The past is never far away from the present among the coves, rivers, and creeks of the Chesapeake Bay’s lesser-known western shore. In the lively port of Annapolis, Colonial Maryland continues to assert itself. Today “Crabtown,” as the state capital is sometimes called, has one of the highest concentrations of 18th-century buildings in the nation, including more than 50 that predate the Revolutionary War.
The counties of Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s, which make up the area, have all been supported since their founding in the 1600s through tobacco fields and fishing fleets. More recently, the northern parts of the counties have emerged as prime residential satellites for the Annapolis-Baltimore-DC, metro triangle—but despite the subdivisions and concomitant shopping centers, southern Maryland retains much of its rural character. With the exception of the fair-weather getaway enclave Solomons Island, and the archaeological site-in-progress Historic St. Mary’s City, the region remains largely undiscovered. All the better for travelers who come to enjoy stunning water vistas, miles of scenic roads, dozens of historic sites, and a plethora of inns and bed-and-breakfasts on the water, in tiny towns, and in the fields and woodlands of its unspoiled countryside.
Annapolis and Southern Maryland Sights
Annapolis and southern Maryland encompass the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, an area within easy driving distance of Baltimore and Washington, DC. Annapolis, on a peninsula bounded by the Severn and South rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, is a Mid-Atlantic sailing capital and the gateway to southern Maryland. Calvert County, just south of Annapolis, promises compelling bay-side scenery that includes the imposing Calvert Cliffs and several miles of Bay beaches. Beyond the Patuxent River, across the 1.3-mi Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge, lies St. Mary’s County, a peninsula that protrudes farther into the Chesapeake, with the Patuxent and the Potomac rivers on either side.
Annapolis and Southern Maryland Restaurant Reviews
In the beginning, there was crab: crab cakes, crab soup, whole crabs to crack. These days, most likely because of overfishing and habitat changes, crabs from the Bay are pretty scarce. Maryland’s favorite crustacean is still found in abundance on menus, but most arrive from out of state. In addition, Annapolis has broadened its horizons to include eateries—many in the historic district—that offer many sorts of cuisines. Dinner reservations in Annapolis are recommended throughout summer and at times of Naval Academy events.
Annapolis and Southern Maryland Hotel Reviews
There are many places to stay near the heart of Annapolis, as well as at area B&Bs and chain motels a few miles outside town. A unique “Crabtown” option is Boat & Breakfasts, in which you sleep, eat, and cruise on a yacht or schooner; book ahead. Hotel reservations are necessary, even a year in advance, during the sailboat and powerboat shows in spring and fall and at Naval Academy commencement in May. Like most places on the water, prices are lower in the cooler months. You can save money on a hotel by booking a room away from the City Dock. To avoid relying on your car (and dealing with the limited parking in the historic area) ask if your hotel has a free shuttle service.