Frederick, Md., is the
kind of place you can imagine yourself settling down in someday: a
historic, small city with leafy neighborhoods lined with spacious
American-style houses a short stroll from a downtown that's still the hub
of commerce and culture. (The strip malls are strung out along the south
and west entrances to town.) And while Frederick turned 250 years old just
last year, it has plenty on hand to entertain the young.
One of Frederick's standout attractions is the ultra-low-tech Rose Hill
Manor Children's Museum, a 1790 Georgian mansion that served as a
retirement home for Thomas Johnson, Maryland's first elected governor.
From April through October, on walk-in tours led by guides in costumes
from the Gov. Johnson era, children re-enact early American history by
sewing stitches on a quilt, carding wool (top picture) and operating a
beaten-biscuit machine in the open-hearth kitchen. Tours end in a playroom
filled with period dress-up clothes, tea party sets and doll houses and a
collection of interactive cast-iron savings banks in the form of an organ
grinder, Jonah and the whale and Uncle Sam.
the manor house, visitors can tour the smokehouse, icehouse, blacksmith
shop and Carriage Museum, which houses more than 20 glossy rigs (left).
The Touch and Smell Garden offers nose-on interaction with spices and
flowers, and the museum shop carries a broad selection of inexpensive
old-time toys (rag dolls for 75 cents, finger tops for $2 and yo-yos for
$3). Located in the north end of town (next to the Coca-Cola bottling
plant), Rose Hill also offers special events nearly every weekend – the
Rose Hill Day Festival is May 16 and the Quilt Show is June 25 to 27. Call
(301) 694-1650 for information about events.
Hill Manor is best suited for elementary-school children, but the Community
Bridge (left) in downtown's Historic District is a standout attraction
for every member of the clan. Only last September, muralist William M.
Cochran completed the five-year project to transform the run-of-the-mill
concrete Carroll Street Bridge into a trompe l'oeil painting of an
old stone bridge. The bridge is embedded with 180 "carvings"
that represent Frederick citizens' responses to the question, "What
object represents the spirit of community to you?" The answers –
and locating them is what makes the bridge such a hoot – include an
angel, a teddy bear, a school bell, the Statue of Liberty, a nursing baby,
a church steeple, a menorah, a parking meter and – the most popular
concept – black and white clasped hands.
Frederick is also the site of the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum.
That's where the 96-year-old heroine of the famed John Greenleaf
Whittier poem "Barbara Fritchie" displayed the Yankee flag in
defiance of occupying Confederate troops. ("Shoot if you must, this
old gray head, but spare your country's flag," she said.)
The Barbara Fritchie Candystick Restaurant, related to the historic
site in name only, is a classic roadside diner – "Use our
comfortable counter for faster service" – at the end of a long
strip of shopping centers west of town. Cited as "a relic of simpler
times" in Jane and Michael Stern's guidebook Roadfood, the
restaurant features three-decker sandwiches and sandwich platters,
full-course country-style dinners and the "world's best old-fashioned
apple dumpling" – every morsel made from scratch. Candy isn't made
here anymore, but back downtown, Brittle by Elsie makes sweets
on-site and sells Beanie Babies "to my customers only, not to dealers
or secondary marketers."
Top off your kid-centered day at Brewer's Alley, a downtown brewpub
with contemporary American regional cuisine such as potato-crusted
Atlantic salmon or farm-raised medallions of Louisiana alligator for
grown-ups and a substantially less exotic menu for children (pizza,
chicken fingers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).
There are many more attractions for families in and around Frederick – Frederick
Keys minor-league baseball, kids matinees at the Way Off Broadway
Dinner Theater and the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, to
name a few – but save them for another trip.
Directions: From the Beltway take Interstate 270
northwest 29 miles to Exit 31 north (Buckeystown Pike, Route 85). Turn
left on Market Street (Route 355) and go north to the center of downtown
(Market and Patrick streets). Continue north on Market Street to Rose Hill
• Tourism Council of Frederick, 19 E. Church St., (800) 999-3613
or (301) 663-3613 (Web site: www.visitfrederick.org)
• Rose Hill Manor Children's Museum, 1611 N. Market St.,
(301) 694-1648. Tours Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and
Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. from April through October. Adults $3, seniors $2
and children $1.
• Community Bridge, Carroll Street between East Patrick and All
• Barbara Fritchie House and Museum, 154 W. Patrick St., (301)
698-0630. Open Mondays and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.
• Barbara Fritchie Candystick Restaurant, 1513 W. Patrick St.
(U.S. 40), (301) 662-2500
• Brittle by Elsie, 16 N. Market St., (301) 682-8231
• Brewer's Alley, 124 N. Market St., (301) 631-0089