When was the last time you were away? I understand that your life is very busy. You have children to raise, a corporate ladder to climb, a house to maintain, blah, blah, blah. Have you noticed lately that you are off your game? You are more tired than usual, the half-marathon training is killing you, those articles and amusing anecdotes and comedy bits you promised are getting harder to write, the stuff that used to be easy at your job is now a hassle, and the resultant job search is dragging you down, That day-trip to the beach two months ago is a distant memory. You need a vacation!
Thankfully, a couple hours’ drive can find you in some terrific destinations. I am not suggesting something crazy. Just a couple of days not spent here. Wouldn’t it feel nice to awaken tomorrow (or in two weeks time Ms. Planning McPlan) someplace where you don’t have to make the bed or rush out the door to satisfy the ridiculous demands of The Man? When I go I’m looking for a comfortable bed, interesting places to walk, and good food choices that are all away from it all. My list of five includes Frederick and Ocean City in Maryland, Cape May, NJ, Richmond, VA and Gettysburg, PA.
Weblinks for some of the attractions listed:
Ocean Gallery, Ocean City
Liquid Assets, Ocean City
Brewers Alley, Frederick
Hogshead Cafe, Richmond
Washington Street Mall, Cape May
Cape May from the water
Cape May, NJ bills itself at the nation’s oldest seashore resort. The town is architectural eye candy. Walk or bike the streets and take in the glorious Victorian revival mansions, or wake up in one. A good number of the spectacular houses are open to guests. The ocean is here of course, along with nature trails, sunsets, and prospecting for Cape May diamonds. Many fine restaurants to try, but I’ll be enjoying a rare roast beef sandwich and a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder at the Ugly Mug Bar on the Washington Street pedestrian mall.
Downtown Gettysburg at night
Gettysburg is like many small mountain towns, except most of them were not the site of the most famous battle of the Civil War. The battlefield here is the big deal. Take the driving audio tour. Let the voices put pictures in your mind of how what happened here was so tragic and yet so necessary to the survival and unity of the nation. I am always impressed by the many and varied battlefield monuments, that someone in 1870 from East Backwater, Ohio would come to Gettysburg and erect a monument to the memory of the heroism of the local boys. It is humbling.
Richmond’s Fan District
Richmond is a place you pass through on the way to other places like Williamsburg or Danville, VA. But there’s stuff to see here. The Museum of the Confederacy is here, along with the Confederate White House. You see, there was a time in our history in which a separate country was formed within the nation and was headquartered here. Pictured is the Fan District, with great early 20th-century mansions to see. Online reviews point me to at least one meal at the Hogshead Cafe.
Carrol Creek Park in Frederick, Maryland
For a small city with places to walk, things to see and numerous palate-pleasing places to eat Frederick fits the bill. Pictured is Carrol Creek Park downtown. City planners must have looked at a dozen contemporary examples and thought: People like to walk near the water. They built it, restaurants and nightclubs and condos sprouted, and people came. Ground zero for dining is the vicinity of Patrick and Market streets. A favorite is Brewers Alley, where I can usually narrow the menu options to five or so before my enthusiastic server helps guide me. Good craft beer too!
Ocean Gallery, on the boards at Ocean City, Maryland
You know Ocean City. Ten miles of public beach, three miles of boardwalk, and be careful crossing Coastal Highway. I hope you also know Ocean Gallery and stop there every time you pass by. Why? It is a riot of artwork and popular culture, a source of posters for your dorm room, and a collection of paintings for your wishlist. It is not a museum, but it may be the only museum experience many people ever have. Stop in and I guarantee you will be surprised. Take in as much as you can. You will find yourself looking at one particular print and minutes will pass. It will hit you then: I like this. I like art. This is the moment I wish for you. Buy your painting and head for dinner to Liquid Assets. Your server will help you choose selections for your cheeseboard appetizer, and pair wine with it. The cheeseboard is, itself, a work of art.