IF YOU don't regularly approach Annapolis by boat, you're missing a crucial part of the view. Fear not: You have options. Annapolis has plenty of boats. Aside from those you can actually take home from Annapolis' annual back-to-back U.S. Boat Shows in October (sailboats October 3-7, power boats October 11-13), there are plenty you can take by the hour, the day or longer. The Tourism Council of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (152 Main St., Annapolis MD 21401; 301/268-7676) maintains a list of cruise lines, rental/charter companies and sailing schools. And the following sampling of cruises -- plus a few land tours and other worthwhile destinations -- may also help. CRUISES: CHESAPEAKE MARINE TOURS

The largest number of daily cruises (Annapolis harbor, the Severn River, Chesapeake Bay, St. Michaels and Spa Creek) is offered by Chesapeake Marine Tours (from Washington: 261-2719) aboard its City Dock-based fleet of five vessels, which include:

HARBOR QUEEN -- Narrated 40-minute tours of Annapolis harbor, the Naval Academy, Severn River and Eastport aboard 65-foot, 297-passenger double-deck sightseeing boat. The narration is taped, but this is as good an introduction as any, short of befriending an oysterman. Snack bar, cash bar. Boards hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, till 6 weekends. $3.50 adults/$1.75 children.

MISS ANNE -- Quiet 40-minute cruises up Spa Creek and back, past Naval Academy, from 11 a.m. till 8:15 p.m. weeknights, 9:15 weekends aboard 24- passenger launch. Cash bar. $3.50/$1.75.

LADY SARAH -- Similar route to Miss Anne aboard larger (49-passenger) vessel. Cash bar. Departs half-past the hour on weekends only, 12:30 to 5:30. $3.50/$1.75.

ANNAPOLITAN II -- Day cruise to St. Michaels, with three-hour stay in the quaint Eastern Shore fishing village across the Bay. Departs 10 a.m., returns 5:30 p.m., free danish/beverage, cash bar. $25 adults/$15 for children 12 and under.

OTHER CRUISES

MYSTIC CLIPPER -- Starting August 30, this Connecticut-based, 125-foot Baltimore clipper begins various one-ises out of Annapolis. One-day midweek tour is $45, $49 weekends. 800/243-0416. GUIDED WALKING TOURS

All operate daily, including weekends, through the summer:

HISTORIC ANNAPOLIS INC. -- One-hour walking tours of Annapolis, Naval Academy, State House, historic district and William Paca Garden. Leave at 10, 1:30 and 3 from Old Treasury Building on State House grounds. $4 adults, $2.25 students. Historic Annapolis also sponsors house tours, primarily in the fall. 301/267-8149.

THREE CENTURIES TOURS -- Two-hour walking tours of historic district, Naval Academy with guide in colonial dress, leaving daily at 9:30 a.m. (from Annapolis Hilton loy) and 1:30 (from City Dock information booth). $4 adults, $1.85 students. 301/263-5401.

MARYLAND STATE HOUSE -- Free slide show and public-rooms tour (about 40 minutes, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) of State House where George Washington resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army in 1783, where the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1784 and where Maryland legislators spend three months every year. 301/269-3400.

NAVAL ACADEMY GUIDE SERVICE -- One-hour walking tours leaving every half hour (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) from Ricketts Hall. $2 adults, $1 children. 301/267- 3363. MUSEUMS/HISTORIC SITES

BANNEKER-DOUGLASS MUSEUM OF AFRO-AMERICAN LIFE -- 84 Franklin St. 301/269-2894. Afro-American arts, crafts, history exhibits, lectures and films. Open 10-3, Tuesday to Friday; noon-4 weekends. Free.

CHASE-LLOYD HOUSE -- 22 Maryland Ave. 18th-century Georgian mansion, first floor open 2-4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, closed Wednesday and Sunday. $1.

HAMMOND-HARWOOD HOUSE -- 19 Maryland Ave. 301/269-1714. Georgian- style architectural showpiece, furnished with 18th-century collection. Museum open 10-5 Tuesday to Saturday, 2-5 Sunday, closed Monday. $2.50 adults, $1.50 under 18.

ST. ANNE'S CHURCH -- Church Circle. Built in 1859 on site of Annapolis' original Anglican church of the late 1690s. Sir Robert Eden, Maryland's last colonial governor, is buried in the church graveyard. Free.

WILLIAM PACA HOUSE AND GARDEN -- 186 Prince George St. 301/267-8149. Carefully restored Georgian mansion and two-acre garden originally built in 1765 by Governor Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a very wealthy guy. Open 10-4 Tuesday to Saturday, noon-4 Sunday, closed Monday. $3.50 house and garden, $2.50 house only, $1.50 garden only.

ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE -- College Avenue. Begun as King William's School, opened in 1695 as one of America's first public schools, chartered in 1784 to serve as western branch of the University of Maryland. The Liberty Tree, a giant tulip poplar on the broad front lawn, is said to be 400 years old.

VICTUALLING WAREHOUSE MARITIME MUSEUM -- 77-79 Main St. 301/268- 5576. Exhibits on maritime Annapolis 1751-81. Admission 50 cents (tickets also available here for Tobacco Warehouse and the Revolutionary War Barracks on Pinkney Street). Open 11-4:30 daily.