Intelligent, with the gift of flight, showy beautiful feathers, melodic songs and quirky behaviors, birds are easy to love. For many of us, bird watching became a fun and easy way to connect with nature and get outside during the pandemic. In fact, birding is now considered the second most popular outdoor activity after gardening.
But the benefits of birds go deeper than giving us a moment of free entertainment out our window.
Birds transform and protect landscapes around the world, keeping marshes, grasslands, coral reefs and forests healthy. They’re also important seed spreaders, pollinators and efficient exterminators. A recent study found they can devour up to 500 million tons of disease and crop destroying insects each year. (1)
The conservation of birds is vital for the health of the planet. But they’re good for our health too. Studies show that being around birds and listening to their songs can lower stress, reduce anxiety and boost mental health.(2)
But have you ever thought of mixing your love of birds into your travels?
Now the new boutique Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel on Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia, Maryland is making it easier than ever with their Birdsong Society room package designed especially for bird lovers.
Quickly becoming a hotspot for birders and nature lovers, this immersive birding package allows guests to be surrounded by bird songs in and around the hotel through a partnership with The Birdsong Society.
For The Birds: The Birdsong Project
For The Birds: The Birdsong Project from The Bird Song Society is a one of a kind creative collaborative project of musicians, artists, poets, actors and environmentalists who have come together to support the conservation and education of birds.
This beautiful and unique record collection is available to listen to and enjoy in the comfort of your lakeside suite.
Book a Birdsong Society Suite at Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel, and during your stay you’ll have access to:
- The ‘For the Birds’ The Birdsong Project Boxed Set: A 20 LP vinyl record collection with 172 pieces of new music, 73 works of bird-inspired poetry and a 60-page art-filled companion piece produced by Grammy Award-winning music supervisor Randall Poster inspired by the beauty of birdsong. See the full list of creative contributors and artists here.
- A Crosley Record Player to listen to ‘For the Birds’.
- Warby Parker binoculars to borrow for your birdwatching stay.
- Complimentary snacks including Boxed Water is Better and Shār trail mix to keep you fueled for your bird-watching adventures.
- A Copy of The Maryland Bird Guide to take home. This adorable children’s book by local 11-year-old bird lover Xaviana Leis will show you birds you can expect to see on your visit and benefit the Owl Moon Raptor Center, a local Maryland wildlife rescue.
All proceeds from the purchases of The Birdsong Project ‘For the Birds’ by the hotel benefit the Audubon society’s mission to protect birds and their habitat.
About the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection (a group of over 180 unique independent hotels, upscale and luxury hotels), Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel is a modern lakeside retreat tucked into seven wooded acres overlooking the 27-acre Lake Kittamaqundi. A popular local spot for fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers, it’s the perfect place to relax and bird watch.
The hotel offers 212 serene luxury guest rooms, exquisite dining, a stunning lobby and bar, a cozy café, and a fully-equipped fitness center. Plus, the breathtaking floor-to-ceiling views will make you never want to leave this tranquil haven.
Guest room comforts and amenities include:
- Luxury Linens
- C.O. Bigelow Lavender-Peppermint Bath Essentials
- 55′ Flat Screen Smart TV
- A Mini Refrigerator
- A Keurig Coffee maker
The hotel is also only a 15-minute walk from the Merriweather Post Pavilion which Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone have recognized as one of the best outdoor amphitheaters in the U.S. For the last 40 years, it’s drawn some of the biggest acts in music, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and Taylor Swift.
That’s why celebrating and enjoying nature, music and birds with the Birdsong Project is a natural fit here.
For more intensive relaxation, yoga and holistic therapies, visit the 27,000 square foot The Pearl Spa a short walk down the lake from the hotel.
Where to See Birds at the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel
Bird lovers will be happy to learn that Lake Kittamaqundi and its surrounding area are now home to a variety of bird species, including water birds like belted kingfishers and great blue herons.
Head to the lake’s pier to spot one of the many species of ducks like ring-necked ducks, geese, northern shovelers, pied-billed grebes, and hooded mergansers that visit the lake.
