Crisfield is what you explore while waiting for the Tangier Island or Smith Island ferries. It’s the southernmost incorporated city in Maryland and calls itself the “Seafood Capital of the World.”
The fishing village was kicked into prominence when the Pennsylvania Railroad built a line down the peninsula. The West Main Street Pier is built on oyster shells and train soot that filled in the marshland.
Currently, the town is also known for its seafood packing houses and annual festivals. However, about 70% of the crab-picking houses have closed since the 1990s due, according to the community, to the decline in the Chesapeake Bay’s health. Still, a few of the large seafood markets remain.
Due to that, the pier area seems a bit empty. A few lonely condo developments have sprung up here and there along the waterfront, slowed by the Great Recession. There are a few antique stores and gift shops. And an ice cream store is tucked away in an alley near the main pier.
The Crisfield heritage museum is just off Main Street (at end of 9th Street) and shows how life once was along the Cheseapeake Bay from when Native Americans canoed the shore to present time. It also features a number of waterfowl decoys, along with a waterfowl hunting and gun display. It has an interesting video of two brothers who made Crisfield nationally-known for their carved, wood-duck decoys.
Gordon’s Confectionary (831 West Main Street) remains a step-back-in-time. It’s been there since 1924. However, the only candy still sold now are Hershey bars in the glass cabinet under the cash register.
It’s an old-timey sandwich counter for locals with teenagers busy behind the counter on the weekends keeping up with grill-orders. The specialties are claim strips and corn-nuggets.
What’s a corn nugget? Well, first cut fresh corn off the cob, then batter and deep-fry the clusters. Corn nuggets can be found in restaurants throughout Crisfield, along with Smith Island cake slices.
If you like tiki bars, swing by Crisfield Crabhouse and Grill (204 S. 10th Street). It’s a large open bar near the waterfront and has a number of traditional bar games, such as ring toss, that make it easy to settle-in for an afternoon or evening. It’s a place to go when you get off the water; it’s not fancy. There’s another around the water’s bend Captain Tyler’s Crabhouse (923 Spruce Street) with large portions and cheap all-you-can-eat crabs. And, for crab cakes away from the water, Watermen’s Inn (901 West Main) is highly rated.
The town beach is down Lorie C. Quinn Sr. Drive (turn down Hudson St. off Route 413). It faces west over Daugherty Creek between the mainland and Janes Island State Park, and has a playground for kids. A pier juts into the water, providing an overlook for some amazing sunsets.
The entrance for Janes Island State Park is just outside of town. It’s a protected marshland known for kayaking and canoeing trails.
Well worth a stop along the way, is Linton’s Seafood (4500 Crisfield Hwy). It has a big sign proclaiming “Best Steamed Shrimp in Town.” It’s a store which cooks the seafood for you, along with hush-puppies, corn nuggets or corn-on-the-cob. And, bonus, they sell beer. Once you order in the little store, head to the screened-in attached porch, where you’ll find picnic tables. Crabs and beer show up in short order.
Crisfield is also known for its festivals. In May, it’s the Soft Shell Spring Fair. In July, 4th of July Fireworks and Claim Bake. Over Labor Day, Hard Shell Crab Derby and Boat Docking Competition. And in October, there’s the Waterman’s Festival. And, of course, the Christmas Parade in December.
If you come by boat, Somers Cove Marina is one of the biggest in the area with 515 slips.
Fortune 500’s Beach Bargain Beach Towns! https://t.co/FowbvwSem0 Crisfield is #3 – The best things in life are free (or almost)
— Somerset Co Tourism (@visitsomersetmd) July 3, 2016