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22 Hours in Historic Ellicott City
By Starling Root
If you think Baltimore is a crime-ridden hell hole, you've watched too many episodes of "The Wire." Calm down and take a relaxing trip to Historic Ellicott City, located not quite half an hour from B'more and less than an hour from Washington, D.C. This is a suburb that won't make you yawn, while still carrying B'more's trademark charm. Historic Ellicott City will remind you more of fairy chimes and old-fashioned train sets than it does housing projects and auto theft. It's like Cracker Barrel come to life--except family-owned!
I recently took a whirlwind trip to this old mill town, hitting Main Street with the gusto of a serious antiquer. And by whirlwind, I mean Tasmanian Devil fast. Try 22 hours! The best part was that I had so much fun just browsing that I only spent money on food. I highly recommend the gnocchi with lump crab and asparagus at Cacao Lane Restaurant. (The sweet, green-eyed waiter wasn't too bad, either.)
While the district's restaurant selection is small compared to say, Old Town Alexandria's, Ellicott City's look and feel is unlike anything else you'll find in the D.C.-Baltimore metropolitan area.
Dating back to the 1770s, Ellicott City is full of granite stoneworks. At one time, Ellicott City was one of the biggest mill towns on the East Coast, also famous for its wheat farms, train station, and trolley service. One that last note, Ellicott City has a restaurant named The Trolley Stop. While I did not have a chance to dine there, I did park right by it. Another perk of visiting Ellicott City? Ample free parking in a region famous for its traffic and parking problems.
If you're looking to drop some pretty cash on some pretty things, Ellicott City boasts a cute assortment of vintage and vintage-inspired shops. Jewelry craving? Satisfy it at Vintage Bliss. Need funny signage with an aged look? Hit a Journey from Junk. Want a dragon or unicorn? Wrangle one at Forget-Me-Not. Need shabby chic furniture? Shoemaker Country carries 18th and 19th century design elements into contemporary living.
Unfortunately, because I arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday and left on Sunday, I missed Ellicott City's museums. But from what I've read, they give me another reason to return to this gem on the Tiber River. If you have a chance to visit Ellicott City's museums, please let me know how they are. (You know how much QB loves mail.)