Get off the interstate: Follow Route 1 in Maryland for a fun time

Marie Gullard

Terrapin Explorer is the new kids’ course at Terrapin Adventures.

Long before I-95 became the yellow brick road from Florida to Maine, there was good old U.S. Route 1, snaking its way up and down the East Coast, through cities, suburbs, small towns, and farmland.

The historic highway crosses through 80.86 miles of Maryland, traversing five counties and Baltimore City. Along and just off of Route 1, travelers and locals will find countless activities and exciting diversions.

Route 1 passes through College Park in Prince George’s County, alongside the University of Maryland’s flagship campus with its many athletic and cultural offerings, and rolls through Laurel, which straddles both Prince George’s and Howard counties.

Terrapin Explorer is the new kids’ course at Terrapin Adventures.
Terrapin Explorer is the new kids’ course at Terrapin Adventures.

Howard County’s tourism office invites the adventurous to “Have Fun on Route 1” where visitors can spend the day at Laurel Park, with its live thoroughbred racing, simulcast races, and restaurants and bars.

Or, make a stop in historic Savage Mill, which offers antique emporiums, one-of-a-kind galleries, and dining at Ram’s Head Tavern.

Terrapin Adventures at Savage Mill breaks the mold when it comes to outdoor aerial excitement, utilizing wood, ropes, and cable, all under the watchful care of professional guides. Additional offsite adventures such as biking, kayaking, geocaching, caving, and tubing are also available.

“The most popular program we run is the Terrapin Challenge, which includes a giant swing, our ropes course, and a giant tower,” said the attraction’s Steve Carne. “This is a great place to come out, play, challenge yourself, and have a wonderful time.”

Laurel Roller Skating Center offers another kind of adventure, boasting an 80-foot-by-180-
foot roller skating floor where visitors can participate in daily open skates and dance skate sessions. Coaches are available for a variety of skating classes, from beginner to advanced.

At Jailbreak Brewing Company, also in Laurel, there are always at least eight tasty brews on tap, along with weekday and weekend tasting tours, food truck visits, and live entertainment.

Autobahn Indoor Speedway boasts both Monaco and Le Mans tracks designed to accommodate karts in true Grand Prix fashion. Both adult and junior karts are available and you can race against yourself with the electronic timing system or organize a race with up to 10 karts. And, because the facility is indoors, there is never a bad day to race.

The same can be said for Monster Mini Golf, in Columbia, Md. “The course is indoors, so weather is not a factor,” said franchise owner Eric Hunn. “It’s all glow-in-the-dark, so if you wear certain white or neon-colored clothing, everything glows; along with your teeth, fingernails, and shoelaces!”

However, don’t think that all amusements and activity-based attractions are under cover. There are five regular golf courses within a 25-mile radius. Patapsco Valley State Park features eight built-up recreational areas, along with walking and bike trails.

Route 1 continues its journey through Baltimore City, with its Inner Harbor attractions and major league stadiums, and

This part of the Terrapin Adventures course is called “The Leap of Faith.”
This part of the Terrapin Adventures course is called “The Leap of Faith.”

veers north of I-95 in eastern Baltimore County, with its wineries and Gunpowder Falls State Park. 

The route veers further north through the suburbs and farmland of Harford County and crosses the Susquehanna River over the Conowingo Dam, one of the largest non-federal dams built in the United States. Winter is a great time to stand on the viewing platform and see bald eagles and other birds that congregate there.

To the south, at the mouth of the Susquehanna, is historic Havre de Grace, with its history, antiquing, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, and seafood.

On the eastern side of the dam is Cecil County, where Route 1 enters Pennsylvania. To the south, along the Susquehanna River, is the village of Port Deposit, the entirety of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A few miles east of where Route 1 turns north into Pennsylvania is the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management area, once a du Pont estate and one of the largest private landholdings in the East.

Today, there are trails; flat, steeplechase, and timber course races over Memorial Day weekend; a nature center; and other activities.

Get off the Interstate and follow Route 1 for fun.

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