By Elaine Bachmann, Host Committee Member
If Oxford in the UK is known as the “city of dreaming spires” then Annapolis could be known as the “city of dreaming domes–and steeples.” The skyline is dominated by the domes of the State House and the Naval Academy Chapel–representing the two institutions of government that have defined significant portions of the city’s nearly 400 year old history–along with the steeple of St. Anne’s Church. St. Anne’s is the original “church” placed in the baroque town plan laid out by Francis Nicholson in 1695 radiating from two circles: one containing the ‘publick’ building and one containing the ‘church.’
Today you can visit all three of these landmarks along with many other historic buildings and sites, just a 45 minute drive from downtown DC.
Maryland’s capital since 1695, Annapolis was also the first peacetime capital of the new United States, since it was in this city that the Treaty of Paris was ratified by Congress, officially ending the Revolutionary War in 1784. You can learn about this event and much more by visiting the Maryland State House, a national historic landmark.
Maryland State House
The Old Senate Chamber, Maryland State House
If immersing yourself in colonial history and buildings (and there are more extant original 18th century structures in Annapolis than in any other American city) is your goal, take advantage of visiting the sites operated by Historic Annapolis Foundation. HA also has a museum and gift shop (perfect for nautically themed gifts) at the foot of Main Street.
William Paca House and Garden
For many people “Annapolis” means the United States Naval Academy, and visitors are welcome to stroll through historic “Gate 1” near the City Dock (have a photo ID handy, you’ll need it for the State House too) and take a guided tour, or wander on your own through the grounds of the Academy. Don’t miss stepping inside the Chapel, and visit the museum located in Preble Hall.
Naval Academy , Gate 1
Naval Academy Chapel
And if local flavor is what you’ve come for, there are plenty of options for the casual diner who wants to grab a snack and some ice cream on Main Street along with a host of restaurants along West Street, all within walking distance of downtown. If you are looking to sit down and enjoy the water views (and admire the variety of boats coming and going from the many local waterways), here are a couple great spots just over the bridge to Eastport:
Carroll’s Creek Cafe http://carrolscreek.com/
Boatyard Bar and Grill http://www.boatyardbarandgrill.com/
Come on Wednesday evening and catch the weekly sailboat races sponsored by the Annapolis Yacht Club. This is a great way to experience the sailing tradition in Annapolis and makes for a very enjoyable view from any waterfront restaurant deck. https://www.visitmaryland.org/event/wednesday-night-sailboat-races
And just over the Naval Academy Bridge, with a terrific outdoor deck that overlooks the Severn River, is The Severn Inn https://www.severninn.com/
Oh, and if you’ve come looking to partake in that great Maryland tradition of picking crabs, the most venerable of local crab houses is Cantler’s
However, although it’s little out of the way, (and you’ll wonder where you are headed as you drive through a residential area), it’s worth the drive to Arnold to experience The Pointe Crab House (which has much more than crabs). There will be a wait, but you can grab a drink and stroll along the shore of Mill Creek and admire the many boats (and waterfowl) while you wait for your table.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t put a plug in for visiting the Maryland State Archives, located on Rowe Boulevard with easy access either on your way into, or out of, downtown Annapolis. Right now, in honor of the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, the Archives has mounted an exhibit about Douglass, including the display of the only known record of his birth–the 1818 slave ledger kept by his owner and in the collection of the Archives.
Portion of the Frederick Douglass exhibit, Maryland State Archives
For a lot more information about visiting Annapolis, check out the city’s website below.