No matter the season, it's always a great time for a drive through the beautiful Maryland countryside. Among the must-see road trip gems in Maryland are Frederick County's scenic byways. Whether you want to fill your weekend with unique stops and exciting attractions or spend an hour taking in the gorgeous views, a journey down one of Frederick County’s two most iconic roads is sure to be a memorable experience!
The Historic National Road just west of Middletown, Maryland
North and South - Journey Through Hallowed Ground
Cutting across Frederick County, 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.
Historic Downtown Frederick
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.
Moving toward the Town of Thurmont, visitors will find the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. 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.
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.
Coming to or traveling from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania? Frederick County, MD borders Gettysburg to the south and provides a perfect opportunity to deepen any experience at Gettysburg National Military Park.
East and West - The Historic National Road
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.
The Main Cup restaurant in Middletown is located on the Historic National Road west of Frederick.
Today, travelers can explore 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.
The 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.
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.
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!