We didn’t really know what to expect from Maryland.
Our route to Rhode Island and our Islands of New England cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures went through Maryland and, because we like to travel leisurely when we are on car trips and because like to stop at lovely, interesting, local hotels and resorts, we decided to stop at Turf Valley.
We are so glad we did.
Because it made us realize that Maryland is perfectly wonderful.
Turf Valley is owned and run by the Mangione family – literally the entire family. During our visit, the Nick Mangione Italian Classic golf tournament was being held as the resort has two of the most beautiful golf courses in Maryland and we were introduced to several generations of the Mangione family, from the youngest to the oldest who work in everything from the kitchen to public relations for the resort.
Turf Valley was originally a thoroughbred horse farm and we really felt at home since the area strongly resembles the blue grass country of our home in Lexington, Kentucky. The Mangione family purchased Turf Valley in 1978 when it was just a quiet golf country club and proceeded to expand it into the luxury resort it has become. Spread out over 1,000 acres, the resort features two championship 18 hole golf courses, two swimming pools, three tennis courts, a fabulous spa, and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It’s a very popular spot for all kinds of events of all sizes, including weddings.
The resort is very close to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C.(in fact, the area is technically considered part of the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan area) and we were really tempted to take a day at one of these locations but we just too busy at Turf Valley and nearby, charming Ellicott City.
When we pulled into Turf Valley, we were immediately impressed. A pond with two lovely swans graces the entrance and provides the perfect introduction to this idyllic location.
We checked in and went up to our Executive King room which was incredibly nice. In some hotels, this would be considered a suite and we definitely appreciated all the room. There was a large sitting area with a couch and a very comfy chair and ottoman which I utilized extensively for relaxing and reading. Here’s the basic layout but it also included extra amenities like a Keurig coffee maker, a little kitchenette with a fridge, microwave and sink, and a great flat screen television.
Not only was our room beautiful and comfy, we had an amazing view of one of their famous golf courses.
They have plenty of other rooms and suites, including one and two bedroom suites which would be perfect for a family or a girlfriends getaway. They also have some lovely villas available for longer stays. After we had sufficiently enjoyed our room, we headed down to the lobby to meet Regina Ford, who has been in charge of Public Relations for 35 years. Yep, 35 years. This just shows what a great place it is and how wonderful the Mangione family is to work for. Regina is truly one of the nicest PR people we have worked with on our many travels and she went out of her way to make sure we had a great time, arranging meals and a spa visit and even driving us around the area so we could fully appreciate it. Even though we were halfway in love with the place already, Regina’s friendly assistance made us fall hard the rest of the way.
Turf Valley is technically located in the tiny, historical town of Ellicott City but the downtown area is a short drive from the resort and is well worth a visit. We didn’t have nearly enough time to see the town and I would love to go back with some girlfriends as there were lots of interesting little shops lining the main street, including Sweet Cascades, a candy store that had us salivating at the sight of all the handmade candies.
But we had to make a stop at the Visitor Center first as it was located in a completely charming old building. Ellicott City is a great tourist destination, with shopping, dining, and sightseeing. It’s definitely a place to spend more than the two days we had allotted.
The downtown area is literally tucked into the side of a mountain and you can see great hunks of it as you stroll the main street.
The original buildings have been revitalized and turned into a variety of shops and restaurants which attract lots of tourists.
One of the most interesting places to visit in Ellicott City is the B & O Museum which celebrates the railroading history of the area. Even though they were technically closing, they were kind enough to allow us a quick peek and even showed us around the museum although I’m sure they were ready to go home.
With lots of exhibits, model trains, and full size trains, it’s a great place for families.
We loved little Ellicott City and wanted to stay longer but we had arrived late in the day and it was time to head back to Turf Valley for dinner at Alexandra’s Restaurant. Located right of the lobby with an open and airy feel, the restaurant also has a large, shaded patio with a great view of the golf course.
We had a wonderful dinner here as well as breakfast, which was equally delicious. They have an extensive menu but I decided on something fairly simple and ordered the filet mignon with steak frites. My steak was perfectly prepared and it was the perfect choice. Chef Russell K. Svoboda does a Modern American Fusion featuring fresh and local, ingredients (which we really love at a restaurant) which are prepared simply with a culinary mastery that we really appreciated.
I didn’t need dessert but after I noticed a cannoli on the menu, I had to order one. And it was awesome.
After a great nights sleep in our lovely room, we had a full day planned and had to be back to the resort by 3:00 for my spa appointment (high priority!) so we met Regina in the lobby and she proceeded to show us some of the area, her love for the area quite evident in her tour guide skills. She took us to Savage Mill which is truly and fascinating place – I was just frustrated that I didn’t have an entire day to shop! Originally a working textile mill making canvas used mostly for ship sails from 1822 – 1947, this historic mill and outbuildings has been converted into charming shops and restaurants. With the original flooring in many areas and charming little nooks and corners that were part of the original mill, its a great place to spend a day.
Regina took us to lunch where she had a deep fried soft shell crab sandwich and we had something entirely different, which was a huge mistake. Not that our food was not delicious because it was but once we tasted a bite of her sandwich, we realized we should have tried the crab as well. The idea of frying an entire crab and eating it was so alien to us that we could not imagine it would be good but its wonderful! Soft shell blue crabs are only in season for a very short time and we just happened to be in Maryland during that time. We will definitely have to go back. She was appalled to find that we knew nothing about Maryland crabs and immediately made a reservation for that night so we could sample steamed blue crabs. Which we did. And we liked them but it is certainly a lot of work!
But in between lunch and dinner, we had a very important reason to get back to the resort – my spa appointment! The Turf Valley Spa is a lovely place with a wonderful lounge area which looks out over the beautiful property.
I relaxed in the lounge area for a while, which was perfect after our long day, then had an amazing massage which could not have been more perfect. I was almost too lazy to head to the restaurant but we felt an obligation to try those crabs! It was a rainy evening but Regina has thoughtfully left an umbrella for us at the front desk (that’s service for you!) and we made it to the restaurant and back to our cozy room with no problem. We were very sad to leave in the morning since we felt there was so much to see and do in the area – just another place to add to our list of locations we want to visit again!
Here’s a really interesting video about the history of Turf Valley that also lets you appreciate the beauty of the place. Now make your reservation!
Full disclosure: Our stay was provided by the Turf Valley but as always, we will share our honest opinions about any travel experiences we have.Pin It