When the Maryland Department of Agriculture announced the Ice Cream Trail earlier this summer, I might have scoffed and said, Oh another marketing campaign. Except they were talking about ice cream! Ice cream on these dastardly hot summer days. Ice cream overlooking the fields where the cows that produced the milk and cream roam and the sun shines and the breeze cools my face (I hope.) And I was already a big fan of one of the eight participating dairy farms, Chesapeake Bay Farms, Worcester County’s only dairy farm. So exploring other such fine establishments seemed like a good idea.
I wondered at first if I could visit them all in a single day. Nope. It’s not possible. There’s more than 100 miles between the two farthest points and unless you drive fast and eat fast, this is not a single day’s journey. The trail can roughly be divided into three parts: central-Western Maryland, northeast Maryland and the beach (although Chesapeake Bay Farms is the only Maryland farm-based creamery, there’s a great one near Lewes, Del., which I’m tacking onto my list.)
But after we started out on our adventure, hoping to visit four creameries in Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties, we soon realized we were doing it wrong. Better to visit one ice cream shop as part of a bigger trip.
Instead of a slog from creamery to creamery, a group of us spent a relaxed afternoon in the country. We took out time visiting Prigel Family Creamery. First, there were the enormous, creamy scoops of peach, chocolate cherry, Bobby’s black mud, and various flavors in cones and cups and an ice cream sandwich to enjoy. Then we looked over the other merchandise. We looked for cows — who were grazing out of sight.
Our ice cream adventure became more of a culinary adventure when we realized how close we were to Boordy Vineyards. Literally right around the corner, we decided it would be a shame to skip it. After all, part of our group had never been to Boordy — or any other Maryland winery. Visiting was a must. Our timing was wrong for a tour, so we got comfortable in the tasting room and sampled a wide variety of their wines. (More on that in another post.)
At this point, we weren’t ready for our afternoon to end so we stopped at the nearby McFaul’s Iron Horse Tavern. The restaurant has been around a long time but has new owners, new menu, updated look. It was a casual but tasty way to end our afternoon. What’s more, McFaul’s is participating in Baltimore County Restaurant Week through Aug. 25.
As for the rest of the Ice Cream Trail…we’ll keep on exploring. I think we discovered a blueprint for future trips too: Pick one and make it a stop on a day of exploration. Here are a few ideas.
Past Frederick are three sites on the trail: South Mountain Creamery in Middletown is only about 18 miles from Rocky Point Creamery in Tuscaror. Both are near Antietam National Battlefield, a Civil War site, and the pretty small town of Point of Rocks.
Up near the Pennsylvania border is Misty Meadows Farm Creamery. They host their own entertainment throughout the year, including a corn maze in the fall. It’s also just 12 miles from Cunningham Falls State Park — which my family has considered a memorable road trip for many a summer.
Creameries at the Beach
Beaches and ice cream go together naturally. And even though the Boardwalks are crammed full of great ice cream shops, these two are worth a visit for their rich, flavorful ice cream. Just west of Ocean City, technically in Berlin, stop at Chesapeake Bay Farms, the only beachy creamery on the Maryland Ice Cream Trail. Off the official trail — but definitely worth a visit is Hopkins Farm Creamery. It’s in Lewes, Delaware, on Route 9 outside of town. You can meet the cows who provided the milk that makes their delicious ice cream.
If you are going anywhere on Interstate 95, north of Baltimore City, you can add one of these three ice cream shops to your itinerary. Broom’s Bloom is in Bel Air. Keyes Creamery is in Aberdeen (and offers live music on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.) Kilby Cream is in Rising Sun.
Of course, if you really want to check them all out, you could. These three are only 24 miles apart.
© Text Mary K. Tilghman
Photos courtesy Keyes Creamery, South Mountain Creamery and Chesapeake Bay Farms.
Prigel Family Creamery photos by Mary K. Tilghman