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You never know what you'll find (A Journey from Junk)

Enjoy a small town vibe for a day in Ellicott City

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of those fake Main Streets with no character and chain-store shopping. What I needed was a small town with a true historic vibe – boutique shopping, unusual stores, different restaurants, and even a tea room. After a little research, I found Ellicott City, an 18th century former mill town, only a short drive away.

And that’s where I spent a delightful Saturday wandering in and out of unique shops. Main Street is your classic small town America. It rises from the river and is lined with stone and brick buildings dating back to the 1800s. The buildings house shops and restaurants that beckoned me to browse.

Here are a few of my favorite shops:

HorseSpirit Arts Gallery is an eclectic collection of original creations by over 40 local artists – gorgeous jewelry, artwork, exquisite glass and mosaics, interesting woodworking, sculptures, tables, scarves, and wearable art. It made me feel as though I was in a museum. And yes, I wanted it all.

A Journey from Junk is a fun store that the owner describes as vintage chic with a hip and funky twist. It features white hand painted furniture, vintage home décor, chandeliers, women’s accessories, clothing, cowboy boots, jewelry, candles, and bath and body products. You never know what you’ll find.

Sweet Elizabeth Jane owner's motto is “urban girl, vintage soul." It has fun and funk-tional accessories, home décor, and boho inspired clothing.

You don’t need to be a kid to stop by Forget Me Not Factory. Outside, Barry the “Bubbleman” does giant bubble demonstrations. His saying is, “Play with bubbles and forget your troubles.” We all need a little of that. The three-story shop is jammed pack with everything fantasy based.

If you love popcorn, pop, and candy, you can’t walk by E.C. Pops without going in. The store features 53 flavors and a mix of savory and sweet such as piña colada, Oreo cookies-and-cream-flavored popcorn, bacon cheddar cheese, and the more usual flavors. And there are plenty of gifts for kids and adults.

Ready for a break? How about tea in a charming 1833 building? Tea on the Tiber is a Victorian Tea Room and Gift Shop that is elegant and offers the look of an English Tea parlor. There are several rooms including a children’s tea room and an outside area for nice weather. Each room is unique. Enjoy yummy scones, pastries, and fresh fruit. Open Thursday through Sunday, make reservations in advance, I couldn’t get in. I left disappointed, but I’ll be back.

Without those delicious scones, it was time for lunch. I stopped at Ellicott Mills Brewing , which they brew right on property. Open for 20 years, the 1905 building had been a hardware store. Good for lunch. I suggest the hamburgers with house chips and of course beer.

Other Restaurants on my list to try next time:

Pure Wine Café: Wine bar with tapas, snack plates, light meals, full Mediterranean-style dining, and dessert. Great patio dining.

The Trolley Stop: The building dates back to 1833 and was a tavern and trolley stop. Locals said the breakfast is not to be missed and also agreed to be a great place for lunch and dinner. From here you can take the Trolley Trail a 1.5 mile paved trail. The trolley line came to Ellicott City in 1889 and was in existence for 55 years. Trail offers scenic woodland views. Can also bike it.

I always like to take a tour so I can learn interesting facts about the area. Here a few to take:

Ghost Tours: Friday & Saturday at 8:30 (Ellicott City said to be the most haunted area in Maryland.)

Historic Walking Tours: 2nd & 4th Saturday of every month

The Spirits” Pub Tour: 3rd Thursday of every month


“Big Bang Theory’s” train fanatic, Sheldon Cooper would go crazy at the B & O Railroad Museum, but even the non-train crazed will have fun here. Ellicott City Station is the oldest surviving railroad station in America. The museum houses the oldest and most comprehensive American railroad collections in the world – steam locomotives, historic buildings, and even pocket watches, dining car china and silver.