Ellicott City is a charming historic community located just west of the city of Baltimore, Maryland, within the valley of the beautiful Tiber and Patapsco Rivers.
The city is best known as the home of the United States' oldest surviving train station, which was constructed as the terminus for the B&O Railroad line in 1830. Its lovely historic district, commonly referred to as Old Ellicott City, showcases delicious restaurants, antique stores, and unique purportedly haunted attractions. Nearby, Patapsco Valley State Park offers opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation, including hiking and fishing.
1. Centennial Park
Centennial Park is a delightful 337-acre park located in Ellicott City, Maryland, surrounding the banks of picturesque Centennial Lake.
The park lake is a prime spot for fishing throughout the year, stocked with bass, sunfish, tiger muskies, and trout by the State Department of Fisheries.
Its lovely landscaping, wetlands, and wooded areas have been awarded several area awards for sensitive ecological design.
Visitors can explore its lake shore via a 2.4-mile paved loop trail, which offers access to a boat ramp and boat rental areas.
7.4 miles of interconnected pathways and walking trails link to surrounding area neighborhoods. Day-use picnic pavilions are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
10000 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042, Phone: 410-313-7256
2. Patapsco Valley State Park
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Patapsco Valley State Park is a lovely public recreation area stretching across 32 miles of the Patapsco River waterfront, located just southwest of the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
The park, which was established in 1907 as Patapsco State Forest Reserve, is intended to protect the region's forests and rivers following the implementation of Bloede's Dam in 1906.
Visitors can enjoy recreation opportunities at several developed access areas, including the McKeldin Area, which offers multi-use horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking trail, a disc golf course, and public fishing areas.
The Daniels Area, located at the former milltown of Daniels, offers swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking experiences, while the Hollofield Area offers a 73-site campground and a scenic valley overlook. Other attractions include 15-foot cascade falls and two historic preserved swinging bridges at Orange Grove and the Grist Mill Trail.
8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043, Phone: 410-461-5005
3. B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
B&O Ellicott City Station Museum is a designated National Historic Landmark preserving the nation's oldest surviving railroad station, originally constructed in 1831 as part of the B&O Main Line railroad line after the development of Ellicott City, Maryland.
It operated as a passenger service station until 1949 and continued to serve as a freight station until its decommissioning in 1972. In the following years, the station was turned into an historical museum preserving the history of transportation in early America.
Two floors of visitor activities highlight seasonal exhibits detailing the history of the B&O Line and reconstructing areas such as the station's provost marshall's office, telegraph and ticket office, and waiting rooms.
Outside on the museum's grounds, an HO-scale model reconstructs the first 13 miles of track on the line, while a 1927 caboose has been restored to its historic condition.
3711 Maryland Ave, Ellicott City, MD 21043, Phone: 410-313-1945
4. Clark's Elioak Farm, Ellicott City
© Clark's Elioak Farm
Clark's Elioak Farm is a lovely historic farm stretching across 540 acres in Howard County, located just outside of Ellicott City off Maryland Route 108.
The farm has been in the possession of the Clark family since 1927 and is named in honor of the silty clay loam that is common to hilly terrain areas within the northern sect of the Piedmont Plateau.
It is best known as the new home of restoration projects related to the Enchanted Forest theme park, which operated throughout much of the 20th century and became known as a popular roadside Americana attraction following its closure in 1995.
Today, visitors can explore the farm's preserved fairytale-themed exhibits, visit its family-friendly petting zoo and country store, and take on the challenge of its pine tree maze throughout the winter months. Clark's Elioak Farm is about an hour from DC which makes it a great day trip from the city.
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042, Phone: 410-730-4049
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5. The Shrine of St. Anthony
© The Shrine of St. Anthony
The Shrine of St. Anthony honors the saint of the same name, located within Ellicott City's St. Joseph Cupertino Friary. The friary, which is set on 320 acres of lovely woodland, serves as a ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars, Our Lady of the Angels Province. It showcases an historic status of St. Maximilian Kolbe, which was blessed by Pope John Paul II on the day that Kolbe was canonized by the Catholic church.
