Need to get out of the city for a day or long weekend? Maybe you just feel like a change of scenery will be reinvigorating. Turns out, you don’t have to travel far for a fun-filled—or relaxing—getaway. Carroll County is less than an hour’s drive from the city and is both a charming and up-and-coming destination.
“People don’t think of Carroll County, but when they do come here, they’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know there was so much going on,’” says Bonnie Staub, who manages the Carroll County Office of Tourism.
Westminster is the county seat and it’s there you’ll find a bustling town with an old-fashioned Main Street. The town of under 20,000 is also home to two of the biggest springtime Carroll County attractions—the Carroll County Farm Museum and the annual PEEPshow.
The Farm Museum is more than half a century old now and boasts one of the largest collections of farm artifacts and machinery. It originated as an alms- house, built in 1852, where people could stay one night for free with a hot meal as long as they agreed to help work the 340 acres. See everything from rooms dedicated to weaving, tinsmithing, chair caning and broom-making to hands-on activities for children and a whole “Farmyard Friends” exhibit where you can get up close and personal with sheep, cows, pigs and chickens.
Now, the PEEPshow isn’t a place so much as an event—in every sense of the word. Hosted at the Carroll County Arts Center, the PEEPshow is sponsored by the makers of those sugar delights and brings in 25,000 visitors each year. These marshmallow masterpieces must be seen to be believed, and this year, the decade mark, you can see them April 7 through 19.
“Because it’s the 10th annual, I think they’re planning a show even better than ever,” Staub says.
And if those two things don’t strike your fancy, or you’re looking for something a little more low-key, Carroll County has that too. From the Celtic Canter in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the Carroll County Arts Center, which attracts some impressive acts for its size, to events like Restaurant Week (April 1 to 9) and Wine Stroll in downtown Westminster (April 12), there’s something for all tastes this spring.
And we can’t forget our health on vacation, right? The Carroll Hospital is the only major health facility in the area, as well as one of the largest employers, and considers itself an important part of the fabric of the community, says Ellen Finnerty Myers, the vice president of corporate development at the hospital.
It also features its fair share of community events.
“The majority of our employees live and work in Carroll County. There’s great pride in taking care of our friends, relatives and neighbors,” adds Finnerty Myers.
The Auxiliary Spring Fashion Show on April 6 is a perfect way to support the local community while you’re checking out the latest in local fashion modeled by the health care professionals themselves. A 50-year community tradition, now you get to be the one to make the “checkup.”
And, of course, you definitely shouldn’t miss this spring’s 18th annual Taste of Carroll on May 1, a talk-of-the-town fundraiser for Carroll Hospice that attracts around 600 people each year. Featuring delights from all the best local restaurants and specialty food and beverage providers along with a silent auction, you can feel good about supporting not only the local community, but a worthwhile cause. Even better? This year’s theme is Derby, so break out those amazing hats!
It’s time to give Carroll County a chance to impress you this spring. Whether you just want a quick jaunt through the countryside away from the city, or perhaps are looking for a relaxing weekend, Carroll County is ready for its close-up.
“Carroll County does have an awful lot to offer. It’s a beautiful county,” says Staub. “We’re very friendly and we love getting visitors.”