A visit to Annapolis
Located at the confluence of the Severn River, and Spa and College Creeks as they pour into the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is the self-proclaimed Sailing Capital of the World.
Annapolis offers excellent regional and international cuisine, architecture, politics, public art, the United States Naval Academy, gardens, boutique and mall shopping, boat shows, festivals, a lively performance and music scene, and history. And, everything’s packed into an area that’s only about seven square miles.
Get an early start
You can begin the morning on a patriotic note by having breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s on Main Street, where they sing the National Anthem every weekday morning at 8:30, and at 9:30 on weekends. You can also try a six-pound milkshake or a superb crab cake, and frequently catch site of local and state politicians and other prominent figures. When owner Ted Levitt is on the premises (and that’s most of the time), call him over for a demonstration of his skill with close-up magic. Another breakfast (and lunch) favorite is Miss Shirley’s where the outrageous menu selections include coconut cream-stuffed French toast and the crab Benedict.
Most of the city’s activities and attractions are located around City Dock. It’s where you can watch yachts and other gorgeous (read expensive) boats slowly parading up and down Ego Alley. Sharply-dressed midshipmen stroll the area around City Dock, and while they always look sharp, they’re spectacular in their crisp white summer uniforms. Check the Alex Haley Memorial that notes the arrival of Haley’s ancestor, Kunta Kinte. Kinte was brought to Annapolis as a slave aboard the Lord Ligonier in 1767. But before you venture forth into the city’s history and attractions, stop by the Iron Rooster for their famous homemade pop-tart which just barely resembles the store-bought pastries of your childhood. On a hot day or any day, a scoop of Storm Brothers Ice Cream hits the spot.
A walk through history
Annapolis is a fairly walkable city, and one way to learn about its history is on a tour led by colonial-costumed guides. Another beloved and fascinating attraction is the United States Naval Academy (anyone 18 and older will need a government-issued photo ID or a passport for those who are not U.S. citizens). Stop by the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center for a map, souvenirs, or a guided tour (either walking or during the season, an open-air vehicle). You’ll see standard dorm rooms (Bancroft Hall is the largest dormitory in the world), Memorial Hall, a statue of Tecumseh, Herndon Monument, the Main Chapel and the Crypt of John Paul Jones. If you time it right, you can see the noon formation of midshipmen. Try to fit into your schedule a visit to the USNA (United States Naval Academy’s museum with its exquisite Rogers Collection of antique scale model ships.
Dinner and music
Come evening, stop for dinner at Galway Bay that’s noted for its Irish menu and the absence of televisions in the pub and restaurant. Harry Browne’s offers elegant white tablecloth dining, right across the street from the Maryland State House. Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, located adjacent to the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel by Autograph, combines a relaxed atmosphere, Ego Alley waterfront dining, and frequent live music. Just steps from the waterfront door is the home of the schooners Woodwind and Woodwind II (as seen in the movie Wedding Crashers), available seasonally for harbor and Chesapeake Bay tours.
Following that, check the calendar at Naptownmusic.us for a selection of live music at such venues as 1747 at Reynolds Tavern; 333 Coffeehouse; 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar & Gallery; Annapolis Towne Center; and Armadillo’s. Ram’s Head On Stage is known for showcasing local and national acts.
Things to bring home
When it’s time to shop, remember this is a sailing area, so the clothing, home goods, and souvenirs tend to be on the nautical and dressy-casual side. If you’re in town on the first Sunday of the month from May through early November, stop by the First Sunday Arts Festival where 130 plus local and regional artists sell their creations (jewelry, pottery, glass, clothing, handbags, wood-turnings, furniture, sculpture, photography, paintings and more). There’s also free concerts and entertainment, and food trucks and the West Street restaurants will have dining options.
Annapolis is home to an almost endless list of festivals that celebrate chocolate, a Light House GumboFest, Greeks, Italians, the Irish (complete with St. Patrick’s Parade), spring (with the Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning), chicken wings, films, books, Rockfish (the state fish), and the list continues.