Nestled below the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Frederick is a quaint escape from Maryland’s dense cities. The tree-lined streets are home to a host of thriving local shops and restaurants, all of which are just a half-hour from picturesque hiking destinations. Beautiful canals meet quiet living in one of the state’s best-kept secrets.

Destination: Frederick, Maryland

Travel Time: 55-65 minutes

Travel Options: Car

Unfortunately, public transit doesn’t provide students with an abundance of options for travel between the University of Maryland and Frederick. On weekdays, a bus leaves at 2:50 p.m. from this university and arrives in Frederick at 4:02 p.m. But there is no return trip, and the timing is less than ideal. Personal transportation is your best option here.

8:00 a.m. – Hike

The start of our trip takes place not in Frederick proper, but at Sugarloaf Mountain, which overlooks the sprawling eastern valleys. The privately owned mountain has free admission, meaning you can enjoy the natural landmark without breaking the bank.

The mountain’s aptly named Northern Peaks Trail takes about three and a half hours to complete, so make sure to pack a snack and plenty of water. The hike is rated as moderate, or suitable for explorers of most abilities.

[Diamondback Day Trip: Exploring Annapolis]

12:30 p.m. – Lunch

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to head into town. Frederick is flush with great eateries and sit-down spots, but none beat Cafe Nola. Located directly in the heart of the city, Cafe Nola offers a rustic collection of local favorites with a small-town feel.

The restaurant boasts a hearty lunch menu with plenty of savory offerings, with a robust drink menu to match. We recommend the A’Roll Sandwich, a delectable stack of lox, onions and tomato, paired with a Banana Foster Latte. If it’s a two-coffee kind of day, grab a Salted Caramel Latte when you finish your meal.

2:00 p.m. – Scenic Walk

No visit to Frederick would be complete without a walk along Carroll Creek Park, by the iconic stretch of canal that traces the southern border of the city’s downtown neighborhood. The waterway hosts Frederick Pride in June, and always provides a variety of activities. 

3:00 p.m. – Afternoon Snack

When you’ve reached the end of your stroll, turn towards North East Street and East 2nd Street to find Stone Hearth Bakery, an oasis of sweet treats and pastries. The olive green building produces a selection of baked goods, from classic desserts to fresh loaves of bread, the perfect stop for a mid-afternoon snack.

4:00 p.m. – Antique Shop

The rest of your afternoon will guide you back to the banks of Carroll Creek, towards the window-lined mouth of a low-rise brick building. Through the facade’s wide-set wooden doors is Emporium Antiques, a hidden gem full of treasures. 

Emporium Antiques is a nest of oddities and surprises, a jumbled trove of wicker chairs, ornate vases and collages of long-forgotten artworks. The items that have slipped through history’s cracks have ended up here, organized into a series of independent storefronts. Leave your shopping list at the door and prepare to walk out with the last thing you expect.

[Maryland Manzar wins Bollywood dance competition at Indiana University]

6:30 p.m. – Dinner

Our final stop in Frederick comes just in time for dinner, and where better than the iconic Brewer’s Alley. Situated in a more than 150-year-old opera house, Brewer’s Alley honors the town’s beer-soaked roots while offering a diverse selection of eats.

Classic bar food — wings, nachos and pretzels — meet stone-fired pizzas and sirloin steaks. Pair those with collections of draft beers, wines, cocktails and mocktails, and Brewer’s Alley serves up a recipe for a perfect night out. Make sure to try its signature brew, produced in-house.

Frederick is a town of brick-laden streets and gorgeous waterways, and its downtown combines rich history with a variety of unique restaurants, shopping destinations and accessible natural havens. Trust me, it’s well worth a visit.