Frederick, Maryland might not be as popular of destination as its neighboring city, Washington DC, but it has so much to offer to its visitors. Frederick has several award-winning restaurants, unique art galleries, tons of craft beer and a lot of history. In this guide we will give you the best one day itinerary with the best things to do in Frederick, MD.
Frederick County was a major player on the Civil War, so there is no better place in the country to learn more about this important time period in history. If history is not your forte, do not worry, Frederick has so much more to offer from hiking to dining and shopping. Frederick is the perfect place to have a relaxing and unique experience. Being so close to the capital city, Frederick is one of the best day trips from Washington DC.
How to get to Frederick?
If you are coming from DC, the easiest way to visit Frederick is by driving an hour north on I-270 N. If you are not driving you can either get an Uber from downtown Washington (~$67) or take the Red Metro to Shady Grove and from there take an Uber to downtown Frederick (~$40). Fredrick is about one hour to one hour and a half drive from DC depending on traffic.
From Baltimore to Frederick you can either drive south on I-70 W for an hour or take a Greyhound bus. If you choose to take the public transit it can take up to two and a half hours.
Where to sleep in Frederick?
Frederick is the perfect day trip from Washington Dc but it is also an amazing romantic getaway destination. We decided to spend the night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. It was comfortable and cozy, the downside of the hotel is that it is not located in downtown Frederick but a 10 minutes drive. Frederick does not have major hotels in downtown yet, but you can still find plenty of bed-and-breakfasts in the heart of downtown.
How to spend a day in Frederick
As we mentioned before Frederick is the perfect destination to have a weekend getaway in Maryland or for a fun day trip from Washington DC or Baltimore. Frederick has so many fun and unique things to do. We have selected the best things to do in Frederick in one or two days.
Frederick Visitor Center
No matter the destination or how many articles you have read about it, we always recommend to stop at the visitor center to for more information and sometimes get better deals on local attractions or find out about any events running. It is not different with Frederick Visitor Center, especially because inside the visitor center you will find several exhibits and artifacts that recount the history of the city and the surrounding area. If you would like to learn more about Frederick and the things to do while you are there make sure to check out the short film that is playing on loop at the small theater within the visitor center. The short film will give you a preview of all the unique things to do in Frederick.
National Museum of Civil War Medicine
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine is one of the best museums to learn more about the Civil War with a focus on a not so popular side of war, Medicine. In contrast with other Civil War Museums it shows the connection between what happened then and today. We learned so many interesting facts and realized the important role the Civil War played in modern medicine.
At the museum you will not only learn about battlefield amputations and the tools they used back then, but also you will learn more about the camp life of Civil War soldiers, the Red Cross founder Clara Barton, and battlefield medicinals still in use. Without a doubt, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine is one of the most interesting things to do in Frederick.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 5PM and on Sundays from 11AM to 5PM. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and free for children 9 and under.
Walk around Downtown Frederick
Downtown Frederick is a historic district with only 50 blocks, making it an easy walkable destination. In the historic district you will find the museums, breweries, distillery, restaurants and boutique shops. The majority of the stores downtown Frederick are locally owned. Downtown Frederick was listed as one of the “Prettiest Painted Places” in the country due to its abundance of murals and public art.
While you are downtown make sure to check out the Carroll Creek Park. The park was built as a flood control project. Today, the mile long park is a must to walk along the pedestrian path and enjoy the art murals, the Community Bridge Mural and the Carroll Creek Amphitheater. During the winter you will see cool little boats in the creek while during the summer the creek is covered with lily pads and lotus flowers.
The Community Bridge mural is the most famous piece of street art in downtown Frederick. It was painted by William Cochran. The mural has several icons that were images that represent the word “Community. The designs were submitted by residents and former residents. They are meant to represent reflections of what it means to live in Frederick County.
Take a photo of the Francis Scott Key Monument
Located at the Mount Olivet Cemetery, at his burial site, tourist can take photos of the monument of Francis Scott Key. He was the lyricist behind “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the national anthem of the United States. While at the cemetery make sure to visit the church and go on a self-guided tour of the cemetery. At the Mount Olivet Cemetery you will also find the Confederate Row. The Cemetery is open from 7 AM to sunset every day.
Go for a tasting at McClintock Distillery Company
McClintock Distillery Company is located at the heart of downtown Fredrick. Take a tour of this craft distillery to learn about the spirit making process, their commitment to the local community, and of course taste some local spirits. Free tours run every on every half hour and tastings are $5 to try some smooth spirits including Forager Gin, Maryland Heritage White Whiskey, and Epiphany Vodka.
The McClintock Distillery is open for tours and tastings with the following hours:
- Thursday & Friday 4PM – 8PM
- Saturday 12PM- 8PM
- Sunday 12PM-6PM
Unique locally owned stores in Downtown Frederick
You could spend several days shopping in downtown Frederick. There are over 60 specialty stores including unique gifts, clothing, specialty foods, bookstores, toys and more. You will definitely find a souvenir to take home. Here is a list of our favorite stores and worth making a stop even if you do not plan on shopping:
Curious Iguana: It is an independent locally owned bookstore with books for any type of reader. They also sell covered books through the theme of “Blind Dates”.
Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts: It is truly amazing to see how many fun and interactive toys there are still being made that are battery free.
Retro Metro: Retro Metro is my favorite boutique store in downtown Frederick. It is full of novelty items from Tin superhero signs to socks with four-letter words.
The Pasta Palette: This small shop has you covered with everything pasta related. There are more than 80 colorful varieties of fresh and dried pastas. There are traditional offerings along with some more unique flavors like garlic and spicy Thai linguine. There are even some delicious looking desert pastas for a burst of flavor in your meal.
Venus on the Half Shell: It is a vintage clothing and furniture locally owned store since 1996. The store is full with wearable vintage clothing and accessories for men & women, as well as a nice range of furnishings. All items are hand selected by the owner. The focus is to help empower women in third world countries.
Where to eat in Downtown Frederick?
Frederick is a foodie’s heaven with so many delicious and award winning restaurants. You can find everything from sophisticated restaurants to quirky soda shops. It is safe to say that Frederick has something for every type of traveler.
Cafe Nola: Cafe Nola is the best way to start your day in Frederick. It has been in Frederick for 11 years and has been awarded “The Best Breakfast In Frederick” 8 times. Cafe Nola offers both quality and classic dishes created with organic and local produce.
Maxwell’s Kitchen: It is the perfect place to stop for a delicious lunch. They pride themselves on the fusion of modern, French & Creole Bistro. We enjoyed the Trout Almandine topped with brown butter roasted almonds.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern & Raw Bar:
Make sure to save room for a delicious dinner at Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. We stuck with the classic juicy Chophouse Burger with some crispy french fries. When visiting this hip restaurant make sure to sit on the second floor to enjoy views through the large windows of the activity on Market Street.
Hometown Harvest Kitchen: No visit to Fredrick is complete without tasting the official ice cream flavor of Frederick or sampling the Frederick Flight, with each flavor inspired by something special in Frederick.