Grand Alternatives to Grand Prix
How to avoid the downtown crowds this Labor Day weekend
If high-speed racing isn’t your thing and the thought of the impending Baltimore Grand Prix crowds makes you want to get far away from town, we’ve got some alternate suggestions for fun this Labor Day weekend that won’t break the bank.
Get on the Megabus near the mall in White Marsh, and you can travel to your choice of 10 cities. Estimated travel time to New York is three hours and 20 minutes, and tickets cost $21 to $27 each way. Travelers can get to Philadelphia and back for as little as $5 or as much as $17 each way. Ride time is estimated at one and a half to two hours. And, as alternative to driving to D.C., you can take the Megabus for $5 to $15 each way, with travel time estimated at 70 to 80 minutes. Prices vary based on time and day of departure.
These cities all offer museums, historic sites and family-friendly fun, but if you hope to avoid a crowd New York and D.C. might not be your best destination options. On a recent Hotwire.com list of top Labor Day destinations, New York City was number one. Washington D.C. also made the list, ranked 10th.
For a less populous destination, why not consider York, PA? Rabbit Transit offers bus service between Towson and York on weekdays, and a one-way ticket is just $5.
Service will not be available on Monday, September 5, because of the Labor Day holiday, but York offers several options for a Friday day trip. York County is billed “The Tour Capital of the World” and offers 22 year-round factory tours, many free of charge. In an email, Rob Mayer, York County’s public relations coordinator, recommended several tours, including the following:
Visitors to this textile mill will watch power looms create designs from the 18th and 19th century and adapt them for use in modern times. One-hour tours are offered on Fridays, but reservations must be made two days in advance.
Utz offers a self-guided tour that demonstrates how a raw spud is turned into a potato chip. Call ahead on Wednesday to schedule a Friday tour. Regular tours are offered Monday-Thursday from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m.
This facility assembles the Touring, Softail and Trike model Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and tourists can get a behind-the-scenes look at the production process. One-hour tours are offered between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Close to home
Recently named “Best Winery for a Day Trip” by Baltimore Magazine, Boordy Vineyards is located just 10 miles northeast of Towson. Wine tastings are offered for $5 throughout the day, and tours of the winery and vineyard, also $5, include wine tastings and take place at 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. daily.
Saturday, September 3 is the last night of Boordy Vineyards’ Midsummer Evening Concerts for the season, and the event features Celtic rock band The Rovers. “We are careful about selecting bands that are high quality, original and danceable,” said Rob Deford, president of Boordy Vineyards. “[The Rovers] ought to be a lot of fun—a very high-energy band.”
Bring your own picnic dinner or purchase food at the event. All adult tickets include a wine tasting, and bottles can be purchased to drink during the concert. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and tickets are $17-$20 for adults, $10 for teens and $5 for kids.
Hampton National Historic Site is Towson’s hidden gem. Located just outside the Beltway off of Dulaney Valley Road, the stately Georgian mansion was once home to one of the wealthiest families in Maryland, the Ridgelys. Designated a National Park Service property in 1948 for its architectural significance, the 24,000-square-foot mansion sits on 63 acres that also include an ice house, stables and the Ridgely family cemetery. Each room in the mansion is curated to reflect an era of the home’s history, from 1790 to 1910.
The site offers daily tours of the house and grounds, and visitors will learn about the seven generations of Ridgelys who lived there. The Hampton experience also focuses on the story of enslaved African Americans and indentured servants, without whom the Ridgelys would not have prospered.
The park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and admittance is free. Mansion tours are offered at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Tours of the gardens and grounds are offered at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on weekends. The mansion also currently houses a special exhibit, A House Divided: The Civil War at Hampton.
And of course, there’s always the Maryland State Fair. Just up York Road in Timonium, the annual 4-H fest will take place from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for children age 6 to 11. Ride tickets are $1 each. In addition to agricultural exhibits, events include tractor pulls, horse races and “Masters of the Chainsaw” carving demonstrations.
“We have a great variety of entertainment for all different ages,” said Edie Bernier, State Fair spokesperson. “We have thousands of livestock, home arts and farm and garden exhibits.” She said this year’s Swifty Swine Races feature pigs named after celebrities, with monikers like Sowie Mandel, Kevin Bacon and Sowlena Gomez.
Evening concerts include performances by country singer Blake Shelton on Saturday, August 3, and Timonium natives All Time Low on Sunday, August 4. Concerts start at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $42.50 and $29, respectively.
Meanwhile, at Towson University, the Tigers open their football season at home against Morgan State on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Unitas Stadium. Can't make it? The match will be aired on Comcast SportsNet and WNST.