Working within today’s ever-changing world, it’s easy to lose sight of the nature, beauty, and culture around you. Have you ever considered just hopping into your vehicle and taking a quick or extended road trip to renew your spirit, commitment and passion? Or have you considered a road trip but have no idea where or which direction to go? In the first part of a ten-week series, we’re going to explore some ideas for road trips within 25 miles of Laurel, Maryland. So snap on your seat belt and away we go!
First, we’ll start with the two biggies! As you know, Laurel is centrally-located between the cities of Baltimore and Washington, DC.
Of course, you’ve probably been to many of the attractions in Baltimore, such as the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Museum of Art, the B&O Railroad Museum and Harborplace. Ditto with Washington, such as federal buildings, the various monuments, memorials and Smithsonian Museums. However, we’ve found some out-of-the-way attractions that you may want to consider:
Walters Art Gallery – The Walters’ Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medieval art collections are extensive, as are the museum’s holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the collection. Address: 600 North Charles Street. Website: http://thewalters.org/
The American Visionary Art Museum displays the work of self-taught artists in six galleries. The main building’s architecture is also an artistic creation, winning many international and national awards for its design and beauty. The sculpture barn, formerly the Four Roses whiskey warehouse, houses towering exhibits. Address: 800 Key Highway. Website: http://www.avam.org/
Homewood House Museum – Located on the Johns Hopkins University campus, Homewood is noted for the Federal Period architectural detail throughout both the exterior and the interior. Address: 3400 North Charles Street. Website: http://www.museums.jhu.edu/index.php
Baltimore Museum of Industry – The Baltimore Museum of Industry is devoted to the industrial history of the city, with special emphasis on the workers and small business owners who were the backbone of the city’s development. Address: 1415 Key Highway. Website: http://www.thebmi.org/
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum – Exhibits tell the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death in Baltimore and significant artifacts such as Edgar’s portable writing desk and chair, and a telescope, china and glassware used by Edgar. Address: 203 North Amity Street. Website: www.poeinbaltimore.org
The Supreme Court – Most visitors tour the White House and the Capitol Building. However, many people don’t realize that the U.S. Supreme Court Building can also be toured. As each of these buildings represent our three branches of government, this tour is not to be missed! The Supreme Court is in session Monday through Wednesday from 10 a. m. until noon, October through April. You can watch a case being argued, but seating is limited. Arrive at least an hour early to wait in line. When the court is not in session, you can tour the building and attend a free lecture about court proceedings and the building’s architecture. Address: National Mall Website: supremecourt.gov
Great Falls Park – About 30 miles from Laurel, this National Park Service site is situated on 800 acres along the banks of the Potomac River. Hiking, biking, kayaking and many other activities are enjoyed in this beautiful park. Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA Website: nps.gov/grfa/
Outside of the two cities, there is a plethora of interesting places to visit within 25 miles of Laurel. Maryland’s State Capital, Annapolis, is just about 25 miles to the east. Not only can you visit the capital building, the US Naval Academy and the charming city of Annapolis, there are a few treasures near here as well:
William Paca House and Gardens – Built in the 18th Century, this house has been lovingly restored to its original splendor, including 2 acres of gardens. Address: 186 Prince George Street. Website: http://www.annapolis.org/index.asp?pageid=49
Quiet Waters Park – This park in Annapolis offers a wide variety of activities. Visitors can walk, jog, or bike on over 6 miles of paved trails winding through hardwood forests and past grassy fields, play at the multi-level children’s playground, enjoy the vistas of the South River promenade and scenic overlook, or picnic among 340 acres of beautiful park land. Address: 600 Quiet Water Park Road. Website: http://www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/quietwaters#_=_
Hogshead – At 43 Pinkney Street, Hogshead is an early 19th-century building that serves as an interactive, hands-on museum and historic landmark, offering visitors the opportunity to experience what life was like during the 1700s in Annapolis. Hogshead visitors will see, hear, and touch what life entailed for frontiersmen, colonial doctors, soldiers in the Revolutionary War, and enslaved or indentured workers. Website: http://www.annapolis.org/index.asp?pageid=175
The Kunta Kinte – Alex Haley Memorial – The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial is the only memorial in the country that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. The Memorial consists of three distinct areas: the Alex Haley sculpture group, Compass Rose, and Story Wall. Address: Located on Church Circle. Website: http://www.annapolis.gov/visitors/african-american-heritage/kunta-kinte-alex-haley-memorial
Closer to Laurel:
Just north of Laurel is the historic town of Ellicott City. With a diverse group of stores and restaurants, coupled with streets that go up and down gently rolling hills, Ellicott City is a just a fun place to be! In the summer, there are even outdoor movie nights! Website: www.ellicottcity.net/tourism
Not far from the town center of Ellicott City is Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park, which extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River. Hiking, biking, and picnicking at the pavilions are just some of the fun activities to do in this beautiful, natural area. Website: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/patapsco.aspx
In Fulton, explore the African Art Museum of Maryland, which encourages an understanding of African art and culture with exhibits, events and activities. The Museum is located at 11711 East Market Place in Fulton. Website: http://www.africanartmuseum.org/.
In nearby Clarksville, get back to nature with a visit to the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. This natural area is home to a diversity of wildlife, including an impressive list of about 150 species of birds, over 40 species of mammals, and numerous amphibians, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, plants and other wildlife. It’s located at 5795 Trotter Road. Website: http://www.howardcountymd.gov/mpea.htm.
The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, situated in Catonsville, offers education on the life of Benjamin Banneker, a renowned scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. Address: 300 Oella Avenue. Website: https://benjaminbanneker.wordpress.com/
And now we return to our own backyard, Laurel, MD! The Laurel Museum, located at 817 Main Street, is maintained by the Laurel Historical Society at the highest professional standards. There have been many exhibits, including our most recent, “Stationed in Laurel: Our Civil War Story.” Come check out this hidden treasure! Website: http://www.laurelhistoricalsociety.org/pages/about_bkgd.html
We hope that you enjoy your road trip in and around Laurel! Are there any often-overlooked attractions that you have enjoyed within about 25 miles of Laurel? If so, please leave us a comment so that we can include it on our list – we value your feedback! Coming next week: Attractions within about 50 miles of Laurel!