I enjoy travelling and seeing new places. Most Saturdays will find Husband and me headed out on a daytrip, whether it is for kayaking, hiking, fall scenery, or a new farmer’s market. I had to work half a day this past Saturday, so we resorted to kayaking on the Potomac River, less than 10 miles from our house. As I was paddling along, I was thinking about what a great area we live in.
Hagerstown is a small town in western Maryland, and if you’re coming to visit there’s a good chance you’re a history buff. Washington County is steeped in Civil War history. Antietam Battlefield, the site of the “single bloodiest day in American History” is located just to the south of Hagerstown. Preserved as a National Park, the quiet serene landscape makes it difficult to imagine what happened there on that day in September 1862.
For an awe-inspiring event, try to time your visit for the first Saturday in December, when over 23,000 luminaries are set up to represent the casualties of the battle. If you prefer to visit in the summertime, the first Saturday in July is the date for the annual concert and fireworks in the park. Well worth attending.
History buffs will also enjoy visiting Fort Frederick State Park, home of the restored Fort Frederick, a fort from the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War.
Bicycle enthusiasts have their choice of the 78 miles of C&O Canal Towpath that run through Washington County, or the 20 mile Western Maryland Rail Trail. Both are used by bicyclists, joggers, walkers, and even the occasional horse.
If hiking is your thing, approximately 35 miles of the Appalachian Trail follow the mountain ridges of eastern Washington County. There are several State Parks along the Trail’s route, so there are amenities and facilities for hikers. The AT also runs along the base of the first Washington Monument, built by the residents of nearby Boonsboro. While not nearly as tall as the famous landmark in Washington DC, it is an easy climb to the top, where you can look out and see much of the county, or spend some time watching and counting hawks.
The Potomac River forms the southern border of Maryland and is a popular place for boating and fishing. Much of it is fairly shallow which invites the kayaks, canoes, and small fishing boats. In the deeper waters behind the dams, you will find the larger boats towing skiers and tubers, as well as a plethora of personal water craft. There’s a place for everyone on “The Peoples’ River”.
At the end of the day, you can come back to Hagerstown for fine dining and shopping. Many restaurants feature seafood, and if you’ve never had a Maryland crab cake, you owe it to yourself to treat yourself to Nick’s Airport Inn for one of the best crab cakes around. From its beginnings as a humble road house, Nick’s has grown into one of the finest restaurants in town.
While we don’t offer world-class shopping, Hagerstown is a shopping destination with the Valley Mall and Premium Outlets in the south end of town. And since this is a quilting blog, I must mention that we have two very nice quilt shops in town – Wilson’s and Traditions at the White Swan!
And if you’re just looking for a place to relax and hang out, don’t miss our City Park. It’s a beautiful park in any season; it contains two small lakes which are home to ducks, geese, swans and fish. A stroll around the lake will be just the thing to walk off those crab cakes you enjoyed earlier!
Now, Kendra Thornton is going to discuss her home of Chicago, Illinois. Below, she has outlined some of her top destinations and eateries in the city!
If you’re planning a visit to my fabulous hometown of Chicago, you may already know about the most popular sites. There’s so many to choose from and they all have their merits. However, take this local’s advice for a unique and exciting Chicago experience!
1. The shops on Southport Avenue in Lakeview offer a more relaxed option from the "Magnificent Mile" on N. Michigan Avenue. Stop by the famous home of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field nearby, and then take a leisurely stroll through a variety of boutiques and stores including Krista K and Tula. What I love about Southport Avenue is that I can find the latest fashion trends as well as clothing from Chicago’s best designers. Every neighborhood in Chicago has its own unique style, and the shopping tends to reflect it. There’s something for every taste and budget in the city!
2. I know Navy Pier Park sounds like something for tourists, but trust me, this is a popular local hangout! You can’t find a better view of the city than from the 150-foot Ferris wheel, modeled after the first one built for the Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The Pier offers a host of other rides too, like the wave swing and a beautifully hand-painted carousel. A walk along the water’s edge provides spectacular views of Lake Michigan. Navy Pier Park is one of my family’s favorite weekend spots to bring my family. Spend an afternoon there and you’ll know why. Navy Pier is also in the early stages of being renovated to give it a more contemporary, green feel!
3. I know NYC gets all of the buzz, but Chicago has an awesome skyline and downtown of its own! You won’t experience the full splendor of our city if you don’t see it lit up at night. If you do find yourself visiting Chicago, you must stay in a hotel in the heart of the city. The website gogobot will help you find great deals on the best Chicago hotels. Whichever hotel you choose, there's sure to be great food close by as well.
4. Speaking of food, I know you'll try some authentic Chicago deep dish pizza while you’re here. But did you know that our fair city is also famous for its hot dogs and sausages? Hot Doug’s boasts the best hot dogs and a menu of dishes you won’t find anywhere else, with some fun, funky names! For a true Chicago gastronomic experience, you must eat at Hot Doug’s!
There are a multitude of other Chicago destinations that are well worth the visit. Take it from me though, the places above should all be on your to-do list when visiting my home city!
We hope you enjoyed visiting our towns. How about a tour of your town?
Sunny and Kendra