ANNAPOLIS, MD – If winter winds on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island aren’t your cup of tea, then consider heading south to the Chesapeake Bay and spend a weekend in historic Annapolis, Md.
Founded in 1649, Annapolis once served as the capital of the United States when the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, was signed there. It is Maryland’s capital city and home of the U.S. Naval Academy, founded in 1845. Annapolis is a city that retains an old-world appeal thanks to its historic architecture. Some of the finest 17th- and 18th-century buildings in the nation, including the residences of all four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence, are found there. It also is the home of St. John’s College, founded in 1696 as King William’s School and the third oldest institution of higher learning in the United States after Harvard and William and Mary colleges.
A historic seaport, Annapolis also claims to be the “Sailing Capital of the World” and is a popular destination for international sailors. In 2005, plans were finalized to build the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis, lending credence to its claim as sailing capital.
There are year-round activities for the tourist in Annapolis. Downtown there are quaint shops, interesting historic structures, and even sailboat races at the City Dock. Because the Naval Academy is so close, formally attired midshipmen often stroll the city’s streets. The academy has a small and informal museum, but makes up for it with the mausoleum of John Paul Jones, the “Father of the American Navy.”
A century after Jones’ death in 1792 in France, President Theodore Roosevelt launched a search to find his body. In 1905, it was rediscovered and transferred with great ceremony to the Naval Academy. It is interred below the academy’s chapel, in a magnificent marble sarcophagus modeled after the tomb of Napoleon. A Naval midshipman stands at attention beside the sarcophagus when the tomb is open to the public.
Dining is eclectic, and one of the best choices downtown is Galway Bay, an Irish pub and restaurant. Galway, on Maryland Avenue, features original red-brick walls and a beamed ceiling. There are Irish artifacts and antiques scattered throughout, along with original prints of famous Dublin scenes.
No visit to Annapolis is complete without a stop at Chick and Ruth’s Deli on Main Street. This cramped, Jewish-style (but not strictly kosher) deli serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks. The restaurant was the site of the original Annapolis City Hotel, from 1788 to 1890, where George Washington lived for some time after he retired as commander-in-chief.
Sunday brunch is a delight at The Chart House on Second Street, where champagne mimosas flow freely. Within walking distance of historic downtown, the Chart House has outstanding waterfront views of City Dock, the state capitol and the U.S. Naval Academy, and is accessible by water taxi.
Despite its unique place in American history, its ambiance and its great food, Annapolis is best known for its maritime community. Fishing and recreational boating are popular on the Chesapeake Bay, and marine-related trades comprise a major part of the city’s economy. It is home to many maritime organizations and yacht clubs, boating schools and companies that offer fishing charters and sailboat and yacht charters, Each October, the Annapolis City Dock and harbor play host to the two of the largest in-the-water boat shows in the world.
More information about the city is available online at Annapolis.gov.