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Visiting Annapolis Maryland:
Colonial Heritage meets the Naval Academy

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August 13, 2005

Gems of Maryland's Western Shore: Annapolis

Part 1 Visit Annapolis
Part 2 The Naval Academy
Part 3 Annapolis Dining and Bed & Breakfasts

Annapolis Maryland

Annapolis is probably the most charming and and beautiful capitol town in the United States.  I refuse to use the word "city" as it is most unlike what we consider a city, much less a state capitol to be.

Annapolis is the home of the United States Naval Academy, the First peace-time capitol of the United States of America, and a great place to enjoy the Washington D.C - Baltimore region without having to stay in a big city. Click here to see Google maps and satellite images.

Annapolis itself is large, however, that area I write about is the downtown waterfront area encompassing The State House, The Naval Academy, St. John's College, and the historic waterfront. A nice historical perspective can be found at Wikipedia, however, here are some small tidbits of information:

  • The great architect Christopher Wren, the primary designer for Williamsburg influenced Sir Francis Nicholson's city plan.

  • Four signers of The Declaration of Independence lived in the city. Three of their homes are open to the public while the fourth is the only home of signers left in America that is privately owned.

  • George Washington resigned his commission in the Continental Army at the Annapolis State House.

  • Fellow patriots gathered at the Maryland Inn to sign the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War.

  • Annapolis served as the Capital of our new nation from November 26, 1783 to August 13, 1784.

  • Many Colonial leaders dined and drank at Middleton Tavern. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were numbered among its prominent patrons

The state house itself is readily accessible, however, unlike the days before September 11, 2001, you cannot just walk in the door and stroll around, however, after the security checkpoint, you can access the old Senate Chamber and the room that was formerly used by the House of Delegates.  George Washington resigned his commission in the Old Senate Chamber after the Revolutionary War. It is home to the largest wooden dome in America. When not in session, you can see the new Chambers used by Maryland senators and delegates today, just down the hall.

The best place to start any tour is at the waterfront in a place commonly known as "Ego Alley" This area finds many high-price boat owners docking there to enjoy the access to Annapolis as well as the Chesapeake Bay, but also derives its name from the boat owners that like to dive up this offshoot from Spa Creek to show of their boat, bikini clad women, or both.  The walk to the State House up Main Street also leads you to other small alleyways, roads, and nooks to explore - each with it's own history.

Some of the other great places and sights to visit include:

  • The State House, which  includes the largest wooden dome in America.

  • The Old Treasury Building.

  • The Government House, home of 18th century public rooms and the home of the Governor.

  • The Chase Lloyd House: a great example of Georgian Architecture.

  • The Hammond-Harwood House: a fine collection of antiques and Georgian decor.

  • The William Paca House and Garden: this home and garden is wonderful worth the time to visit. 

Woodwind Sailing Tours

Of course you can take water tours that will take you around the Academy and parts of waterside Annapolis, but if you visit when there is a nice calm breeze blowing, book a three hour tour on the Woodwind or Woodwind II.

These 74 foot schooners are great fun, especially when you are made a temporary member of the crew and have to raise sails.  Of course, you can easily revert back to passenger with the breeze in your hair and a drink in hand.  If you saw the movie, The Wedding Crashers, actor Christopher Walken pilots the Woodwind II.

If the wind is just right, you may get a great Chesapeake Bay tour to include a pass by the Thomas Point Lighthouse, the oldest Chesapeake cottage style lighthouse still in operation.

See the Woodwind Website for details.

Getting There

From Baltimore (20 Miles) and points North:
I-95 South to I-895 South (Harbor Tunnel) to I-97 South or I-95 South to I-695 South (Baltimore Beltway) to Exit 4, I-97 South. I-97 will end at Rt. 50- go East to Exit 24, Rowe Blvd. Follow signs to the Visitors Center.

From points West and Northwest:
I-70 East to I-695 South (Baltimore Beltway). Follow to Exit 4, I-97 South. I-97 will end at Rt. 50- go East to Exit 24, Rowe Blvd. Follow signs to the Visitors Center.

From Washington DC (30 miles) and points South:
I-95 North to I-495 North (Washington Beltway) to Rt. 50 East. Follow Rt. 50 to Exit 24, Rowe Blvd, and follow signs for the Visitors Center.

From points Southwest:
Rt. 66 East to I-495 South to Rt. 50 East. Follow to Exit 24, Rowe Blvd. and follow signs to the Visitors Center.

From Marylandís Eastern Shore:
Take Rt. 50 West across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (free westbound). Follow Rt. 50 to exit 24 B, Rowe Blvd. and follow signs to the Visitors Center.

Next: The Naval Academy

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