If you’ve ever walked down Main Street of Historic Ellicott City, you instantly feel yourself leaving the hustle and bustle of suburban and city life into a quainter, quieter way of living. Warm brick buildings line the narrow road, and every face (even from behind masks) is smiling and friendly. The town is a unique collection of classic, eclectic, and trendy with its array of historic landmarks, restaurants, shops and outdoor trails. It’s true that there’s no other place quite like Ellicott City’s historic district and we mean that in the best way possible.
Get to Know the Backstory
It’s obvious that Historic Ellicott City has a wealth of historical and cultural attractions but what is lesser known is that the landmarks represent a vast diversity in time periods and perspectives from the once small milling town. One popular and important historic attraction is the Patapsco Female Institute, which during the mid-19th century was a revolutionary school for young women. The institute’s curriculum was renowned for its inclusion of botany, chemistry, and math — subjects that used to be reserved for only male students.
Just a short walk away, the Ellicott City Colored School, opened in 1880, stands proudly to remember the start of a long journey toward equal educational rights for African American students. The building also serves as a genealogical resource center and museum of African American history in Howard County.
At the bottom of Main Street, where you can begin to see the rushing water of the Patapsco River, the Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum invites visitors to explore the region’s history through its rails. Designated as a National Landmark, Ellicott City’s B&O Station is the oldest surviving railroad station in the country. Visitors can venture through the exhibits and demonstrations that retell the importance of railroad history to the city — and the country’s — development.
Enjoy a Bite — Any Time, Any Way!
You may notice when you walk downtown that there never seems to be a dull moment. That’s largely due to the fact that Historic Ellicott City’s restaurants cater to all palettes and times of the day. Even from the early morning hours to late at night, you can always find a good meal within walking distance.
For breakfast, consider visiting Georgia Grace Café, an up-scale, Greek-inspired eatery that features delectable dishes such as crepes, crustinis and intricate breakfast bowls.
For lunch, between shopping trips to Sweet Elizabeth Jane and Journey from Junk for unique and personalized goods, stop by the Little Market Café for a variety of sandwiches, pizzas and flatbreads. You can even take your meal to sit in the beautifully arranged courtyard, where vendors have ensured seating is socially distanced.
If, around dinner time, you find yourself with a hankering for a cold beer and a hearty burger, head to the famous Phoenix Upper Main, which was recently featured and remade on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant rescue television program. Geared with a great menu and even better service, the venue is a must — even for just a lager or two.
For those in search of more exotic cuisine, UMI Sushi is the historic district’s modern Japanese restaurant that puts new meaning to fresh food. Poké bowls, sashimi, bento boxes and other favorite oriental dishes are all made with bright, flavorful ingredients that look almost too good to eat.
Off the Beaten Path
To finish the complete getaway package, Historic Ellicott City is also home to the Trolly Trail #9, just next to the Trolley Stop Café. The path follows the old Catonsville & Ellicott City Electric Railway Company Trolley Line through lines of trees that know the town’s history better than anyone else.
On the other side of the historic district’s red brick bridge, you’ll find one of Ellicott City’s most beloved treasures, Patapsco Valley State Park. Choose from one of the many trails that wind through the 32 miles of the park, past streams, wildlife and even a swinging bridge that will keep you reaching for your camera with every step.
Keep the Fun Going!
When you realize that there’s more to explore in Historic Ellicott City that can be fit into a single day, you’ll find that the area is filled with resorts, hotels and inns that are more than willing to have you spend a night or two. Places like Turf Valley Resort are even offering special discounts with the Historic Ellicott City “wallet” coupon book, keeping your stay easy and affordable.
To check out these places and the Historic Ellicott City wallet, go to visithowardcounty.com.