Then explore the 1.4-mile wooded and paved trail around the lake accessible at the back of the hotel. If you want more time in nature, take the connecting trail (a 20-minute walk) over to nearby Wilde Lake, another gorgeous local spot for herons and other water birds like cormorants.
Completing the loop around both lakes is 4.6 miles long.
Book a room with a balcony where you can see and hear water birds like cardinals, wrens, chickadees, warblers, blue jays, ducks, geese from the comfort of your own balcony. We were even lucky enough to see a blue heron gliding by at dusk.
💡 Tip: Check here for daily bird sightings at Lake Kittamaqundi!
Best Time to See Birds at Lake Kittamaqundi
You’ll have the best chance of seeing the most variety of birds early in the morning, starting at dawn and in the late afternoon through dusk. But we had bird sightings walking the trails throughout the afternoon during our stay.
Birds are least active at noon. Whole Foods is a short walk from the south end of Lake Kittamaqundi (2 minutes) so this is a great time to grab lunch and take a coffee to go to enjoy the lakeside.
Where to Eat at the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel
When hunger sets in after a full day of birding, the hotel has some fantastic dining options.
The Osprey Cafe: Grab Fresh Gourmet Coffee + Pastries
If you don’t want a sit-down breakfast, but need a little something in the morning, the chic lobby-side Osprey Cafe serves up gourmet Lavazza coffee drinks, like latte’s, breakfast sandwiches and snacks 7am to 2pm.
The coffee is delicious, but the rotating selection of fresh baked pastries, including croissants and muffins, baked by in-house pastry Chef Brian Holland are a delicious treat.
Take your order to go or grab a seat in front of the fireplace and enjoy the lake views.
➡ See The Osprey Cafe menu.
The Rookery Bar: Craft Cocktails + Delicious Bites
After a fun day of birding, head over to the hotel’s Rookery Bar & Lounge for a seasonally inspired craft cocktail and a bite while you enjoy a mesmerizing sunset over the lake.
Try some of their recent refreshing fall inspired additions to the drink menu, like the Autumn Lak Sangria made with white wine and fall fruit, or the Pearadise cocktail made with bourbon, pear liqueur, bubbly ginger ale, and tangy lime juice.
For something with a touch of sweet, the pumpkin spice espresso martini made with vanilla vodka, Kahlua and garnished with cinnamon is the perfect after dinner drink.
If you’re hungry and can’t pull yourself away from the lake views and friendly vibe, order up some dishes from their creative bar menu that includes apps, salads, burgers and sandwiches.
You can’t go wrong with the Bavarian Pretzel with beer, cheese and stout mustard. But if you’re a crab lover, the Corn and Crab chowder is a must. Creamy sweet corn and a generous amount of lump crab are in a rich creamy rich broth and “garnished” with three mini crab cakes. It’s the crab chowder of all chowders and it’s incredible.
The Rookery Bar opens at 4 pm each night and, along with craft cocktails, also has a great craft beer and wine selection. See the latest menu.
Lāk: A Stellar Dining Experience for Breakfast or Lunch
For a special dining experience, Lāk (pronounced “lake”) is the Merriweather’s Lake House Hotel’s cool and modern, American fine dining restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner daily, and brunch on the weekends.
Now Chef Kristina Brown, formerly of the Four Seasons Baltimore, is working to make it a premier Columbia dining destination.
Brown’s philosophy in the kitchen: “I believe food should be kept simple and tasty. Together with the Merriweather culinary team, we are creating dishes that speak for themselves without added distractions or over-the-top ingredients.”
Made from-scratch, with locally sourced and grown Howard County ingredients when possible, at Lāk you can taste the emphasis on flavor and freshness in every bite.
Try the plump and delicious Old Bay brined colossal black tiger Shrimp Cocktail for an amazing start. Or get your greens with the Chopped Kale Salad topped with apples, pecans and goat cheese and then tossed with a tangy, sweet and spicy cranberry chipotle vinaigrette.
