15 Best Things to Do in Ellicott City, MD

downtown Ellicott City, MD
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Ellicott City, Maryland, is a town that people usually pass along U.S. 29 when they head further east.

This small city has a population of around 73,000 residents and is comprised of a lot of hidden attractions, both natural and artificial, waiting for you to explore.

Established as a city in 1772, Ellicott features a lot of historical sites and acres of lush green vegetation.

Baltimore is the nearest major city to Ellicott, which only takes a 25-minute drive east.

Meanwhile, it's a 46-minute drive south of Washington, a 2.5-hour drive south of Philadelphia, and a four-hour drive northwest of Pittsburgh.

Its accessibility is one of the good reasons you should visit there soon, but you'll be surprised by the good things waiting for you there.

To mention some, Ellicott City is where the first federally funded significant thoroughfare in the country ran through.

Plus, it's home to the oldest railroad station in the United States.

But there are a lot more things you can do here.

To guide you, here are the 15 best things to do in Ellicott City:

Experience Colonial Life at Thomas Isaac Log Cabin

Log cabins were the primary housing structures in the Colonial Era.

However, not many still stand today, except the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin in Ellicott City.

If you're curious how people went with their everyday lives back then, make sure to visit the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin.

Thomas Isaac Log Cabin
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Once you step inside the log cabin, you'll instantly be transported back to the 1800s because of its well-preserved interior and artifacts.

Tours are available the entire year, so you won't have difficulty understanding the cabin's details.

The Thomas Isaac Log Cabin is at 8398 Main St, Ellicott City.

It's open every weekend from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Taste Delicious Middle Eastern Food at Nora's Kabob

Ellicott City is also home to various international cuisines, such as Nora's Kabob in Ellicott's old historic downtown.

Taste delicious kebabs, gyros, falafel, hummus, and mirza cooked and prepared the authentic middle-eastern way.

Locals and visitors alike love to have lunch and dinner here because of its good food and cozy interior.

Nora's Kabob is at 9338 Baltimore National Pike in Ellicott City.

It's open the entire week from 11 am to 8 pm.

Revisit History at the Baltimore and Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum

Baltimore and Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum
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Also known as B&O Ellicott City Station Museum, this place is a National Historic Designated Landmark.

It means that this place should be preserved and maintained for its historical significance in the country, being the oldest railroad station.

Constructed in 1831, the station was part of the B&O Main Line railroad as part of the development of Ellicott City.

The railroad station operated until 1972 after being decommissioned.

Baltimore and Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum
Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

The railroad station was then converted into a historical museum dedicated to educating the public about the history of America's early transportation system.

The museum has a collection of old train cars made from wood and metal, as well as an extensive collection of artifacts from its early days.

The B&O Ellicott City Station Museum is at 3711 Maryland Ave, Ellicott City.

You can visit the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum from 10 am to 3 pm; it is closed every Monday and Tuesday.

Shop at the Long Gate Shopping Center

In the heart of Ellicott City is a spacious mall called Long Gate, where you'll find a diverse collection of boutiques, shops, and restaurants.

If you have a sudden urge to shop for something you want, Long Gate is one of the most recommended shopping centers in Ellicott City.

You'll find everything you want from food, clothing, electronics, houseware, arts, and books in Long Gate.

After shopping, relax at the mall's patio with some refreshing drinks to cap off your day.

Long Gate shopping center is at 4380 Montgomery Rd, Ellicott City.

The mall is open the entire week from 10 am to 9 pm.

Taste Ellicott's Finest Spirits at the Ellicott Distilling Co.

Ellicott City was formerly an agricultural mill town in the 1700s before it focused on the railway industry.

With that in mind, the Ellicott Brothers founded the city's first distillery shortly after establishing the mills.

Today, people see the legacy that the Ellicott Brothers left for the present generation, the Ellicott Distilling Company.

Today, it produces some of Maryland's finest spirits through its micro-distillery, where visitors taste what they best offer.

Plus, they have a dedicated tavern to enjoy their bottles of spirits further.

Get to taste their famous Caribbean Rum, London Dry Gin, Barrel-Aged Brandy, and flavored vodkas.

The Ellicott Distilling Company is at 8090 Main St. in Ellicott City.

Honor Firefighters at the Firehouse Museum

Ellicott City has its firehouse museum dedicated to informing the public how the men and women in service portray their role as firefighters.

It's effortless to find and visit the museum since it sits in Ellicott's historic city center district.

There, you'll be amazed at how firefighters hurdled the challenges they've faced in the early 20th century.

Firehouse Museum
Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

Also, you'll witness how they've innovated through the years.

There are tons of fantastic photographs, firefighters' antique gear and equipment, artifacts, and other memorabilia of Ellicott City's fire department established in 1889.

To visit the museum, it's at 3829 Church Road, Ellicott City.

The Ellicott Firehouse Museum is open from 1 pm to 4 pm except on Fridays.

Shop for Antique Finds at the Antique Depot

This antique shop is just a stone's throw away from the B&O Railroad Station Museum, where you'll find a wide array of rare antique collections of housewares, furniture, and other stuff.

Even the museum's building is already an antique structure.

The building is the former historic Dorsey Livery Stable that was constructed in 1873.

It was later transformed into a hardware store in the 20th century before its present state in 1989.

Enjoy four levels of different antique dealers who have their distinct collection of midcentury houseware decors and a lot more.

