Located 45 mi/75 km west of Baltimore amid rolling green hills, Frederick, Maryland, has a number of historical sights. Be prepared for unsightly urban sprawl around Frederick, but a definite must-see is the beautiful architecture in the Frederick National Historic District, which includes hundreds of buildings (many covered in trompe l'oeil murals) in 34 blocks of downtown.

Also in town is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, which will give you an all-too-clear picture of the rigors wounded soldiers faced in the mid-1800s. The Roger Brooke Taney and Francis Scott Key Museum (they were brothers-in-law) is housed in Taney's one-time home. He was a Supreme Court justice and swore in seven U.S. presidents.

Several other sights highlight Frederick's past. Schifferstadt is an excellent example of a German colonial farmhouse, and the Rose Hill Manor Children's Museum is devoted to introducing kids to what life was like on an estate in the 1800s. The Barbara Fritchie Home and Museum honors the woman who is said to have defiantly waved the Union flag when Confederate troops marched into Frederick during the Civil War (she was immortalized in a John Greenleaf Whittier poem). Mount Olivet Cemetery is the final resting place of Key, Fritchie and other famous figures.

If you're in town during November, see the Maryland Christmas Show, which includes six buildings full of crafts, food and fun. Frederick is also a treat for antiques collectors. It has a variety of shops to browse through.

Nearby are Catoctin Mountain Park, a beautiful forested area, and Cunningham Falls State Park, site of the state's tallest waterfall (78 ft/24 m). The cascade is located in a rocky gorge, and it's popular with picnickers who like to scramble up the rocks and dine by quiet pools. Maryland's 37-mi/60-km stretch of the Appalachian Trail is also in this area, as is presidential retreat Camp David (don't expect to drop by—it's too secluded to locate).

In nearby Emmitsburg is the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born U.S. citizen to become a Catholic saint, and the Grotto of Lourdes, a replica of France's famous grotto.

If you don't find enough antiques shops in Frederick, go to New Market (also known as the "antiques capital of Maryland"), about 10 mi/16 km east. You'll find plenty there, along with craft shops and other stores, all housed in attractive old buildings.

In Thurmont (about 15 mi/25 km north of Frederick), you can see the Blue Blazes Still, an authentic whiskey still now operated by the National Park Service, and Loy's Station Bridge, a 90-ft-/27-m-long covered bridge. There are two other covered bridges in the area: the Utica Mills Bridge and the Roddy Road Bridge.

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