From the hallowed halls of the United States Naval Academy, to the quaint City Dock, and dozens of points in between, Maryland’s charming and historic capital makes for a perfect day-trip (or longer) with the family.
U.S. Naval Academy Museum
This hidden gem of a museum welcomes over 100,000 visitors from around the globe every year. Located in Preble Hall on the gorgeous grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, the museum offers two floors of exhibits about the history of seapower, the development of the U.S. Navy, and the the history of U.S. Naval Academy. Exhibits include artifacts from historical figures, battles and events. Touch a piece of the actual U.S.S. Monitor, read letters penned by Admirals and presidents, see sand from the island of Iwo Jima as you take a walk through the history of our Navy – and country. There is even an actual moon rock donated to the museum by Apollo 14 astronauts.
The best part? Admission to the museum is FREE!
Address: 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21402. Phone: (410) 293-2108. Website: www.USNA.edu/museum Hours: Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 3:30pm
Annapolis City Dock
Rest here for a spell and have Alex Haley “read” your kids a story. The author of “Roots,” is immortalized in a sculpture that invites you to listen at his feet. I took along some books to read to my kids and soon found I’d started an impromptu story time for a few others. Directly behind Mr. Haley is the City Dock Market House. Inside you’ll find food stalls serving up seaside favorites, and day-trip delicacies like famed Maryland Crab cakes and decadent gelato, perfect on a warm, sunny day. Walk off some of those calories with a stroll down “Ego Alley” where beautiful pleasure boats are docked.
Don’t forget to bring along a little something to feed the ducks!
Parking: There is metered parking near City Dock, you’ve got great luck if you can snag one of those. If not, the Noah Hillman parking garage is just off Main Street in the Historic District at 150 Gorman Street.
Chick & Ruth’s Delly
Speaking of eating! I say -with some authority as both a traveler and a foodie – that everyone MUST make the pilgrimage to the Delly at least one time (if not dozens.) Don’t let the cramped quarters, layer of grease or the fact that they call it a “Delly,” deter you. Chick & Ruth’s is a Maryland institution for good reason.
- Crab Cakes as big as your head (okay, maybe a little smaller)
- Matzo Ball Soup any Bubbe would envy
- House-made dill pickles, a complementary treat you’ll pucker up to
- A huge of menu items to choose from – many named after the local politicians who come down the street from the Capital Building daily
- And the famed Colossal Challenges like the SIX POUND SHAKE (no really, it’s six pounds of milkshake) infamously conquered by Adam Richman of “Man vs Food” fame
Address: 165 Main St, Annapolis, MD 21401. Phone: (410) 269-6737. Website: www.chickandruths.com
Pirate Adventures of the Chesapeake
Ahoy all ye adventurous scallywags! Really, what trip to an historical port city like Annapolis would be complete without a pirate adventure? Mysterious messages in bottles, hidden treasure, and an epic adventure await those who embark upon a voyage aboard The Sea Gypsy. This fun, family-friendly ship sails from Annapolis Harbor seven days a week during the summer months and on weekends through October 26th. Your ticket to ride will cost you $20 for those over three and $12 for those under.
Be sure to arrive early to get gussied up in pirate finery!
Address: 311 Third St, Annapolis, MD 21403. Phone: (410) 263-0002. Website: www.chesapeakpirates.com
Annapolis Maritime Museum
If you’re making Annapolis a stopover during a trip to DC you might think you’ve been museum-ed out, but trust me you’ll want to make room for one more – THIS ONE! Why? Because of the hands-on history lesson your family will get. This small museum is set on the picturesque mouth of Back Creek, with a unique view overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The museum takes advantage of the fact that it is housed in the last oyster-packing plant in Annapolis, engaging visitors in a fully interactive experience that takes them on a journey through the role that the water and they oyster industry played in the shaping of the area. You’ll also learn about the ecology of the area through a 850 gallon aquarium and exhibits that highlight the importance of conservation efforts.
An afternoon at the Annapolis Maritime Museum is FREE family fun!
Address: 723 2nd St, Annapolis, MD 21403. Phone: (410) 295-0104. Website: www.amaritime.org
Galleries, Eateries and Shopping… Oh, My!
My kids happen to be gifted browsers. They love to shop. It may be genetic. Annapolis is wonderland for those who love to stroll in and out of shops and galleries, searching for treasures and inspiration. Though there are some chain stores to be found on main street, they are out numbered by smaller, more unique and locally owned boutique stores. Annapolis boasts a thriving art community and you’ll find a number of places that feature locally produced items. One of our favorite shops is Annapolis Pottery. Though not all of their items are produced locally, 95% of their products are produced in the U.S. and many of them are sourced directly from the artists who produce them.
Hungry? Annapolis is the place to be! I polled the kids for recommendations. Here is what THEY recommend;
- Potato Valley Cafe – A tasty elevation of the humble spud
- Castlebay Irish Pub – This one gets on the list for the rose shaped salmon and the fish and chips. Our picky eater loves salmon – go figure!
- Miss Shirley’s Cafe – A Baltimore staple now found in Annapolis, my kids would hurt you to get at a stack of their lemon-blueberry pancakes
- Chick & Ruth’s Delly – They’re begging for that 6 pound shake, but happily settle for pizza bagels make on fresh, full-sized bagel halves and burgers from the kid’s menu that are big enough for a grown up. You’ll never leave this place hungry! Plus their kid’s menu prices hover around $5!
Don’t miss the chickens. Really, we know how I am about chickens. Annapolis is flocking full of the foul in the form of 5 foot tall fun, funky and thought provoking sculptures found through out the city. If you go, snap a photo and I’ll be happy to add it to this post with photo credit.
Parking: There is both metered parking and several public parking garages, as well as valet service at City Dock. You can find a map of the garages here.
Up next… where to STAY in Annapolis if you aren’t lucky enough to live 20 minutes away… or even if you are… hello staycation!
(photo credit – Annapolis Waterfront m01229)