compiled by Lois Szymanski

It’s Time for a Great Escape!

Quick Trips for all-day getaways

Warmer temperatures and sunny skies have finally arrived, making the timing perfect for an escape. Here in Carroll County, it’s a quick trip to visit the Civil War-era buildings and battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, or Frederick’s historic downtown with eclectic restaurants and shops. But how about taking an all-day getaway? Explore the following recommendations from Carroll County residents who have experienced these settings for themselves.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Lower your aching body into the Hot Springs at Berkeley Springs, one of the best hot springs in the United States. Located in Berkeley Springs Park, these historic mineral spas are rich in history involving George Washington, Native Americans and other founding settlers of our country. Bring a camera, pack a lunch and soak in the restorative qualities of this beautiful park in West Virginia ( Manchester resident Becky Strong calls Berkeley Springs a beautiful small town to visit, something she does about four times a year.

“The old school Roman Bath is my favorite,” she says. “It’s about $30 per person, not including tip, for an hour. My friend and I usually share, and it’s a private room with a walk down to a tiled bath filled with mineral water, which is kept at 103 degrees F. It is fabulous for orthopedic issues, so I go about four times a year. They also have water spigots outside where you can fill jugs for free to imbibe in their therapeutic minerals.”

Go shopping at Berkeley Springs Antique Mall or hike along the Cacapon River and explore the beautiful Berkeley Springs Castle ( Nine centuries old and rich in history, the castle was built to keep out enemies, with trip steps designed to make the enemy stumble, arrow slits, murder holes, barred doors and worn stones where sentries once stood guard. The entire estate includes 6,000 acres, a medieval deer park, 18 tenant farms and a stretch of the River Severn.

Cambridge, Maryland

Two hours away, just over the Choptank River in Cambridge, you’ll find the Harriet Tubman Byway, the nearby Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, and the Harriet Tubman Museum.

Harriet Tubman was an enslaved person in Dorchester County. She escaped and became known for risking her life to free more people. She returned at least 13 times over a decade, risking her life by using the Underground Railroad to lead approximately 70 friends and family members to freedom. Spend the day learning more about Harriet Tubman’s inspirational life and the secret network of places and people called the Underground Railroad.

Manchester resident Becky Strong said the Harriet Tubman trail is fabulous.

“Some of the trails went through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which was amazing in itself,” she says. “The tour included stops at the museum and the famous exterior wall painting in Cambridge of [Harriet Tubman] breaking down the wall and climbing through. This was the best part. The mural is so breathtaking you almost want to step out of the way so Ms. Tubman can climb through!”

Take a downtown walking tour of Cambridge using maps from the Harriet Tubman Visitor Center or pick up a map of the Harriet Tubman Byway, a self-guided, 125-mile driving tour that winds through the beautiful land and waterscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then 98 miles through Delaware. It includes 45 historical sites related to the Underground Railroad. You can spend a couple of hours or several days exploring. Learn more at

Visitors might also stop by the Choptank Lighthouse, shop in Cambridge’s historic district, or visit the Main Street Gallery.

Luray, Virginia

For an underground destination, visit Luray Caverns, which is just over two hours away. Follow a well-lit, paved walkway into the earth, landing inside cathedral-sized rooms with 10-story-high ceilings lined with sparkling stalactites and stalagmites, a crystal pool and more.

Silver Run resident Nancy Householder visited the caverns in March with her grandchildren.

Luray Caverns, Luray, Virginia

“We got a brochure with numbered spots, and my 7-year-old grandson Tucker told me, ‘We have to look for the numbers.’ Then, he read every word at every spot,” she says. “We spent about an hour or more in the Caverns, and we all loved it.”

Householder said the Great Stalacpipe Organ made the rocks sing underground.

“My 14-year-old grandson Cale plays the cello in high school, and he loved hearing the organ play,” she says. “The Stalacpipe Organ uses stalactites as tone sources. Rubber-tipped mallets are electronically signaled to tap different-sized stalactites, creating different tones. The mallets cover 3 1/2 acres of the cavern!”

Next door to the caverns, visitors find the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum on site, a Heritage Village replicating a village of bygone years, and Toy Town Junction with intricately designed model trains and miniature villages. Visit for more details.

While in the area, visitors often hike in Shenandoah National Park (, shop at local farm stands, or drive along scenic Skyline Drive. Hope Holland recommends this drive.

“You look off the mountain at those vistas, and you are looking at some of the most beautiful valleys and mountains,” she says. “You see all the shades of green in all the natural plants and they are just magnificent. Longwood Gardens were planted by humans, but Skyline Drive was planted by God.”

Cumberland and Hancock, Md

In Cumberland, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers iconic steam and diesel engine train rides west through a breach in the Allegheny Mountains, over an iron truss bridge, around Helmstetter’s Curve, and through the 914-foot Brush Tunnel under Piney Mountain.

Westminster resident Dawn McFadden traveled for two hours to take a scenic ride over the mountain.

