Nestled on the picturesque Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, Annapolis, Maryland, is a historic charmer; chock full of things to do whether you're searching for a romantic getaway or a family-fun destination. Explore "America's Sailing Capital" from its beautiful surrounding waters to the quaint cobblestone streets that date back to the country's beginnings. Annapolis offers visitors fabulous food, great shopping and a plethora of recreational activities to suit people of all ages.
Must see in Annapolis
With so many things to choose from, deciding what to do in Annapolis can be difficult. Make sure to take a guided walking tour of the United States Naval Academy. It includes a brief film of its history as well as an up-close look at the facilities. Stop by Preble Hall before you leave and browse through the Academy's museum. It's a real treat for history and military buffs. Time spent on the water is a must as well. Visitors can choose from a variety of tours on the Chesapeake from a 40-minute cruise around the harbor and Naval Academy to a longer sail on an actual schooner. Cap off your night with a Historic Ghost Walk through downtown Annapolis, complete with a guide dressed in period clothing strolling you through the darkened streets with a lantern. The last stop is a cemetery.
Where to stay in Annapolis
Annapolis offers a wide range of accommodations to suit anyone's budget. A hotel or a classic bed and breakfast in downtown Annapolis puts travelers right in the middle of the historic district and within walking distance of many of the main attractions such as the waterfront and the US Naval Academy. The Annapolis countryside is best for those in search of a quiet getaway. Stay at a beachfront B & B or resort and kick back and relax. For those who enjoy the hum of the big city, Annapolis Baltimore is for you. From here, you are a hop, skip, and a jump from Washington D.C., Baltimore, and downtown Annapolis.
Best and worst time to go to Annapolis
Annapolis really is a walking city, especially with all of the water activities and age-old architecture. Plan a visit from April through June to take advantage of comfortable temperatures. While fall is beautiful along the Chesapeake, the season also means football. When Navy is playing at home, downtown Annapolis is packed to capacity, making the already difficult parking almost impossible. If you must visit in autumn, pick a weekend when Navy is playing an away game or come during the week.
Where to get lost in Annapolis
Ego Alley is the area adjacent to the Annapolis City Dock. It is the ideal spot to wander in and out of quirky shops and pull up a bench by the water to feed the ducks and enjoy a treat from Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory. It is worth the wait on line. Make sure to explore both sides of the dock. The area got its name from the constant comings and goings of large yachts and sailboats that liked to strut their stuff for the locals. They still do. Pusser's Caribbean Grille is the perfect place to savor a meal at an outside table while watching the boats float by.
The Best Deal in Annapolis
Annapolis is well-known for its street fairs and festivals. If you can plan a trip to attend one of these, you will get the opportunity to savor the ambiance and flavor of the city. The First Sunday Arts Festival takes place on the first Sunday of every month from May through October and gives visitors a chance to sample food, view art and live performances. Every spring there is the annual Sock Burning, which is a throwback to when sailors used to peel their socks off and burn them. Other treasures to catch are the Annapolis Film Festival in March and November's Tug-of-War. The match between Eastport and downtown Annapolis is the largest held over a body of water. Check out the Annapolis events calendar when you are in the planning stages of your trip.
Transportation in Annapolis
Parking is at a premium in Annapolis. They do have pay-to-park lots and metered parking, but it can be difficult to snag a space especially during popular events. When visiting, it's best to leave the car once you have a space especially if your hotel is in downtown Annapolis. There is a convenient circular trolley that loops around the city and stops in prime areas like the Annapolis City Docks for a nominal fee. It picks up passengers at two parking decks as well. The city also operates different bus routes throughout Annapolis. For visitors, the trolley is the best option besides your feet for getting around.
Getting in from Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport
Annapolis is 26-miles from the Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Travelers can rent a car or take a taxi to get to their hotel in Annapolis.
Amtrak trains also stop at the airport. Visitors can then take a connecting bus to Annapolis or use one of the airport shuttle services.
Local tip for visitors to Annapolis
The narrow cobblestone streets in Annapolis are charming and quaint except if you are trying to find a parking space on them. Parking is especially trying on a Friday evening and the weekends. If you can find accommodations in downtown Annapolis, do it. Once you park your car at the hotel, you really won't need it for the rest of your stay. You can rely on your feet, the water taxi and the trolley to get around the city.
Author's bio: Dawn Miller is a freelance writer and mystery author. She lives in New Jersey.