Located about 45 minutes south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the town of Westminster, Maryland is steeped in a history of its own. Founded in 1764 by William Winchester of England, and strategically located 30 miles northwest of Baltimore and 60 miles north of Washington, D.C., the town has become a thriving metropolis amid the agriculturally abundant countryside of northern Carroll County.
Whether you enjoy history, outdoor activities, or trendy downtown shops and restaurants, Westminster has something for everyone. Here are 10 of my favorites:
- 10 Best Things to do in Westminster
- Where to Stay in Westminster
- Is Westminster Worth a Visit?
10 Best Things to do in Westminster
Union Mills Homestead
Founded as a grist and sawmill in 1797, Union Mills produced flour, dry goods, and lumber. Located on what became an important byway between Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the mill transported goods to the Port of Baltimore for shipment overseas. Due to the well-traveled location of the site, the owners also opened a tannery, an inn and pub, and a cannery.
Today, the historic site is used to host local events that draw crowds from surrounding areas. From the spring flower mart to the annual microbrew festival in the fall, the Union Mills Homestead grounds are often alive with activity. Take a tour of the historic homestead buildings and blacksmith shops or relax with a picnic lunch next to the pond.
Carroll County Farm Museum
A historic farm complex located in the heart of Westminster, this 140-acre property consists of the main house and 15 other buildings constructed around 1852. The main house was originally used as an almshouse: community-supported charitable housing for widows and elderly residents no longer able to afford their homes.
Today, the complex is multi-functional, providing the public a glimpse of mid-19th century rural life as well as a living history of Carroll County agriculture. Visitors can explore horse-drawn farm implements used for planting, harvesting, and plowing and discover an heirloom garden and fishing pond. Each September the grounds host the ever-growing Maryland Wine Festival.
O’Lordan’s Irish Pub
Set in a 19th-century stone building just a block off of Main Street, O’Lordan’s feels just like a downtown Dublin pub. Featuring all of the traditional Irish fare and a long list of lagers, ales, and Irish whiskeys, this old-school pub brings some eclectic modern Americana to its menu as well.
Reserve a table next to the enormous stone fireplace or in the tucked-away back dining room where slanted ceilings and lead glass windows add to the old-Irish feel. First-floor outdoor patio dining and second-floor outdoor deck dining is also available.
Hashawaha Environmental Center
This 320-acre park is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Boasting over five miles of hiking trails, a pond, picnic areas, and walking paths, Hashawaha is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
Follow the well-marked White Trail to the raptor mews, where an up-close look at several birds of prey is waiting for you. All of these birds have sustained injuries that make it impossible for them to return to the wild; they are cared for here. An unexpected and awe-inspiring sight delights when the bald eagle soars from his perch and glides across his massive enclosure.
Hike to the historic Martin Cabin, a well-preserved, early 19th-century lodging that provides a glimpse into rural Carroll County. There is a picnic table at the pavilion near the pond.
Hashawaha is your outdoor playground to explore, free of charge.
Bear Branch Nature Center
Located on the property of Hashawaha Environmental Center, the Bear Branch Nature Center features interpretive exhibits about local plants and animals. Used mostly as an educational hub for school children, the center is open to the public as well.
Touch tanks allow for kids of all ages to marvel at nature’s creepy crawlies while learning about local ecology and environmental issues. Outside there is a water feature, a butterfly garden, and a children’s play area for hours of fun and interpretive learning.
Carroll Arts Center
Experience the arts in this magnificently-restored Art Deco movie theater on Main Street. Operated by the Carroll County Arts Council, the building houses an intimate 263-seat theater where you can watch live performances year-round.
Additionally, with space for a community gallery, gift shop, and classrooms, the Carroll Arts Center prides itself in showcasing local talent. To find a list of upcoming attractions and events, or to purchase tickets, go to https://carrollcountyartscouncil.org.
Baugher’s Orchard and Farm
Highlighting the abundant agriculture in northern Carroll County, 800-acre Baugher’s Orchard and Farm is a family-friendly stop you do not want to miss. Spend a day of outdoor fun picking your own fruit, including strawberries, cherries, peaches, apples, and pumpkins.
Take a wagon ride to the picnic area or spend time with the kids at the petting zoo. Be sure to stop by the bakery to sample the homemade pies and pastries. A few miles down the road from the farm you’ll find Baugher’s Restaurant. Known for country-style meals with homemade mashed potatoes, French fries, soups, and ice cream, it’s sure to please the entire family.
Old Westminster Winery
A true-life story of one family’s journey to preserve their farmland comes alive at Old Westminster Winery. Three siblings had a dream to make the land work for them in a new, yet prosperous way. Crafting some of the most delicious wines in Maryland using grapes grown on their property, this winery has become a family-friendly gathering place for wine lovers from all across Maryland.
Open Thursday through Sunday, wine lovers can sample flights of the latest vintage and purchase wine by the glass, or bottles to drink on-site. During the warmer months, live entertainment outside on the patio along with food trucks and wood-fired pizza available for purchase makes it easy to spend a relaxing afternoon here. Although Old Westminster Winery is family-friendly, note there are a few ‘adults-only’ areas sectioned off outdoors.
Serpent Ridge Vineyard
Serpent Ridge is Westminster’s very first, and longest-running vineyard winery. Specializing in small lots of homemade wines, this little gem packs a big punch. Owners Karen and Hal live on the grounds of the vineyard, where their attention to detail is curating a relaxing and peaceful experience.
Sample a flight of wine in the cozy tasting room or enjoy a bottle outside, where rows of vines capture the sunlight as the quiet countryside captures your heart. Award-winning reds and whites are also available for purchase to take home or bring a picnic lunch and stay for the afternoon. Children are permitted in the outdoor picnic area.
If you would like to experience all that Westminster’s wineries have to offer, check out this wine tour.
Eat Steamed Crabs at Maryland Mallet Restaurant
Known as ‘the Mallet’ by locals, this northern Carroll County crab house and pub is known for its casual atmosphere, stellar service, and steamed Maryland blue crabs. Although the Mallet is many miles from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, you’d never guess it while enjoying their delectable crustaceans.
Grab your mallet to crack into some fresh, hot, steamed-to-order Maryland crabs on tables lined with heavy-duty paper, accompanied by plenty of napkins. It is not only okay to make a mess eating the crabs, but expected.
If eating crabs is not for you, no worries! American pub-style food, steaks, and other seafood dishes round out the menu along with a long list of rotating craft beer on tap.
Insider tip: the balsamic-glazed roasted brussels sprouts with pine nuts is a must-try!
Where to Stay in Westminster
Looking for where to stay in Westminster? Check out these hotels centrally located in Westminster.
Is Westminster Worth a Visit?
Westminster is an often-overlooked town for tourists visiting Maryland, but it is well worth taking the time to explore. Within easy driving distance of Baltimore, Frederick, and Gettysburg, spending time here during your mid-Atlantic travels is sure to please visitors looking for a simple, quiet country getaway with lots of family-friendly activities. For more information, visit https://www.westminstermd.gov.
Last Updated on February 24, 2023