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Engaging History

There’s something for everyone in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
By Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
— Courtesy of Justin Tsucalas


There’s something for everyone in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
Whether you have a head for history, love nature, or enjoy the challenge of solving puzzles, there’s something for everyone in the place known as the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. Located just below the Mason-Dixon Line and covering portions of Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties, the area is ideally positioned to serve as your “base camp” for visiting the many Civil War battlefields and seeing the sights in and around Antietam, Gettysburg, Monocacy, South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Here are five different ideas for exploring the region, from day trips to overnight adventures, tailored to a variety of interests and ages.

— Courtesy of Visit Frederick


Old Main Streets Byway
Do you long for the days of quaint little towns, Main Street shops, and historic homes? In the span of a few hours, you can travel roundtrip along country roads connecting small towns including Emmitsburg, Westminster, and Mount Airy on the Old Main Streets Byway. Pop into the shops and restaurants along the still-vibrant main streets, experience the eye-catching scenery, and take in the unique history of the region.

Don’t miss the Carroll County Farm Museum near Westminster, where visitors can experience mid-19th century rural life. Tour the farmhouse and a bank barn, built in 1852-53. Explore the smokehouse, broom shop, saddlery, springhouse, firehouse, general store, and a one-room schoolhouse. Another point of interest along the way is the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the historic home of the first American-born saint.

— Courtesy of Visit Frederick


South Mountain State Battlefield
South Mountain Battlefield, along the border of Washington County, is the site of the first major Civil War battle to take place in Maryland. It’s also the only major battlefield that intersects the Appalachian Trail. For history buffs, the War Correspondents Memorial Arch and Washington Monument are worth a visit.

The South Mountain Corridor is more than a battlefield, though—it’s also home to the artisans of the Valley Craft Network, including potters and artists as well as purveyors of local foods and beverages, such as Willow Oaks Cider and several wineries.

— Courtesy of Carroll County Tourism


National Parks and Nature
If nature’s your thing, there are many national, state, and local parks in the Heritage Area. Find a campground or cabin and sleep under the stars at Greenbrier State Park in Washington County, which boasts a lake and beach. Find an outfitter to rent bikes or take you on a guided whitewater rafting trip. Or take a leisurely stroll on one of the best walking paths in the country, the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Children will love the hands-on educational exhibits and live animals at the Bear Branch Nature Center in Carroll County. Thrill-seeking adventure-lovers of all ages can climb, swing, and zip their way through the trees up to 50 feet above the forest floor at TreeTrekkers, minutes from downtown Frederick.

— Courtesy of Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area


Farms and Farm Markets
Farming is the largest commercial industry in Maryland. There are lots of opportunities for visitors to experience—and taste!—the fruits of the farmers’ labor throughout the region. You can pick your own strawberries at Baugher’s Orchards or one of several other farms in Carroll County. Washington County also offers a wide range of agricultural offerings, including Cronise Market Place in Boonsboro, a family-owned farm stand selling fresh produce, plants, and flowers since 1928. At South Mountain Creamery in Frederick County, visitors are invited to bottle-feed the calves. For a little taste of everything, this two-day itinerary features many of Frederick County’s farms, wineries, breweries, creameries, and orchards.

— Courtesy of Visit Frederick


If you’re looking for an interactive, educational all-ages adventure, you’ve found it: The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area GeoTrail. Assemble your team and tackle the challenge of taking on the role of a Civil War correspondent on the trail of a spy. This puzzle-solving experience takes participants to historic sites across three counties. Players must solve puzzles and collect clues along the trail to learn the spy’s identity. Keep an eye on the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s website and social media this summer, as they will be announcing events in collaboration with Surelocked In Escape Games that immerse players in historical narratives.

— Courtesy of Justin Tsucalas