Mass is offered each day throughout the year, with special healing masses held select Sundays of the month. Visitors can also explore the friary's grounds, which feature nature trails and a Lourdes grotto. A historic manor house on the friary's grounds is open to the public during select hours, showcasing two heritage rooms and a rotating art gallery.
The Shrine of St. Anthony, 12290 Folly Quarter Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042, Phone: 410-531-2800
6. Daniels, Ellicott City, Maryland
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Daniels preserves the ruins of a former mill boom town located along the banks of the Patapsco River, originally founded in 1810 by settler Thomas Ely. The town, which was formerly known as Elysville, became a thriving industrial village around the turn of the 20th century, once home to a one-room schoolhouse, a railroad station, several churches, and other businesses. By the 1960s, the town's mill had closed, and in 1972, many of its structures were destroyed by the damage caused by Tropical Storm Agnes.
Today, the ghost town's remains ares still accessible to the public via Daniels Road from Ellicott City. Visitors can explore the town's graffiti-covered rotting buildings and vine-ensnared structures, which are still visible and remain in their original setting.
7. Font Hill Wetlands Park, Ellicott City, Maryland
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Font Hill Wetlands Park is a lovely 26-acre park developed in 1997 as the first state-county-private cooperative wetland project in the state of Maryland. The beautiful park serves as a habitat to study wetland wildlife in its natural environment, anchored around three interconnecting ponds surrounded by a boardwalk system.
Visitors can stroll through the park's boardwalk habitats and wind through gorgeous marsh areas, which showcase cattails and native trees. Over 150 species of wildlife are showcased throughout the park, including dozens of species of dragonflies and damselflies. Several fishing piers are open to the public, along with wildlife observation areas for relaxation. Font Hill Wetlands Park is about an hour from DC which makes it a fun weekend getaway from the city.
10018-10020 Autumn View Ln, Ellicott City, MD 21042
8. The Antique Depot, Ellicott City, Maryland
© The Antique Depot
The Antique Depot is a lovely vintage and collectibles mall located across Maryland Avenue from the B&O Railroad Station Museum, right within the heart of beautiful Historic Ellicott City. It is housed within the city's historic 1873 Dorsey Livery Stable building, which was converted into a hardware store in the mid-2oth century before its conversion into its present state in 1989. Over 70 small retailers are showcased within the mall, selling everything from antique housewares to retro and vintage finds. Four floors of dealers include vendors such as midcentury modern home decor shop Buddy McFreed's, decorative weapons dealer The Scorpion's Den, unique toy store Classic Plastic Bricks, and The Sign of the Twisted Candles bookstore.
3720 Maryland Ave, Ellicott City, MD 21043, Phone: 410-750-2674
9. Nora's Kabob, Ellicott City, Maryland
© Nora's Kabob
Nora's Kabob serves up delicious Middle Eastern cuisine at two Maryland locations, including a location in lovely downtown Ellicott City. The restaurant, which is helmed by restaurateurs and brothers Raymond and Sevi Sinanian, is named in honor of the pair's mother and serves up delectable traditional Middle Eastern dishes in a family-friendly environment.
Diners can choose from delicious favorite entrees such as cornish hen kebabs, soltani filets, chicken gyros, and chickpea falafel platters, served up alongside side dishes such as grilled octopus salad.
Shareable mezze-style appetizers are also offered for the table, including traditional favorites like mirza, hummus, calamari, and stuffed dolmades.
9338 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042, Phone: 410-418-5911
10. Pachanga Cocina Mexicana, Ellicott City, Maryland
© Pachanga Cocina Mexicana
Pachanga Cocina Mexicana was opened in 2007 by restaurateurs Fernando Duran and Gilberto Cortes, specializing in delicious family-friendly Mexican cuisine in a laid-back dining atmosphere. Diners can enjoy authentic recipes at affordable prices and select from a wide variety of traditional Mexican favorite dishes, including enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas. House specialties include traditional chicken molé, tender asado de puerco, rich chile verde, and house Pachanga burgers with guacamole and diced green chiles. Famed margaritas and homemade sangria keep the conversation flowing at the table, while appetizers such as stuffed jalapenos, rolled chicken taquitos, and chile con queso are available for sharing.
