Annapolis is well known as the place where politics culminates in Maryland; the state’s capital.
Maryland lawmakers and other movers and shakers flock there to make laws and shape policy.
For the rest of us, however, there’s an abundance of non-partisan reasons to venture to this city of 33,000. Consider that Annapolis is a sailing and seafood-lovers’ paradise, where one can follow in the footsteps of historic luminaries and where dogs seem almost as welcome as their two-legged handlers.
What I found on a quick three-day stop there is that one can park one’s vehicle in a public garage and forget it—walking to an abundance of places to shop, dine, sightsee and hop aboard an array of water vessels for fun or just for transportation.
The Naval academy
One can easily spend a morning or afternoon taking in the history and traditions of the Naval Academy, the training ground for officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The 10-acre campus located on what was once Fort Severn is beautiful and guided tours are offered.
Wear comfortable shoes and try to go on a fair-weather day as there’s plenty of walking outdoors.
The tours, which last just over an hour, cover history, architecture, traditions and midshipmen life. Among the tour’s highlights are the final resting place of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, who is entombed in an ornate crypt beneath the main chapel, and observing the midshipmen’s noon formation. The Naval Academy Museum features more than 50,000 artifacts.
Tours are available daily. Tickets range from $7.50 to $9.50, preschool-age children and younger are free.
For more information, visit http://www.usnabsd.com/for-visitors/
Hop aboard watercrafts of every stripe
Whether one simply wants to go from one part of Annapolis to another or seeks to spend serious time on the water, Annapolis has something nautical for just about anyone.
Water taxis are available for pick up and drop off at various points, and there are 10-passenger electric boats at the ready for charter as well as yachts, large and small boats for hire.
I spent an invigorating afternoon aboard the Schooner Woodwind on a two-hour tour of the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the 20 or so passengers were invited to help hoist the sails of the 74-foot schooner, a replica of “classic wooden schooners built as yachts.” These vessels move incredibly fast at times and pitch dramatically at times. As the waters churned and waves lapped the boat, the three-man crew scrambled to manipulate the sails and other appendages of the craft, often explaining as they work. Meanwhile passengers alternated between relaxing in the sun and wind and gaily bracing to counter-balance themselves when the vessel took a mean lean. Tours aboard the Woodwind are available April through Oct. 28 with tickets ranging from $25 to $39. For more details, visit www.schoonerwoodwind.com.
And for those with more than a passing interest in sailing, there are schools and lessons offered here too. One in particular is Womanship, which offers lessons to women by women with a slogan “Nobody Yells.” Suzanne Pogell, founder of the school, has been teaching women ranging from 18 to 80 for nearly three decades. Her emphasis is on safety and empowering women to feel comfortable handling a sailboat in a range of situations. In addition to classes, Womanship also hosts sailing excursions to exotic spots such as Greece, New Zealand and Nova Scotia. Visit www.womanship for more information.
And April through September there’s the weekly Wednesday Night Sailboat Races in which more than 100 sailboats compete for bragging rights in the Chesapeake Bay before finishing in front of the Annapolis Yacht Club.
Good eats near the water and in town
I only had breakfast here, but I still declare that The Treaty of Paris as one of my favorite Annapolis restaurants. Although I’m not a huge history buff, I totally fell in love with this inn and restaurant that once was the site where John Jay and Benjamin Franklin celebrated the American victory over the British in the Revolution War after they witnessed the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, according to a flier available at the restaurant. Now tourists, politicians and local business people dine here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoyed an outstanding French toast and sausage breakfast in the lovely brick-walled dining room elegantly decorated in bold shades of yellow and red.
On the other end of the spectrum I also was in heaven when I downed a tasty hot dog and fries at a tiny eatery called Pip’s Dock Street Dogs. They feature Sabrett (a brand that I, a hot dog connoisseur, highly favor) natural casing beef hot dogs starting at $3 a dog. They also offer several hot dog specialties including Pip’s Dog, which comes with mustard and Pip’s relish made with mango and jalapenos for $3.44.
Also I give two thumbs up to Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant and Pusser’s Carribbean Grille, both located on the water with spectacular views, and the kind of seafood and drink specialties that makes one appreciate being on vacation.
An interesting eatery tradition that I didn’t get to experience is the daily pledge of allegiance that takes place at 8:30 a.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. weekend at Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main Street. The owners invite patrons to join them in reciting the pledge. They also serve breakfast specialties, sandwiches, wraps, pizza and several colossal dishes such as a 6-pound milkshake, 1½-pound sandwich and 3-pound cheeseburger. Chick & Ruth’s Delly has been featured on the television eating challenge show Man v. Food.
Plenty more to do
Also, take time to stop by the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial prominently located at the bustling City Dock. The three-part site, which includes a sculpture of Roots author Alex Haley before a trio of children, is reported to be the only memorial in America bearing the birth name and place of arrival of an enslaved African.
This is just a glimpse of what there is to see and do in Annapolis. There’s an abundance of shopping on Main Street, museums, gardens, theater and more. And dogs are most welcome here with many shop owners setting water bowls and treat dishes in front of their stores.
Explore what Annapolis has to offer at www.visitannapolis.org.