If you think “been there, done that” at the thought of Annapolis for a getaway, think again.
Perched on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s capital city may be 350 years old, but it has emerged from the pandemic invigorated, refreshed and renewed. Understated and laid back, Annapolis cannot compete with Baltimore or Washington’s big attractions – nor does it want to. Its allure is more subtle. In its own quiet way, Annapolis is love at first sight. Just like an unexpected soul mate.
With a skyline pierced with spires and domes reminding us of its past, the town’s new sights, new shops, trendy dining experiences, a fab boutique hotel and an ice cream shop exclusively for dogs, are making this old town feel very, very new.
Bring your walking shoes and wander through this “museum without walls.” Explore the new Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial honoring five slain journalists at The Capital newspaper. Stop by the new interactive exhibits at Annapolis Maritime Museum and join a virtual reality sailboat race. Accompany a waterman on an oyster boat and play a touch-screen game about oyster harvesting. Of course, Maryland’s Capitol (the nation’s oldest in continuous legislative use), the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial dedicated to African ancestors are always worth revisiting.
Art is everywhere and everyone participates. Make a beeline to State Circle to see a two-story mural painted by seven artists and five youths from the Future History Now project. The program engages youths from underserved communities by creating murals throughout town. This one features the faces of Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. An ideal location opposite the Court House since Marshall argued here for equality in the educational system and Ginsburg was a Supreme Court Justice who fought to uphold those same principles.
“Life is all about connecting at the dinner table, creating an environment and lifestyle you love to live in,” says Laura Cottrill, designer and owner of Vignette on Maryland Avenue. Nothing boring, here. Unique pillows, chandeliers, chairs, baskets, jewelry and all sorts of innovative “stuff” is artistically arranged for creative entertaining.
Practical can be pretty and fun, so says Welcome Home on State Circle. Check out a diverse collection of responsibly-produced cooking utensils, linens, serving plates and a decadent array of gourmet products — everything to help the novice or gourmet chef cook and serve in style. Whimsy is reflected in everyday objects (Oooh, lime green ice tongs!) Don’t be turned off by the odd name, Fat Face. Named after La Face — a famous ski slope in the French Alps — the British owners wanted to ski (not work) so they hatched a plan to sell quality clothing at night and ski during the day. Thirty years later, 200 stores worldwide are filled with creative sustainable clothing for men, women and children.
Bring Fido to Salty Paws Doggie Ice Cream Shop and treat your best friend to lactose-free and goat milk-based ice creams. Topping bar includes dehydrated liver or chicken, sweet potato fries, and yogurt chips. Doggie ice cream cones, waffle bowls and a creative bakery selection of doggie cookies and donuts, treats and toys, too. Arf!! Arf!!
From classic coastal to boho chic to preppy prints, Cottage on Main Street is fun, bright, and upbeat. Impossible to be in a bad mood inside this imaginative boutique filled with clothes, jewelry, gifts and fun stuff from famous names and local artists.
Pinch me, I must be in Nantucket or New York. That’s what you might think when you step inside Revival in West Annapolis. Here, the chic set shops for vintage rugs, unusual tabletop, accessories and children’s clothes that you won’t see coming and going.
Need a dose of caffeine? Bitty & Beau’s across Ego Alley, is more than just a place to grab a coffee — it’s an experience. Run by people with developmental disabilities, they serve coffee and goodies along with a warm, inviting experience at no additional charge!
Insider tip: For the best scones and pastries in town, head to Curate on West Street where each morning a former chef from a Michelin Star DC restaurant makes to-die-for scones, muffins and pastries. When the sun goes down, wine offerings plus small bites change the vibe.
One block off Church Circle, five restaurants move outdoors every Wednesday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The street closes, overhead lights are hung and Dine Under the Stars begins. Voila! Dine, dance to live music in the street and sip your favorite libation. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a small European city sans jet lag.
Nourishing all the senses, 134 Prince, is a stunning boutique hotel in the heart of town. Please don’t call it a B&B. This 1849 Dutch Colonial Revival masterpiece, owned by two former Naval Academy grads, underwent a year-long renovation adding every luxury amenity including spacious white marble bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers stocked with Hermes toiletries and fine linens.
Internationally acclaimed designer Arlene Critzos gave the building a top-to-bottom reinvention. She acknowledged the building’s history by maintaining original architectural details and made the most of every inch, creating a welcoming interior with an emphasis on comfort. Exceptional details are found in Asian-inspired, hand-woven pillows in the sitting room, an antique French metal island in the kitchen adds a European touch, a Jacobean wood bar cabinet brings a refined yet practical element to the living room and marble-topped tables in the breakfast room introduce an edgy touch. Don’t leave town without enjoying a glass of wine in the engaging garden, a tranquil refuge after strolling countless streets lined with more 18th century buildings than any other American city.
The genius of Annapolis is that it fulfills our fantasies of a fun escape – yet it’s a short jaunt from home. Where else can you step back in time, while having every modern amenity at your fingertips?
For more information, go to https://www.visitannapolis.org/.