Bel Air is a small town packed with big things to do. From the annual Chocolate and Candy Festival and Independence Day Parade to admiring the fall foliage along Main Street, anytime is a good time to visit.
Located near Chesapeake Bay and a short drive northeast from Baltimore, Bel Air makes an ideal starting point for exploring all that Harford County offers.
From Then … To Now
Bel Air was born as “Scott’s Old Fields” in 1731, and in 1782, was crowned the seat of Harford County as the newly christened “Belle Aire.” The town was officially incorporated in 1874, and residents dropped those extra letters off the name in the early 1900s. The town has grown to more than 10,000 residents since 1980.
Bel Air is notably punctuated with exquisite Victorian architecture. In fact, Bel Air is home to 47 historic properties. The city’s historic walking and driving tour is the perfect way to step back in time for a look at past design and architecture.
Shopping and Dining
Bel Air also has something for the modern-minded tourist. New developments like the Boulevard at Box Hill beckon you to spend a day relaxing and shopping. This district is also your destination for fine food, with Asian cuisine at Lemon N Ginger or made-to-order casual fare at Wegmans Food Market. And if you want to work off the calories after eating, you can treat yourself to a virtual indoor cycling session at Harford County’s fitness boutique: True Cycling Studio.
The Air Is Fair
Harford County is a shift between subtropical and continental climates, meaning our weather is mild, with humid, warm summers and gradual transitions into winters of moderate snowfall. Our average temperature is 56 degrees, so you’ll be comfy in a light jacket most of the year.
Discover Natural and Manmade Wonders
From Susquehanna River out east all the way up to the Pennsylvania border, the land is pastoral and elegant, a serene retreat. Pack a picnic basket and drive through the rolling hills dotted with horse farms and orchards. Spend a day fruit picking, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, go for a hike in Rocks State Park just north of Bel Air.
Out in West Harford County, stroll through the Ladew Topiary Gardens, named by Architectural Digest as one of the “10 incredible topiary gardens around the world.” This is where Harvey S. Ladew (1887 to 1976) turned 22 acres of Maryland landscape into a masterpiece of 15 “garden rooms.”
Or travel back to the 1700s in Jerusalem Mill Village, the ideal backdrop for living history. Engage with guides for a lively discussion of how the mill and industry helped save the entire community.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
From modern retail establishments at Harford Mall, to one-of-a-kind gifting at quaint boutiques, the county offers anything you may need during your stay. In fact, the Bel Air Farmers’ Market is now in its fifth decade of service to seasoned shoppers with fresh produce, flowers and a variety of other commodities.
The Bel Air Festival of the Arts is a major cultural event, bringing together talented artists from all over the region. Artists, craftsmen and photographers gather at the annual rain-or-shine event to display their masterpieces in an impressive array of booths. Shop for family and friends while admiring innovative sculptures, repurposed musical instruments, aerial photos and more. Don’t forget to feast on the festival’s renowned fare of crab cakes and pit beef.
Like a Duck to Water in Havre de Grace
Once you set foot in this charming riverside village east of Bel Air, you’ll see right away why Southern Living named Havre de Grace the “Duckiest Town on the Chesapeake.” It even has a decoy museum near the corner where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Susquehanna.
In Havre de Grace, visit the Skipjack Martha Lewis, a Chesapeake Bay skipjack constructed in 1955 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. With the multitude of water-based activities hosted on the Chesapeake Bay, you won’t be able to resist getting your feet wet.
End your day watching the light of the Concord Point Lighthouse play off the rolling waves. Built in 1827, Concord Point offers breathtaking views of the much-beloved Susquehanna River and Upper Chesapeake Bay.
A Cozy Nest Where You Can Rest
The Vandiver Inn is a stunning Victorian bed and breakfast where you can rest after walking along the Susquehanna River. You’ll need your rest if you’re going to play your best at the Bulle Rock Golf Course, which hosted the LPGA Championship for several consecutive years. You won’t find a better way to spend a day in all of Maryland.
For the more adventurous tourist, explore Susquehanna State Park with a day of climbing and hiking. Then, settle down for a cool night under the stars. Be sure to visit the Steppingstone Farm Museum before you depart.
A Sporty Scene in Aberdeen
Can’t make it to Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Don’t worry: Aberdeen has you covered. A few miles west of lovely Havre de Grace, Aberdeen boasts a miniature version of its favorite son’s big league home.
Cal Ripken Jr. had the stadium built for the IronBirds baseball team, and the venue hosts the Cal Ripken World Series in August. Now that’s how an All-American city does the All-American pastime.
If baseball isn’t your catch, not to worry. The fox hunts, polo matches and steeplechase races in Aberdeen will keep you on the edge of your seat – or horse.
All the adventures and exploration in Harford will whet your appetite for Maryland’s more sumptuous fare. Go back to Bel Air and grab some quick nosh at the original Vagabond Sandwich Company. This quaint café boasts scrumptious recipes using locally sourced ingredients for the freshest taste imaginable.
For a romantic evening on the town, mosey down Main Street to One Eleven Main, a contemporary American restaurant whose seasonal dinners earn them rave reviews. Feast on upscale cuisine with dishes such as Prince Edward Island Mussels, Beef Carpaccio and Duck Confit Cassoulet.
Come and Stay as Long as You Like
Being within close proximity to Baltimore and on the way to D.C., it’s no wonder Harford County is growing so fast. So whether you’re in town visiting your loved one who’s in the Maryland Recovery program, or if you’re staying for an extended time while you receive treatment from us, you’ll find endless sources of awe and adventure during your down time. You may even find after a visit here that you may not want to leave. But that’s all right: We feel the same way. Hope to see you soon.