By Mindie Burgoyne

Located in the heart of Carroll County, Westminster is a real, historic downtown that has preserved its vibrant past while answering the entertainment needs of today’s communities.  In the shadow of McDaniel College, Westminster’s tree lined streets with wide sidewalks are bordered with boutique shopping, abundant dining options, art and entertainment venues and ample public spaces that encourage visitors to stay awhile.

Photo Credit: Stan Ruchlewicz


Westminster has a downtown reminiscent of American small towns of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of the historic architecture still remains, and the streetscapes are designed for walking, window shopping and visiting with friends.  While many of today’s small towns have had retail industry wane, Westminster’s main street thrives with more than 65 retail outlets that include women’s clothing, gift shops, jewelry, home décor, a pharmacy, art galleries and specialty food stores.

Photo Credit: Stan Ruchlewicz

The stores are almost all independently operated by owners with a commitment to the Westminster community. Some of the more unique shops include Furnace Hills Coffee Company where coffee is hand-roasted in small micro batches and ready for delivery to consumers the next day. Gibby’s Doll House Shoppe has everything for the traditional dollhouse from furniture to accessories. Hats by Marjae can supply a hat for any occasion (Sunday church, Kentucky Derby, wedding) and “fit the head of everyone.” Coffey Music is a full-scale music store that sells instruments, sheet music and accessories, and provides private music lessons.

Photo Credit: Stan Ruchlewicz

Art and Entertainment

Downtown Westminster is anchored by two cultural establishments.  At one end of town is the Carroll Arts Center, housed in a renovated, art-deco style theater.  The Center has two art galleries and a 264-seat theater where they feature a concert series, films and live performances. At the opposite end of town is the Historical Society of Carroll County, which has a museum.  Current exhibitions include Childhood Playthings, which features one of the original Theodore Roosevelt “Teddy Bears.”

Photo Credit: Stan Ruchlewicz

Dining and Nightlife

Westminster is best known for its wide range of locally owned restaurants, unique cafés and specialty food stores.The downtown has more than 20 options for dine-in or carry out. O’Lordans Irish Pub, provides Irish traditional fare, lagers, Irish whiskies and a features a weekly Traditional Irish Music session. Johanssons offers casual and fine dining, live entertainment and has an Old English Style Tavern that houses a microbrewery. Harry’s Main Street Grill is famous for its hot dogs and its Baltimore Ravens fans. Giulianova Groceria & Italian Deli has been providing authentic Italian foods and groceries for more than 20 years, but it also carries other Baltimore ethnic favorites such as Ostrowski’s Polish sausage and pierogies. Giulianova’s also offers cooking lessons.

Photo Credit: Stan Ruchlewicz


If the Westminster downtown shopping, dining and entertainment weren’t enough to draw a crowd, the scores of events held in the town every year pull in thousands of visitors.Some of the more famous events occur in the spring. The Annual Peep Show (April 5-15) is hosted by the Carroll Arts Center as a fundraiser, displays an array of artwork created from marshmallow peeps.The Flower and Jazz Festival (May 12) is an all day affair that draws 10,000 to the downtown, anxious to visit craft and food vendors and enjoy live entertainment.

Mindie Burgoyne is an author, travel writer and tour guide living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Her blog, The Travel Hag shares information on outdoor travel for women. She is the author of Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake.