Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Chesapeake Bay
By Deane Winegar
[Fig. 13] Annapolis, at the heart of Anne Arundel, is Maryland’s capital, known for its quiet charm and its understated elegance. The city has a small-town flavor, and offers some of the Chesapeake Bay’s best dining and shopping in a historical setting. In many cases, walking is all the transportation you’ll need to enjoy theaters, museums, festivals, and quaint waterfront pubs with a variety of musical entertainment.
Stop by the visitor information booth at Annapolis City Dock (May through September) to learn about this port, famous internationally as a yachting center. The visitor booth and waterfront park are located on the site of a former colonial port that was surrounded by warehouses, taverns, and a shipbuilding business. In 1767, Kunta Kinte, subject of the late Alex Haley’s novel, Roots, arrived at the dock on a slave ship.
Today skippers tend to their boats tied along the wharf at Market Square and Dock Street where Chesapeake Bay watermen have docked for generations. Visitors, townspeople, and the smartly dressed midshipmen from the U. S. Naval Academy mingle on historic city streets. The aroma of fresh-baked breads and Chesapeake Bay seafood fills the air. At the waterfront, seagulls swoop to catch bits of bread children toss into the air.
Annapolis is brimming with opportunities to explore. Several organizations offer tours on foot, by boat, or on wheels. Old homes, museums, the City Dock, State Circle, seafood restaurants, shops, and the scenic waterfront are fine places to poke about by oneself, too. At the waterfront, book a fishing charter, rent a sea kayak or powerboat, or climb aboard a sailing schooner, cruise boat, or yacht to tour the Chesapeake Bay. Dine outside on the City Dock after picking up a pizza, fried chicken, or seafood sandwiches at The Market House on the City Dock (410-269-0941).
Three eighteenth-century mansions (the Hammond-Harwood, Chase-Lloyd, and William Paca houses) are located near each other in the downtown historic district. On the campus of St. John’s College is the Liberty Tree, so named because it served as a meeting place for the Sons of Liberty prior to the Revolutionary War. St. John’s College, which traces its origins to King William’s College founded in 1696, is one of the nation’s oldest colleges. The Victorian-style Government House (410-974-3531) at State Circle and School Street, with its collection of Maryland art and antiques, is the official residence of Maryland’s governor.
Each October, this "Sailboat Capital of the United States" celebrates its maritime heritage with a sailboat show, followed by a powerboat show (410-268-8828).
Most of the nightlife at Annapolis is in or near the historic district. Ram’s Head Tavern (410- 268-4545) at 33 West Street is home of the only local micro-brewery. Many folks come to this English-tavern-style restaurant especially for Ram’s Head on Stage where local and national bands perform nightly during peak seasons.
King of France Tavern (410-263-2641) in the Treaty of Paris Restaurant at 16 Church Circle features live jazz on weekends. The tavern belongs to an association called Historic Inns of Annapolis. Middleton Tavern (410-263-3323) at 2 Market Space is an historic tavern featuring an oyster bar, other traditional Maryland fare, and live entertainment in an eighteenth-century setting on the city dock.
Club Hollywood (410-974-6888) at 30 Hudson Street is open six nights a week. It has pool tables, video games, live music, and disc jockeys. Come for swing night on Monday and a dance called DC hand-dancing on Wednesday.
Just outside the historic district at 2072 Somerville Road is an excellent place for families called Jillian’s Billiard Club and Cafe (410-841-5599). In addition to live entertainment, Jillian’s has video games, billiards, and table hockey.
[Fig. 13(1)] William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and former governor of Maryland, built this Georgian mansion on Prince George Street between 1763 and 1765. Note period furniture from England and the original pine floors and door. On the 2-acre grounds are four parterres, or flower beds and paths that form patterns, in addition to a wilderness garden and an herb and vegetable garden.
[Fig. 13(2)] Samuel Chase, U. S. Supreme Court justice and signer of the Declaration of Independence built this Georgian townhouse at 22 Maryland Avenue between 1769 and 1773. It is noted for such fine details as a Palladian window and a cantilevered stairway.
[Fig. 13(3)] Built in 1774 for Maryland legislator Mathias Hammond, this Georgian structure at 19 Maryland Avenue was designed by architect William Buckland and is an exquisite example of late Colonial architecture.
[Fig. 13(4)] Construction on Maryland’s capitol building at State Circle was begun in 1772, interrupted during the Revolutionary War, then completed in 1779, making it the oldest state house in the country in continuous use by a legislature. The Maryland State House was the site of Washington’s resignation as commander-in-chief and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris. It served as the nation’s capital from 1783 to 1784. The visitor center is on the first floor.
