When most people think of Maryland, they think of crabs, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Baltimore Ravens. We’re also known as a bedroom community for the DC Metro area. But if you venture out into that little “panhandle” in Maryland nestled in the mountains between Pennsylvania and West Virginia, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the year-round destination of Deep Creek Lake.
Located about 3 to 4 hours from Baltimore, Deep Creek Lake is a manmade lake in Garrett County, Maryland. It’s well-known (locally, at least) for downhill skiing at Wisp Resort in the winter. And during the summer, it’s transformed into an Ozark-like community filled with boaters and lake houses that are to die for.
Although I love the mountains, I’m not a skiier or a boater so I was anxious to explore the area as an invited guest of Blue Moon Rising, an eco-friendly cabin rental community. Our first task was settling into the “tiny house” that was to be our home for two nights.
Equipped with electricity, plumbing, a mini-kitchen, and WI-FI, we were ready to rough it. Our only regret was that there was no air conditioning. We arrived on a hot and humid Monday but opened the windows, ran the fans, and slept on top of the covers like we did back in the day. (Luckily by the second night, we were piling on blankets.)
So what did we do to fill our time at Deep Creek Lake? Since we’re not boaters and it was the wrong season for skiing AND our family could only take so much time together in a tiny house, we ventured out and found from pretty great things to do at Deep Creek Lake.
Exploring Blue Moon Rising
Staying in a cabin community has its perks and one of them is hiking trails right on site. Evan and I ventured out one morning on the Fern Gully trail just steps from our cabin. It’s a gentle downward slope with an easy trail allowing you to explore the fern-laden under belly of the woods on the property.
The trail led us down near the communal area where there was a picnic area, large kitchen (as opposed to our kitchenette), campfire area, and beautiful view of Deep Creek Lake.
And with extra time to spare, we make sure to enjoy the rocking chairs on the front porch to listen to the birds or simply enjoyed a cup of tea (a boiling kettle is included in every cabin along with a Fre
Simon Pearce Factory Store + Glassblowing Workshop
We eased into our day, after a lovely breakfast with a trip to a factory that I had read about. Simon Pearce is a glass artisan from Kilkenny, Ireland who moved his operation to the U.S. While his headquarters is in Vermont, you’ll find a glassblowing shop and factory store near Deep Creek Lake. Upon visiting, you’re directed to a self-guided factory tour where you can watch glassblowers at work and have a chance to purchase some of their work at bargain prices.
Note: Handmade glass ain’t cheap. But, if you’re like me and always looking for a bargain, I found a beautiful discontinued trifle dish on the “second quality” table. The only flaws I found were a few bubbles in the base which only adds character in my book!
The Town of Oakland
Nearby is the town of Oakland. I first discovered it on our first night when I realized I forgot my SD card as usual. That’s where you’ll find the local Wal-Mart. But the downtown area is quite cute and full of family-friendly activities.
We started at the Oakland B&O Museum which, unfortunately, was closed on the day we arrived. But within walking distance were several other attractions.
The Garrett County Museum of Transportation was right across the street with free admission! We took the time to look at the relics on the main floor and the Deep Creek history collection on the second floor.
After walking around, we hit the local streets and checked out the antique shops, including Englander’s. An admission: the real draw was the old fashioned soda fountain in the back of the store. We all needed a little pick-me-up at this point in the day.
Speaking of pick-me-ups, we might have made more than one stop at the Lakeside Creamery for their homemade ice cream. Their Black Raspberry ice cream was almost as good as the ice cream I fell in love with in Maine last summer.
And if you stop by on a beautiful day like we did, you can take your cone or cup out back for a beautiful view of the lake.
Swallow Falls State Park
Hiking in Swallow Falls State Park is an absolute must. There’s an admission fee but it’s worth it for the gentle hike that’s just over a mile. The view along the way will have you questioning if you’re still in Maryland (you are!).
Some parts of the trail are a touch strenuous but if you’re not up for a hike or able to hike, there are beautiful views that are handicap accessible.
There’s also a Lakeside Creamery truck at the end of the trail so if you’ve missed your chance to sample their ice cream, it tastes especially good at the end of a hike!
Family Fun and Games
In the evenings, we had a nice dinner and when we weren’t quite ready to retire to our cabin, I suggested something our family NEVER does. I suggested we play miniature golf.
We found a place called Funland and play 18 holes of, honestly, the best miniature golf I’ve ever been to. Maybe it was because it was perfect weather but we had so much fun knocking our balls around. And then we went inside and spent way too much money on the arcade games to win tickets for a deck of cards.
Because… when we got back to the cabin with no TV and iffy wifi, we found it the perfect excuse to spend more family time. We gathered around the kitchen island in the cabin we chose, pulled out from cheese and crackers, and settled into a nice friendly game of War.
If you’ve never been to Deep Creek Lake, check out the eco-friendly cabins (aka tiny houses) at Blue Moon Rising and schedule a little family time. You may even find that your favorite thing is simply taking in the views.