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The historical towns and villages that surround Washington often call city-dwellers out to play. And seriously, with the flowers in bloom and the air so fresh, there’s no better time of year to take a day trip. Located in Howard County, just a mere 30 miles outside of Washington, historic Ellicott City has something for everyone–to shop, drink and eat.

  • Shop: Eclectic boutiques line historic Main Street and are packed with handmade housewares, vintage-chic clothing, assorted jewelry, candles, and items that are just fun to look at. You can find hand-painted signs and crafted tables at Shoemaker Country, and bohemian dresses and cowboy boots at Vintage Bliss Boutique. Housed in an old department store, Sweet Elizabeth Jane offers vintage like kitchen goods, wall hangings and an assortment of trinkets.
  • Antique: Ellicott boasts a number of antique stores where you’ll find a wide range of vintage items in addition to beautifully restored furniture. Wind your way through aisles and aisles of history at Taylor Antique Mall or read about each piece on the descriptive handwritten price tags at Cottage Antiques.
  • Sip: While we Downton Abbey lovers wait for the debut of Season 4 (which is a million years away) and continue to pine over everything and anything that is Victorian, posh, and Crawley-like, we can don our fascinators and practice our accents at Tea on the Tiber. It’s kind of the most amazing place we’ve seen in a while. This Victorian tea parlor complete with a sunroom and library gives visitors a chance to imagine themselves in a bygone era while sipping on English tea and nibbling scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. Maggie Smith would be so proud. Book an afternoon tea ($22) here. Open Thursday- through Sunday; reservations fill far in advance.

  • Eat: Whether you’re in town for brunch or dinner, there are a variety of culinary delights that await you in Ellicott. Sample cutting-edge Italian at Portalli’s, snuggle up to a romantic date in Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant or get down ‘n’ dirty with crab dip and Cajun alligator ($10.99, pictured) sautéed Creole style at Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.
  • Drink: A handful of fine drinking establishments dot Main Street in Ellicott City. Taste the hand-crafted ales at Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. or study the large assortment of crafted drafts and handpicked Scotches at the divey and comfortable Judge’s Bench. Visit the Wine Bin to stock up on a bottle (or five) to take home. With nearly 500 wines to choose from and 200 under $20, you’re bound to walk away with a sweet (or dry) selection that won’t break the bank.

Photo: Lauren Jones