10291 Baltimore Natl Pike # B, Ellicott City, MD 21042, Phone: 410-461-4266
11. Shin Chon Restaurant, Ellicott City, MD
Shin Chon Restaurant is a delightful Korean-style restaurant in downtown Ellicott City, serving up freshly-prepared traditional Korean barbecue and regional delicacies. The casual strip-mall restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner specialties at affordable prices, showcasing the traditional cuisine of Korea alongside Japanese-style sushi rolls and appetizers. Diners can enjoy a wide variety of bibimbap dishes prepared with protein choices such as marinated beef short ribs, fried oysters, and mixed seafood or select from house specialties such as kimchi jigae casserole, hae jan gook, and monkfish tang stew. Lunch special boxes showcase favorites like bulgogi, tonkatsu, and galbi short ribs. A wide selection of wines, beers, and cocktails are served up throughout the day, including imported selections.
8801 Baltimore National Pike #27, Ellicott City, MD 21043, Phone: 410-461-3280
12. Tigi's Ethiopian Restaurant, Ellicott City
Tigi's Ethiopian Restaurant is a delicious dine-in and takeout restaurant experience owned and operated by restaurateurs Tigist Emeru and Bellete Tessema since 2013. The laid-back restaurant is Ellicott City's only Ethiopian-style dining experience, known for its unique meat, vegetarian, and vegan offerings. All meals can be prepared anywhere from mild to spicy, customized to diners' tastes. Favorite entree selections include doro wot, bakela wot, yebere' tibs, and braised cabbage kibe', served stew-style or with unique marinades and sauces like berbere sauce. Shareable appetizers include selections like tikil gomen and vegan sambusas stuffed with lentils and green pepper.
8459 Baltimore National Pike Ste 14, Ellicott City, MD 21043, Phone: 410-750-1500
13. Ellicot City Colored School
© Howard County Recreation and Parks
The United States’ long road to equal rights for all people is represented poetically in the Ellicot City Colored School, a hallmark of American history. The Ellicot City Colored School was a one-room schoolhouse that educated African Americans in Ellicot City until 1953. It was closed after the historic Brown vs. Board of Education supreme court case ruled in favor of the integration of public schools.
Though the school fell into disrepair after its closing, it was later restored by the Central Maryland Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. Today, the building stands as a museum, which was dedicated in 2002, that is filled with artifacts and furniture that would most accurately represent an early 1900s rural classroom.
The museum’s exhibits teach the history of Howel County’s segregated schools as well as the history of the local African American community.
8683 Frederick Road, Elliot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-313-1428
14. Firehouse Museum
© Howard County Recreation and Parks
Discover the unique challenges that faced 19th and early 20th-century firefighters of Ellicot City at the Firehouse Museum. Situated in the center of the city’s historic district, the museum features several exhibits of what makes Ellicot City such a difficult place to plan for in terms of fire protection.
Learn all about the city’s unique topography, such as its sloping streets and buildings, as well as the group of volunteers that came together in 1889 to build the city’s first firehouse in another location. Visitors to the museum can also see artifacts used by the volunteers from the firehouses’ earlier years, like the hand-drawn and horse-drawn fire equipment, and images of the first few firehouses.
3829 Church Road, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043
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15. Museum of Howard County History
© Museum of Howard County History
Dedicated to the preservation, education, and historical fascination, the Museum of Howard County History is a treasure trove of historical records and artifacts that tell of the county’s incredible history.
Items in the museum’s collection include items that date back to even before the first European settlement in the area to current events.
