Annapolis stretches from the blue waters of Chesapeake Bay to the green countryside that surrounds it. What was once a political center has become a tourist mecca, all while keeping its authentic character.
Colonial history lives in Annapolis. Settled by Europeans when Puritans came from nearby Virginia in the mid-1600s, Annapolis rose to become a critical political capital and port in the 18th century during the American Revolutionary War. As a harbor, it also played a pivotal role in the War of 1812. Today it is still home to the United States Naval Academy, a wonderfully ornate example of the Beaux Arts style of architecture and one of the many historic buildings in town.
In keeping with its maritime history, Annapolis is a center for the sailing arts, and you'll find every kind of seagoing vessel on the city's many docks. Whether your goal is to learn about history, to explore the natural beauty of the area, or simply relax and enjoy the scenery, Annapolis has a lot to offer.
History buffs will love this colonial capital city and its many preserved buildings, such as the Maryland State House, and St. John's College, a private arts college that dates back to 1696. You can also learn about African American history in museums like the William H. Butler House and Maynard-Burgess House.
Annapolis is often called the sailing capital of America and even the world, and you'll find world-class facilities and yachts on view. But, that's not the only way to enjoy the waters of Chesapeake Bay and beyond. From fishing to kayaking and scenic cruises and tours, there are many ways to get active on the water.
There are over 200 acres of parkland in Annapolis, including Truxtun Park, incorporating 70 acres of paths and greenery that include a boat launch and swimming pool in season. There are many parks and hiking trails to enjoy, like the 340-acre Quiet Waters Park that follows the pretty Harness Creek.
The rich agricultural lands in the Annapolis area produce some highly regarded sauvignon blancs, among other vintages, and the farms feed a local restaurant scene. If you enjoy seafood, then a dish of blue crabs caught fresh from Chesapeake Bay - steamed, soft shell, or in a famous Maryland crab cake - is an experience not to be missed. Lobster rolls - a kind of submarine sandwich stuffed with lobster and other ingredients - is another local favorite.
The capital of the state of Maryland lies only 25 miles south of Baltimore and 30 miles east of Washington, D.C. Annapolis is ideally situated to let you enjoy the small-town ambiance while you conveniently explore all the rich history, culture, and sites of all three centers.
Guided tours of the U.S. Naval Academy provides unique insight into what it means to become a Naval Officer for the United States Army. The school trains the nation's brightest talents through a curriculum based in admirable discipline on a gorgeous waterside campus. Watch students march in uniform during the daily Noon Formation, and stop by the Naval Academy Museum for some historical context to one of the oldest institutions in America.
Annapolis sits on Chesapeake Bay, the site of one of the first European Settlements in America, and today home to the oldest State Capitol still in use. This building stands majestically at the center of the city and welcomes visitors for fascinating tours year-round. Ogle the historical portraits lining the age-old walls and take a moment to appreciate its crowning glory, the huge wooden dome towering over the surrounding city. Don't miss the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial outside.
This is the house that William Paca lived in when he was one of a handful to sign the Declaration of Independence, and everything about the property exudes Colonial American style. This detailed reconstruction is a National Historic Landmark, speaking worlds about what it was like for the Upper Class when America became a country. The gardens are a pristine escape from the city, begging hours of serene wanderings in traditionally designed landscape.
This lovely park rests on the serene bay, complete with formal gardens and an enticing sculpture park, along with a slew of exciting activities in store for all ages. With miles of waterside jogging paths, the opportunity to canoe or kayak the coves, and dog parks suited for kings, all of Annapolis comes out to play in the summertime. Picnics are always a hit, and the walk out to the South River Scenic Outlook provides panoramic river views. And come winter, an enormous ice-skating rink comes calling.
The nickname of this popular inlet stems from the comings and goings of expensive ships, from sailboats to yachts. These sparkling specimens of the wealthy parade back and forth along Dock Street to the delight of landlubbers out on evening strolls. The Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory is a beloved local dig that serves exciting homemade flavors to the voyeurs, a perfect addition to the waterside experience.
