PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I really want to burn my socks. It’s a traditional thing in boating communities. With the coming of spring, bonfire sock burnings are as common as the sound of popping beer cans. There are a couple of other things on my must-do list for the coming weeks – drag out shorts and find an open waterfront eatery deck on a weekend getaway. I’ll likely return to one or more old favorites – like these.
It can be a spontaneous 2 hour drive down the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Parked on the water in the bayside town of Rock Hall is the expansive crab crackin’ deck at the Waterman’s Crab House. If the spring sky is clear and warm temps are in the forecast, this is one of the best views on the Upper Chesapeake. You can see clear to Kent Island and the Bay Bridge or across to the stacks of industrial Baltimore. The Maryland crab season opens on April 1st. Waterman’s gets them from local fisherman, fresh from the bay and the nearby Chester River. If you don’t like to get your fingers all covered with that cayenne laced seasoning, there’s always crab cakes and crab salad on the menu. A cold pitcher of beer is the washdown.
For me, adult life began the day I rode through the gates of Coast Guard boot camp right across the South Jersey harbor from the venerable Lobster House. Both have grown since the early 50’s and the traditional shore seafood restaurant is like a second home. As cloudless and pleasantly warm spring days arrive, the raw bar deck here comes alive. A favorite lunch or Happy Hour nosh while sitting on the eatery deck or the Schooner American, moored alongside is the chilled combo – shrimp, clams and crab fingers with an order of Cape May Salt oysters to round it out. Of course, we add a pitcher of beer. The deck shares space with the commercial fishing fleet, a sign that what you get is pretty fresh.
Close to Wildwood, The expansive Harbor View deck looks out over a major Jersey Shore marina and a vista that includes the Coast Guard base and it’s patrol fleet, the yacht anchorage across the waterway and the commercial fishery traffic, heading for the open sea. The seafood offerings here span the coast from lobster to local scallops. If you like clam chowder, a must-try is the Jersey variety that’s a unique take on clam rich Manhattan. And for global reach, Harbor view rolls out an amazing Sushi Bar selection.
When in the Harrisburg area on pleasant spring days, you can find me at a deck table, beer and fork in hands on the opposite bank of the Susquehanna River. Dockside Willies is a casual spot within view of the imposing state capitol building. Willies is part of the neighboring Rock Bass Grille, a wintertime seafood favorite. But the more casual Dockside component offers a range of pub food, perfect for outdoor chomping and riverfront gazing on an outdoor deck. Pizzas or ribs, finger food and suds crowd the menu. If you’re in Harrisburg, just cross the bridge, hang a right and relax.
Talk about a view! The Annapolis sippery takes it’s name from the liquid gold that once fueled iron men and wooden ships. It’s prized waterfront location is trimmed with an outdoor deck bar that looks directly across a narrow channel at the United States Naval Academy. The channel is “Ego Alley” at Annapolis City Dock where boaters, parade their craft every evening to see and be seen. You won’t go hungry here, while sipping (slowly) the famous Pusser “Painkillers”. Rum from the Caribbean island of Tortola is the principal ingredient. The menu ranges from Ahi to Mahi with a seafood thrust and a Caribbean flare. By night the bar can be high energy, by day – a relaxing outdoor dreamscape with fantasies of pirates and palm trees.