If you say “been there, done that” at the mention of Annapolis for a getaway, you don’t know what you’re missing. Perched on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s capital city may be 350 years old, but it has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic invigorated, refreshed and renewed.
Understated and laid-back, Annapolis can’t compete with Baltimore’s or Washington’s big attractions, nor does it want to. The city’s allure is more subtle. In its own quiet way, Annapolis is love at first sight—just like an unexpected soulmate.
With a skyline pierced with spires and domes reminding us of its past, the town’s new sights, new shops, trendy dining experiences, a boutique hotel and an ice cream shop exclusively for dogs is making this old town feel very, very new.
Bring your walking shoes and wander through the “museum without walls.” Not to miss is the new Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial honoring the five slain journalists at The Capital newspaper.
Stop by the new interactive exhibits at the 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. In addition, the Maryland State House (America’s oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use), U.S. Naval Academy and Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial that recognizes the name and arrival place of an enslaved African during the 18th century are always worth revisiting in Annapolis.
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. This project engages youth from underserved communities by inviting them to create murals throughout town. The mural features the faces of Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Its location opposite the Anne Arundel County Courthouse is significant since Marshall argued here for equality in the educational system and Ginsburg was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who fought to uphold these 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. Pillows, chandeliers, chairs, baskets, jewelry and plenty of innovative “stuff” are artistically arranged for creative entertaining.
Practical can be pretty and fun per Welcome Home on State Circle. Browse 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 like lime-green ice tongs.
Don’t be turned off by the oddly named FatFace. Named after La Face, a famous ski slope in the French Alps, the business has British owners who 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 feature creative, sustainable clothing for men, women and children.
Bring Fido to Salty Paws Doggie Ice Cream and treat your best friend to lactose-free and goat milk-based ice creams. A topping bar includes dehydrated liver or chicken, sweet potato fries and yogurt chips. Doggie ice cream cones, waffle bowls and a creative bakery selection complement doggie cookies and doughnuts, treats and toys, too. Arf! Arf!
From classic coastal and boho chic to preppy prints, The Cottage On Main Street is fun, bright and upbeat. It’s 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 Home & Gifts in West Annapolis. The chic shop here 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 Coffee across Ego Alley is more than a place to grab a coffee—it’s an experience. Operated by individuals who have developmental disabilities, the place serves 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-starred Washington, D.C. 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 evening from 6 to 10. 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 bed-and-breakfast. This 1849 Dutch Colonial Revival masterpiece owned by two Naval Academy grads underwent a year-long renovation that added every luxury amenity, including spacious white marble bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers, 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 while a Jacobean wood bar cabinet brings a refined yet practical element to the living room. 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?
Before You Get Away…
Explore visitannapolis.org for more places to shop, eat, stay and play in Maryland’s capital.
This story first appeared in our August/September 2021 issue.