“I felt like I’d stepped back in time,” she says. “After the ride, at the end of the track, the train had to turn around to head back. We got to stand outside and watch it turn around on a specially designed turntable-like thing built on the ground, and as it did, it blew big puffs of black smoke.” Learn more at

Visitors might also catch a show at the historic Cumberland Theatre ( or stop at nearby Rocky Gap State Park. The park offers hiking and has an aviary featuring Maryland birds. For the gambler, there’s also the Rocky Gap Casino, Resort & Golf. Do you feel lucky? Visit for more info.

On your drive home, stop at the Sideling Hill Overlook & Rest Area, which offers an incredible view of the valley below. The center also has an exhibit showing the layers of rock inside a mountain.

If you stop for dinner in downtown Hancock, check out BuddyLou’s Eats, Drinks & Antiques ( The antique shop has toys, signage and iconic furniture from the past. The deck has a view of the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal. Enjoy an ice cream in the outside garden or rent a bike for a spin down the C&O Canal towpath.

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

With numerous gardens, intricate fountain systems, architectural grandeur, lights and a lake, Longwood Gardens spans more than 1,100 acres. It offers a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers and topiary displays. Conservation is at the core of its mission for this premier attraction about two hours from Carroll County.

Former Carroll County resident Hope Holland remembered her visit to Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.

“From the minute we walked through the gates, it was the most glorious sense of planned beauty, freedom and amazing vistas,” she says. “It was built at a time when gardens were planned with vistas and walks. It was all about the gardens for me.”

Longwood Gardens also hosts concerts, art shows, classes and programs for all ages. Learn more at

Just 10 minutes from Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine Museum of Art showcases the art of the famous Wyeth family, including N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. The museum’s outstanding Heritage Collection is a distinguished collection of 19th and 20th-century American art. Explore the museum in a renovated 19th-century mill with a steel and glass addition that overlooks the beautiful Brandywine River.

“I went to the Brandywine Museum many years ago,” says Finksburg resident Pauline Sinclair. “It’s located in a beautiful area with woods and a delightful [river] that runs right next to the building. The museum was filled with incredible works of art by some very famous artists. Of course, we went to see the works of the Wyeth family. Another great treat was being able to visit the studio of Andrew Wyeth. We were amazed at the large room and the huge window that brought fantastic light into the space Andrew painted in.”

Learn more at Adults might also like the Chaddsford Winery, with tastings, tours and more (

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

What kid doesn’t love an amusement park? Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, offers more than 30 rides, puppet shows, Duke’s Lagoon for water play, dive shows, and more ( Thelma and Ron Stonesifer of Union Mills camp regularly at the Old Mill Stream Campground, which is owned by Dutch Wonderland and next door to the amusement park.

“An Amish family comes through the campground by horse and buggy and sells their goods,” Ron Stonesifer says. “They are a nice family, and we got to know them well.”

For something more educational, the Stonesifers recommend Lancaster’s Amish Farm and House ( Tour the 15-acre farm and historic farmhouse, once occupied by an Amish family, then meet farm animals and Amish artisans before taking a guided bus or a buggy tour.

“We have toured the Amish Farm and House,” Thelma Stonesifer says. “They [the Amish] have no electricity. They run their washing machine with bottled gas, and their lamps are gas-operated. They are buried in the same clothing they were married in. There are no pictures on the walls except calendars. Since the children only go to the eighth grade, we see them out there working on the farm.”

A few miles away, the Sight and Sound Theatre ( takes Bible stories from scripture to stage. Dawn McFadden of Westminster says it is a “must see” for all!

“The Bible stories absolutely come to life,” she says. “My most favorite part is the live animals that are part of every show.

The actors and the animals also walk up and down the aisles. It’s a surround-sound experience with real animals. Sight and Sound never disappoints.”

While in Lancaster, take time to wander backcountry roads, passing by Amish buggies, and stopping at Amish farm stands to purchase home-baked items, jellies, jams and more.

Solomons Island, Maryland

Two hours away, Solomons Island is home to the Calvert Marine Museum, a hands-on family center for all ages. Using natural history and maritime heritage, the museum shares the unique story of our Chesapeake Bay.

Solomons Island, Maryland

You can touch a live stingray and study its stages of development inside a lighted egg case. You can also attend a concert or program or meet the museum’s pair of otters in their indoor and outdoor habitat.

“I am a big fan of the otters at the museum,” said Finksburg resident Amy May. “It’s small, but it has so much inside. I learned about oyster production and the lighthouse. I took a boat tour on a pontoon boat along the shoreline, and I loved it. Their concerts are even better, and I like the little shops in the area too.”

The museum also offers boat rides aboard two Chesapeake Bay wooden work boats: the Wm. B. Tennison, a log-built bugeye, and the Dee of St. Mary’s, a sailing skipjack. Learn more at

May said she first visited the area to explore the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Art Center ( “There are paved paths and fairy houses, and you can get a map from the visitor center to try to find certain fairy houses in the woods,” she says, adding that the fairy houses are built by almost anyone and from many different materials, including one built from crab shells. Be sure to explore the fossils at Calvert Cliffs State Park.

Put these destinations on your summer bucket list the next time you seek a great escape.