Cumberland, in the mountains of Western Maryland, offers a trifecta of good things to visitors and locals this summer.
Location is the first, with the C&O Canal National Park, Great Allegheny Passage, and surrounding mountains providing excellent bicycling and superior outdoor recreation. The Narrows, a spectacular natural water gap with towering cliffs, provides the backdrop for the city that’s full of history.
“Lots of people make Cumberland a base camp for all kinds of great outdoor activities,” said Steve Leyh, who promotes the city’s downtown.
The second leg of the trifecta is affordability. National magazines and CNN have named Cumberland as one of the 10 most affordable small cities in America.
That’s not only high praise, but also a good reason to check out what’s happening in Cumberland this summer.
Locals are fond of saying that those who choose to live in Cumberland do so not for fame and fortune, but for the superb quality of life. It’s a haven for artists and musicians, as well as outdoor enthusiasts.
Cumberland is known for hosting DelFest, one of the premiere bluegrass festivals in the nation, and other attractions such as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Rocky Gap State Park.
Free music weekends
Free music is the third part of the trifecta. In the summertime, Cumberland comes alive with music and festivals. Every Friday night in June, July, and August, pedestrian-only Baltimore Street in the historic city center is the place to be. Up-and-coming national touring artists mix with regional bands to create one of the best block parties in the mountains.
Tourists and locals gather here to dine al fresco and see new music first.
“This is where you’ll see people before they end up on programs like David Letterman,” Leyh said.
This year’s schedule includes performances by Ben Sollee, The Bumper Jacksons, Black Masala, Laney Jones & the Spirits, Bushmaster featuring Gary Brown, Flood City Brass, Wesley Spangler, and Cello Fury among a host of others.
But the music rolls on through the weekend. At nearby Canal Place, the crescent lawn hosts some of the hottest musical acts on Saturday nights.
On tap this year are performances by The Suffers, Yarn, Guthrie Brown & the Family Tree, Southern Drawl Band, and The World Famous Glen Miller Orchestra. All of these shows are free of charge and family friendly.
Cumberland’s “Coming Alive” weekend, June 5–7, kicks off the season with a display of Plein Air art; a quick draw painting event; the CASA Uncorked wine tasting event with food vendors, music, and crafts on the Canal Place Festival Grounds; and music on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
All of this is within a 2-1/2-hour drive of Washington and Baltimore. Interstate 68 makes traveling through the mountains easy.
For more information
Canal Place: canalplace.org
Downtown Cumberland: downtowncumberland.com