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Hidden Gems

Discover the best in arts, food, and things to do in Howard County.
By Visit Howard County

Though just a few miles west of Baltimore City limits, Howard County feels a world away, making it an appealing and affordable choice for a rejuvenating day trip with friends, a romantic weekend escape, or a fun-filled family getaway. To learn more about the insider experience, we talked to the team at Visit Howard County who shared the best the area has to offer. Whether you’re looking for new galleries or exhibits to see, food and drink to try, or places to explore, Howard County has something for everyone.

The Arts “A” List

Stroll down Main Street in Historic Ellicott City and tour the many new murals painted by local artists. First winners of the mural competition organized by The Fund for Arts in Ellicott City, Inc., Antonia Ramis Miguel and Wiley Purkey’s “see-through” work is an ode to Ellicott City’s history. Located on the east wall of the women’s clothing store Sweet Elizabeth Jane, the Ramis Miguel mural transports observers to the past by depicting the Ellicott City Motor Co. in the old Reedy Electric Building during the 1920s.

Robin Holliday opened HorseSpirit Gallery in Savage Mill in 2018. She now represents more than 45 local artists in a large, open space that guarantees visitors room for safe social distancing. The eclectic art collection includes paintings, sculpture, photography, glass, mosaics, and other mediums of arts. The new location also hosts visual-arts workshops in its art loft for beginners to the more advanced.

The Merriweather District in Columbia recently opened its new cultural collective, covering .35 acres of mixed-use development with chic shopping venues, trendy restaurants, sleek residences, and open grassy areas. Visitors can take advantage of the walkability of the area and visit the many establishments in one visit. You can also explore the new Color Burst outdoor exhibit at the Chrysalis performing arts center, home to urban art sculptures and live musical acts.

Can’t-Miss Culinary Experiences

Umi Sushi is a cornerstone of Historic Ellicott City’s Main Street and incorporates a modern twist on authentic Japanese cuisine. Enjoy a unique outdoor experience with a scenic view overlooking the Patapsco River. Plus, they’re well known in the area for their excellent service and friendly staff. Delivery and curbside pickup are also available.

An iconic eatery established in 1976, Ma’s Kettle Restaurant is a Savage staple. The quaint shop specializes in BBQ and other homestyle meals with ever-changing daily specials. It has outdoor seating available for socially distanced dining or take-out to savor their home cooking in your own home.

One of Columbia’s newest restaurants, the Periodic Table Restaurant and Bar is a must-visit. The American cuisine with international flare is paired with the perfect complementary cocktail, beer, or wine. Plus, this restaurant has something for everyone with their vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Take advantage of their outdoor seating or carryout and have a picnic at one of the Merriweather District’s open-area lawns.

Inspired by the elegant cellar bars of Germany, the Rathskeller in Elkridge will transport you to central Europe with its modern street food, cocktail program, and hand-selected wine lists. Open for just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rathskeller is now fully operational and prepared to bring you an authentic German experience complete with fresh schnitzel, bratwurst, beer, German-liqueur cocktails, and more.

Your Howard County To-Do List

Scott’s Cove in Scaggsville offers scenic views of the Patuxent river and the wildlife that thrives in the area. Hike along the water trail or set up at the picnic tables for an afternoon lunch. Recreational and playground areas are also the perfect spots to bring the kids. Boating access is available to launch canoes or kayaks. This state park is ideal for a day trip and taking in the great outdoors with birdwatching, fishing, and other activities. 

With more than 337 acres of fun, Centennial Park in Columbia is a great way to spend the day with friends or family. The man-made lake is a one-stop recreation destination with fishing and boating access. Bike and walking paths, picnic pavilions, baseball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, and plenty of wide-open green spaces are also open to the public.

Located in West Friendship, Jenny’s Farmers Market brings the freshest produce to customers seven days a week. A Black-owned and family-operated business, Jenny’s primary goal is to its the community in its safe outdoor environment. With a variety of farm-fresh produce, plants, pantry items, and many other products, this farmers market has developed a loyal customer base and has a variety of grocery needs. Drive-up service is also available.