About This Place
Taking a trip to Annapolis, Maryland, lets tourists step into America’s colonial past. The city has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of 18th-century buildings, with more than 50 that precede the Revolutionary War. Annapolis visitors can amble down cobblestone streets, past Colonial-era architecture and leave thoughts of cell phones and fast-food joints behind. All of downtown is a National Historic Landmark.
Much of the city’s charm lies in remnants of its maritime history. Located where the Severn River meets the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is home to the U.S. Naval Academy. The port city also happens to be the capital of Maryland.
Perhaps the premier attraction in Annapolis, the U.S. Naval Academy spans 329 waterfront acres adjacent to downtown, along the Severn River. A guided walking tour of the grounds includes Bancroft Hall, one of the world’s largest dormitories and home to the 4,400-member Brigade of Midshipmen. The campus’ focal point is the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel, with its copper-clad dome. Here, visitors can observe the crypt of Revolutionary War naval officer John Paul Jones, famous for the legendary “I have not yet begun to fight!” Another tour highlight is the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Preble Hall. Museum goers can see the War of 1812 flag that declares, “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” and the largest public display of 17th- and 18th-century ship models in North America.
A few blocks away, travelers find an Annapolis attraction rich with civic heritage, the Maryland State House. Built between 1772 and 1780, it is the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use. General George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army here in 1783, and the Treaty of Paris was ratified here in 1784, ending the Revolutionary War.
Nearby stands the Hammond-Harwood House, known as the architectural “Jewel of Annapolis.” The 1774 home is considered America's grandest colonial high-style residence. For a look at life during the “golden age” of 18th-century Annapolis, stop by the William Paca House and Garden, also near the State House. William Paca was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a governor of Maryland.
Just across Church Circle from the State House, an Annapolis museum named after two other prominent residents portrays the stories of African Americans in Maryland from 1633 through today. The Banneker-Douglass Museum, titled for abolitionist Frederick Douglass and scientist Benjamin Banneker, offers Annapolis visitors a survey of centuries of African-American history in the Chesapeake region.
To unearth the story of Maryland’s oldest town, take a short drive to Historic London Town and Gardens. This attraction near Annapolis intrigues out-of-towners and locals alike. In the 17th century, London Town was an important tobacco port on 100 acres overlooking the South River. With a lack of trade in the mid-1700s, residents left and London literally began to disappear. Today, tourists can explore the William Brown House, a three-story waterfront mansion and one of the only surviving structures. The 23-acre county park also includes an ongoing archaeological excavation in search of the "lost town" of London.