Georgetown and Galena are tucked away near the end the Sassafras River, at the last point large boats can easily traverse the scenic river without having to wait for a drawbridge. Because of that, Georgetown is home to a number of large marinas. During boating season, those marinas grow to the size of a small town and become their own weekend getaway destination.
There’s not much else to Georgetown other than marinas. It was nearly wiped out by the British in the War of 1812. A few historic homes remain, but no business district. Galena, about a 20-minute walk up the road from Georgetown, is the larger town with a grocery store, shops and a gas station. Larger, but still a very a village of about 600 residents.
Galena has gone through several names. It started as Downs’ Cross Roads in 1763, and was changed to Georgetown Cross Roads. In 1813, a small deposit of galena–a mineral used to make lead ore–was found there in 1813 and the name was changed to Galena. The mine didn’t last long. It was closed during the War of 1812 when the British came through and never reopened.
What used to be be a business district is now a fun antique row about two blocks long on Main Street. The stores range from high-end to digging through dusty back rooms to see what treasures can be uncovered in the former general store.
The business owners organize several entertaining events through the year, local-style. The best known is the Dogwood Festival in May. The town is lined with dogwood trees that flower in the spring.
Locals recommend Twinny’s Place (162 N Main St, Galena, MD) for breakfast and lunch. They specialize in pancakes, crab cakes and cheese steaks.
Not far from Twinny’s there’s the historic St. Dennis Church (153 N. Main) and cemetery. We couldn’t find much information about the church history, but it’s a scenic visit if you’re in town.
Main Street is lined with a number of Gothic and Victorian homes remaining from its heyday. The population has been steadily climbing and is now just over 600 residents. But, Galena is still not much more than a crossroads.
Just outside Galena, in Georgetown, is the Kitty Knight House (14028 Augustine Herman Highway, Georgetown, MD) on a hill overlooking the Sassafras River. This takes us back to the British invasion.
Two colonial homes survived Georgetown’s burning in 1813 (part of the War of 1812). One was owned by Miss Kitty Knight, who convinced the British to leave her house and the one next to it alone. Those two houses are now an inn and restaurant overlooking the Sassafras River with a great view of the marinas. Thank you, Miss Kitty!
The bartender told us that the pub section is original, and it looks it with a low ceiling, dark wood and a wide fireplace.There’s a large patio outside with a bar and a great view of the harbor with the boat-filled marinas.
The Georgetown marinas are worth a mention. They’re clustered together by the bridge and are like an all-inclusive resort for boaters, with beaches, pools, shops and other amenities. Some offer fat-tire bicycles — called comfort bikes — with baskets for those who want to pedal into Galena.
The Georgetown Yacht Basin is right out of the “Mad Men” TV series, with its original teal-colored art deco fueling station and covered slips. A number of yachts from that era are still docked in the tin-roofed slips.
Each marina features a different restaurant and there’s a free shuttle to take boaters who want to bounce around to the different marina restaurants and bars. It’s a good idea to tip the skipper a couple bucks per person. The water taxi can be hailed on Channel 71.
Skip Jack Cove (150 Skipjack Road, Georgetown) is recommended by folks in town for crab cakes. The restaurant, Signals, is a modern, casual octangular building on a hill overlooking the river. It’s open during boating season (mid-March through mid-November).
The Granary (100 George Street, Georgetown) features higher-end dinners and people there wear dressier boat-wear. You can order half portions of the dinners. A band sets up downstairs on the weekends for dancing. Its open year-round.
The Kitty Knight House is finer dining, a place locals go for anniversaries and prom, but there’s an large outside deck overlooking the Sassafras River, and the inside pub, for casual dining.