Bel Air is the county seat of Harford County and is situated on the outskirts of Baltimore, slightly inland of Chesapeake Bay. It is considered one of the best places to live in Maryland and is home to many young professionals and retirees. It was founded in 1780 and remained a small settlement for almost a century. In 1865, there were only 200 people living in the town. With the advent of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (MPA), nicknamed Ma and Pa, the town grew rapidly in the late 19th century. Notable residents were Dr Howard Kelly and John Wilkes Booth. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Independent Brewing Company
The Independent Brewing Company is Harford County's premier production brewery. It is situated in historic downtown Bel Air, at the top of the Ma and Pa Trail. The team produces small batches of gluten-free ales and ciders, served from 26 rotating taps. They also can six-packs to go and offer non-alcoholic beverages, such as coffee, root beer and kombucha. Bend and Brew yoga classes, Trivia nights and live music evenings are weekly events. A roster of food trucks delivers fresh, seasonal, local cuisine on site at various venues. The company also has a stall that pops up farmers' markets.
418 N Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014, Phone: 410-836-8313
2.Ma and Pa Trail
More than a hundred establishments support this heritage trail which follows the course of the old Ma and Pa Railroad through Harford County. The Bel Air section is 2.5 miles long and links with the longer trail. It starts at Williams Street and ends overlooking the Equestrian Center. The trail slopes moderately and runs through woodlands, under the highway and bypass, and crosses the creek several times. It is a short cut across town and has branches off to Harford Mall and Liriodendron Mansion. There is a dog park at one end where pets can run free.
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3.Liriodendron Mansion, Bel Air, MD
© Liriodendron Mansion
The mansion, on the western side of Bel Air, was home to Dr Howard Kelly and his wife Laetitia. Dr Kelly was one of the four founding physicians of the John Hopkins Medical College in Baltimore. The estate was originally 196 acres but parcels of land have been sold off since the 1940s, including what is now Howard Park. The Palladium-styled house was designed by the architect responsible for the Baltimore City Court House. It is a two-and-a-half story brick mansion. The original house still stands and there are several outbuildings on the property. Liriodendron refers to the botanical name of the tulip poplar found on the estate.
502 West Gordon Street, Bel Air, Maryland 21014, Phone: 410-879-4424
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Junius Brutus Booth bought the one-and-a-half story Gothic Revival cottage out of a catalog in 1847. It was intended to be his family's country retreat but he died before it was completed. John Wilkes Booth, one of his sons lived there as a teenager, with his mother and siblings. The family sold the property to Ella Mahoney who lived there for 70 years and opened a museum. The property changed hands several times after her death and is now run by the Junius Booth Society and is open to the public. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1973.
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5.Harford Mall, Bel Air, Maryland
© Farknot Architect/stock.adobe.com
The mall is situated near the junction of Maryland Route 24 and US Route 1, on the site of the old Bel Air Racetrack. It was constructed in 1973 and renovated extensively in 2006. The center court and interior were remodeled, the exterior was given a facelift and the food court was moved outside. There are almost 80 shops in the main building and the Harford Mall annex nearby, including ten eateries. Sears and Macy are currently anchor tenants and Woolworths was one until the chain ceased to exist. The center is open from 11 am to 5 pm.
696 Belair Rd, Bel Air, MD 21014, Phone: 410-879-9319
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Eryn and Brad Streett met in college and shared a passion for artisan beers. They experimented with home brewing while at college and after graduating toured several breweries to add to their research. They were married in 2012 and opened a micro brewery supply shop in 2013, from which they also sold their own home brews. They purchased a small farm where they grow their own hops. In 2017, they opened a commercial brewing venture where they sell a rotating selection of ten artisan beers. They are continuously refining their recipes and offer classes on home brewing.
