By Charlotte Sturm, Host Committee Member
You might be wondering, with all of the amazing things on offer in Washington, D.C., why would you ever bother exploring the District’s surrounding areas. Well, let me try to convince you by telling you a little bit about all of the things you can see and do (and eat!) in College Park MD, one of DC’s many flourishing suburban communities. Most destinations mentioned in this blog post are Metro accessible from the College Park_U of Md Metro Station (Green Line), but they do require a bit of walking.
The College Park Aviation Museum is within easy walking distance of the College Park-U of Md Metro Station. Co-located with the College Park Airport, the Museum is the site of America’s first military flight school. Exhibit areas focus first on the military history of aviation in College Park; museum visitors then move through other exhibit areas which highlight the early history of air mail service, the exploits of daring early aviators, and the achievements of innovative aircraft inventors, designers, and engineers. The museum also examines aviation from social history and local history perspectives in featured exhibits such as Over Here & Over There: Aviation & Prince George’s County During World War I.Another exhibit, The Plane of Tomorrow, Today! delves into the personal aircraft craze of the post-World War II era, with a specific focus on the manufacturing and marketing history of the Ercoupe, a personal use aircraft manufactured in Riverdale MD, just south of College Park. Museum visitors can see both a full Ercoupe and a cutaway view of the plane. Interspersed throughout the exhibits are features on women aviators, and a multi-panel exhibit on the mezzanine level highlights the first African Americans to operate a licensed airport in Maryland, the Columbia Air Center. The Museum is a great destination for kids too, offering plenty of interactive areas to try flight simulators, dress up as aviators, and climb around in 2 different aircrafts.
Grab a quick snack or a full meal at one of the four new eateries at The Hotel at the University of Maryland, located about a mile from the College Park-U of Md Metro Station. Bagels ‘n Grinds offers tasty bagels and other baked goods, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Potomac Pizza serves up pizza, sandwiches, subs, wraps, calzones, and Italian fare. For those with more time to spare at meal time (and more to spend), the Old Maryland Grill (with the very clever acronym OMG) creates Maryland-inspired dishes using fresh and regionally-sourced ingredients. Seafood offerings feature prominently on the lunch and dinner menus, including a well-stocked raw bar, and adult beverage choices showcase local beers, wines, and spirits. The small plates of delectable Mediterranean foods at Kapnos Taverna allow diners to sample and share a variety of dishes without filling up on just one thing. The dolmades, bifteki, and roasted salmon are all highly recommended. The sampler of three spreads with flatbread is a great starter, sure to please everyone at your table.
Across the street from The Hotel is the University of Maryland itself. Take a stroll around the beautiful campus, full of stately brick buildings thoughtfully intermixed with more modern glass, concrete, and steel structures. With its long fountain surrounded by academic building and leafy trees, McKeldin Mall is a serene place for a brief respite. Hornbake Library, home to the University Archives and Special Collections, will be hosting SAA attendees on Wednesday evening for a tour of the George Meany Labor History Archives. Tucked away outside of Stamp Student Union is a charming statue of University of Maryland alumnus Jim Henson in conversation with his most famous creation, Kermit the Frog. And various incarnations of Testudo, UMD’s terrapin mascot, can be found in statue form across campus; rub the nose of one of the bronze Testudo statues for good luck!For those willing to wander further afield and those seeking a bit of nature, a visit to Lake Artemesia in nearby Berwyn Heights will fit the bill. The walking trail around the man-made lake is an easy walk or bike ride for all, and you might see finches, orioles, ibis, and other birds while on the Luther Goldman Birding Trail. Other walking and biking trails in the College Park area, including the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail (formerly known as the College Park Trolley Trail) and the Paint Branch Trail and Northeast Branch Trail (both of which are segments of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System) are all lovely routes for some outdoor explorations.
With so much to see and do in College Park and its surrounding areas, we do hope you’ll make time for a visit. When you return to the conference in DC, share your fun experiences and perhaps your newfound appreciation for the oft-maligned suburbs with your friends and colleagues so they can plan a play date in College Park too.