Learn about the way the county evolved from its humble beginnings, into the railroad age, and then to the automotive age. Visitors will even learn about the diverse population of the county which has a strong and beloved Native American heritage. Some of the museum’s prized artifacts include the Howard House Collapsible Key and Plate and the A.B. Felgemacher Organ.
8328 Court Avenue, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-480-3250
16. Patapsco Female Institute
© Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute
Ellicott City has no shortage of great historical sites to visit, and the Patapsco Female Institute is one of them. This former school for women is located on Ellicott City’s highest point, making it a treat for the history buffs and those who just want to enjoy a great view of the city. Patapsco Female Institute was largely regarded to be a revolutionary school at the time it was operating between 1837 to 1891 because it provided education for women in specific subjects, such as chemistry, botany, and mathematics, that were largely believed to be unlearnable by them at the time.
After the school closed, it took on many lives after like becoming a private residence, a nursing home, a summer resort hotel, then a theater. Today, the institute is a popular tourist destination, having been restored by the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute, a grassroots organization. Book a tour to explore the gorgeous grounds, participate in events, or simply enjoy a breeze at this hilltop park.
Patapsco Female Institute, 3655 Church Road, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-313-0424
17. Thomas Isaac Log Cabin
Have you ever been curious about what life was like in the Colonial Era? If your answer was yes, then you’ll want to pay a visit to the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin. Stepping onto the cabin’s grounds is like stepping into a time machine that will take you from the 21st century to the late 1850s when the log cabin was first purchased by its namesake, Thomas Isaac.
Learn all about the cabin’s history as well as the important role it played for the African American community. Visitors at the cabin will meet and interact with costumed hosts who act out what 18th Century life would have been like for a regular member of a Quaker mill town. Private tours are available year-round for those who squeeze as much out of the experience as possible.
8398 Main Street, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-313-0420
18. Experience the Trolly Trail
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In the 1890s electric streetcar rails were constructed from Ellicot City to Catonville. To make these rails, huge granite mounds standing over 100-feet-high had to be hand cut to create a path between the bluffs. While the rail is no longer operational, this striking path is a historic and breathtaking reminder of the years passed.
Today, the trolly trail is one of the most popular trails in Ellicot City which winds through the granite bluffs, across a boardwalk, and uphill through the woods. Spend the day enjoying the cool shade of majestic trees while traversing the Trolly Trail’s climb. Don’t forget to stop by the Banneker Historical Park and Museum which is just a short detour off the trail once you hit the 1-mile mark.
6 Oella Avenue, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043
19. Artists' Gallery
© Artists' Gallery
If you have an affinity for art and want to see what local artists of Ellicot City have to offer, then it’s time to add the Artist’s Gallery to your itinerary. This member-owned art gallery features a dynamic range of mediums in its ever-evolving permanent collection. See stunning pieces of art including stained glass, traditional photography, oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, mixed media, ceramics, and more. The gallery showcases works exclusively from the 24 award-winning artists that it represents with regular new solo and joint shows such as the Unfamiliar Waters Exhibit by Ally Morgan. For avid art collectors, works on display are also available for sale.
8197 Main Street, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 443-325-5936
20. Ellicott Distilling Co.
© Ellicott Distilling Co.
At its conception, Ellicot City was an agricultural mill town that was established in the 1700s. Shortly after the mill’s foundation, the Ellicot Brother also founded the town’s very first distillery with just 3 150-gallon pot stills. What followed was a rollercoaster of a history that leads us to what we see today, the Ellicot Distilling Company. Today, the micro-distillery produces some of the finest spirits and takes in every single drop of spirit crafted. Visitors can get a taste of the distillery’s offerings and see how much of their handcrafting is done at the tavern which sits in the heart of the historic Old City. Some offerings to sample include the distillery’s London Dry Gin, Classic Caribbean Rum, Barrel-Aged Brandy, and premium as well as flavored vodkas.
