If you’re looking for unique gifts, unique dining experiences, or you are just trying to get into the holiday spirit, try Ellicott City.
As the holiday shopping season gets going, Patch decided to put together a guide to local shops to help you make the most of your time here.
Parking in the Historic District is free through Jan. 1, and if you don’t know where to find parking, try using Parker – a smartphone app that will let you know where the available spaces are. There are also several parking lots in the Historic District, find them on the attached map.
Is there a local business you think shoppers should try for the holidays? Expand our guide by telling us about it in the comments section below.
Looking for toys?
Mumbles and Squeaks, 8133 Main Street
There are three reasons why Mumbles and Squeaks is a one-of-a-kind store, according to co-owner Ed Williams:
- Quality of product
- Customer service
- Unique merchandise you won’t find anywhere else
From Bananagrams in English, Spanish, French and Hebrew to plush Lamb Chop dolls to Schwings (wings for you shoes -- get it?) to science kits that offer hands-on building kits supplemented with online components, Mumbles and Squeaks is a toy wonderland.
“People think of us as traditional, but we’re on the cutting edge, too.”
Cutting edge doesn’t mean “electronic,” it means having those toys - real, tangible, hands-on things – that eventually muscle their way past video games to find a permanent spot in children’s hearts.
The Man Cave, 3715 Old Columbia Pike
Have a Magic the Gathering or HeroClix fan on your shopping list? A hot sauce addict? Comic book collector?
The Man Cave might be the place for all three.
This shop boasts a wall of role-playing game accessories, stands full of comic books and a room full of hot sauces (and they can special order thousands of additional brands).
All Time Toys, 8185 Main Street
Star Wars figurines? Check. Simpsons figurines? Check. Old School G.I. Joe figurines? Yep, they have those too at All Time Toys.
Collectors young and old will find something they've been looking for for "sooooooo long" at All Time Toys. And maybe find something they didn't even know they wanted.
For the budding or professional musician:
Mike's Music, 4872 Montgomery Road
Try out the ukuleles or bang on a drum – Mike’s Music is of a rare breed, a non-chain musical instrument store where you can pick up guitar picks, or have your violin tuned. And Mike’s offers music lessons for a variety of instruments, including voice.
For the holidays, Mike suggests you “Give the gift of music with a gift card for a month of music lessons,” how cool is that?
And from now until Dec. 21, the store is offering big savings on Fender and Squier guitars and amps.
For the hip homemaker:
Sweet Elizabeth Jane, 8125 Main Street
Located in the former Caplan’s Department Store – and with an updated version of the old sign to prove it – Sweet Elizabeth Jane offers all things kitschy and kitchen-y, including aprons. Dozens of styles of aprons.
“We just got a box in today,” owner Tammy Biedman said. “And baking tins shaped like gingerbread men.”
Biedman’s into the kitchen, but there are also bath accessories, boutique clothing lines and ornaments. “There’s a lot of sparkle,” employee Caitlin Mullett said of the ornaments. "And we have an amazing range of prices."
As for Ellicott City, she said it’s the place to be for the holidays. “We have a lot of holiday spirit” – from Midnight Madness to the holiday window decorating contest – “It’s like a Christmas wonderland here.”
Randy & Steve’s The New General Store, 8249 Main Street
Looking for fresh culinary herbs? Or just candles that smell like them? You'll find both at The New General Store as well as an assortment of kitchen and bath accessories.
Many of the store's offerings are local, so if you really want your gift to say "Ellicott City," this store is a must.
Gifts for the sake of giving
Work.Play.Bark. (Formerly Yuppy Puppy), 8104 Main Street
“Every dog needs their own antlers,” said Marc Lund of Work.Play.Bark. To the relief of some and the dismay of others, he wasn’t talking about costumes. “We have naturally shed deer and moose antlers,” they help keep dogs teeth clean and, Lund said “They last forever.”
Of course, Work.Play.Bark. does have clothes for your pets, as well as accessories, toys and just about anything else pet-related.
Even if you don’t have a dog, Lund suggests you check Ellicott City out this winter. “The holiday shopping experience is one that everyone should participate in. It’s unsurpassed.”
