If you’re single, you’re in the right place.

STORY BY Beth Rubin

We don’t need a government study to tell us that there are just as many singles as married people in the U.S. Or that the face of America’s family has changed markedly
since our parents and grandparents ruled the roost. Look around your Zumba class,
supermarket or favorite eatery and you will see an increasing number of independent professional women who choose to call singles-friendly Howard County home.alone-time1

By day, Bridget Graham manages the Howard County Welcome Center in downtown Ellicott City. When she leaves the office, she doesn’t head home to do laundry. The Howard County native frequently meets up with friends — for wine and fellowship, for dinner in a local restaurant, to wield a paint brush or to work up a sweat in a fitness class.

Sharing drinks, good food and conversation top her list of self-nurturing ways to unwind at day’s end. For an easy night out with little advance planning, she and her friends might congregate at a local watering hole for a sundowner because “it’s easy,” she says. At the monthly Girls Night Out in Ellicott City, women kick back at The Wine Bin on Main Street and enjoy jazz with their wine before moving on to dinner and shopping.
Graham and her friends also gather at The Iron Bridge Wine Co. on Route 108 in Columbia. There singles and couples of diverse ages enjoy one or more of the 30 premium wines offered daily by the glass. Wine tastings and other special events are part of the draw, as is the delectable selection of small seasonal plates — and large plates — which invite sharing.

Graham enjoys hosting dinner parties in her home as a satisfying and relaxing alternative to dining out. She and her friends burn calories and tone up in hip-hop and other dance classes run by the county and in private yoga studios. “It’s lots of fun and there’s no pressure (to compete),” she says.

She satisfies her artistic side with craft projects and at Pinot’s Palette in Turf Valley Town Square where a bar becomes a makeshift studio and participants (no experience necessary) warm up their inner artists with libations.
For Sharice Hammond, an OB-GYN at Saint Agnes Hospital, with a 7-year-old daughter, time to socialize with friends at a moment’s notice is not always an option. Like many single parents, Hammond has to think outside the box to balance her professional and personal life.
A Howard County resident for four years after relocating from California, she says, “Howard County is a great place to be single and to have a family,” because there are lots of activities she can do with or without her child.
Hammond makes it a priority to carve time with girlfriends, dining close to home at Portalli’s and Tersiguel’s, “a great place for a date, too,” she adds. Like Graham, she’s a fan of Iron Bridge and also frequents Great Sage, a vegan restaurant in Clarksville with alone-time3“wonderful food and an outdoor patio” in season.

The Roger Carter Community Center, operated by Howard County Recreation and Parks, she says, “has great classes for adults, like dance water aerobics.” Hammond and her daughter also took part in Howard County “Mommy & Me” classes – dance, swimming, crafts – when her daughter was younger. Hammond also takes yoga and fitness classes, when she has time, frequently heading out for coffee with other participants.

Hammond has also formed a social circle through her daughter who takes classes at B. Funk Studio. While the girls dance, the mothers sit in the reception area to catch up with each other’s doings. Although “the dance moms are mostly married,” she says, “everyone is very friendly.”

Hammond says Howard County is well suited for singles. “This is a safe place, and you can have fun living here.

That’s not always so in big cities.” *




 Autobahn Indoor Speedway Women can drive electric-powered go karts at this speedway with adult leagues. autobahnspeed. com/racing-leagues/ adult-racing-leagues.

Bike & Wine, Bike & Brew, Beer and Fear Enjoy a picturesque bike ride and post-ride beverage on the deck at Historic Savage Mill or tackle the Terrapin Adventures’ challenge course then sip Ram’s Head Taverns brews. terrapinadventures. com/events.

Pinot’s Palette Creativity flows (along with some wine) at Pinot’s Palette in Ellicott City. No experience is required. pinotspalette.com.

Haven on the Lake Retreat to this mind-body wellness center with treatments, classes and workshops. havenonthelake.org.

Habitat for Humanity: Chesapeake’s Women Build An initiative of Habitat for Humanity International, Women Build empowers women to take action against poverty housing in their communities. habitatchesapeake. org/get-involved/ women-build-volunteers.

Cork & Beer Clubs at Victoria Gastro Pub Membership for wine and beer enthusiasts (choose your poison) includes member-only events and rewards for doing all of that “research.” victoriagastropub.com.

Columbia Association’s Women’s Golf Leagues Leagues include a Women’s Twilight League, Ladies Tuesday Morning 9-Hole League, and Ladies Wednesday Morning 18-Hole League. columbiaassociation. com/facilities/sports/golf.

The Volleyball House Haven’t played since high school? The Volleyball House offers several women’s-only leagues for all levels of play. vbhouse.com/#.

Business Women’s Network of Howard County Promoting and supporting women in all stages of their careers, the organization provides speakers on a variety of topics and networking at monthly meetings and special events. bwn-hoco.org/events.

Howard County Recreation & Parks: Adult Classes and Activities Sign up for classes in cooking, photography, dance and scores more. New classes are added every season. howardcountymd. gov/2015winterguide.htm.

Girls Night Out in Historic Ellicott City Enjoy picturesque Ellicott City while exploring cocktail and dining options, and shopping in unique boutiques. visitellicottcity.com.

Girls Night Out in Savage Mill Explore the mill and shop ‘til you drop! Sample wines, enjoy special ladies-only savings and more. savagemill. com/join-us-for-the-first-girls-night-out-of-2015.

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