Hike, History & Hops: Family Fun Day Trip to Historic Ellicott City

Searching for an easy, kid-friendly day trip destination from Route 1 and D.C. that combines your love of hiking and history with my love of craft beer? 😉 Then head to Maryland’s Historic Ellicott City for a leisurely hike along the #9 Trolley Trail, take the detour to the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum in Oella for some history about Mr. Banneker (astronomer, farmer, mathematician and a subject of Stevie Wonder’s song, “Black Man” 🎵); then jump back on the trail and back to Ellicott City for some food and craft beer at a local restaurant (like Manor Hill Tavern or Ellicott Mills Brewing Company). Great day out with (or without!) the kids and less than an hour from Route 1 / DC area. 👊

Ellicott City Route One Fun

Historic Ellicott City / Baltimore Trolley Line # 9 

After a stop at College Park’s drive-through Starbucks, we jumped on I-95 and arrived at Maryland’s Ellicott City in less than an hour. We approached the # 9 Trolley Trail via Frederick Road (by The Trolley Stop restaurant) and parked in the free parking lot. Scooters tucked under arms, we made our way up the steps and began this lovely, leisurely hike along the # 9 Trolley Trail’s mostly paved 1.5 mile trail. (*If steps are an issue, use the “no stairs” entrance on Westchester Ave, though parking is limited.)
Ellicott City Trolley Line #9
Steps to Trolley Line #9

With a mostly paved trail, the hike along #9 Trolley Trail is perfect for beginners. Tons of nature to explore, paths that are easy to walk, run and scoot along and the adjacent stream feeds into the Patapsco River, providing a lovely, gentle soundtrack for your hike.

Waterfalls, leaves changing and history along Trolley Line # 9

Trail to Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum

About halfway along the #9 Trolley Trail, you’ll see signs for a detour path for a .5 mile hike to Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. This part of the hike is not paved and will have you feeling like you’re taking the road less traveled, which is a good thing! There’ll be big steps to climb, trees to climb over and even some trees to hide inside of and scare the bejeezus out of your family as they walk by!

Trolley Line # 9 Ellicott City

Once you arrive on the other side of the detour, you’ll notice the Banneky farmhouse (not open to public) to the left and the Banneker Museum to the right. Along the way to the Museum, we enjoyed reading pages of “Where’s Rodney” by Carmen Bogan (part of Baltimore Public Library‘s Story Trail project), inspecting an insect house (I kept my distance… 😱) and other fun activities dotted along the way.

Baltimore Public Library Story Trail
Story Trail by Baltimore Public Library

History & Kids’ Play Area Inside Benjamin Banneker Museum

Inside the museum, we learned about Mr. Benjamin Banneker: mathematician, astronomer, almanac writer, surveyor, abolition advocate and naturalist during the late 1700s. Banneker is well regarded as one of the first African Americans to gain distinction in science. In Banneker’s 1791 letter to then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, he challenged the continued existence of slavery in America, writing “…however variable we may be in Society or religion, however diversifyed in Situation or colour, we are all of the Same Family, and Stand in the Same relation to him [God].”

Benjamin Banneker Museum
Stories & Textiles Exhibit at Museum, featuring 20 works of art that express stories
weaved into the life and times of Benjamin Banneker and his family

The museum itself is on the small to medium size, perfectly manageable for most. While the exhibits are best suited for ages 8 and up, the kids’ corner is full of hands-on activities, games and even some critters for young minds and hands to explore! The Museum frequently hosts public programs for kids and adults alike; check out the Banneker Museum’s website for information and see what ones you’d like to check out soon!

Kids’ Play Area at the Benjamin Banneker Museum


Craft Beer in Ellicott City

Having worked up an appetite, we got back on the hiking trail, collected our car and made our way Ellicott City’s Manor Hill Tavern for some dinner and drinks. While we hadn’t made reservations (doh!), they gladly directed us to the upstairs bar area where we found seating at a high top table (not ideal for kids but amazingly, nobody fell off their chair! Not even Route One Hubs 😂). The beer was refreshing (Drawing Board IPA was my pick) and the food (including Kids’ menu) was tasty!  Next time we do this trip, we’re going to check out Ellicott City Brewing Company and taste their seasonal / famous Pumpkin 🎃 Beer!

Beer only after your homework, son. 😜

So there you have it; a perfect itinerary for a fall day trip with hiking, history and craft beer! And if you’re lucky, your kids will be so exhausted from all the fun that they’ll fall asleep on the car ride home and you’ll actually get a chance to talk about how great a trip that was for you all!

Kids Sleeping Car

Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum is located at 300 Oella Avenue, Catonsville, MD 21228.

👏 Many thanks to The Patapsco Heritage Greenway for inviting Route One Fun to explore Ellicott City and for sponsoring this post about our time there! 👏

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