This is the fifth in a series of posts that are a tour of Howard County, designed with the idea that people new to the county can learn best by actually driving the roads. Click here for the explanation and other tours. Check out the links below to see my prior posts about
restaurants and markets on the route, then take a weekend drive. Or flip over to the "What I Learned" series.
This is a winding drive aimed to help a newcomer -- or maybe a not-so-new comer -- connect the major east-west routes through Columbia. There is little great food on Rte 32 or Rte 175, so you need to swerve among shopping centers on Snowden River, Dobbin and the other roads that connect one of Columbia's major commercial areas.
- Start on Rte 29 and take Exit 17 towards the east on Seneca Drive. (This is an exit north of Rte 32.) Immediately, turn RIGHT on Shaker Drive.
- Drive south on Shaker and look to the left for a shopping center with a post office and the Touche Touchet Bakery. Grab some coffee and something sweet. Maybe a cupcake?
- Return to Shaker Drive and turn LEFT to continue the way you were going. The road curves around, then crosses over Rte 32. At that point, it changes name to Eden Brook Drive.
- Notice -- but go through -- the first light after Rte 32. That intersection is Old Columbia Road. If you turn right, Old Columbia curves around, crosses a one-lane bridge and eventually deadends in Gorman Road -- part of the "South County" leg of this tour.
- Go through the second traffic light at Guilford Road. Then turn LEFT into the King's Contrivance Village Center. Park and stretch your legs.
- The Harris Teeter is obvious. (Consider the exotic fruit.) Walk into the village center, and you'll find a quiet spot with a summertime fountain to enjoy frozen custard at Rita's, a bagel from the Bagel Bin, or pizza at Trattoria E Pizzeria Da Enrico. King's Contrivance also has a restaurant / bar Michael's Pub that I have not tried yet, and the center's Web site says there is a Burrito Brothers, which I never noticed before.
- Go back to your car and exit the way that you entered. Turn RIGHT on Eden Brook, then RIGHT at the light onto Guilford Road.
- Turn LEFT onto Broken Land Parkway. Broken Land starts at Guilford, so you can only turn left. Cross over Rte 32 and notice the commuter bus parking on the right.
- Turn RIGHT at the light for Snowden River Parkway. Then drive for a while. You're passing all kinds of good food on the left, but we'll loop back.
- Turn LEFT at the light for Oakland Mills Road. Then turn RIGHT into the first shopping center. Turn RIGHT again from the main driveway, and you'll see Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery in an building that faces Oakland Mills. Stop for great sandwiches and bread. This center also has a Ledo's Pizza, a bike store facing Snowden, and a bird feeding store tucked at the end across the parking lot from Bon Fresco.
- Return to Oakland Mills Road and turn RIGHT to continue the way you were going. If you want a summertime treat, check out the detour below to Pete's Snowball Stand.
- Turn RIGHT at the traffic light for Dobbin Road.
- Look left for Oh, What A Cake bakery in a little shopping center with a big sign for Dobbin Pizza. Turn LEFT into the center and try another cupcake.
- Go back to your car and turn LEFT to continue on Dobbin Road.
- Turn RIGHT at the first traffic light on McGaw Road and then turn LEFT just before the APL Credit Union into the shopping center with India Delight, Cha Ya Thai, Smoothie King, The Greene Turtle and Cheeburger, Cheeburger. Walk around for menus.
- Go back to your car and turn LEFT to continue on McGaw Road. Just go down a little way. On the right, that construction is the site of the planned Wegman's. On the left is Apple Ford. The light in front of you is Snowden River. If you went to that light and turned right, you would be at the Home Depot. U-TURN on McGaw and return to Dobbin Road.
- Turn RIGHT on Dobbin Road. On the right, you'll see a shopping center up above the road. You'll also see a sign for "County Offices" and a street sign that says "Stanford Blvd."
- Turn RIGHT at the Stanford Blvd. sign and turn into the shopping center. This is a bonanza -- coffee at Riverside Coffee, great beer and southwestern food at Frisco Grille, sushi at Hanamura, Asian noodles at Noodles Corner, and beer, pizza and more at Pub Dog.