Annapolis sees the most visitors during the summer months. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures averaging over 85 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Winter temperatures dip to the low 40s during the day and below zero at night. While the weather is distinctly wintry, Annapolis lights up with Christmas decorations and activities at the end of the year, making it a popular destination for winter vacations too.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is the closest international airport to Annapolis at a distance of just over 22 miles along I-75 S. There is a light rail service from BWI to Patapsco Station on the Washington line at a cost of $1.70, where you can connect with the #14 bus to Annapolis for an additional $2.00. Dulles International Airport in Virginia (just over 62 miles) and Reagan National in Washington (just over 36 miles) are alternatives, depending on your starting location.
There is no direct passenger rail service to Annapolis. The nearest Amtrak stations are located in Union Station, Washington, Penn Station in Baltimore, or the New Carrollton Metro Station.
Located in a fairly densely populated region of the East Coast, Annapolis connects to other major centers through a network of highways. I-97 heads north to Baltimore, while US-50 travels west to Washington D.C.
Greyhound and MTA (Maryland Transit Administration) intercity buses connect Annapolis to other cities in the state and beyond. It is the only long distance mode of transportation with direct connections in Annapolis.
There are many hotels where you can enjoy the history of Annapolis along with the service and amenities. The O'Callaghan Hotel is a 3-star property offering historic ambiance with an Irish touch. Historic Inns of Annapolis offers your choice of three boutique hotels in Old Annapolis, with authentic period furnishings and antiques. Look to Loews Annapolis Hotel for clean modern rooms in a convenient location.
Historic Annapolis - once the capital of a young United States, this historic neighborhood has retained its classic East Coast charms, from the multicolored clapboard buildings to the cobbled streets. This area is packed with beautifully preserved examples of colonial architecture and landmarks like the Maryland State House and many dining options from casual to fine cuisine.
Eastport - just on the other side of the harbor, this neighborhood is accessible by water taxi or the Spa Creek Bridge. This is where you'll find the Naval Academy and streets of other beautiful historic buildings, and restaurants like the Chart House, where you can savor fresh seafood as you enjoy the view of the harbor.
West Annapolis - just a short drive or taxi ride from the city center, this area offers a quieter alternative during busy tourist periods. This neighborhood has streets lined with huge trees, and is the place to find antiques and unique boutiques with local artisan wares.
City of Annapolis buses cover the downtown area from the Back Creek Nature Park to the Waterworks Park and beyond. Cash fare is a flat $2.00, with a day pass available for $4.00.
There are several taxi cab companies available in Annapolis. Rates start at $2.50 per mile. Advance quotes are available for service to nearby airports, downtown Baltimore, or Washington, D.C.
Annapolis is a small city, and a car isn't a necessity but will help you explore the area. A compact rental costs about $35 per day, and local providers include Avis and Europcar. Metered street parking is limited in the historic areas of Annapolis, but available on some streets, particularly around the Maryland State House and United States Naval Academy. Rates begin at $2.00 per hour with a two hour maximum. At that point, you will have to move your car - refilling the meter isn't allowed.
Ego Alley, the heart of old Annapolis, is a narrow waterway that connects the old port with the sea. This is the place to people watch, stroll along, and check out the private yachts as you make your way through upscale boutiques and stores. There are more than 20 shops and restaurants along historic Maryland Avenue, an out-of-the-way street off the main areas along Main and West streets.
When it comes to supermarkets in Annapolis, Graul's Market and Shoppers offer a good selection and reasonable prices. Safeway is a discount chain for necessities at low prices. A quart of milk will cost about $1.00 and a dozen eggs about $2.85.
The dining scene in Annapolis features everything from classic continental to Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Japanese. Chesapeake Brewing Company offers craft beers and classic pub food in authentic historic ambiance. Dishes like crab soup and burgers start at about $11. At Reynolds Tavern, you can dine in candlelight in an elegant 18th-century dining room, with mains starting at $15. Harry Browne's is housed in an elegant Art Deco building, offering a fine dining menu that emphasizes local ingredients. Mains start at about $25.