City Dock is the Annapolis downtown waterfront. This is the city center of historic Annapolis. It wraps around what’s called “Ego Alley,” a short canal from the harbor that dead-ends at the bottom of Main Street. It’s worth a stroll.
What to See & Do Around Annapolis’ City Dock
“Ego Alley” is what locals call this section of Spa Creek that stops at the bottom of Annapolis’ Main Street. The name comes from the continuous parade of boats that motor to the end to see what’s going on in town, then “pivot” in the tight dead-end and head back out into the harbor.
The pivots are a source of entertainment for those onshore, especially when boats are solidly docked on the sides and another boat is tight on the pivoting boat’s stern.
“City Dock” is actually a marina, where boats can park for a few hours or overnight tied up along Ego Alley. The Annapolis Harbormaster controls this section of the Annapolis waterway. The Harbormaster’s office is above the public restroom in the big parking lot.
Musicians, jugglers, and other local artists often set up on the weekends along City Dock, usually in the harbor-front park or in the courtyard.
City Dock Courtyard
The City Dock courtyard is a seating area where visitors can watch the boats going through Ego Alley. It also has the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, marking the former port of entry for slaves. Kunta Kinte, the African ancestor of author Alex Haley, arrived on a slave ship in 1767. The memorial features life-sized bronze sculptures of Haley and three children of different ethnic backgrounds.
The idea for the memorial started in 1979 when Alex Haley’s best-selling story Roots won national acclaim, but it was finished in 2006. According to research done by Alex Haley, Kunta Kinte was an African from The Gambian town of Jufferee.
According to Haley’s family history, he was sold into slavery in a town called “Naplis.” Haley’s research identified a slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, which sailed from Gambia River, on July 5, 1767, with 140 captured Gambians. It arrived in Annapolis, Maryland on September 29, 1767, with only 98 survivors.
Haley believed one of those survivors was a seventeen-year-old Kunta Kinte.
Waterfront Park in Downtown Annapolis
The courtyard is a nice place to sit and watch the boats at the end of Main Street, but… (shhh)… if you walk along the water, past the large city parking lot, you’ll find a wider park with benches and not as crowded.
Susan Campbell Park has the best waterfront view in Annapolis. It’s also the scene for assorted festivals throughout the year.
This is where you catch the tour boats for cruises on the Chesapeake Bay.
Historic ships often tie up at City Dock on their way through the Chesapeake Bay. These historic boats are called “tall ships” and they sail a circuit through the Chesapeake Bay during the summer to various towns and events.
Some are home-based in other Chesapeake Bay towns, while others come through the Bay from the East Coast or other faraway places. L’Hermione (below) came from France.
For a short cruise of the harbor at a slightly lower cost, you can jump on the Annapolis water taxi. Catch it at City Dock on the parking lot side.
The water taxi’s cost depends on how far you’re traveling. You pay the captain when you hop on. They’re usually happy to give you a bit of history and information about Annapolis.
There are several taxi boats circulating in the warm months. It takes you across the harbor and around Spa Creek. The taxis don’t have a regular schedule. Just walk over and wait, or call the number on the sign to find out where they are and how long a wait.
Dock Street parallels Ego Alley and goes through the parking lot. It has a number of tourist shops as well as restaurants with outside tables facing the water. Some of the oldest Colonial bars are along Dock Street.
Waterfront Dining in Annapolis
City Dock is where you’ll find waterfront dining in historic Downtown Annapolis. However, most are from a distance.
Pusser’s Caribbean Grille (80 Compromise Street) has the only open-air seating along the water. In the summer, musicians set up outside on the dock. You’ll see the Fleet Reserve next to Pusser’s, but that’s a private club reserved for enlisted current and former members of the Navy.
Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs (100 Main Street) is a tourist crab-house overlooking Ego Alley from the second floor of the building. Latitude 38 (12 Dock Street), across the city parking lot from Ego Alley, offers a view from its second floor which is lined with large windows and has an open-air balcony area.
You also have the option to buy a take-out meal from Market House (25 Market Space) or a number of downtown restaurants for a picnic by the water.
More About Visiting Annapolis…