Meet in the Middle: A Trip to Hagerstown
It’s not easy to stand out in a county that contains five national parks, but the handsome hamlet of Hagerstown cannot be outshined. This small town is one of confluences: where I-70 meets I-81, where the Potomac River meets the tip of the Blue Ridge, where history meets modern comfort.
A morning’s drive from any of the Mid-Atlantic’s big cities, Hagerstown will delight history buffs, art aficionados and anyone who likes a good meal.
Antietam National Battlefield and National Cemetery are minutes away from Hagerstown, but you’ll find lots of history right in the heart of downtown. The City Park Train Hub and Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum tell the story of the region’s railway history. (If models are your thing, you can add to your collection at the Train Room.) At the Jonathon Hager House, you can tour the 1739 homestead of Hagerstown’s founder, meticulously preserved to offer visitors a trip back in time.
Elsewhere, you can explore the area’s African-American history and heritage at the one-of-a-kind Doleman Black Heritage Museum. Collecting artifacts of local significance began as a hobby for a Marguerite Doleman in 1974; today the collection contains thousands of pieces — ranging from paintings and poetry to dolls and deeds of slave sales — dating back to before the Civil War.
The Finer Things
Hagerstown Arts & Entertainment District boasts an impressive collection of culture, anchored by the historic Maryland Theatre, home of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Drama enthusiasts can choose between a performance at the Washington County Playhouse or the Potomac Playmakers, one of America’s oldest community groups. If you’d like to take a pretty piece of Hagerstown home with you, Washington County Art Council houses a gallery and gift shop; nearby you’ll find Just Lookin’ Gallery, which specializes in African American paintings, prints and sculpture.
The Arts and Entertainment District is also the starting point for Hagerstown’s Cultural Trail, a community space brimming with sculptures, murals, and other inspired installations. This half-mile path connects downtown with the Washington County Museum of Fine Art. There you’ll find 6,000 different works from all over the world, as well as seasonal concerts and lectures.
Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not go to Hagerstown and leave without eating a Krumpe’s Do-Nut. This Hagerstown institution was founded by Rudolph Krumpe, a German merchant seaman who survived a shipwreck in the Chesapeake Bay and eventually made his way to Central Maryland, baking prowess in tow. Head down to Do-Nut Alley and grab a dozen — or two.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to eat dinner before dessert, another German establishment is a must-visit. At Schmankerl Stube, the waitstaff dons traditional Bavarian garb and serves up even more traditional fare. Dig into some wiener schnitzel and spätzle and wash it down with a stein of hefeweizen. Top off your meal — and your trip to Hagerstown — with a warm apfelstrudel.