We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
Driving 3 hours 15 minutes northeast of Charleston brings you to Frostburg, the mountainside of Maryland. Frostburg is accessible from I-68, US-40, and US-220, has a charming downtown, and is part of both the National Road and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). It was also, like West Virginia, a heavy hitter in the coal mining industry. You’ll be surprised at what a great weekend getaway this little mountain town can be.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN FROSTBURG
The Great Allegheny Passage Trailhead, a scenic rail trail with 150 miles to explore, is in Frostburg. The trail is used for hiking and biking and runs from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An interesting sculpture garden is near the trailhead, a do-not-miss attraction.
You’ll find the hub for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad down by the old C&P Depot, where a heritage train makes weekend trips from Cumberland to Frostburg and back. The ride takes you through mountain vistas, picturesque landscapes, and farms. Choose between a handful of itineraries, routes, and restored vintage passenger cars or even glass dome experiences. They even offer seasonal rides.
Historic downtown Frostburg is adorable and houses a handful of local boutiques, a few tasty restaurants, and photo-worthy homes and churches. I thoroughly enjoyed browsing Main Street Books for books, puzzles, and unique gifts and found some cute accessories and gifts at Ladybug Boutique. While downtown, drop-in McFarland’s Candies for your chocolate fix (open since the 1960s) or Lorenzo’s Italian Bakery for some of the best Italian cookies you’ve ever had and even homemade peanut butter dog treats. Downtown is also home to the Palace Theatre, one of downtown Frostburg’s iconic places that currently shows classic films and has nationally known touring acts.
Frostburg is home to Frostburg State University(FSU), which adds a welcoming level of hipness to the community. If you would like to learn the history of this geographic area, the Garrett County Historical Society Museum can indulge you in just that.
From September 16th to 18th, FSU celebrates the Appalachian Festival, showcasing folk art, dancing, music, culture, and history. Stage shows feature regional bluegrass, acoustic blues, Irish music, and more.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
You’ll want to hit Clatter Cafe for a cold brew or the coffee of your choice paired with a hearty bagel with flavored cream cheese. Egg frittatas are also on the menu. For breakfast or lunch, try the locally-owned retro-diner, Princess Cafe. I went for lunch and loved every bite of the Miner Steak Sandwich with macaroni salad and seasoned fries. Their chicken salad is highly raved about, too.
Enjoy a nice dinner and a craft beer flight at the Toasted Goat Winery. The salmon with veggies and baked potato or the homemade ravioli-of-the-day are both excellent. My sun-dried tomato ravioli was loaded with flavor and blended with spinach, chicken, and a spot on velvety cream sauce. Save room for key lime pie for dessert. Frostburg also has El Canelo Restaurant, a place to eat your favorite Mexican dishes.
WHERE TO STAY IN FROSTBURG
As I mentioned, Frostburg is on the bike trail, so my accommodations were at one of the B&B’s that cater to that crowd, or “bicycle-friendly,” as they say. I must note that it is unnecessary to be a cyclist to stay at Allegheny Trail House, a 10/10 pick for lodging and breakfast. There are four rooms upstairs to choose from (one has a claw-foot tub) and free parking and Wifi. The B&B’s common spaces and front porch were welcoming and had many things to see and do, plus the banana oat pancakes were spectacular. Allegheny Trail House caters to vegans, too.
Another lodging choice is the historic Hotel Gunter, a Frostburg landmark. Originally the Gladstone, this historic hotel opened in 1897 and was built along the National Road, hosting those traveling along America’s first federally-funded route. Rumor has it that spirits were smuggled in during Prohibition—you can even see a replica coal mine, railroad tracks, and memorabilia from those days inside the hotel.