LEONARDTOWN, Md. — Many people turned out early Friday morning for Fox 5’s Zip Trip which featured Leonardtown, the county seat of St. Mary’s County. The Town of Leonardtown has been growing and improving even during the pandemic.

Fox 5’s reporters, Wisdom Martin and Marissa Mitchell, accompanied by meteorologist Tucker Barnes and news crew, descended upon the town of Leonardtown around 5:00 a.m. this morning to highlight the area as part of their Zip Tour. The Zip Tour is part of the weekly Friday series that highlights the best spots around the DC region.

The news crew set up at Leonardtown Square-just up the hill from the waterfront area at Leonardtown Wharf. The waterfront area has boat tie-ups, a canoe/kayak launch, and rentals (kayak and SUP rentals available through Patuxent Adventure Center at Port of Leonardtown Park).

Three new businesses, Antoinette’s Garden, Il Piccolo Morso, and The Fenwick Inn, along with a new hotel, The Inn at Leonardtown, opened up in downtown Leonardtown during the height of the COVID pandemic and were featured on FOX 5 this morning.

Reporter Wisdom Martin showcased the five “Must Stops in Leonardtown.” That list is as follows:

#5 The Fenwick Inn
The Fenwick Inn is a historic house located on Fenwick Street, just off the square in Leonardtown which formed into an event venue with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces and a great place for weddings, birthday parties. It was also the first stop of this year’s 21st Potomac Jazz and Seafood Festival which takes place every second weekend of July in Leonardtown.

#4 The Old Jail Museum and Leonardtown Visitor’s Center
It was built in 1876 and was in use until 1945. It highlights one of the oldest sheriff’s offices in the nation. Get a glimpse into St. Mary’s County’s past by touring historic jail cells and hearing stories of recaptured freedom seekers on the underground railroad. The site also features the Leonardtown Visitor Center and a Museum Store. The Moll Dyer Rock, which was located at the Old Jail Museum until February 2021, recently moved to a permanent home in front of Tudor Hall– a historic home and current location of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society. The famous rock is just a three-minute walk from the Old Jail Museum.

#3 Shepherd’s Old Field Market
SOF Market is a unique two-story mini-mall with over 70 small businesses under one roof. They have everything from artwork and clothes to handcrafted items such as jewelry and candles. Check out several services including the indoor/outdoor beer garden, Brudergarten, with local craft beer on tap, as well as artisan wines, creative cocktails, and delicious snacks-such as crab pretzels and oysters Rockefeller, a barbershop as well as an ice cream shop. Enjoy fun activities and events for all ages.

#2 The Inn at Leonardtown
This boutique hotel is a perfect retreat for your next getaway to beautiful St. Mary’s County. It’s the only hotel located downtown in walkable distance to the Leonardtown Wharf and historic Leonardtown Square. The Inn at Leonardtown also features a trolley. The trolley is usually contracted through a group, but tomorrow, Saturday, July 31, the trolley will be complementary and will run every hour (between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Pickups and dropoffs will be at The Inn at Leonardtown, Shepherd’s Old Field Market, and The Leonardtown Wharf.

#1 Port of Leonardtown Winery
The Port of Leonardtown Winery is home to one of the only cooperative wineries in the country. Established in 2010, the winery produces several award-winning wines from 12 different vineyards in Southern Maryland. They offer wine tastings, slushies, wine by the glass or bottle, and live music on weekends throughout the summer.

FOX 5 reporter, Marissa Mitchell, spoke with Rochelle Jackson, owner of Antoinette’s Garden Wine and Coffee Cafe located on the square in Leonardtown. Rochelle talked about the signature drink, “Antoinette’s Explosion”. She called the Explosion her “oops” drink because she created it accidentally by mixing a variety of flavors of moonshine. It worked, and the drink is wildly popular.

Antoinette’s Garden opened in May 2020 and with the support of the community has been doing very well. Antoinette’s Garden sits adjacent to Sweet Bay Restaurant and is just across the street from The Rex. All three businesses have a large area for outdoor seating. The Rex had live music playing throughout the morning while the news crew was present, and visitors flocked to the town square to be a part of the event.

Marissa Mitchell, from FOX 5, also interviewed Silvia Chance, one of the owners of the new restaurant in town, Il Piccolo Morso, and the general manager of the restaurant, Chris Parque.

Chris said they “wanted to create an Italian restaurant in Leonardtown that combined fine dining with a family feel”. Chef Brian Tate introduced a few of the restaurant’s delicious entrees. In addition to authentic Italian food, the restaurant also has an extensive wine list and several signature drinks.

St. Mary’s Ryken High School rising junior, Sydnie Collins was Fox 5’s junior reporter this week. Sydnie is a student leader, an honor roll student, a dancer with The Washington Ballet, as well as a podcast host.

In her podcast, Perfect Timing, Sydnie focuses on leadership, mental health, and self-confidence. Sydnie’s advice to young people is, “To never fear failure, but be terrified by regret.” Sydnie said that creating her podcast has made her aspire to be a journalist. She asked Fox 5’s reporter, Marissa Mitchell, what advice she would give to young women aspiring to have a career in journalism. Marissa’s advice to Sydnie was to, “Own all of who you are and be your authentic self”.

The Clement’s Cuties Foundation represented their non-profit group-which raises awareness for childhood cancers, supports children with severe illnesses, and provides financial assistance to families affected by such.

Former Leonardtown Mayor, Mayor Harry “Chip” Norris, was recognized by FOX 5 and Lafayette Federal Credit Union as our Hometown Hero during the Zip Trip. Norris was mayor in 1995. He was inspired on a Sunday drive after church when he noticed 14 vacant buildings in Leonardtown. He ran for mayor when former Governor Parris Glendening was in office.

Glendening had a small town Growth Plan in place and Norris tapped into that program and helped implement that plan into the town of Leonardtown. That was the start of a revitalization program that helped make Leonardtown the beautiful place it is today. Norris said, “Leonardtown is a great place to live”, and “I’m so happy to see the town thriving again”.

In addition to Norris being recognized, FOX 5 also recognized the local women and men who serve the community as part of First Responder Friday. The Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a check for $3800. The funds will be used to help purchase equipment and for continuing to provide services to continue to help the community.

Dr. Maureen Murphy, President of the College of Southern Maryland, talked to Fox 5 reporter Wisdom Martin about what the school has to offer. They have four campuses in three counties, including one right down the street from Leonardtown Square, and they serve approximately 20,000 students every year. 

She said that CSM ”is the most important economic engine in Southern Maryland. 90% of our graduates stay here in Southern Maryland. They stay here, raise their families here, work here.”

She added that she recognizes that, “this has been a challenging time for many families, but the College of Southern Maryland has many scholarships available and they are prepared to help every student as they walk through the door”.

The morning concluded around 11 a.m. when James Dove, a chef at Olde Town Pub(OTP), treated the Fox 5 news team to a variety of the pub’s signature wings and onion rings in addition to their seasonal lobster rolls. OTP owner, John MacDonald, said that after 13 years of being in business in Leonardtown, the business is expanding once again to accommodate the demand for more outdoor seating. The latest addition will add room for approximately 68 more patrons and should be ready by mid to late August.