[Fig. 13(5)] On the same circle with the Maryland State House is the Old Treasury Building, a cross-shaped brick structure that serves as the historic Annapolis Foundation Research Center. Built between 1735 and 1737, this is the oldest public building in the state. Open by appointment.
[Fig. 13(6)] Open daily from sunrise to sunset, this 6-acre garden on Taylor Avenue and Rowe Boulevard, located among the state office buildings, has plantings that characterize the state’s natural communities. Included are a forest of the mountainous western part of the state, a stream-side environment, and the sandy soil of an Eastern Shore peninsula.
[Fig. 13(7)] Annapolis is the home of the U. S. Naval Academy, where men and women learn to become professional officers in the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps. See occasional full-dress parades and, during warm weather, noon formation. At the visitor center, learn about Naval Academy history and traditions, view the award-winning film To Lead and to Serve, find out about the life of a midshipman, and take a guided walking tour of the Yard.
[Fig. 13(17)] Housed in the old Mount Moriah Church at 84 Franklin Street, the Banneker-Douglass Museum preserves Maryland’s African-American culture. The museum is named for Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass, two prominent black Marylanders. The Victorian-Gothic building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Discover Annapolis Tours. One-hour minibus tours depart from the Annapolis visitor center at 26 West Street. Call for times. Operates daily Apr. through Nov and weekends Dec. through Mar. Phone (410) 626-6000.
Three Centuries Tours of Annapolis. Located at 48 Maryland Avenue. Tours of historic Annapolis and the U. S. Naval Academy by guides in colonial attire. Operates twice daily Apr. through Oct. and Saturdays Nov. through Mar. Phone (410) 263-5401.
State House Visitors Center, State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401. Phone (410) 974-3400.
Not surprisingly, fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood is a specialty at many Annapolis restaurants. Here are several popular spots.
Carrol’s Creek Restaurant. 410 Severn Avenue, Annapolis. Eat fresh seafood indoors or out. Downtown location on Restaurant Row. Called one of America’s top waterfront restaurants by Bon Appetit magazine. Moderate to expensive. Phone (410) 263-8102.
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar. 8 Market Space, Annapolis. Serving seafood, steaks, and hamburgers. Located a block from the City Dock. Moderate. Phone (410) 263-5700.
Sam’s Waterfront Café. 2020 Chesapeake Harbour Drive, Annapolis. Lighthouse-shaped restaurant modeled after Thomas Point Lighthouse. Enjoy waterfront views and local seafood, indoors or out. Jazz on weekends. Moderate to expensive. Phone (410) 263-3600.
O’Leary’s Seafood Restaurant. 310 Third Street, Annapolis. Specializing in fresh seafood including Maryland crabs, mahi mahi, wahoo, halibut, and sea bass. Moderate. Phone (410) 263-0884.
49 West. 49 West Street, Annapolis. European-style cafe features light fare such as soups and sandwiches. Live jazz. Inexpensive. Phone (410) 626-9796.
Harry Browne’s. 66 State Circle, Annapolis. Historic restaurant and lounge with lavish lunches, brunches, and dinners. Expensive. Phone (410) 263-4332.
Other crab houses near Annapolis are at Kent Narrows across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge—easy to get to by continuing east on US 50 for 20 minutes, exiting at Kent Narrows Bridge. Look for restaurants just off the highway on the left and right. Expect highway delays for east-bound traffic on Fridays and Saturdays in spring and summer.
Many historic and elegant inns offer the perfect way to experience Annapolis hospitality.
Loew’s Annapolis Hotel. 126 West Street, Annapolis. Area’s only AAA four-star hotel. Known for excellent service, and one of few hotels that caters to pet owners. Features Starbucks Coffee Bar and The Corinthian dining room (moderate to expensive) with fine food and atmosphere. Located in the historic area close to attractions and waterfront. Expensive. Phone (410) 263-7777 or (800) 526-2593.
State House Inn. 25 State Circle, Annapolis. Relax in a Jacuzzi in this elegant inn. The Maryland State House and Chesapeake Bay are visible from some rooms. Expensive. Phone (410) 990-0024.
Annapolis Econo Lodge. 2451 Riva Road, Annapolis. In-room whirlpools, free HBO. Within 2 miles of Annapolis Harbor, 3 miles of U. S. Naval Academy. Inexpensive to moderate. Phone (410) 224-4317.
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