State Circle is the political center of Maryland. This is where you’ll find the governor’s mansion, state capitol building, state offices, and the restaurants where the power-brokers meet.

The residential area surrounding the circle contains some of the city’s fanciest mansions and is well worth a walkabout.

Maryland State House

Maryland’s capitol building is called the State House. It’s located on the top of the hill overlooking downtown Annapolis. The stately dome can be seen throughout the historic district.

The Maryland State House is important mainly because it was used temporarily as the U.S. Capitol. This is where the Continental Congress signed the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Revolutionary War. George Washington also resigned his commission as commander-in-chief here before he became the nation’s first president.

Now, it’s used by the Maryland General Assembly to decide state laws. They meet for three months each year, starting the second Wednesday in January.

Touring the Maryland State Capitol

You can tour the State House. The main entrance to the Capitol — the one the public is required to use — looks toward Rowe Boulevard, facing away from the waterfront. The front faces a promenade edged by colonial-style, state office buildings.

The main door is up the 27 granite steps. However, there’s a ground-floor entrance under the steps. Walk around the side of the steps and you’ll see the entrance.

No matter which entrance you go through, be prepared to show your ID to a guard and walk through a metal detector.

Maryland State House is open to visitors 9am-5pm, daily except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. General public tours are self-guided. You’ll find information at the Office of Interpretation on the first floor.

Tours are also available through the Legislative Services Department, which serves Assembly members and focuses on constituent services. Those tours must be arranged in advance. Be aware that there may be restrictions on those tours.

Annapolis tour companies also offer a stop at the Capitol as part of their look at the city. You can find more information at the Annapolis Visitor’s Center (26 West Main Street).

Check the Maryland State House visitor information website for the latest on any visitor restrictions.

Maryland Governor’s Office

The Governor’s office is on the ground floor. You’re not likely to be able to swing by for a tour, but a friendly person at the front desk will be happy to answer questions.

The House and Senate chambers are on the second floor.

Maryland House Chamber

The current House of Delegates chamber was finished in 1905. The big ornate room features marble quarried from Italy and Maryland, as well as five Tiffany leaded-glass skylights.

The House Chamber seats 141 delegates, three from each of the state’s 47 districts.

House chamber in Maryland State Capitol
House Chamber (photo courtesy Jake Scheuer)

Maryland Senate Chamber

The Maryland Senate is the second-largest chamber in the State House and is topped with a Tiffany skylight. The carpet features the Great Seal of 1648. Senators have been meeting in this chamber since 1906.

Maryland has 47 state senators, one from each legislative district.

Senate chamber in Maryland State Capitol

Senate Chamber (photo courtesy Jake Scheuer)

Other Rooms in the Maryland State House

The Colonial section of the Maryland State House is down the hall from the current Senate and House of Delegates chambers. You’ll find the original, smaller legislative chambers and ornate meeting rooms.

The State House Caucus Room also called the Bill Room, contains the legislature’s memorabilia.

The Old Senate Chamber is where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief on December 23, 1783. That’s a statue of George Washington in the photo. The Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Revolutionary War, was ratified in this room a month later.

The Old House of Delegates Chamber has been renovated several times. It was built in the Colonial 1700s and was remodeled in the 1800s with a “High Victorian Style.” In the 1900s, the chamber was turned into rooms for meetings, ceremonies, and other assorted purposes. Frederick Douglas is the statute on the right of the photo.

Along with the Maryland Governor’s office on the ground floor, you’ll come across the Speaker’s office, as well as staff offices and media rooms.

The nitty-gritty legislative work is done in the basement. You may find proposed legislation (bills) in a rack down the hall from the shoe-shine stand, left out for the public to read. Down a side corridor, you’ll find vending machines and an ATM.

The Maryland State Archives has more information on what there is to see in the Maryland State House.

Maryland Governor’s Mansion

The governor’s mansion, called “Government House,” is across the street from the Maryland State House, behind a black wrought-iron fence. It’s catty-corner from the capital’s front portico. But you’re on a circle, so just look a bit left from the steps facing Rowe Boulevard.

Maryland governors have been living here since 1870. It’s gone through several renovations and additions. The seven public rooms reflect those eras.

Tours of Government House are given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 10:30am – 12:00pm, by appointment only. You can schedule a tour by contacting Maryland’s Government House at 410-974-3531 or write to Government House, State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401. The Maryland Governor also hosts a holiday open house in December.

 State Circle

State Circle is the neighborhood around State House. The capital building is surrounded by several Colonial homes, restaurants, and inns that cater to politicos during the legislative session, and tourists when the state legislature isn’t meeting.

Two historic Colonial inns are on State Circle including Governor Calvert House and State House Inn. The State House Inn terrace was once the town well with a fig garden.

The main-entrance side of the capital building is all state offices. Walk around the circle and you’ll find a few shops and restaurants.

Maryland Avenue, just off State Circle, is a neighborhood shopping area with Annapolis’ famous Irish restaurant, Galway Bay, and the Annapolis antique row.

State Circle Parking

There is street parking in this area, but it’s tough to come by. Watch the signs to ensure you don’t park in a reserved spot, and keep track of the time. Annapolis is strict on parking rules.

State Circle “Alleys

If you’re walking to Main Street or the waterfront, try walking down through a residential area to explore the different styles of homes. And, keep an eye out for the famous Annapolis alleys, short-cuts to Main Street.

A cool thing to note: The yellow building above is actually the State House Inn on State Circle. But on Main Street, it’s the Taco Vida restaurant. The buildings here are built into the hill and have two front doors. One on State Circle and another on Main Street, which is the basement — depending on how you look at it.

The yellow building on the left below is the same yellow building on the right above.

The little blue building on Church Circle (above) is behind the Alpaca Store building down on Main Street. The top floor of the Alpaca Store is home to Circle Art Gallery. The entrance to the gallery is an alley off State Circle.

In historic downtown Annapolis, you need to keep an eye out for hidden entrances.

More About Visiting Annapolis… 

Overview on What to See and Do in Annapolis

Historic Main Street

Annapolis Waterfront

Maryland State Capital

U.S. Naval Academy

West Street (arts & entertainment district)

Maryland Avenue (antique & vintage row)

Eastport (boating neighborhood)

Colonial Mansions & Other Houses

Haunted Houses & Pubs in Annapolis

Annapolis Nightlife

Getting Around Annapolis

What To See & Do Just Outside Annapolis

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