Reporting Jay Lloyd
Once the capitol of a start-up nation and now the capitol of Maryland as well as home to the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis is steeped in nautical tradition and brimming with restaurants, bars, pubs and unique shops. It also holds the crypt of America’s first naval hero, John Paul Jones. Getting there is half the fun, so here’s where to start. – Jay Lloyd
Route 213 & Route 291
Set a course for Route 213 into historic Chestertown, Maryland. Yes, George Washington not only slept here but was a trustee of Washington College, a landmark as you enter this community. The scenic town occupies a prominent spot on the winding Chester River, which was a major colonial port. Homes and mansions with broad lawns line the river banks. Visitors can enjoy strolling the boardwalk and taking a sail on the Sultana, the replica of an 18th century Royal Navy schooner. Then, eat lunch or dinner on the outdoor deck at Fish Whistle restaurant, overlooking the river and with a view of passing sail and power boats. Stay overnight at the classic Imperial Hotel. Then dine in a casual but upscale environment with contemporary flare at the hotel, a landmark for over a century.
KENT ISLAND FISHING CHARTERS
KENT ISLAND, MARYLAND
Route 50, 301
Get an early start for this one! It’s less than 45 minutes from Chestertown to Kent Island via Route 213 to Route 50 West. Here, you’ll find a colorful gateway to the Chesapeake Bay on an island brimming with marinas, crab houses, boater bars and fishing charters. Spend a morning on the water with one of the many charter skippers, who have a knack for finding those locally prized rock fish that often attain brag-worthy size.
After a morning or afternoon of drifting and fishing, point the car toward the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, anchored on the east by Kent Narrows and on the west by our destination, Annapolis. Right on the edge of the bay is a scenic restaurant, Hemingway’s. There is both indoor and outdoor dining and a spectacular view of the gracefully curved bridge, which enhances any meal or bar stop.
If it’s crabs that you’re craving, drop anchor at the Harris Crab House, where a parade of recreational boats and yachts pass under the drawbridge at Kent Narrows while cruising between St. Michaels and the bay. Here, waterfront tables are covered in brown paper then covered with hot steamed crabs from the Chesapeake.
Annapolis is a scenic town that consists of 17th and 18th century homes, a bustling waterfront, the imposing U.S. Naval Academy and streets lined with restaurants, bars, pubs and colorful shops that are planted on the banks of the broad Severn River. The “must-see-and-do” action in town includes a visit to the academy that has been turning out America’s Naval and Marine officers since 1845. The Academy, which is convenient to the waterfront, is open to visitors for guided or do-it-yourself tours. One highlight is the Academy Museum, with its imposing collection of scale model ships and artifacts from America’s most significant naval battles–from the shores of Tripoli to the Pacific. And make sure to stop at the landmark Academy Chapel. Its dome has long been a point of reference for sailors entering the Severn River. Here–guarded day and night by Marines–are the remains of John Paul Jones, which are still preserved in a barrel of French spirits.
Around town, find your way to City Dock, also known as “Ego Alley,” where pleasure boat skippers parade their crafts and compete for the attention of visiting onlookers. Then find a table or bar spot at Pusser’s rum bar, located right at waterside on the “Alley”. This bar and restaurant is part of the Marriott Hotel’s envy-inducing waterfront location. It’s a top spot to stay in Annapolis, but it comes with top prices, so consider it a treat. Step inside the hotel, and you’ll find a large model of The African Queen. And it’s not just any model; this one was actually used in the “rapid shooting” scenes of the classic Bogart and Hepburn film.
Later, stroll the streets near City Dock and take your pick of bars and restaurants. It’s Buddy’s for crabs, McGarvey’s for an Irish pub and Middleton’s for the local gossip. But for an elegant meal in stylish surroundings, head for Harry Browne’s on the Capitol Circle, directly across from the state house. Ask for a window table and take in chandeliers that came directly from the sunken remains of the Ocean Liner Normandie.
Finally, for water views, get around the harbor by water taxi at just $2 a ride, or take a cruise on the Schooner Woodwind, which leaves the dock adjacent to the Marriott.