You can also picnic, launch a canoe or kayak or just watch the sailboats and motorboats plying the river. Swimming is prohibited. When I just want to soak in some nature and do a little people-watching, I go to this little park, named for a noted Annapolis public figure from the mid-1700s.
Browsing the local shops and boutiques along Main Street and Maryland Avenue is a treasure hunt. It’s easy to pick up a custom-designed silk tie or a unique hand-crafted souvenir. At the Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, you can taste extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar from a huge selection before you buy. Leather designer Koren Ray’s flagship store, featuring her Hobo Bags, is here; she’s a local. The town’s clothing and gift selections tend to be on the nautical and dressy-casual side — “clothing inspired by the Annapolis way of life,” says Larry Vincent of Laurance Clothing.
It’s hard to choose between ice cream shops. If I’m on Main Street, I stop at Annapolis Ice Cream Co. The decision between apple pie, peanut butter Oreo, and raspberry chocolate chip is tough. If I’m two short blocks away, at the City Dock, then I’ll stop at Storm Bros., where my favorite is the mint chocolate chip.
Patriotism is on the menu every morning at Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main Street, where the Pledge of Allegiance is recited at 9:30 a.m. on weekends and 8:30 a.m. on weekdays. During the legislative season, from early January through early April, it’s a home-away-from-home for a lot of the politicians and lobbyists, so seating can be squeezy. Ted and Beth Levitt are second-generation operators of the eatery, which opened in 1965.
When it’s pub fare I crave, I head to the Eastport neighborhood for a stop at Davis’ Pub. As much as I think I ought to vary my order, I’m addicted to the crab pretzel; a large soft pretzel drowned by a crab mixture and heated just a little. The combination of salty, chewy, and creamy is worth its own trip.
As can be expected in the self-proclaimed “America’s Sailing Capital,” boat races are held regularly, summer and winter. I can watch the races from a bridge or the Naval Academy seawall, or I can volunteer to crew. The winter races are within the harbor, without spinnakers. I learned to sail just down the Bay from here and lessons are available for children, women only, or men and women. In other words, I can enjoy the views or join the crews.
The Chesapeake Bay and its open waters are just minutes from the Annapolis waterways and the Severn River. Once on the Bay, you can join the watermen in sailboats and motorboats while you explore the 200 miles of towns, beaches, and tributaries. Fishing is ideal, with 350 types of fish providing interesting challenges and menu options, or just catch and release. In the fresh-water parts of the bay, you can find trout, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. If you want to stay closer to shore, prime estuary fish are the striped bass , silver perch and flounder.
With wind-filled sails, old buildings, postcard-perfect cloud-filled skies, and flowers festooning almost every corner, it’s understandable that everywhere I turn seems to be a permanent image from a watercolor or pastel memory book.
Judy Colbert is a Maryland-based writer and photographer and the author of "Chesapeake Bay Crabs" cookbook and several travel guides.