Festive farmers markets. Small-town shops decked with greens. More Christmas tree farms than you can shake a candy cane at.
Get caught up in the charm of a country Christmas without driving to the hills. Carroll County, Md., is centrally located — a mere 45-minute drive from Baltimore, and 90 minutes from Washington, D.C. — making it an ideal destination to add that country Christmas ambiance to your holiday experience.
Barbara Beverungen, who promotes the area, says Carroll County is “Country Christmas Central.”
“You really get that rural, small-town feel — but with lots of options for shopping and activities. It’s a perfect destination when you want to feel Christmas-y or shop without being stuck in big crowds.”
Merry markets and more
The holiday season gets off to a cheery country start at the Carroll County Ag Center’s Christmas Market, every Saturday, Nov. 1-Dec. 13, 8:00am-2:00pm. Shoppers will find the indoor market bursting with handmade crafts and holiday goodies. For country-inspired holiday feasts, load up on homemade baked goods and candy, farm fresh eggs and meats, gourmet dips, cheeses, and nuts. Start with a down-home country breakfast at the market’s café; live music will keep you in a festive mood.
The Mistletoe Mart at the Church of the Ascension in Westminster has become a ring-in-the-holiday-season tradition for many. Now in its 41st year, the Mart will open on Nov. 6-7, 10:00am-8:00pm, and Nov. 8, 10:00am-4:30 pm. More than 50 juried craftspeople will be offering their unique wares and a country store will be open for business.
You won’t have to do all that browsing on an empty stomach — re-fuel at the Mart’s café. Now, there’s even an ATM on site.
Insider tip: Bring the kids along to make gifts in the Angel Room while you enjoy stress-free shopping.
Immerse yourself in the historic country ambiance of an 1805 flour and grain mill at the Mayberry Mill Crafts, Gifts, and Arts Show, Nov. 29-Dec. 7.
Owner Mary Ann Galandak says, “We have 17 juried crafters with no repetitions — everyone has something different to offer.” Admission, greens, iced tea, and cookies are all free.
Savor a small-town version of holiday bustle at Sykesville’s Merry Main Street on Dec. 6, 1:00pm-9:00pm. Stroll through the cozy railroad town and shop for that one-of-a-kind gift. Model trains, sure to captivate kids of all ages, will run 3:00-9:00pm. Carolers bring joyful music at 5:00pm, and Santa makes his grand entrance on a fire truck at 6:00pm. Then, after watching the mayor light the town tree, take the kids for photos with Santa in the town’s real caboose. (sykesvillemainstreet.com)
Step back in time at the Carroll County Farm Museum for a taste of old time holiday spirit. The 1850s farm will be decked out for the season in its Victorian finest, Dec. 1-21. Take a farm tour and peruse the gift shop for handmade country treasures. Mule-pulled wagon rides are offered on weekends. (carrollcountyfarmmuseum.org)
Did you know you can take an actual piece of Carroll County home with you? Find your Christmas tree at one of the area’s many tree farms. Beverungen says the tree farm experience is about a lot more than acquiring a tree. “Talk about a ‘Kodak moment,’” she says. “Watching your children or grandchildren attempt to carry the tree out of the field is truly priceless.” Many farms offer wreaths and greens, hot chocolate, and warm cider.
It’s all part of a cozy Carroll County Christmas that will make for merry family memories.