Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ellicott City, MD: Best Place to Live in the USA?

Traffic crept along at a slow but steady pace as Sash and I jumped off the I-695 at Baltimore National Pike, en route to one of the country's most sought after towns to live in.

Ellicott City, MD is the county seat of Howard County, and has the distinction as the largest unincorporated county seat in the United States, with a population of nearly 66,000.

It's also regarded as one of America's most affluent communities, boosting Howard County to the third wealthiest county in the USA.  Since 2005, Ellicott City has been listed by Money and in the "20 Best Places to Live in the United States"

Waiting for our arrival was Sheila who lived nearby in Catonsville.  Sheila grew up in Ellicott City and agreed to walk us around downtown and tell us about the place.

"It grew around a flour mill", she said, when asked if Ellicott City was originally a mining town.  It turned out, it was the first stop along the famed B&O Railroad, which originally ran from Baltimore to the Ohio River.

Sheila points her finger at the railroad bridge crossing over Tiber Creek, showing us where the flood lines have been.  "You can see when and how bad the city has been flooded".

In 1872, the water rose 215 feet from its normal height, flooding over the railroad bridge itself, and submerging the rooftops of several buildings.

When Ellicott City isn't worrying about flooding, locals are learning how to get along with their spiritual citizens.  The town is regarded as one of the most haunted on the east coast.  There's a ghost tour that takes people to local mansions and buildings where paranormal activity is known to concentrate.

On weekends, the downtown area is under siege by weekend bikers, while during the week locals come out and peruse the latest arrivals at Taylor's Antique Mall, or sip away at Tiber Tea Room.

Sheila recommended more down-to-earth digs at Ellicott Mill Brewing.

A little high on the pricing, I stayed true to my desire to try local fare, opting for the crab cakes with a side order of deep fried rock fish.  I found the crab cakes to be true to Maryland form, made mostly with real pieces of crab and minimal breading, quite opposite of what you get in other states.  Meanwhile the beer at Ellicott Mill was actually quite good, going a little more heavy on the malt, which is more to my taste.

It turned out we only had a few hours at most to visit Ellicott City, and after eating lunch, browsing the antique shops and buying some loose leaf teas, our time was just about up.

Perhaps when Road Pickle makes another swing back east, Ellicott City might be worth a week's stay.

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Sash and Sheila outside Ellicott Mill Brewery, Ellicott City, MD
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A view of downtown Ellicott City, MD
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Tiber Creek runs through Ellicott City, the white pole indicates past high water marks
maryland crab cakes
Ahhh! Real Maryland crab cakes, served with pickled red cabbage, at Ellicott Mill Brewery
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Highway, Sash, and Sheila, in Ellicott City
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Sash and Tiber Tea Room, Ellicott City
fort mchenry tunnel
Riding through Fort McHenry Tunnel, downtown Baltimore, on our way to Ellicott City


  1. You're kidding right? Pittsburgh, PA has been named one of the best places to live not only in the US but the world for several years running. Universities (Univ of Pittsburgh for Medicine, Carnegie Mellon for Computers), wonderful communities, food,'s a big city with a small town feel.

    Did I mention the views? The twisty back roads found all over the city?

    pfft...swing up north and take it in for a week or two. You two will fall in love with it.

  2. Sounds interesting, but what makes it one of the best places to live...I don't get it. But then again, I live in Texas...the place God created on the eighth day. :-) ~Curt

  3. Oh neat! I just stumbled across this blog/post. While you were here, did you by chance stop at Daniel's Open Bar on Rt. 1 in Elkridge, approximately 8 miles from downtown Ellicott City? You should add it to your 'to-do' list next time you are here! I have lived in MD 18 years and in Howard County for 5 years now and I love it here. It's beautiful. Of course, downtown is neat and historical, but western county there are a lot of nice backroads and big, beautiful mansions that are just breathtaking! Looking at these pics, it's hard to imagine country and backroads merely 10-20 minutes away.

  4. This is a joke right? This place is a huge shit hole with a very nice looking outhouse over it. I used to live in Pittsburgh. Moving to Maryland was probably one of the worst decision I have ever made. People are ridiculously mean, price of living is outrages and you cannot do anything without getting a citation for some law you have never heard before.

  5. Sounds like you all are the reasons your own cities aren't on the list. Sorry, but been to Pittsburgh a number of times (not by choice), and it was dirty and dull. Maryland as a whole isn't great, but don't be so harsh when you've never lived in Ellicott. It's great, especially the different apartments -- each is different and has an incredible history. You'd never get that just from looking up from the street, and certainly not from merely reading a blog.


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