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Worcester County: A Guide to the Best Small Towns in America
Worcester County is situated in the easternmost part of Maryland and is home to beautiful beaches that attract millions of tourists from around the world. But there's more to Worcester County than its beaches-it's also home to a handful of the most charming small towns you'll find in America.
Filled with beautifully preserved buildings, friendly locals and historic museums, the five towns that make up Worcester County are some of the country's best-kept secrets and idyllic vacation destinations. Here is your guide on where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Worcester County's small towns.
Budget Travel called Berlin, located about seven miles from Ocean City, "the coolest small town in America," and a quick trip down its picturesque main street lined with brick buildings will give you a good idea why. This is a place that feels plucked from a Norman Rockwell painting, where the past is present at every turn. Berlin even served as the setting for the movies "Tuck Everlasting" and "Runaway Bride." If you visit Berlin, you should consider a stay at the Hotel Atlantic, a historic place adorned with Colonial antique furniture and posh dining rooms that have been welcoming visitors since 1895. If you'd rather stay at a bed and breakfast, the Waystead Inn and the Holland House make great alternatives. Built in the early 1900s, Holland House is well preserved and close to several area golf courses heralded for their difficulty and overall quality. Just a few minutes walk from Berlin's hotels is Rayne's Reef, a historic restaurant built in 1901 that serves up great BLT sandwiches and old school root beer floats.
Lined with antique shops, Berlin is also a fantastic place to pick up some cool collectibles like a vintage gramophone or camera obscura, but it's also home to some fun, original restaurants and breweries including Burley Oak Brewing. The brewery is the town's most popular hangout and the best place to enjoy local brews while playing foosball to the sound of a local band playing in the background. Another must-visit stop in Berlin is the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, a well-preserved 1832 home that survived the Civil War. And if you're looking for a way to relax over a glass of wine while enjoying local art and music, head on over to The Globe. It's a saloon-style restaurant that looks like an old-fashioned theater from the outside and serves up some of Maryland's best crab cakes.
River Front - Pocomoke City, Maryland
If you're a history buff, Pocomoke City is your kind of place. Alternatively known as "the friendliest town on the Eastern Shore," Pocomoke City is home to some of the state's most well-preserved buildings, including the Sturgis One Room School, an African-American schoolhouse built in 1900. It's now a museum where guests can learn about the town's history and education system. Costen House is another restored museum from the 1870s that allows visitors to learn about its original owners and what life looked like in the 19th century. If you visit during spring or summer, you'll be able to check out the on-site, exquisite rose garden. To stay overnight, book a room at the Victorian River Gem Bed and Breakfast, where your hosts pamper you with English pastries and tea. Once you've worked up an appetite from strolling through the historic town, head over to Riverside Grill and enjoy local seafood while admiring the riverfront view.
A quick piece of advice: Save some room for dessert, because you don't want to miss out on Chesapeake Bay Dairy, an ice cream parlor that has its own petting zoo. Once you get your cone of buttery pecan ice cream, relax on its patio rocking chairs and enjoy the view of the grazing dairy cows. When visiting Pocomoke City, it's also important to catch the local act at Mar-Va Theater. The charming, non profit theater is a fun place to enjoy plays like "The Sound of Music" and an occasional movie showing.
Canoeing in Snow Hill, Maryland
Situated on the south banks of Pocomoke River, Snow Hill is a small town with some of the best ways to spend your days outdoors in all of Maryland. Visitors can rent kayaks or canoes, then drift down the gorgeous river. A lot of visitors choose to camp at Pocomoke River State Park, a 15,000-acre forest with cabins that are easily accessible by canoe. If you don't feel like roughing it in the woods, The River House Inn is a beautiful bed and breakfast with a series of cottages that overlook the river. Each cottage is unique and outfitted with its own kitchen and fireplace.
Once you're settled in to your accommodations, take a break and pay a visit to Julia A. Purnell Museum to learn about Snow Hill's 500-year history. The museum has 10,000 artifacts, pieces of memorabilia and works of art. To go deeper into the town's history, it's highly recommended to get a hands-on experience at Furnace Town, a heritage museum focusing on the history of printing, weaving and blacksmithing. Friendly staff in colonial clothes re-enact the art of weaving or printing, answer questions about the craft and let guests participate. And with so much history, Snow Hill has also developed fantastic local food over the years. One of the most popular joints is The Blue Dog Café, where diners order faves like crab dip and broiled shrimp salad while listening to local bands. Harvest Moon Tavern is another great place to get tasty seafood dishes-think big buckets of oysters.
Trimpers Rides - Ocean City, Maryland
As the largest town of Worcester County, Ocean City is also the most popular place for tourists. The most notable attraction in town is the historic boardwalk along the Atlantic beach, which is bursting with restaurants, shops and amusement parks. Trimpers Rides and Attraction on the boardwalk has been entertaining tourists for more than 100 years. Loaded with old-fashioned game vendors and carousels, it's a great place to spend time with family and check out vintage rides. But if you're looking to have fun without the kids, Seacrets is one of Ocean City's most raved-about bars that offers a unique twist. At this waterfront bar, guests can enjoy mixed cocktails while lounging comfortably on inflatable tubes on the water or dine at tables above the shore while dangling their feet in the waves. And to indulge your sweet tooth, Fractured Prune is a great place to snack on gourmet doughnuts. The place is so popular that it's common to see long lines out the bakery's door, but it's well worth the wait.
Ocean City is also full of great hotels. To stay within walking distance of the boardwalk, book a room at Dunes Manor Hotel, which is nestled just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. Guests at this posh hotel can enjoy a private beach area with rocking chairs facing the ocean. But if you're looking for a more laid-back and personal stay, make reservations at the charming Atlantic House Bed and Breakfast. It's also steps from the ocean, and guests can relax in the Victorian-style rooms while listening to the crashing waves in the distance.