Being on or near the water is a big attraction for many visitors. Here are some ways to get the most from Annapolis’s maritime heritage.
Visit the U.S. Naval Academy . The grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Visit the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center to find out more about guided walking tours.) Attractions include the U.S. Naval Academy Museum and the Naval Academy Chapel, which houses the marble tomb of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. Admission is free, but everyone 16 and older must have a valid photo ID. (52 King George St. 410-293-8687. www.usna.edu.)
The Annapolis Maritime Museum , housed in a historic oyster packing plant, examines the life of local watermen in its somewhat thin main exhibit but also hosts rotating art exhibits, concerts and special events. (723 Second St. 410-295-0104. www.amaritime.org. Admission free; open noon-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.)
Annapolis is home to numerous boat races and regattas throughout the year. The next major event is the Santa Maria Cup, one of the largest competitions for all-female crews. Head-to-head races begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28 and run through the evening of Oct. 1. Most of the action can be viewed from the Annapolis City Dock or the Eastport waterfront. See www.santamariacup.org for a schedule and more information.
Want to get on the water yourself? The easiest way is to take a water taxi between the City Dock, where you’ll find the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial , and Eastport. It costs $2 per person to get from the City Dock to the Annapolis City Marina or Chart House restaurant, $2.50 to the Naval Academy’s anchorage or $3.50 to ride to the far side of Eastport for Davis’ Pub or the Maritime Museum. Boats come and go on demand. After a friend and I rode to Boatyard Boat and Grill for lunch (a quick walk from the Marina), the skipper told us that the hostesses there are happy to call the taxi for your return trip. See www.watermark
cruises.com/watertaxi.htm for a map of destinations and prices.
Those who’d rather just watch the boats float by with a drink in hand should head for Pusser’s , the only place where sailors can tie up their boats and step up to the bar. Try the house Painkiller cocktail, made with Pusser’s rum, creme of coconut and fruit juice, and topped with grated nutmeg. (At the Annapolis Marriott, 80 Compromise St. 410-626-0004. www.pussersusa.com.)
If you think Annapolis is boat-crazy, you haven’t visited during the U.S. Sailboat Show and the U.S. Powerboat Show, which host close to 100,000 people for in-water boat shows. (That means the boats are exhibited in the water, rather than in an exhibition center.) The City Dock is ground zero, with exhibitions of boats that cost more than single-family homes, sailing workshops, seminars on weather and transatlantic voyages, concerts and events. The Sailboat Show is Oct. 6-10, and the Powerboat Show is Oct. 13-16. Admission is $17 per day for adults, $4 for children age 7-12, and free for children 6 and younger. See www.usboat.com for more information.
— Fritz Hahn