Baltimore Fishbowl Highlights Mount Airy!

The Little Town That Could:

9 1/2 Hours in Mount Airy


By Karen and David Nitkin - September 1, 2020


People are staying closer to home these days, but there’s still lots to do in the region. 9 ½ hours is a feature with suggestions for local day trips.

Drive west from Baltimore, and in about 30 miles you’ll hit Parr’s Ridge, a hump in the terrain that presented a challenge to railroad engineers in the 1830s. The ridge would become a train depot, and then the town of Mount Airy, a historic community that today boasts a small thriving downtown with a lot to see and do. Mount Airy embraces its past and is building a future based on small businesses and local sustainability.

We recommend throwing your bikes on the back of your car and heading out to where not one, not two, not three but FOUR counties come together. Mount Airy lies at the intersection of Howard, Carroll, Montgomery and Frederick counties, and the farms that surround it provide the grain, dairy, fruits and vegetables to supply its spirit makers, ice cream churners, eateries and other businesses. Exploring them all makes a great spot to spend 9 ½ hours.

Morning activity

The environs around Mount Airy provide some of the prettiest – and occasionally challenging – terrain for a road bike or mountain bike. Check out the route published by Carroll County Tourism, which maps out eleven miles around Mount Airy, giving cyclists access to valleys, ridges and farmland, as well as the B & O Railroad. (Look for the Mount Airy link). If you end your ride at the 20-acre Watkins Park, 615 Center Street, you’ll be at the start of a short but scenic rail trail. The stretch is sometimes called the Old Main Line Trail, and runs for a half-mile along a crushed stone path through interesting rock formations and tree canopies. Local groups have plans to extend the length of the trail to four miles.

The trail ends in the train depot area of Mount Airy. Plan to lock your bikes and start exploring downtown. If you need to get your bike serviced or grab some accessories, stop in Patapsco Bicycles, 5 N. Main Street.



It’s easy to eat healthy in Mount Airy thanks to Superfoods Café and Market. You’ll find raw, vegan and gluten-free choices here, yet there’s nothing somber or medicinal about the bright friendly little space. Located at 106 S. Main Street, the café is a popular stop for the post-workout crowd, who slurp up smoothies in flavors like Berry Blast and Ultimate Health. Other choices include wraps, sweets, coffee, tea, and more.

The Sights

Mount Airy owes its existence to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad – it was a stop as the line headed out to Frederick, Cumberland and beyond – and the historic downtown has maintained the flavor of a 19th century village.