8090 Main Street, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-988-5356
21. Old Mille Cafe
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Snag a taste of heaven in the bustling center of Old Ellicot City at Old Mille Café, a coffee shop with delectable casual eats that pair perfectly with a fine cup of craft coffee. The Old Mille Café is more than just a neighborhood coffee shop, it’s a community mainstay and a crowd favorite. To produce the best casual dining experience that it can, the café focuses its effort on just a few things: their craft coffees, which feature Orinoco beans, in-housed baked pastries and other baked goods, artisanal desserts, and stunning home-made crepes. Tuck into a Berries and Cream Crepe, a savory Fromage Crepe oozing with four different kinds of cheese, or sample some of their other offerings from the daily menu that tickle your fancy.
4 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-465-2253
22. The Forget-Me-Not Factory
© The Forget-Me-Not Factory
The Forget-Me-Not Factory is a beloved established on Main Street that is fondly described by its owners to be a place where “fairy dust and bubbles meet to create shopping magic”. This is by no means far from the truth as the Forget-Me-Not Factory is in one of the oldest, and the largest, buildings in the city’s old town. Each of the store’s three levels is packed full of items ranging from costumes, jewelry, dragon replicas, toys, and more. Looking for a fortune-telling arcade game? At Forget-Me-Not Factory you can probably find one! Filled with peculiarities, nostalgia-triggering finds, and more, a trip to this factory of whimsy is one that you won’t soon forget.
8044 Main Street, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-465-7355
23. Stone House Collective
© Stone House Collective
Are you always on the hunt for your next great antique buy? The Stone House Collective could be where you next hit big. Housed in a gorgeous three-story building built in 1900, the Stone House Collective is a repository of fantastic quality antique and vintage furniture, artisan wares, home accessories, apparel, and more. Every day there are new incredible finds to behold thanks to the collective’s community partners of which include The Alchemist’s Handbag, Retropolitan, Hearthside Crafts, and Sarah Von Keller: Nifty Vintage Goods. In addition to its great offerings, the collective also hosts all kinds of events like furniture painting classes for beginners and mother-daughter date nights.
8129 Main Street, Ellicot City, Maryland 21043, Phone: 410-988-8949
24. Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum
© Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County
Situated in the heart of the Baltimore County Park, the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum is a testament to the many contributions that its namesake, Benjamin Banneker, made to the world of science. Mr. Banneker is celebrated as the first African-American man of science and much of his work can be seen on display at this park and museum. He made great contributions as an astronomer, a mathematician, and even as an almanac writer despite being largely self-taught, and even crafted one of the first wooden clocks ever made in America. This clock and many of the almanacs he wrote are now on display in the museum along with other information about Benjamin Banneker’s life and work. Not only is it educationally a significant sight, the park and museum are also fantastic places for nature lovers to visit thanks to the many rails around like the Number 9 Trolly Line Trail.
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, 300 Oella Avenue, Catonsville, Maryland 21228, Phone: 410-887-1081
The 25 Must-See Attractions in Ellicott City, Maryland & Fun things to do near me today:
- 1. Centennial Park
- 2. Patapsco Valley State Park
- 3. B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
- 4. Clark's Elioak Farm, Ellicott City
- 5. The Shrine of St. Anthony
- 6. Daniels, Ellicott City, Maryland
- 7. Font Hill Wetlands Park, Ellicott City, Maryland
- 8. The Antique Depot, Ellicott City, Maryland
- 9. Nora's Kabob, Ellicott City, Maryland
- 10. Pachanga Cocina Mexicana, Ellicott City, Maryland
- 11. Shin Chon Restaurant, Ellicott City, MD
- 12. Tigi's Ethiopian Restaurant, Ellicott City
- 13. Ellicot City Colored School
- 14. Firehouse Museum
- 15. Museum of Howard County History
- 16. Patapsco Female Institute
- 17. Thomas Isaac Log Cabin
- 18. Experience the Trolly Trail
- 19. Artists' Gallery
- 20. Ellicott Distilling Co.
- 21. Old Mille Cafe
- 22. The Forget-Me-Not Factory
- 23. Stone House Collective
- 24. Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum