Annapolis has a vibe. Certain cities do. Songs are written about New York City’s vibe. San Francisco too. No songs about Annapolis; it’s not that big, but it is historic, lively and fun.
6 Reasons to Visit Annapolis
Not a History SnoozeHere’s where the vibe comes in. Annapolis is the confluence of history, commerce, political power and boating. The constant tug of priorities means the town hung onto it colonial buildings but was prevented from turning the historic area into a giant museum. The boating community actively keeps the town from becoming stuffy or pretentious. When you visit Annapolis, you’re strolling around and through history on the way to find a good crab cake and a beer. The entire downtown was the country’s first National Historic Landmark, created in 1966.
.Annapolis was the commercial powerhouse of the Chesapeake Bay, essentially putting other commercial centers around Bay out of business. That fizzled when ships got too big for Annapolis’ little harbor and started docking in Baltimore. The British came through Annapolis when they tried to retake the colonies in the War of 1812. Slave ships unloaded in Annapolis for generations before the Civil War.
.While its commercial vigor fizzled a bit, Annapolis is still a political powerhouse. The Continental Congress met in Annapolis to ratify the “Treaty of Paris,” formalizing separation from Great Britain. The Maryland State House continues as the longest continuous-use state capitol in the U.S.
More Original 18th Century Buildings Than Any Other U.S. CityFive of the Colonial Georgian mansions in Annapolis are open to the public. Others are still used for homes or have been turned into offices, shops or restaurants. Walk any direction from the business district and you’ll find beautifully maintained Victorians and 19th Century mansions, as well as colonial watermen cottages.
“Sailing Capital of the World”Actually, Annapolis competes with Newport, Rhode Island, for the title. Newport has hosted America’s Cup regattas, while Annapolis leads in number of boats compared to the population.
.But the Annapolis city council settled the issue by passing a proclamation in 1995. So, there you go Newport.
Historic Higher LearningDowntown Annapolis is the home of the U.S. Naval Academy and St. John’s College, a 300-year-old liberal arts college unlike no other in the country.
.St. John’s was created before colleges had curriculums and it hasn’t changed. Students study the “great books” toward a liberal arts degree. St. John’s College campus in Annapolis The two institutes of higher learning compete throughout the year, with the most popular event being the annual Croquet Match in the spring where everyone dresses up Great Gatsby-style to watch cut-throat croquet. No joke.
.The result is a vibrant nightlife. Nearly every bar — and there are a lot of them — have music every weekend. Walking about you’ll find casual hipsters, formally-dressed midshipmen and mid-life boaters in their athletic wear.
Shops & EateriesThe historic downtown is full of unique boutiques and restaurants. Internationally renowned Hobo bags started here and still has their original shop downtown. Across Spa Creek, a ten minute walk from the harbor, there’s Eastport, home to a boating community and, more importantly, lots of boaters’ bars. You’ll also come across some great water views. Bridge to Eastport across Spa Creek. This is the view from the Eastport side facing downtown Annapolis. Eastport residents march into City Hall each year to announce the ‘hood is succeeding from Annapolis. They settle the issue with a tug-of-war across the “creek”. Eastport is where you’ll find a high-end “restaurant row” of fish and steak houses with views of Annapolis harbor.
.While Main Street in historic downtown is home to an unusual number of colonial bars.
The main places to see are City Dock (the waterfront), Main Street (the business/shopping district), State Circle (state capitol area), U.S. Naval Academy, Eastport (historic neighborhood of former watermen homes & boaters’ bars), and West Street (uptown area of bars & restaurants).