I’d heard about Annapolis Maryland for many years, and made my first visit there this week. I now know what everyone has been talking about. What makes this small capital city such a great destination? Here is what I found.
One thing that makes a place better is to have people who live there cheering all the time. People who have moved to Annapolis or were born in Maryland love it here, and they share what they love about it with visitors. “Where are you visiting from?” we were asked time and again, by strangers who we met in places like cafes and in lines. T
hey eagerly wanted to know and that empathy and interest says a lot.
In Chick and Ruth’s Delly, a line forms on the sidewalk every day because everyone wants to get in and enjoy their crab cakes and collossal milk shakes. But they want more than big piled plates of crab Benedict–they want to be a part of it. At 9:30 am, owner Ted Levitt picks up a microphone, and after pointing out three proud WWII veterans, “the greatest g
eneration” he began to lead us all in the pledge of Allegiance. “Because we can,” that’s why. They do it every weekday at 8 am.
We popped into some antique shops on Maryland Avenue, and quickly became engrossed in a discussion with an African American woman who was doing a book signing. Like so many of us, she was from out of town, in her case LA. The proprietors of every shop we visited wanted to know all about us, and were warm and welcoming. That makes a place feel great.
The midshipmen who walk up and down Main Street in their snappy dress uniforms happily pose for photos, with big smiles. The town is proud of being the home since 1845 to
the United States Naval Academy. The tour there included stops at the crypt of John Paul Jones, Revolutionary War hero, below the huge chapel, and to Bancroft Hall, where 4400 midshipmen make their home. While hearing what the first-year plebes have to go through made us pretty glad not to have chosen a career as a navy officer, you couldn’t help but see the pride that comes with the challenge, and the prestige afforded to being the 1 out of 16 who makes the cut.
The water is everywhere, the Severn river is full of sailboats and across the river a line of stern grey training ships awaits the midshipmen’s first sea trials. The city is laid out with two spokes, and narrow brick lined lanes fan out amidst colorful houses, some with the classic symmetry of the Georgian architecture. I can just imagine how wonderful it would be to walk down toward the harbor on a summer day, the sails flapping, and the town coming to life.
Annapolis has a burgeoning restaurant scene–we ate very well at Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant, where a filo-wrapped scallop appetizer and my twin lobster tails were seafood heaven. It turns out the owner has roots in New England, just like the owners of Annapolis Ice Cream Co, who came down here 11 years ago. Many people who live here once lived in our frozen north, but enjoy the milder climate and booming economy down by the harbor in this lovely capital city.