Written by Jenn Specketer
Guest blogger, Jenn Specketer, writes on topics such as beauty, style, food and travel in her unique blog, Jenn Inspired. Driven to write as a creative outlet and means of expressing her life, Jenn's blog can accurately be described as a "lifestyle diary," offering inspiration and authenticity.
Located on the Severn River, adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, you will find Annapolis, Maryland, a town that revolves around its rich, maritime traditions and culture. With its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and world-class water activities, Annapolis (fondly called “America’s Sailing Capital”), is a quaint and charming harbor town full of activities for the young and old alike. Better known as a spring and summer travel destination, one might not think of visiting this town during the winter months. But after stopping through this past weekend, I can attest it’s a town for all seasons by both sea and by land. The tourists are at a minimum, allowing you to experience the town as a local with ample opportunity to strike up a conversation with shop owners and get the scoop on wintertime in Annapolis.
The Maryland Inn, known as the crown jewel of all historic Annapolis lodging, dates back to the late 1700s. This 44 room inn has seen the likes of presidents, statesmen and political dignitaries since its inception, and you’ll find the Chesapeake Bay just a stroll down Main Street away. Looking for more down home comforts? Check out The Flag House Inn Bed and Breakfast. Located across the street from the US Naval Academy and a short block to the waterfront, the best of what Annapolis has to offer is close by and convenient.
Start your morning visit off with a cup of joe from City Dock Coffee, also known in town as the “local watering hole”. Voted best of Annapolis multiple times over, grab a seat in the quaint coffee shop and enjoy the warm, inviting atmosphere. Here you can plan out your day and download the free Annapolis Now app for your phone. You’ll find self-guided walking tours, information on shopping and dining and a listing of all upcoming events and festivals. If coffee isn’t your thing, pay a visit to Capital Teas. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, here you’ll find over 200 premium, organic and natural teas and infusions from around the world. Try one of the local favorites, the “Sailor’s Delight”, a black and green tea blend with strawberry and papaya notes.
Start Your Tour
Start off your walking tour with a visit to the US Naval Academy. After checking in one of the visitor gates with a valid photo ID, you’ll be able to walk around the grounds of the academy with ease. If you’d rather take part in a guided walking tour instead of exploring on your own, you can sign up for a time slot in the USNA’s Visitor Center. Can’t miss sights include the USNA Chapel and the Naval Academy Museum. If you can, stick around until noon where at 12:05pm sharp, 4000 midshipmen and midshipwomen conduct a 20 minute military march in the Yard.
Visit Main Street
After your Naval Academy experience, head towards Main Street, where you’ll find a plethora of shopping and dining options lining the center of town. Stop in at Re-Sails where you can find one-of-a-kind bags, clothing and home decor all made out of recycled sails. Founded by South African Christian Schlebach, only two retail locations can be found in the United States – Newport, Rhode Island and Annapolis. Ask for Cindy if she’s working. She not only helps out in the shops but also works part-time in the tourist office. Anything and everything you might want to know about visiting Annapolis, she’ll be able to provide! For souvenirs and gifts with a nautical feel, head to A.L. Goodies General Store. They have the largest selection of souvenirs and tee shirts in Annapolis. Don’t forget to grab one of the homemade peanut butter cups on the way out for a treat!
By now you’ve more than likely worked up an appetite! Check out McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar for the “real taste of Annapolis”. The locals also give The Iron Rooster (They serve breakfast all day long!) rave reviews, recommending the “Crab Cake Benny” – a spin on Eggs Benedict with jumbo lump crab meat and a dusting of old bay seasoning. Ask for a window seat upstairs near the fireplace.
Stroll City Dock
Work off your full belly with a stroll down to City Dock and take in what the locals affectionately call “Ego Alley”. In the summer months, there’s a constant parade of boats and yachts lining this narrow waterway and strutting their stuff. It’s the place to see and be seen! It’s a bit quieter right now, but you can still walk down to the water and admire the boats docked for the winter. There’s something quite peaceful about walking along the Annapolis harbor and taking in the frozen, snow covered Chesapeake Bay.
I couldn’t possibly cover all there is to see and do in Annapolis, even in the wintertime. If you are a fan of art, there are many art galleries and exhibitions to stop in and see. The Mitchell Galleryon St. John’s campus was highly recommended by local residents. If you’re a fan of antique shopping, you’ll find Maryland Avenue and Annapolis Street filled with everything from rare collectibles to fine jewelry. Annapolis Maritime Antiques, just across Spa Creek, is your source for nautical furniture, decor and antiques. And if you’re in the market for a good bottle of wine, look no further than Mills Wines and Spirits. Ask for Patrick. I can personally vouch for his great recommendations. If you’re in need of a winter or an early spring getaway on the East coast, think about adding a visit to Maryland’s capital to your list. You won’t be disappointed!