319 South Main Street Suite #100, Bel Air Maryland, Phone: 410-420-5102
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7.Hays House Museum
This one-and-a-half story house with the gambrel roof is the oldest in Bel Air. In 1960 it was moved from its original position to the current site. It is being used as a living history museum to depict the daily life of the rural gentry in the late 18th century. The social and cultural norms are explained in the guided tours, field trips, exhibitions and regular period enactments. Experts demonstrate hearth cooking and a variety of colonial crafts. Hays House is an educational resource and is opened weekly for genealogical and other research. The museum operates on select days from March to mid-December.
324 Kenmore Avenue, Bel Air, Maryland 21014, Phone: 410-838-7691
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8.APG Federal Credit Union Arena
© APG Federal Credit Union Arena
The construction of the APG FCU Arena in 2011 doubled the size of the original facility which opened in 1968. It is the largest indoor arena in the area. The 19000 square foot open space cost $267 million dollars to construct and is used for tournaments, commencements, concerts, conferences and fundraising events. It is home to three of Harford Community College's sports teams.
401 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air, Maryland 21015, Phone: 443-412-2570
9.Pairings Bistro, Bel Air, Maryland
© Pairings Bistro
Chef Jon Kohler serves Mediterranean and Belgian cuisine with a Chesapeake Bay flair at his restaurant, using locally sourced, organic ingredients. The seasonal menu is paired with a selection of wines from around the globe. There are daily specials and menus designed for special holidays and festive occasions. Every Friday there is live music entertainment in the Wine Lounge. The restaurant can seat 40 people and is available for parties, corporate lunches and business meetings. The Village Bistro food truck takes the concept mobile and can be found at events around the region.
2105 Laurel Bush Road, Ste 108, Bel Air, MD 21015, Phone: 410-569-5006
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10.One Eleven Main
© One Eleven Main
This New American restaurant is situated in an 1860s building in Main Street. The premises were formerly used as a florist, delicatessen, coffee shop and pre-prohibition bar. The building's history was taken into account when deciding on the elegant new dark walnut finishes. The result was an Archer Bull award in 2018, for architecture and design. The restaurant serves a set menu and small plate meals. The pre-prohibition theme was retained in the bar which serves wines from wine-producing countries around the world and seasonal cocktails made with local spirits. One Eleven Main is closed on Mondays.
111 South Main St., Bel Air, MD, 21014, Phone: 443-900-8027
11.Silver Spring Mining Company Bel Air
Friends, Calvin Lauf and Gary Rissling purchased a bar in 1992 and started the Cal and Gary Catering Company. Prime Rib was their signature dish. In 1995, they bought the Silver Spring Inn and the Silver Spring Mining Company was opened. The recipe for Sour Beef came with the purchase. In 1998, they opened another 'mine' in Bel Air. Sadly, it was also the year in which Cal died. The company has three locations – in Bel Air, Hunt Valley and Perry Hall. To complement their robust cuisine, they offer draft and bottled beer, and extensive wine list and have a cocktail menu dedicated to their Signature Collections.
705 Bel Air Road, Bel Air, Maryland 21014, Phone: 410-803-1040
12.MaGerk's Pub & Grill, Bel Air, Maryland
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MaGerk is a made up word using the initials of co-owner John Dolaway's three daughters. John was determined to make the best Cheese Steaks outside of Philly and that has become the restaurant's signature dish. The restaurant was opened in 2000 in a derelict building that needed extensive renovation. John targeted upwardly mobile young adults. This strategy proved so successful that he was able to purchase the adjacent premises two years later. In 2006, a second MaGerks was opened in much larger premises. The new site has four bars, a spacious patio for outdoor dining and a huge indoor space. Two further venues have subsequently been opened in Pennsylvania.
