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Five trips that keep you close to home

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Feeling the need to break out?

A day trip around the mid-Atlantic region may be the way to shake off COVID lethargy.

Many unique locales are within an hour, give or take, from Central Maryland. All that’s needed is a half-day, or so, to enjoy their plentiful charms.

Harpers Ferry, W. Va.

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Harper’s Ferry lies at the bottom of a very big hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Closer to the top you’ll find a few more eats, shops, views and maybe free parking, but it’s a long way down – and seems a longer trek back up.

The John Brown monument in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. TBM photo by Mark Smith.

There’s great country charm at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, along with its Civil War history. Learn the incredible story of John Brown, his raid on the town and visit the spot where he made his stand that helped spark the conflict.

It’s only natural that the outdoors would be a big part of the attraction where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. Enjoy outdoor options at the Park and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitors Center.

For even more adventure, visit the Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center. To find hiking trails, go over the dual-crossing Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Bridge to Sandy Hook, Md.

On the way out, save time to stop at the Harpers Ferry Battlefield, then cruise to nearby and charming Charlestown, which is home to a beautiful downtown and the Charlestown Races at Hollywood Casino.

Fredericksburg, Va.

A drive down I-95 to Fredericksburg should start in the heart of the 40-block Historic District, which is filled with art shops, restaurants and other attractions.

Located near where the Rappahannock River crosses the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, the Civil War city’s early claim to fame was as a prominent port during the colonial era.

Located halfway between Washington and Richmond, Fredericksburg was the site of key battles that are preserved in history at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, which commemorates four major battles in the Civil War: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania.

Individual historic sites about, perhaps most notably the George Washington’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm, the Mary Washington House Historic Kenmore and the James Monroe Museum.

Also among the town’s other attractions are the Town Hall & Market SquareLewis Store and former site of the Slave Auction Block.

A stroll across campus at Mary Washington College is pleasant trek.

Baseball fans will be interested to know that the Fredericksburg Nationals, the Low-A Ball affiliate of the Washington Nationals, recently kicked off their first season at the new 5,000-seat FredNats Ballpark.

York, Pa.

A straight shot up Interstate 83, “The White Rose City” has been called an “architectural museum,” because its downtown features well-preserved historic structures such as the Golden Plough Tavern, the General Horatio Gates House, the York Central Market, the Moorish Revival Temple Beth Israel and others.

Speaking of history, York is home to four national historic districts: Fairmount, Northwest YorkSpringdale, and York. Newcomers to town are often surprised to learn that it served as the temporary capital of the Continental Congress from Sept. 30, 1777, to June 27, 1778.

It’s also where the Articles of Confederation were drafted, adopted and passed during the earlier days of the American Revolutionary War. Congress met at its Court House, which was built 1754, demolished 1841 and rebuilt 1976 as Colonial Court House.

There are good eats aplenty at popular bistros like the White Rose, the Rockfish Public House and The Handsome Cab. There’s even a Primanti Bros., the home of the “Almost Famous” stacked sandwiches.

Peoples Bank Park in York, PA. TBM photo by Mark Smith.

Baseball fans can catch the York Revolution of Atlantic League compete at fabulous Peoples Bank Park and visit the Weightlifting Hall of Fame at York Barbell.

Those in the mood for performance can check the schedule at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts.

Milton/Broadkill Beach, Del.

When day trippers from Maryland vacay in Delaware, the usual suspects are Fenwick Island and Bethany, Rehoboth and Dewey beaches. But in recent times, many tourists have discovered the quaint charms of Milton, which the state tourism folks deem “One of the liveliest little towns in Delaware.”

One reason is it’s the home of the Dogfish Head Brewery, the popular craft beer that’s a key attraction for visitors.

Downtown, with its bistros, antique, gift and specially stores, are enjoyable stops for visitors. Beaches are minutes from Milton, too.

For instance, the town along the Broadkill River is close to Broadkill Beach, which offers an altogether different scene from the state’s southern beach bustle. It’s quiet, with views of Lewes Beach and the University of Delaware windmill, and is home to abundant wildlife.

For those who like to take to the outdoors, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Milton Memorial Park are great places to enjoy nature and the Rookery Golf Course is off of Route One near Broadkill.

And as for Broadkill, it’s seen in some quarters as what some of the locals fear it may become, as Milton has – a growth area.

Chesapeake Beach, MD

Cruise down Route 2 and head just over the Anne Arundel line to Calvert County and the Chesapeake Beach Resort. It’s not only home to the Rod ‘n Reel Restaurant but a fun place to relax and enjoy the recent multi-million-dollar upgrades.

The massive new parking garage – which features an eatery on the top floor – opened in October 2019, so the resort can more easily accommodate more charter fishing, events and concerts.

There there’s the new 1936 Bar & Grill, a sports bar and crab house overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

More upgrades are forthcoming. A Phase 2 Building is to include a rooftop pool for hotel guests, the CBQ BBQ Restaurant, new game rooms and a bingo room (gaming has long been legal at the resort).  The new building will be completed in May 2022.

Phase 3 is already planned to encompass 50 new bayfront guest rooms, a grand ballroom, a glass atrium with bay views and even a new Rod ‘n Reel. It’s slated for completion in late 2023.

Before you leave, don’t miss the nearby Chesapeake Beach Water Park or adjacent North Beach, which is home to seven blocks of waterfront, a half-mile long boardwalk a bike path and its most popular, plus a host of bistros.

By Mark R. Smith | Senior Writer | The Business Monthly | July 2021

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