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Want to beat the winter blahs? County has plenty to see, do

November 30, 1999|By Tom Riford

Special to The Daily Mail

Hagerstown and Washington County have a lot to offer during the winter months! Our hotels, restaurants, and stores are bustling with winter enthusiasts through the snowy months ? partially because of the nearby Whitetail Ski Resort, and because of our local national and state parks. Skiing, snowboarding, snow-tubing and cross-country skiing are some of the many activities available.

Local parks have hiking and other activities, while many of our museums offer special winter exhibits and events.

Trains of Christmas

The "Trains of Christmas" continues at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, through February. The museum is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. People from across the country come see the visions, the sounds, and the snows of Christmas, past and present. The exhibits feature an "O" Gauge Christmas Garden, with the trains of Lionel, MTH, Weaver, Williams, and others. For more information, call 301-739-4665.

Museum turns 75

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The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2006. The museum is the only accredited art museum in Maryland west of Baltimore (two others are in Baltimore). Several exhibits and events are scheduled for the winter months at this award-winning museum. The hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. One interesting exhibit includes sculptures by Rachel Rotenberg. The sculptor explores relationships with people and with wood in this exciting exhibition. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, Jan. 30, between 2:30 and 4 p.m., and the public can meet the artist.

Maryland Symphony

The historic Maryland Theatre has several shows and events scheduled all winter. Plays and concerts round out the schedule, including a masterpiece of a performance by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. The 2006-2007 season is the symphony's 25th, and celebrations are on the horizon! The MSO's MasterWorks III ? A Birthday Toast to Mozart, will be a concert that is sure to please! The performances are set for Saturday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 13, at 3 p.m. The special concert features the MSO's own Phyllis Freeman and the mellow alto tones of the viola. For more information, call 301-797-4000.

Fort Frederick

Have you ever seen Fort Frederick State Park in the wintertime? The deer enjoy the quiet stillness of the season, and the quiet serenity is truly wonderful. The park is open year round, and in the "off season" is open November through March from 8 a.m. to sunset on weekdays and 10 a.m. to sunset on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 301-842-2155. Speaking of anniversaries âEUR¦ the fort celebrates its 250th anniversary during Memorial Day Weekend 2006! There are a lot of special events planned ? so stay tuned. The anniversary has already made national news, as history enthusiasts prepare to mark the important event.

Shopping galore

Hagerstown is certainly known for its shopping. In fact, according to the recent ranking by the National Research Bureau, Hagerstown is the best retail community in Maryland, and is among the top 20 in the nation. Washington County ranks 17th among more than 300 U.S. regions in a study released by the Chicago-based organization, which provides retail real-estate data to the shopping-center industry. Washington County, with a population of about 136,000, had 16 shopping centers and about 3.55 million square feet of leasable shopping center space. Our county has 26.13 square feet of shopping-center space per person, the most in Maryland. Prime Outlets, the Centre at Hagerstown, Valley Mall, and scores of antique stores, specialty shops, and downtown retail businesses attract shoppers from throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Our top three malls all reported healthy increases in shopping visits during 2005, and this year looks to build upon our retail successes.

Good skating

Hagerstown's Ice and Sports Complex provides a lot of fun for skaters and hockey players. The ice arena has many scheduled times available for "open skates" and offers opportunities for parties and other gatherings. Winter is a perfect time to skate in Washington County outdoors âEUR¦ and when the ice is thick enough, the C&O Canal encourages skating in the park.

National parks

Our national parks have special winter hours, and welcome visitors throughout the frosty months. Antietam National Battlefield and the C&O Canal Towpath are two of the great places to enjoy crisp walks in snow-covered scenery. The National Park Service staff invites you to see the parks in the winter months.

See Hagerstown-Washington County in the wintertime, you'll make some wonderful Maryland Memories!

Tom Riford is president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He can be reached at 301-791-3246. His column appears monthly in The Daily Mail. The CVB's Web site is www.marylandmemories.com.

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