To visit the Antique Depot, it's at 3720 Maryland Ave, Ellicott City, MD.

It's open the entire week from 10:30 am to 6 pm.

Discover Ellicott's Art Community at Stone House Collective

The Stone House Collective sits at the heart of Ellicott City's old downtown district.

The building housing this art gallery/store is the former Caplan's Department Store in the early 1900s.

With this in mind, when you're in Ellicott, make sure to drop by the Stone House Collective to further learn about the city's rich history and discover the local art community there.

It has three stories with an extensive collection of top-notch and unique vintage furniture pieces, housewares, decors, artworks, clothing, and accessories.

Stone House Collective is one of Ellicott City's primary art attractions because of its beautiful collection that you can purchase and take home as a souvenir.

The Stone House Collective is at 8129 Main St.

The store's business hours are from 11 am to 6 pm and is closed every Monday.

Channel Your Spirituality at the Shrine of St. Anthony

Shrine of St. Anthony
Debbieswagner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This religious shrine is to honor St. Anthony, built within St. Joseph Cupertino Friary.

The 320-acre friary is home to the Conventual Franciscan Friars, which also serves as their ministry.

If you're a catholic, it's a must-visit place since it's where you'll find a statue of St. Maximilian Kolbe that was blessed by no less than the late Pope John Paul II.

Shrine of St. Anthony
Debbieswagner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the friary's halls and grounds and enjoy its peaceful ambiance.

The friary also offers masses and has visiting hours for the public.

The Shrine of St. Anthony is at 12290 Folly Quarter Rd, Ellicott City.

Get Mesmerized at the Forget-Me-Not Factory

The Forget-Me-Not Factory is a beloved local shop at 8044 Main St in Ellicott City for its unique and magical shopping experience.

The shop specializes in peculiar, nostalgic, but very fun-looking costumes, toys, figurines, pieces of jewelry, and many things you can buy as souvenirs.

Also, the Forget-Me-Not Factory is one of Ellicott's oldest and most prominent stores in its old downtown area.

Each of the three store levels offers a wide array of things that follow Halloween, Easter, and Christmas themes.

Forget-Me-Not is open from 11 am to 6 pm and is closed every Monday and Tuesday.

Start Your Day With a Hearty Breakfast at Eggspectation

Serving the locals and visitors of Ellicott since 1993, Eggspectation didn't fail its regular patrons until today.

The restaurant is known for its menu.

People love this restaurant for its straightforward way of cooking and preparing their food using fresh ingredients.

Don't miss ordering their all-time favorite steak, eggs benedict, and pancakes.

Plus, they also serve mouthwatering burgers, sandwiches, and other delicious comfort food.

Eggception starts serving their delicious meal from 7 am to 7 pm the entire week.

Uncover Historical Treasures at the Museum of Howard County History

Dedicated to educating and preserving the rich history of Howard County, the museum is enjoyable to explore.

There, you will find lots of historical treasures and artifacts that will tell the story of Howard County's remarkable history.

Museum of Howard County History
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The artifacts there date back to the first European settlers who started a new life in the area.

From there, you'll learn how Howard County and Ellicott City transformed into an industrial and automotive city.

The museum at 8328 Court Avenue in Ellicott City is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Fill Your Tummy With Delicious Mexican Food at Pachanga Cocina Mexicana

This Mexican restaurant at 10291 Baltimore National Pike #B opened its doors in 2007.

From then on, it became a beloved Mexican restaurant for both locals and visitors in Ellicott City.

Owned by Gilberto Cortes and Fernando Duran, these restaurateurs specialize in serving affordable and family-friendly Mexican dishes.

Their restaurant has a laid-back ambiance.

Don't miss their famous Mexican food, such as burritos, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and chicken mole.

Pair them with their homemade sangria and margaritas.

The Pachanga Cocina Mexicana is open the entire week, from 11 am to 9:30 pm.

Do Outdoor Activities at the Centennial Park

Ellicott City's Centennial Park covers a total of 337 acres of lush green vegetation and a massive 22-hectare artificial lake in the middle of it.

The place is popular among locals and visitors for outdoor activities, such as hiking, jogging, biking, and fishing.

Centennial Park's artificial lake has plenty of fish, such as bass, trout, tiger muskies, and sunfish.

Don't worry if you have no fishing gear with you since there are rentals there you can hook up in the park.

Plus, the Park has boat rentals if you want to fish in the middle of the lake.

Or perhaps, relax and unwind while strolling around the park, teeming with birds and white-tailed deer freely roaming the Park.

Ellicott City's Centennial Park is at 10000 Clarksville Pike.

Take Photos at the Historic Patapsco Female Institute

Aerial view of Patapsco Female Institute
Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

Ellicott City has a wide array of historical sites and museums.

One of the most famous historical sites you should visit is the Patapsco Female Institute.

It's a former school exclusive for women which operated from 1837 to 1891.

Today, the Patapsco Female Institute serves as a venue for different occasions and performances at its open-air theater.

It's also a favorite spot for history buffs and photographers for its fantastic city view and well-preserved structures.

The Patapsco Female Institute is at 3655 Church Road in Ellicott City.

It's open every weekend from 1 to 4 pm.

Final Thoughts

Ellicott City's collections of historical, natural, and artificial attractions make it a go-to place for a day trip to escape the stressful city life of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C.

Ellicott City should be on your bucket list this year or the next because of its unassuming charm full of surprises.

For sure you'll explore more when you get there, so enjoy!