Road-trip-worthy Boonsboro, Md., has small-town flair, with its brick- and vinyl-sided houses with deep porches. Add to that post-Civil War-era churches and small, odd shops, such as Crawford’s Confectionery, a self-described restaurant and guns-and-ammo store.
And what’s spring without an adventure, especially if it’s driving to a town that’s also the base for a best-selling romance and thriller author who has put down roots, including an elegant inn for literary lovers.
It doesn’t hurt that the Washington County town, about 55 miles northwest of the District, is close to Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Silver Spring native Nora Roberts, her husband, photographer Bruce Wilder, and son Dan Aufdem-Brinke, are prominent business owners in Boonsboro. They employ some 100 people in a population of 3,460. The family’s businesses include a craft brew pub, an arts and crafts gallery and the crown jewel, the Inn BoonsBoro.
Six of the romance-themed inn’s eight guest rooms take their design cues from classic works such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice.” No reservation? Time your visit and you can tour the inn’s first floor twice a year (June 18 and Dec. 3).
But there’s plenty to do in this town founded in 1792 by George and William Boone, cousins of the Daniel Boone. The brothers purchased a 140-acre tract of land and laid out half-acre lots on each side of what was then a wagon road and is now Alternate Route 40.
Here are a few places to check out:
Turn the Page Bookstore
18 N. Main St.
Owned and operated by Wilder, the store features an excellent collection of Civil War-related books, novels by Roberts, as well as under her pen name J.D. Robb, and organic coffee drinks. Several book signings with Roberts and other nationally known writers are held each year and draw hundreds to the area.
Gifts Inn BoonsBoro
16 N. Main St.
Adjacent to the bookstore, the shop is filled with fine-art drawings and photography, clever craft items and Mountaineer Brand beard-care products. Inn BoonsBoro-related items include bath salts and body sprays that correspond with each guest room’s signature scent.
Josie’s on Main
4 N. Main St.
It’s easy to lollygag in one of the town’s larger stores, which offers home decor, accessories and clothing. There are one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and earrings made from bottle caps, and handbags crafted from recycled saris.
The Robin’s Nest
103 N. Main St.
Interior designer Robin Spires opened this shop in August. Think of a small-town Anthropologie. “Vintage lockers are a hot commodity, as well as small side tables,” says Spires. Robin’s Nest classes, offered Thursday nights and Saturdays, cover subjects such as art journaling and digital photography.
Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House
3 S. Main St.
Top off the day with a DuClaw’s Imperial Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. The 34-beer selection has American craft drafts that include porters, stouts, lagers and pale ales. Aufdem-Brinke owns the place. Menu stars include burgers and the Tap House chicken sandwich with bourbon bacon, pesto aioli, lettuce, tomato and Gouda. That may be worth a drive all on its own.