The season change between summer and fall is a beautiful time of year all over Frederick County. Nowhere is this more clear than along the county's scenic byways. Whether you want to fill your weekend with unique stops and exciting attractions or you just want to spend an hour taking in the gorgeous views, a journey down one of Frederick County’s two most traveled roads is sure to be a memorable experience!

Aerial view of the Middletown ALT Route 40 Bridge

The Historic National Road just west of Middletown, Maryland 

North and South 

No matter the season, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway or Route 15 is full of engaging stops that will appeal to the whole family.

One of America’s most unique and special destinations, Downtown Frederick boasts a charming Main Street filled with one of a kind restaurants, specialty shops, and a vibrant arts community.

Skyline view of Downtown Frederick

Downtown Frederick and its famed "clustered spires" 

North of the bustling city lies the quieter countryside. Catoctin Mountain Park (NPS) holds 25 miles of hiking trails offering visitors a chance to get up close and personal with nature. Just on the edge of the park, Cunningham Falls State Park is home to a 78-foot cascading waterfall, lakefront beach, and loads of other recreational opportunities.

Waterfall and trees at Cummingham Falls

Cunningham Falls 

Moving toward the Town of Thurmont, visitors will find the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo. This is the one and only place in the mid-Atlantic to board an open-air truck and ride right through the habitats of emu, zebra, and bison. If you would rather stroll at your own pace, the zoo offers walking paths surrounding over 450 exotic animals.

Family leaning out of the Catoctin Zoo ride to feed the Zebras

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Nearing the Pennsylvania border, travelers will see Mount Saint Mary’s University, home of the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, overlooking the path. Discover the story of Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton, the first U.S. born Saint, at the nearby Seton Shrine. Tour the museum, wander through the house where she lived, and step into the awe-inspiring basilica.

Exterior of the Seton ShrineSeton Shrine

East and West 

If you are looking for an East to West (or West to East) adventure, look no further than the Historic National Road, America’s first highway. Dating back to 1811, what is today known as Route 40, was a crucial portion of the westward movement for many families.

Exterior of The Main Cup restaurant in Middletown, located on the Historic National Road

The Main Cup restaurant in Middletown is located on the Historic National Road west of Frederick. 

Today, travelers can explore along the Historic National Road in Downtown Frederick on Patrick Street. Consider a stop at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine which tells a story of healing and compassion and houses over 1200 artifacts in five expansive galleries.

Visitors at the National Museum of Civil War MedicineThe National Museum of Civil War Medicine 

Further west, high atop South Mountain and hidden by the woods that surround it, sits the original Washington Monument. The beautifully manicured trail leading from the visitor center to the site is short, and not as rigorous compared to the two mile march up the mountain that citizens took to create the attraction years ago. Like the monument in DC, visitors who reach the top of the monument are rewarded with an incredible view.

View of the Washington Monument

Washington Monument stands atop South Mountain on the western border of Frederick County 

Nearby South Mountain Creamery will satisfy even the strongest dessert craving with fresh from the farm ice cream! Tour the property to find out how the creamery’s dairy products are made on site.

Hand holding a cup of chocolate ice cream from South Mountain Creamery

Ice cream is so much better right on the farm! 

This is only where your adventures in Frederick County can begin. There's so much more to find!