills, and more.
Urbana District Park has much of the same, with an additional 9/11 Veterans Memorial on site.
Cunningham Falls State Park is just north of the city if you are looking for a waterfall in Maryland that is easy to hike to at any skill level.
Adventure in Frederick MD
If you want something challenging, check out The Boulder Yard for indoor rock climbing.
Tree Trekkers is an outdoor zip line park with adventure ropes, but be sure to visit when the weather is nice – it’s not fun zipping through cold or rain!
Terrace Lanes Bowling Center and Skate Frederick are both great ways to throwback to your childhood and spend the day.
Frederick Distilleries and Breweries
If you want to try out the drinking in Frederick County, the downtown area of Frederick should be your first stop. Frederick is actually known for having a great variety of distilleries and breweries, and the downtown area is central to that.
Tenth Ward Distilling Company, and McClintock Distilling are within a few blocks of each other, and both really fun choices.
Steinhardt Brewing is two blocks east, and – in my opinion – has some of the best ales in the area. If you plan in advance, most of these locations allow tours so you can actually go in and see how everything is made.
Note: Dragon Distillery is outside of the downtown area, but totally worth checking out!
Flying Dog Brewery is about 10 minutes outside of downtown but the biggest brewery in the state of Maryland, and has a great tasting room. The tour is free, too!
Restaurants in Frederick MD
If you like BBQ, top off your visit with Black Hog, a local BBQ chain that smokes on-site.
Café 611 brings southern cooking to downtown Frederick, and often hosts local bands or comedians, which is always a great date night.
Lazy Fish probably has the best sushi in the area, and Bushwallers is a fun, semi-authentic Irish pub with a huge bar selection.
If you’re looking for an ultra-classy date night experience, be sure to check out Volt, owned by Top Chef alumni and Food Network regular Bryan Voltaggio. Careful, though – it can take weeks or even months to score a reservation.
More Frederick Restaurants
- Hootch and Banter
- The Tasting Room
- JoJos Restaurant and Taphouse
- The Wine Kitchen on the Creek
- Cafe Nola
Ice Cream Shops
My favorite sweet treat stop downtown is Frederick Fudge & Ice Cream, with fudge made in-house and hand-dipped ice cream. Even in winter I’ll swing by and grab a cone, but I highly recommend stopping during summer and sitting out on the shaded patio.
If you want something off-beat when visiting the city of Frederick, check out North Market Pop Shop, which has literally hundreds of different types of soda on hand, plus ice creams if you want to make it a float.
Plan a Trip to Frederick MD
Closest Airport to Frederick
- Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK – 2 miles)
- Dulles International Airport (IAD – 45 miles)
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI – 50 miles)
You definitely need a car to get around Frederick. We always check RentalCars.com for the best rates and availability on rentals no matter where we travel. Click HERE to find your car.
Frederick Hotels and Vacation Rentals
- Hollerstown Hill Bed and Breakfast: Steps from everything you want to see downtown.
- 10 Clarke Place: TripAdvisor Travelers Choice
- Best Western Historic Frederick: Suites, pool and free breakfast