Situated between Baltimore and Washington, DC, Howard County is a hybrid of city and country, the county is a blend of pastoral farms and charming historic towns, along with communities that offer a vibrant visual and performing arts scene and prime shopping, golf and Howard County event venues within a few minutes of Baltimore Washington International Airport.
Howard County's largest city, Columbia, is a 10-minute drive from Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. In addition to taxi ($50) and Super Shuttle service ($28 for one passenger; $12 for each additional), public transit via rail and bus are available at low costs.
Meeting venues in Howard County vary widely, ranging from resorts and conference centers to top brand business hotels that are (again) just a stone's throw from BWI. The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute can accommodate large traditional meeting set-ups, as well as more specialized computer training meetings that can be held in its on-site computer lab. The Institute offers 232 guest rooms and 300,000 square feet of meeting space. Turf Valley, a former race horse breeding farm turned resort, sits on 1,000 acres and includes wooded trails and a golf course. The resort offers 171 rooms, 26 villas and 40,000 square feet of meeting space.
Hotel venues in Howard County include the 290-room Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, which sits on 12 wooded acres overlooking Lake Kittamaquandi and features 16,000 square feet of meeting space. Other options are the 280-room Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport, with 12,000 square feet of meeting space; the 171-room Holiday Inn Columbia, with 8,000 square feet of space; and the 152-room DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia, with 14,000 square feet of space.
Elegance and distinction, history and modern science can frame special events in Howard County. There are historic estates such as Belmont Manor & Historical Park, which can host up to 400 people; and Waverly Mansion, which can seat up to 100 inside and 200 in a tent on the grounds. Other historic options include the Great Room at Historic Savage Mill, which can host a banquet for 275, and B&O Railroad Museum Ellicott City Station, where up to 80 people can enjoy a party inside the oldest railroad station in America. At Robinson Nature Center, one of the few LEED platinum buildings open to the public, an event for up to 400 can be held among interactive and multi-sensory exhibits.
Howard County's vibrant dining scene includes many independent restaurants. In Columbia, AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar serves classic Italian, but also non-traditional entrees and small plates; the Victoria Gastro Pub menu features innovative twists on classic pub fare; and Ale House Columbia offers more than 50 craft beers with its housemade fare. For award-winning food in an historic setting, there are The Kings Contrivance and Elkridge Furnace Inn. In Ellicott City, Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, in the historic district, is known for its wild game, and Shanty Grille specializes in fresh seafood prepared in the Maryland tradition.