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Annapolis, America's Sailing Capital
Overlooking the wide span of the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis combines historic charm with true dockside grit. Now the chief city of Maryland, it once stood as a capital of the fledgling United States and today, Annapolis' colonial heritage is evidenced by an abundance of elegant 18th century buildings. History buffs will be interested to note that Annapolis' grey-steepled state house is the oldest continuously-operating state legislature in the country. A city with a strong seafaring pedigree, its bustling harbour – the home of the United Stated Naval Academy – is the delight of many a visitor.
From the Chesapeake to State Circle
In addition to offering great views down toward the Chesapeake Bay, Main Street is a veritable kaleidoscope of all that Annapolis has to offer visitors. This neighbourhood is well-known for its broad mix of period architecture, but many also flock to Main Street for its eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, bars, hotels and restaurants. But if it's art you're after, look no further than West Street. Here in Annapolis' renowned arts district, you’ll find multiple galleries plus open-air performances during the warmer months of the year. A block away from Main Street, State Circle offers a glimpse into the capital's historic heart. Follow in the steps of the Founding Fathers as you meander through an area boasting the highest concentration of 18th century buildings in the city and check out the “most beautiful doorway in America” at the Hammond-Harwood House. Finish up with a visit to the Maryland State House or check out the locally-renowned Annapolis Bookstore.
City Dock: The Place for Landlubbers and Sailors Alike
It’s fair to say that Annapolis’ soul is located in its harbour. From its founding in 1649 through to the present day, shipping and sailing has long been the lifeblood of this town. Today, its City Dock is a popular spot with both avowed landlubbers and keen sailors alike; the former can sit and watch ships glide through Ego Alley while the latter can take a cruise of the bay on the Harbor Queen. Fancy yourself a salty seadog? Brave souls can try their hand at steering the Schooner Woodwind. And if tall ships are your thing, call by Annapolis in October to catch the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, which starts northeast of Maryland’s capital at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The City Dock is host to numerous events throughout the calendar year. April sees the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show come to town while July and December bring celebrations for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, respectively.
Welcome to “the yard”
Just steps away from the City Dock sits “the yard”, as the United States Naval Academy (USNA) is affectionately known. Standing citadel at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Severn River since 1845, the academy is the educational establishment for officers entering into both the United States Marine Corps as well as the United States Navy. Registered as a National Historic Landmark, the campus is open to the public, who can take part in daily guided tours of the academy. Naval historians will of course be impressed by the wealth of artefacts on show at the USNA Museum, but the campus’ chapels as well as the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium are all free to be visited. Among the USNA’s wide assortment of memorials and memorabilia, guests can view the battle ensigns of famous navy ships as well as those captured from enemy vessels plus the Tecumseh Statue, a replica of the figurehead featured on the USS Delaware.
Eat and Sleep by the Sea
Whether you’re after charming inns, quaint B&Bs or sleek, modern hotels in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital offers a wide choice of lodging for every type of traveller, with quite a lot of properties in and around the City Dock area. However, accommodation also runs inland via Annapolis’ Main and West streets, with the historic State Circle area of Maryland’s capital awash in hotels. Those keen for ocean views will be happy here; the city offers a huge selection of waterfront properties. As with its sleeping accommodations, Annapolis’ dining venues are dotted from the City Dock through to the Main and West Street areas. From historic taverns and inns to bars, bistros and cafés, there’s something for every taste and occasion here. When the weather is right, head for one of the many alfresco options along the city’s waterfront, where fish and seafood – and especially the Maryland Blue Crab – should be at the top of your menu.