Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert Counties

I've been trying to explore more of our local area.  I really love Southern Maryland... it's spread out like farm lands and parks tend to be, but still has that cozy feel.  I might be new and naive, but thus far I am thoroughly enjoying this community.  Josh and I dropped Noah off for a field trip on Friday and then we were off to explore!  The only downside was the still freezing temperatures.  We started at our local Charles County bakery and cafe in La Plata (pronounced "la play tuh" which drives me nuts) THE Charles Street Bakery and I noticed a photo in there this time of the owner with Laura Bush and a cake that said "Happy Birthday Laura"... daaaaang!  Of course I can't find a picture of it anywhere on their site.  After our delicious pastries were safely nestled in our bellies full of caffeinated glory, we decided our next stop would be Leonardtown in nearby St. Mary's County.

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It was still really early so nothing was quite open yet... except their coffee shop cleverly named The Brewing Grounds which is conveniently located near the used book store we really wanted to tour.  I was good and got looseleaf green tea and it was delicious.  We hung out there for a bit and then went across the way to Fenwick Street Used Books & Music.

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We were barely able to scratch the surface of this fantastic shop.  Books books everywhere!  There were mazes of books, walls of books, alleys of books, cul de sacs of books... and some DVD's haha.  Unfortunately the children's section was pretty tiny so there was little we could do to appease the kiddos.  Plus we didn't have any money to spend anyway.  We left Leonardtown to parts unknown... then we saw a sign for Cecil's Mill.  Cool!

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Cecil's Mill is an actual old mill that has been turned into an arts and crafts haven run by an artisans co-op.  The co-op also runs the store across the street.  

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There are rusted chunks of history still laying around in conspicuous locations and a DVD that explains it all.  It is awesome.  We happened to arrive at the perfect time because they were doing a "take-away" craft for Easter with kids so Brennan and Tristan got in on the fun as well.  All the women we met there were friendly and funny and we had a great time chatting for at least an hour.

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We were given a great deal of valuable information about upcoming events and left with quite a few business cards.  We headed out across the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge up to Calvert County.  The view was spectacular!

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Again we didn't quite have a destination.  We did some aimless wandering for a bit, tried to go to a few seafood places which weren't open for the season yet.  We finally had lunch and then we saw another sign to follow.  

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We arrived at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center and were immediately impressed.  The building was a work of art and the natural light flowing throughout was not an accident.  The center features local artists from southern Maryland (none from Charles County yet... hmmm).  I never feel right taking pictures of other people's artwork so I only snapped one inside to show Noah all the origami cranes.

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We were strapped for time so we only got to walk about half of the garden.  There were little surprises around every corner.  You had to look all around you, including up and down.  They even had a scavenger hunt for kids.  

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This is going to be a place we revisit.  I especially loved the art room inside that was closed at the time.  I want to get my kids in there to make some magic!!  They host birthday parties :)  We can't wait to explore more of Southern Maryland.  The more we encounter, the more enjoyment we find.
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