Upper Marlboro: Rural Appeal Just a Short Drive From the City
Upper Marlboro, Md., is the county seat of Prince George’s County. As of July 1, 2009, Upper Marlboro had a population of just 667, but according to the 2006-08 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimate, Greater Upper Marlboro registered a population of 21,572. If you choose to rent an apartment in Upper Marlboro, you’ll find that you’re only about 19 miles from downtown Washington, D.C., so a commute to the big city is well within reason, and if you give yourself time, it’s pretty easy. Just jump on Route 4, which takes you to the I-495 Capital Beltway and turns into Pennsylvania Avenue once you get into the city. Talk about a straight shot.
I remember seeing the second, ballyhooed HFStival in Upper Marlboro back in 1992 at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center. It was hot, rainy, and my friend Casey was there with his thick cloud of “Gene Simmons-meets-Jim Reid, circa 1985” coif … that’s about all I remember. Well, that and some sexy, halter-topped chick with this dork who made me curse my existence. At least that year I didn’t break down in the Fort McHenry Tunnel, but that’s another story …
Now, if you’re like me, the first thing that came to mind upon seeing the words “Upper Marlboro” was an image of a manly man sporting a sub-cookie duster mustache, leathery tan skin and even more leathery rawhide everything else. Alas, Upper Marlboro isn’t named after Marlboro cigarettes. Now you’ve gone and done it, town! You’ve got me singing that annoying Paula Cole song! Don’t get so huffy; it could’ve been Paula Dean covering the Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in Georgia” … wait a second. You’re going to force me to take up smoking at this rate. But alas, my neurons and sensory engrams have nothing to do with the county seat of Prince George’s County, so we’re putting all these misty, water-colored memories in the review where they belong in order to concentrate on what Upper Marlboro offers you, the renter, today.
A town with roots all the way back to 1695 (it was actually named after the first Duke of Marlborough – mystery solved), Upper Marlboro is also the birthplace of John Carroll, the first Catholic Archbishop in the U.S., as well as his brother Daniel, signer of the U.S. Constitution. OK, OK, no more going back in time, but at least that wandering had substance. Greater Upper Marlboro is pretty spread out, and as such it has some parks. Among them is Patuxent River Park, where you can camp, hike, bike and boat. Also on hand are the Patuxent Rural Life Museums, a collection of museums and late-19th/early-20th-century buildings dedicated to preserving southern Prince George’s County’s rural heritage. Another place to play in the sun is Robert M. Watkins Regional Park. Here, you can camp, play sports (basketball, football, soccer, archery, tennis under lights), hike, go on a picnic and even rent a garden plot. It also houses Watkins Nature Center, which features indoor and outdoor ponds, a squirrel gym, a songbird feeding area and many family programs.
While not exactly a hotbed of mercantile activity, Greater Upper Marlboro is home to two Food Lions, two Safeways and a Giant (with yet another Food Lion right down the road from the Safeway store at 50 Watkins Park Drive; this third feline is technically located in Mitchellville). The good thing about the automobile is we can not only use it to break down in the Fort McHenry Tunnel while going to see modern rock bands and proto-punk legends, but we can also use it to haul a little you-know-what when we jump on the great highways of Prince George’s County in search of more shopping options. And with the I-495 Capital Beltway only about seven miles away from Upper Marlboro proper, you and that car of yours can indeed find shopping paradise in the greater Washington area.
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