Photo of Kids aboard the Sea Gypsy courtesy of visitannapolis.org
Annapolis is full of history, shopping, dining, and fun both on and off the water.
The best news is that the historic capital has plenty to do for everyone in the family!
For families with children, historic Annapolis boasts the U.S. Naval Academy, the oldest state house still in use, a maritime museum, several historic homes, waterfront activities, a happening playground and plenty of unique places to eat and shop.
Spend a few hours or an entire day walking the city. The following Annapolis destinations take into account that you will park your car once and walk for the remainder of time in Annapolis.
Annapolis City Dock
Chances are that the area around the City Dock and Market House will be your base. Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” is immortalized in bronze at the City Dock telling his story to a group of kids. Bring some breadcrumbs with you and kids can feed the ducks, or watch big boats maneuver their way around “Ego Alley.” From this point you can walk or take a water taxi across Spa Creek to visit the Maritime Museum or have a pirate adventure.
Water Taxi rides are available by calling 410-263-0033 or walk towards the end of the City Dock and you will see them waiting for passengers. Fees depend on where you are headed but generally run from $4 to $9/person. http://cruisesonthebay.com/annapolis-water-taxi
Ahoy, Mateys! Jump aboard a pirate ship that sails the rough swells of the Chesapeake Bay this summer with Pirate Adventures of the Chesapeake. A pirate adventure awaits just over the Eastport Bridge. Live the life of a true pirate aboard a majestic ship in the Chesapeake Bay while searching for buried treasure. Find the “X” that marks the spot and the treasure is all yours. From pirate garb to water cannon shows, Pirate Adventures is a must-stop for any tourist with a little pirate of their own.
www.ChesapeakePirates.com 410-263-0002. 311 Third Street, Annapolis
Annapolis Maritime Museum
The Annapolis Maritime Museum seeks to connect the richness of the maritime heritage of the Annapolis area with local youth and adults. The Museum operates from a waterside campus on the shores of Back Creek, with unequaled views of Annapolis Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
http://www.amaritime.org/ 410 295-0104. 723 Second Street, Annapolis
Newman Street Playground
The city playground is opposite the Annapolis Waterfront Marriott and borders Newman Street. This is a perfect place for kids to blow off steam and parents to take a breather under the trees while they watch their kids at play.
Annapolis was founded in 1649 and has many colonial homes that can be observed just walking the brick paved sidewalks. Most of the houses are private homes but a few are open for visits.
William Paca House and Garden
Nestled along crowded Prince George Street, a tourist may easily overlook a part of Annapolis history. The William Paca House, just walking distance from the downtown harbor, is a standing example of colonial Annapolis. Built in 1763 by Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the house and extensive gardens have been painstakingly restored.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday: 11 am – 4 pm
Guided tours of the William Paca House and Garden are offered daily on the half hour.
http://www.annapolis.org 410-267-8146. 186 Prince George Street, Annapolis
Maryland State House
Only two blocks from the Paca House, with maybe a refreshment or shopping break along Maryland Avenue, the beautiful Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and is the only state house to have ever served as the nation’s capitol.
The Continental Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784. During that time, George Washington came before Congress to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War.
The State House is where the Maryland General Assembly convenes for three months each year, and the elected leadership of the state — the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House of Delegates and president of the Senate — all have their offices there. Now you can take a peek at where legislative business is done.
Open to the public, every day 9am-5pm. Self-guided tour information is available in the Office of Interpretation on the first floor.
http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdstatehouse/html/home.html 410.974.3400, 100 State Circle. Visitors 16 and up must have photo id to enter.
Annapolis and the Navy
The U.S. Naval Academy has been an Annapolis fixture since October 10, 1845, when the first class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors started. The curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French. By 1850 midshipman studied academics for four years and spent the summers onboard ships. Now on over 300 acres the Naval Academy is an interesting place to visit even if you aren’t interested in going to school there.
The Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center should be your starting point and is inside Gate 1 at the end of King George Street. A photo I.D. is required for anyone 16 or over. The space capsule flown by Naval Academy graduate Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (Class of 1945) is on display in the Visitor Center as well as a sample midshipman’s room, the original figurehead of Tamanend; off the USS Maryland (from which the Statue of Tecumseh was cast), a model of the USS MARYLAND (BB46) and an extensive exhibit on the life and times of John Paul Jones, the famous Revolutionary war naval hero who is buried in the crypt beneath the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel.
Tours are available for a fee, or walk the “yard” on your own. For tour and visitor information use: http://www.usnabsd.com/for-visitors/public-tours/ 410-293-8687
Annapolis has always been known as the sailing capital of the world, so why not see some great sailboats on your trip to Annapolis? Don’t look to the harbor or the nearest marina — look next to Mixed Greens at 42 Randall St. With products made from sails, this retail shop offers its customers the opportunity to take a part of Annapolis life with them in the style of a bag, wallet or even clothing.
Have a sweet tooth craving for some rich chocolate? Look no further than Kilwin’s Chocolate, just a short walk up Main St. Shelves upon shelves of freshly made chocolate can send any chocoholic into a sweet tooth coma. With a variety of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate treats the variety of possibilities is endless. One piece of Kilwin’s chocolate will have you calling Annapolis your second home.
www.kilwins.com 128 Main Street 410-263-2601
Pip’s Dock Street Dogs
Need a quick snack as you travel the cobblestone streets of downtown? Pip’s Dock Street Dogs is the perfect stop for none other than a hearty hot dog or cheesesteak. With a reasonably priced menu and an original menu, Pip’s is unlike any other quick eatery in all of Annapolis as it offers busy families the chance to grab a filling, quick bite as they visit downtown.
www.pipsdogs.com 18 Dock Street, 410-990-9009
Sam’s Deli/The Big Cheese
With a deli that would surprise most, Sam’s Deli and The Big Cheese is one deli that is in a league of its own. With rows of shelves lining the walls stocked with a variety of breads, cheeses, wines and sauces, The Big Cheese is not just a great stop for grabbing lunch but also for shopping for gifts. With sandwiches that are mouth-watering and cheeses that come from all over the world, this deli offers its customers a chance to visit many countries without ever leaving Annapolis.
47 Randall Street, 410-263-6915
Restroom and Parking Info
Public restrooms are available at the Annapolis Harbor Master’s Office at the City Dock. There is a small information booth there as well as bikes that can be rented for a small fee. The Market House also has restrooms.
Parking is available at Navy-Marine Corp Stadium with a free shuttle to downtown, or at various parking lots around town. Parking information in Annapolis is available here: http://www.visitannapolis.org/plan/getting-around/parking