Carroll Creek Park. Central Park. The Weinberg Center for the Arts. Broadway. Market Street. Times Square. The Frederick News-Post. The New York Times.
Frederick has, in moderation, everything New York has. And with less stench.
But there's one thing this island has that Maryland can never claim (aside from cultural diversity and real bagels): The Hamptons.
The summertime seaside resort favorite of the wealthy is simply a group of hamlets which form the south fork of Long Island. And boast some of the most pricey residential properties in the country.
Since we're not Gossip Girl socialites or the sons and daughters of Revenge's rich and infamous, most never have the opportunity or reason to venture to the summer colony.
But take my word for it: A trip to the Hamptons is like pulling a gift out from under the heavily decorated Christmas tree (yes, I'm Jewish; just bear with the metaphor) and unwrapping it slowly — ribbon-bow first, then each corner of the perfectly folded paper — before realizing that the box holds the very things dreams are made of. Dreams you never knew you had.
My first visit to the sandy beaches of the Hamptons came exactly a year before my second trip (give or take one day). It was the lucky side effect of living in a city frequented by my uncle — a former New Yorker and hanger-on of his long-time friends. One of whom happens to own a spot of realty about an hour and 40 minutes due east of the city.
There was a birthday party planned. The big 1-5. For my uncle's (let's call him Barry) friend's (let's call him Bill) daughter (let's call her Bill's daughter). Rain forecasts forced the Saturday festivities to be postponed until the next day's sunnier skies.
Still, my dad, Barry, and I made the sub-two-hour trip to see Bill and the family. And the Hamptons. Because the white arenaceous beaches and lapping waves — not to mention the sprawling architecture — require their own attention.
Even under Saturday's desolate skies, the world seasonally inhabited by the other 1 percent was a sight to behold. We stood on the stairs leading from Bill's under-construction main house directly to the sand, seaweed, and shells below, and stared in awe. At least I did, in between Instagramming photos of my impressive day.
As the day brightened, we ate, talked, suffered a minor tennis injury (on Bill's personal court — we coulda sued for millions!), then talked and ate some more. Before heading back to the city, ocean views became a little more clear, as the day's fog lifted and we were able to catch a quick glimpse of the true upscale beach bum lifestyle.
But this year marked Sweet 16. The coming-of-age age when teenage girls flaunt their bikini bodies and pubescent boys' farmer's tans run rampant. And who's cooler than the chick with the beach-side, hot-tub-adjacent abode whose parents are willing to invite 20 high schoolers to trash their pool house?
The answer: No one.
So, for the second time, I tagged along with my uncle to the Hamptons on a mid-August Saturday, this time under the conviction of the shining sun and rising temperatures. There before us was the clear blue water, the dozens of locals hiding under umbrellas in the sand.
The open pool — which was, last I saw it a year before, covered by a tarp heavy with rainwater — now home to a bobbing swan float and poolside basketball net (which serves as a sore spot for my uncle). Ping-pong. Burgers. Swimsuits. Sunburns. Finally — the Hamptons of the rich and famous.
Catoctin Iron Furnace. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Frederick Film Festival. TriBeCa Film Festival. Moderation, my friends. But there's no substitute for the Hamptons.
Stephanie Mlot writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.