On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, across from Annapolis, lies a web of quaint and sparsely populated shore-side towns. If you find yourself searching for a new day-trip from the DC, without the intensity and chaos of the some of the Delmarva seaside towns, a stroll through St. Michaels could do just the trick. Under two hours from DC by car, St. Michaels is a popular destination on the Eastern Shore, but by all means, not quite like a trip to Dewey.
St. Michaels’ boutique shops, bed and breakfasts, and seafood restaurants rival the charm of Annapolis. Wandering down the main thoroughfare, Talbot Street, many of the current structures date from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s reflecting the colonial, Federal and Victorian eras. The mood in the air is romantic and peaceful. (I hate to say romantic, because who wants to spend their afternoon watching PDA, but it was ranked #8 out of the Top Ten Most Romantic Escapes in the USA in 2007.) There are a handful of shops to peruse, selling everything from home goods and clothing to practical souvenirs and gifts. The bed and breakfast “scene” is booming, and they have my favorite type of outdoor eating: break ’em-open fresh crabs.
However, let’s not get distracted by eating or the prospect of buying shiny new things. The main attraction in St. Michaels is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and the main reason you should check it out is because if you’ve already made it to the Eastern Shore, then you are probably interested in the museum’s mission: “furthering an understanding of the culture and history of the Chesapeake Bay.” And even more reason to visit soon: free music. Every Saturday afternoon through August the museum is hosting its summer concert series – outdoors. The concert entry is included with the price of admission ($13 – hey, it’s not the Smithsonian).
On a hot day (or a cloudy day, or a breezy day…) I would highly recommend a cold treat at Justine’s Ice Cream Parlour. Don’t worry about looking up the address (106 Talbot Street). You can’t miss it’s enticing allure – it pulls you in from the street before you even know what you’re getting in to.
But before you cool down with Justine’s indulgent milk shakes and ice cream, wander slightly off the beaten path and down the road to the Crab Claw. Serving up Maryland blue crabs by the dozen, the Crab Claw is an unbeatable al fresco experience. If you chose to eat outside at a picnic table on a dock over the water, you’ll be treated to the service you have come to expect for the occasion: a brown paper tablecloth and a mallet. And if you enjoy breaking open fresh crabs by the water, this is a place you won’t want to miss.
You might also consider a day cruise to St. Michaels leaving from Annapolis. Every Saturday morning the Watermark cruise line will pick you up from the Annapolis City Dock (downtown Annapolis), cruise you to St. Michaels (with complimentary coffee and doughnuts), allow you to spend over three hours of free time (including complimentary entry into the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum), and have you sober and back to your car in Annapolis by dinner.
As “the town that fooled the British,” St. Michaels – and countless other little seaside towns along Maryland’s Eastern Shore – is just begging you to stop by and say hello. And if you didn’t already know it, Wedding Crashers was filmed in St. Michaels in 2004. See, now you have to go.