120 South Bond Street, Bel Air, MD 21014, Phone: 410-638-7701
13.Harford Artists’ Gallery
© Harford Artists’ Gallery
The Harford Artists Association is dedicated to promoting visual arts in Harford County. To this end they host regular workshops, art demonstrations, lectures and community arts projects. You can admire some of the vibrant local artists’ work at the Harford Artists Gallery, where members showcase and sell their work. The gallery also hosts regular special exhibitions – often visitors are invited to vote for their favorite art work. Entrance to the gallery is free of charge. If you would like to attend one of the art classes or demonstrations you can see what’s on by visiting their website. Everyone is welcome to come and join in the fun.
Harford Artist’s Gallery, Suite 104, 37 N. Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014,
410 420 9499
14.Jurassic Golf and Arcade
© Jurassic Golf and Arcade
Jurassic Golf and Arcade is an indoor, black-light dinosaur-themed entertainment center for the whole family to enjoy. As you work your way around 18 mini-golf stations you will visit the Dino Research Lab, the Stegosaurus Feeding Ground, the Underground Prehistoric Aquarium and the T-Rex Stomping Ground – all brought to life with stereo sound effects. When you have finished your round of mini-golf you can have some fun in the Games Arcade. The venue is ideal for play dates and children’s birthday parties – you can set up your party in the Party Room and then relax while the children have hours of fun. You can check their website for details of events and special packages.
Jurassic Golf and Arcade, 331 Baltimore Pike, Bel Air, MD 21014, 410 836 8635
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15.Vagabond Sandwich Company
© Vagabond Sandwich Company
Vagabond Sandwich Company is the ideal destination for a quick meal or a casual and relaxed night out. Located in the heart of Downtown Bel Air, this laid-back sandwich shop has built up a regular clientele who come back time and again to enjoy a great sandwich made from fresh local produce. On the menu you will find a large selection of burgers and innovative sandwiches, many of which come with a distinctive “Vagabond” twist. As well as their sandwiches, burgers and wraps they also offer some fresh and delicious salads, sides and soups. You can wash down your meal with an ice cold local craft beer.
Vagabond Sandwich Company, 111 Thomas Street, Bel Air, MD 21014, 410 838 1263
16.Great Escapes Harford
Anyone is search of a fun and entertaining diversion will enjoy a visit to Great Escapes Harford, where mystery and riddles are the order of the day. You can round up your friends and family (minimum age is 14), book your favorite themed room and look forward to some challenging problem solving. Each member of your team will have to work together to solve a series of puzzles and riddles which will enable you to reap your rewards within the allotted time. The themed rooms include Escape from Brimstone Cottage, Uncle Mally’s Last Game, The Studio and the eerie Toy Store. The escape room experience is great fun for birthday parties and team-building events.
Great Escapes Harford, 2108 Emmorten Road, Bel Air, MD 21014
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16 Best Things to Do in Bel Air, Maryland
- Independent Brewing Company, Photo: Emmanuel/stock.adobe.com
- Ma and Pa Trail, Photo: mintra/stock.adobe.com
- Liriodendron Mansion, Bel Air, MD, Photo: Liriodendron Mansion
- Tudor Hall, Photo: ajisai13/stock.adobe.com
- Harford Mall, Bel Air, Maryland, Photo: Farknot Architect/stock.adobe.com
- Alecraft Brewery, Photo: puhhha/stock.adobe.com
- Hays House Museum, Photo: Yevhenii/stock.adobe.com
- APG Federal Credit Union Arena, Photo: APG Federal Credit Union Arena
- Pairings Bistro, Bel Air, Maryland, Photo: Pairings Bistro
- One Eleven Main, Photo: One Eleven Main
- Silver Spring Mining Company Bel Air, Photo: Minhyoung/stock.adobe.com
- MaGerk's Pub & Grill, Bel Air, Maryland, Photo: Ezume Images/stock.adobe.com
- Harford Artists’ Gallery, Photo: Harford Artists’ Gallery
- Jurassic Golf and Arcade, Photo: Jurassic Golf and Arcade
- Vagabond Sandwich Company, Photo: Vagabond Sandwich Company
- Great Escapes Harford, Photo: Sailographic/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Colin Temple/stock.adobe.com
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