There’s not much at Solomons. But that’s what draws people. A lot of people.
The island is a major stop along the Chesapeake Bay for the summer boating circuit. Then, there are the adults who drive to Solomons Island and rent lodging for the weekend parties. The town of 2,400 swells to 10,000 on summer weekends and 15,000 on major holidays.
Why? Solomons Island is a place to just hang out, onshore or privately on your boat.
Solomons Island is where people go to not be seen.Island Resident
Solomons Island is about 65 miles from Washington, DC, and about 80 miles from Baltimore, all along state highways. Mainly four-lane highways.
About Solomons Island
The island is about two square miles in the shape of a small burgee flying on a pole, with the pole connecting to the mainland and the flag on the other end blowing toward the mainland. A one-and-a-quarter-mile walk takes you around Solomons Island.
It’s an island due to a canal cut through a narrow part of the land. That short canal, called the tide box, controls the water flow and tidal currents in the harbor between the island and the mainland.
The island’s main street, Solomon Island Road, is bordered by a boardwalk on the riverside and shops, smaller restaurants & homes on the harbor side of the road.
The ‘flag’ end of the island, where it widens, has a beautiful residential neighborhood and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, researching how to keep the Chesapeake Bay healthy. It’s the oldest state-supported marine laboratory on the East Coast, part of the University of Maryland.
The Patuxent River flows along the west side of the island, on the boardwalk side, while Back Creek flows past the Eastern side. Marinas line that harbor side of Solomons Island. And at the end of the island, on the flag end, both water tributaries connect and swirl into the Chesapeake Bay.
But back to that harbor. Solomons Island marinas have an estimated 800 boat slips around the island.
For those who drive on, the island has rentals and B&Bs.
Shopping is limited. There are some stores on the main road, Patuxent Street. You’ll many of them in large former houses facing the river.
You go to Solomons Island for the waterfront dining. There’s a lot of waterfront dining.
Solomons Island’s Big Bars
The island has three big bars — The Pier, The Lighthouse and The Tiki Bar. In between are several restaurants, a bit of shopping and very little parking.
The Pier (14575 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD) is actually on a pier jutting into the Patuxent River. It’s a historic landmark offering panoramic views of the Patuxent River
The Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar is on the harbor side of Solomons Island. It’s not really a lighthouse. However, it has a great view of the harbor, marinas, and boats.
Tiki Bar Solomons (85 Charles Street, Solomons, MD) is across the street from the harbor. It’s not on the water but has the main beach on Solomons Island. It’s an experience all by itself.
The Tiki Bar opened in the 1980s and became what may be the biggest tiki bar on the Chesapeake Bay, even though it’s across the road from the water.
The island’s population swells by thousands with the Tiki Bar’s annual opening and closing.
What To Do on Solomons Island
There are many other places to stop for a nosh or drink with beautiful views.
Walk along Solomons Island Road and you’ll pass by smaller restaurants that are fun. Several have live music on the weekends.
This is also where most of the shops are located, mainly in converted homes.
And mixed among the shops, historic buildings.
Solomons Island also sponsors fun events around most major holidays.
Solomon’s Island Beach?
Solomons Island does not have a public beach. But locals have found a small sandy spot on the Patuxent River tucked by the parking lot; it can disappear with the tide and decisions by island officials.
There are some Western Shore beaches in state parks or other communities within driving distance. But be aware they fill early on the weekends.
University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is located on Solomons Island’s Back Creek, which is another beautiful water view.
The visitor center offers exhibits on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, oyster reefs, and the research currently happening in the lab.
Check the website to find out when the visitors center is open.
Solomons Island Fishing
For those tired of hanging out, fishing is hugely popular.
There are a boat ramp and fishing supplies under the Route 4 bridge crossing the Patuxent River.
If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one on Solomons Island.
There are also plenty of fishing charter boats there.
Certified Solomons Island captains offer world-class Striped Bass (rockfish) fishing plus great opportunities for Bluefish, Black Drum, Croaker, Flounder, Perch, Spanish Mackerel, Spot, Trout, and more.
Bunky’s Charter Boats, which is also sort of a general store, can sell you fishing supplies.
Where to Stay on Solomons Island
There’s not a lot of lodging on Solomons Island, but there are some B&Bs.
You’ll find more motels and inns nearby on the mainland.
But Solomons Island also has vacation home rentals. Find them on AirB&B, VRBO, and other such websites.
Getting Around Solomons Island
The town has squeezed out all the parking it can along the boardwalk, with spots marked off everywhere possible, but it’s still not enough in the summer, especially on holiday weekends. Parking spots are marked off outside of town along the highway into town.
The best way to get around the island is to park and walk. Or ride a bike. The locals have developed the term “bar-cycles,” because cycling is the easiest way to get from the marina to the bar. Bicycles are available for rent on the island.
Just Off the Island
Calvert Marine Museum
On the mainland within a long walk or short bike ride, is the Calvert Marine Museum with a big outdoor concert venue that attracts well-known musicians during the summer.
The museum is worth a couple of hours to see a screw-pile lighthouse as it was when the lighthouse keeper lived there, watermen boats, and live otters.
You’ll also learn the history of the region. Historic boats/schooners offer public rides from the museum’s harbor through the river and into the Chesapeake Bay.