8020 Main Street
Shopping for the seasoned collector or just want to find a special artisan-produced gift? You're in luck.
The merchandise at Art & Artisan is carefully selected, says owner Karen Besson and mostly regionally sourced, combining "good design, beauty and functionality. In addition, we feature original artwork by area artists in various media."
There are a range of prices, too, so there's certain to be something for everyone.
The Wine Bin, 8390 Main Street
“The Wine Bin is a specialty wine boutique,” says owner Dave Carne. “We don’t have your average, run-of-the-mill wines – we have wines you can’t get anywhere else.”
This holiday season Carne suggests … a cheese board.
This year he is selling barrel stave cheese boards and, he said, “They’re breathtaking. They’re made from wine bins from a winery in Sonoma. It’s my favorite new item."
Of course, there’s the wine. The shop boasts 200 wines for less than $20 each. Overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Just ask the friendly staff. They’re one of the shop’s greatest offerings.
Keeping up appearances:
Wind River Inc., 8188 Main Street
Wind River is a nationwide clothing label, but you can only get these discounts in Ellicott City – an outlet location. And Jeni Porter says you can save an extra 50 to 70 percent during the holidays on these handmade clothes.
Adding to the holiday spirit? Bring canned goods with you to the store and save an additional 20 percent. The food will be donated to the St. John’s Church food bank, just up the street.
Salon Marielle, 8239 Main Street
Salon Marielle is Ellicott City's Aveda Concept Salon and Spa.
“Look good, feel good, do good with naturally derived sustainable plant based hair and skin care services and products,” writes Rachel Rawlings.
As for unique gifts? How about this: “Your holiday gift list has met its match with our Aveda gift sets beautifully wrapped in fair trade paper from Nepal.”
Don’t forget to eat
Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, 8308 Main Street
Patch reader Peter Edlan sums it up, short and to the point:
“German style beers brewed on premises. Lunch and dinner specials. Great atmosphere to take a break from shopping and enjoy a brew.”
Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant, 8293 Main Street
Patch readers love Tersiguel’s. See for yourself.
The restaurant, named the best romantic restaurant by readers, is known for its local, fresh ingredients. And for its Saucisse Grillée Alsacienne – house-made sausage served with warm potato salad. Mmm.
La Palapa Grill & Cantina, 8307 Main Street
La Palapa Grill & Cantina is a bit of Mexico in Ellicott City. According to the restaurant, it boasts "a distinctive Hacienda decor setting, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with exceptional prices, live Mariachi style music on weekends, and the real flavors of México."
The family owned and operated restaurant is a great place stop after shopping for dinner and a margarita.
Portalli's, 8085 Main Street
Patch reader Kristin Shields writes that Main Street is a wonderful place to spend the day and go shopping for friends and families. "The restaurants are amazing too," she wrote. "My favorite being Portalli's, a nice Italian restaurant with amazing food! Every time I go there I leave happy!"
Phoenix Emporium, 8049 Main Street
How thirsty are you? The Phoenix Emporium has a wide selection of beer - more than 100 varieties of local and imported beers, in fact. Drink 99 and get your name on a plaque.
The menu is extensive, too, and features some locally sourced foods and a variety of specials.
The Bean Hollow, 8059 Main Street
Need a little jolt to help you with all of this shopping? The smell of coffee roasted in-house might be enough to get you going, but you should really try this coffee.
Bean Hollow was voted the best coffee shop in Ellicott City by Patch readers, and in addition, offers a selection of over-sized pastries, sandwiches and other light fare.
One Dish Cuisine, 8001 Hillsborough Road
Nowhere in Ellicott City, nowhere in Howard County, nowhere in Maryland will you find a restaurant so dedicated to feeding everyone.
One Dish Cuisine is gluten-free and is sensitive to all food allergies with a color-coded menu that indicates items free of several ingredients, including soy, peanuts, casein, dairy, animal products and more.
Whether you're allergic, vegan or just plain hungry (the food is delicious), One Dish Cuisine is an Ellicott City gem.
“We spent so long not being able to eat with everyone else,” owner/head chef says. “Welcome back."