- Return to Dobbin Road. Turn RIGHT. At the next traffic light, turn LEFT into the shopping center with a DMV. Once you pull in, look to the left, and you'll see two of my favorites: Sushi King and Lily's Mexican Market. Definitely get out and check out the market for take-out tacos, horchata, cactus, store-made tortillas, the butcher, and more.
- Return to Dobbin Road. I hear Five Guys is coming to the former Party Party store next to the Blockbuster right in front of you. But, for now, turn LEFT on Dobbin.
- Turn RIGHT at the next light into the Wal-Mart shopping center and then take the immediate LEFT next to McDonald's. Past McDonald's, look on the left for Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok -- a pair of great Indian restaurants. Mrs. HowChow's favorite Chik-fil-A is there as well.
- Return to Dobbin Road. Notice the Starbucks across the street. Turn RIGHT on Dobbin. Cross Rte 175 and just follow Dobbin. On your right, you pass the back of the Target. On the left, you pass a shopping center with a Chipotle and then a Red Robin and Longhorn Steakhouse.
- Dobbin deadends into Snowden River Parkway. If you turn left, you'll go past the closed Krispy Kreme and then Victoria's Gastropub at Rte 108 -- which was the first tour in this series. Turn RIGHT on Snowden River. Cross back under Rte 175.
- Just after the underpass, turn LEFT into the entrance ramp for Rte 175. Stay in the right lane and don't get on Rte 175. Instead, BEAR RIGHT onto Columbia Gateway Drive. This road is a loop so you actually turn RIGHT onto Columbia Gateway Drive, then turn RIGHT into a shopping center with Aida Bistro for upscale Italian. (Thanks to anonymous who suggested this detour in the comments. Please check this set of directions because I'm writing it from a map, not experience.)
- Return to Columbia Gateway from the shopping center. Turn RIGHT to continue the way that you had been going. Then turn RIGHT onto Robert Fulton Drive. This runs next to the movie theater and Home Depot. Follow the signs for Snowden River SOUTH, which will take you under Snowden and then curving up a ramp.
- You have entered Snowden just south of Apple Ford, the future Wegman's, and Home Depot. Pass through the light at Oakland Mills Boulevard.
- Turn RIGHT into the next shopping center. The NY Deli on the corner is new. The House of India is one of Columbia's best restaurants.
- Return to Snowden River southbound. Then turn RIGHT into the next shopping center -- with a Mattress Warehouse on the end. This one includes the new Azul 17 Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Lounge along with Akbar's for Indian, Nichi Bei Kai for Japanese, and Pho Dat Trahn for Vietnamese.
- Return to Snowden River. Turn RIGHT. Then turn RIGHT at the light onto Carved Stone Road. There is a Three Brothers Italian restaurant on that corner. A block ahead is the red roof of Hunan Manor, a Columbia institution for Chinese.
- And once more, return to Snowden River. Turn RIGHT. Then turn RIGHT at the light with a KFC. Go to the shopping center on the right up the hill, and you'll find An Loi for Vietnamese.
- Return to Snowden River. Turn RIGHT. Then turn RIGHT when Snowden deadends into Broken Land, then RIGHT onto Cradlerock Way. On the left will be the Owen Mills village center with Sonoma's Bar & Grille, a nice bar and restaurant with live music. (Thanks to the anonymous comment for reminding me.) If you had kept going on Cradlerock and turned right on Homespun Lane, you would hit Oakland Mills Road just north of Dobbin.)
- To find your way home, return to Broken Land. A right takes you to Rte 29. A left takes you to Rte 32.
There is one bonus detour if you're driving in the summer heat. At Step 9, just keep going on Oakland Mills. Eventually, you'll hit a point where your road deadends. Oakland Mills actually turns to the left, but the house right in front of you is Pete's Snowball Stand -- great for snowballs and sometimes honey and fruit grown right there. You turn right and then immediately into the driveway. Check out Hayduke's map here.