Quality of Life in Howard County, Maryland

Howard County Chamber of Commerce | Columbia, MD

Howard County Ranks Among the Best

Educational Opportunities are Top in the Nation in Howard County

Maryland’s schools were rated the best in the nation for the fifth straight year in 2013 by a study conducted by Education Week magazine, and the Howard County Public School System consistently ranks among Maryland's top school districts based on student performance on the Maryland School Assessments. Howard County’s school system also has been ranked among the top 10 in the nation by Forbes magazine and has contributed to Columbia/Ellicott City’s ranking in the top ten “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine. Maryland tops the 2015 U.S. News and World Report annual education rankings as the state with the most high-performing high schools, based on participating in and passing Advanced placement and International Baccalaureate programs and tests. A number of distinguished institutes of higher education are also located in Howard County, and the Howard County Library System is a nationally recognized leader among public libraries.

A Wealth of Dining and Shopping in Howard County

From cozy eateries and antique stores in Ellicott City’s historic downtown to the most popular national chains at the Mall in Columbia, Howard County has shopping and dining choices for every taste and any mood. While Howard County enjoys easy access to two metropolitan areas, residents and visitors find their shopping and dining needs are well met with an abundance of options from one end of the county to the other. Search for restaurants and retailers in the Chamber’s business directory or visit Howard County’s tourism office to get more information on food and shopping destinations.

Enjoying the Arts in Howard County

Arts, cultural activities and entertainment are an integral part of Howard County’s fabric. The county is the proud home of Merriweather Post Pavilion, an open-sided music venue that draws national touring musical acts. Howard County also has numerous historical landmarks; several impressive arts and cultural festivals, such as the Columbia Festival of the Arts, and 32 museums ranging from art galleries to science and nature organizations to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station. Howard County is home to several award-winning professional theater companies, including RepStage in residence at Howard Community College, Toby's Dinner Theatre and Red Branch Theatre Company. Visit Howard County Tourism for more local arts and cultural entertainment opportunities.

Get Active in Howard County

There are endless opportunities for sports and recreation throughout Howard County, including golf, swimming, fishing, skating (ice and inline), soccer, biking, bird watching and plain old walking. The Columbia Association maintains 95 miles of walking, jogging and biking pathways, and more than 3,500 acres of open space as well as a wider range of amenities for individuals who live and work in the community. Howard County offers many acres of parkland with amenities for outdoor recreation of all types. Visit Howard County Parks and Recreation for a list of outdoor activities and recreation venues to enjoy in the area.