Upon landing at Ewell, you walk down the pier toward the Bayside Inn (4065 Smith Island Road, Ewell, MD), a large, white wood structure. That’s where you come across Caleb Jones Road (the main street) paralleling the waterfront.
Around the side of Bayside, will be several island ladies in golf carts. They’re standing by to give you a tour of the island, and are only there when the ferries arrive. If you want a later tour, it’s a good idea to arrange for it when you arrive, otherwise they’ll go home to do other chores.
Behind the Bayside Inn, is a gift shop and the Smith Island Cultural Center (20846 Caleb Jones Rd, Ewell, MD). That’s where you’ll learn about island life.The museum has a short video with island residents that’s a very good overview if you have to the time to watch. It’s open daily, May through October. The fee is $3 for adults, kids are free. They provide a walking tour map at no charge. Remember to ask for it.
Across the street from the Cultural Center is Ruke’s Seafood Deck in a 100+-year-old institution in a red building. Rukes was the town’s general store, but it became a restaurant and the meeting place for locals. Unfortunately, it’s now closed.
Behind the museum you’ll see the spire of the Methodist Church. The cemetery next to the church is an interesting visit. The islanders ask that you not walk on the graves and rubbings of the headstones is prohibited.
Connecting to Caleb Jones Road via a “T” intersection is Smith Island Road, the only route to Rhodes Point, which consists of one street, Marsh Road.
Ewell has limited restaurants. All are casual and recommended for their food. The basic difference is which kind of dining experience you want. The Bayside Inn has more seating and is more of a typical restaurant.
The island restaurants feature freshly made crab soup, crab sandwiches as well as non-seafood items.
The island is famous for Smith Island Cakes, a round cake with seven-to-15 thin layers separated by coatings of frosting. Here’s the Smith Island cake recipe from the cultural center. The Smith Island Cake company started in Ewell, but demand became too much for the island and the company moved its bakery to the mainland.
The original building is still there for those who want to do a pilgrimage. If you’re a baker, you know what I mean.
The cakes made for sale on the island are made using a slightly different recipe than the ones shipped across the country, which are baked for better traveling.
You can buy frozen cakes to take home from the Bayside Island. Their carry-out is through the side door.
Keep in mind, it’s a village living on their own schedule. Places close between ferry visits or depending upon the personal needs of the people working there.
The island is “dry,” meaning no alcohol is sold on the island. But that doesn’t stop people from having a drink in their home if they bring it in. Visitors should be discrete if they bring their own. If you’re staying at an island inn or B&B, check with the establishment.
A number of artisans have moved to the island and sell their wares to tourists. Here’s a list. The shops are located in homes throughout the island.
If you want to stay for multiple days, a few B&B are available. There’s the Smith Island Motel, but it’s not your typical motel.
Tylerton is the smallest village and is located on a different island than Ewell. The only way to get there is by a different boat. You can catch the Captain Jason II at City Dock in Crisfield or arrange a ride on another boat from Ewell. Call the captains directly. On Tylerton, you’ll find the Smith Island Crab Co-op where the ladies hand-pick crabmeat. You can buy some of their crabmeat when available. For a fee, you can watch how the professionals pick crabs.