For a hearty and satisfying entrée perfect for the cooler months, we adored the perfectly seared Half Rack of New Zealand Lamb served over decadent creamy polenta and finished with a red wine demi-glace. If you’re lucky to visit on a night with the Short Rib special, order it. Chef Kristina’s short rib is braised until fork tender and then served over ultra-creamy potatoes, fresh sauteed spinach and topped with hearty mushrooms and delicate micro greens. It’s perfect.
For a sweet finish, go for the delicious seasonal pumpkin brownie served in a skillet and topped with whipped cream. It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Other Local Spots in Columbia, Maryland For Birdwatching
Wilde Lake: After you’ve explored Lake Kittamaqundi, take the trail at the north end of the lake (to the left if leaving from the back of the hotel) to nearby 22-acre Wilde Lake that flows downstream into Lake Kittamaqundi. This is a brilliant spot for seeing water fowl like double-crested cormorants, herons and turtles sunning themselves. The path around Wilde Lake is beautiful and 1.46 miles long.
Centennial Park: An 8 minute drive north of the Merriweather Lake Hotel this award-winning 337-acre park is home to a variety of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, beavers, foxes, turtles, 37 species of waterfowl (herons included) and a variety of songbird species. See the trail map. Birding information.
Lake Elkhorn Park: Only 3.4 miles from the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel, this park features a 37-acre lake where you can hike the 2.5-mile paved trail and 7.3 miles of interconnecting paved paths perfect for birdwatching and seeing other wildlife like foxes and deer. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and has ample parking and restrooms. See the trail map. Birding information.
The Robinson Nature Center: Less than 10 minutes south of the hotel, on 18 acres, this Nature center with two-stories of hands-on exhibits has a 1.1 mile nature trail with river views and access to historic mill ruins. See the trail map.
What to Bring With You
The binoculars in the room are a sweet gesture, but if you’re serious about birding, bring along a more powerful pair. They start at about $20 on Amazon.
And if you want birding pictures, bring along a camera with a zoom lens. Even the most expensive cell phones don’t have enough zoom power to get birds that are too far away.
Prepare to dress in layers if visiting during colder weather. Don’t forget to bring your complimentary water and trail mix with you on the lake trail.
About Columbia, Maryland
Named the “safest city” by Forbes Magazine, Columbia, Maryland is a perfect destination for those who want to connect with nature, but still be minutes from a variety of dining, shopping and entertainment options. Its growing downtown area, known as Town Center, is home to the Mall of Columbia. A five-minute walk from the hotel, the mall has over 200 places to shop and eat.
One of the unique characteristics of Columbia is that it maintains 3600 acres of open space, 114 miles of trails, and 5 lakes for anyone wanting to bird or simply enjoy the outdoors.
Columbia’s Lakefront District, where the Merriwether Lake Hotel is, is a popular spot for festivals and other outdoor events throughout the year. A few minutes from the hotel is Columbia’s famous Merriweather Post Pavilion. This outdoor concert venue inside 40-acres of preserved land called Symphony Woods, was named the second best amphitheater in the U.S. by Billboard magazine.
For a relaxing lakeside luxury getaway that combines birding adventure and conservation with luxury accommodations, fantastic dining on Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia Maryland, book The Birdsong Society at Merriweather Package through February 29, 2024.
Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel Location and Parking
- Hotel: Merriweather Lakehouse, Autograph Collection
- Hotel Address: 10209 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, MD 21044
- Website: https://merriweatherlakehouse.com/
- Tel: +1 410-730-3900
- Parking: Parking at the hotel is free and easy. Self-park in the garage directly across from the hotel.
- Proximity to Major Cities: Only 30 minutes south of Baltimore and 1 hour from D.C.
Nearby Birding + Nature Attractions
Other Nearby Attractions
* National Audubon Society will receive 100% of the royalties from For the Birds: The Birdsong Project box set sales and 100% of royalties generated by the digital streaming of audio tracks, subject to the various terms of operation and fees associated with each individual digital streaming platform.