Crisfield is what you explore while waiting for the Tangier Island or Smith Island ferries. It’s also the southernmost incorporated city in Maryland and calls itself the “Seafood Capital of the World.”
The fishing village was kicked into prominence in the 1800s with its seafood exports. Then, went into hyperdrive when the Pennsylvania Railroad built a line down the peninsula in the 1860s. The West Main Street Pier is built on oyster shells and train soot that filled in the marshland.
Crisfield is still known for its seafood packing houses. 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.
The town itself looks like it’s a bit down on it’s luck. Lots of big Victorian and Gothic homes that have seen better days.
A unique town feature: drive through convenience & liquor stores.
Smith & Tangier Passenger Ferries
The passenger ferries to Smith Island and Tangier Island are separate companies located near Crisfield city dock. They’re not far from each other and everything in the waterfront area is within easy walking distance.
Smith Island Ferry
The passenger ferry to Smith Island is located at the Somers Cove Marina, but the ferry office shares space in the Capt. Tyler Motel.
The Smith Island ferry from Crisfield leaves 12:30pm from May through mid-October
- May 29 & 30
- June 5, 6, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 & 30
- July: Wednesday through Sunday
- August: Wednesday through Sunday
- September 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26
- October 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17
Price is around $30 round-trip with additional fee for bicycles. We recommend calling — 410-425-2771 — rather than clicking through their unsecure website.
Tangier Island Ferry
The Tangier Island Cruises office is off the main road on the way to city dock. The boat leaves from the dock behind the office.
The trip to Tangier Island is about $30 round-trip with an extra fee for bicycles.
Cruises depart daily Sunday through Saturday at 12:30pm arriving in Tangier Island, Virginia, at about 1:45pm. Departure from Tangier is at 4:00pm arriving Crisfield dock at about 5:15pm.
Parking is located near each boat dock.
What to See & Do in Crisfield
Crisfield City Dock
City dock is where Smith Island and Tangier Island shuttles load up. The passenger ferries are at other docks.
These are the working boats that carry cargo to and from the island. They also take passengers. You can talk directly to the Captain about availability and leave time.
Crisfield Heritage Museum
The J. Millard West Historical 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. There’s an interesting video of two brothers who made Crisfield nationally-known for their carved, wood-duck decoys.
Shopping is limited at the Crisfield waterfront. There’s a separate business district that shoots off the main street that takes you to the waterfront, but those buildings are mostly empty and none are shops (as of 2021).
There are a few places close to city dock, including Waters Edge Cafe and Crisfield Creamery.
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.
Crisfield Crab Houses
Crisfield looks sleepy during the day especially between ferries leaving and arriving, but in the late afternoon the crab houses start filling up. These big seafood restaurants are in and around former packing houses, and they fill up by nighttime.
Several have outdoor tiki bars with corn-hole, ring-toss and other outdoor bar games at the ready.
Well worth a stop along the way, is Linton’s Seafood (4500 Crisfield Hwy) just outside Crisfield.
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.
Janes Island State Park
Janes Island State Park – The entrance for Janes Island State Park is just outside of town. It’s a protected marshland known for kayaking and canoeing trails.
The section on the mainland is mainly a camp ground with a small harbor for kayak rentals and boat access to the Tangier Sound.
The main part of park is an island that’s only accessible by boat.
Swimming at Janes Island State Park is only allowed on the island. There is no swimming area on the mainland portion of the park.
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.
Cycling In & Around Crisfield
Crisfield has bicycle lanes throughout town. They’ve also started a rails-to-trail route along the Crisfield-Eastover Rail line paralleling MD 413.
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.
If you come by boat, Somers Cove Marina is one of the biggest in the area with 515 slips. It’s now owned by the state of Maryland.