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Maryland's Annapolis - adventure on both land and sea

© By Mike Keenan
United States Naval Academy Yard

Walking quaint, brick-laid Annapolis streets is the best way to experience its rich architectural past for Maryland's capital boasts more surviving 18th century buildings than any other city in America. Here, you can watch sailboat races on Wednesday evenings or visit a Cryptologic Museum, but there's plenty more, so patterned on David Letterman, here are my top ten activities:

1. Tour the U.S. Naval Academy - After watching Tom Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) fight for his life here, one must visit the U.S. Naval Academy, home of the 4,000-strong brigade of midshipmen, future officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Visit the newly renovated chapel and check out the massive pipe organ. The Museum offers more than 50,000 artifacts, and is home to the famed Gallery of Ships. On weekdays during the academic year, watch the midshipmen in noon formation. Guided tours begin at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center. 410-293-8687

2. Hire a boat - Enjoy a two-hour cruise aboard a 74-foot schooner, charter a boat for the day, or unwind on a boat and breakfast getaway. Avid fishermen may charter with a seasoned captain or strike out on their own. Also, you may explore the bay by canoe or kayak. 410-280-0445

3. Take a Water Taxi - Sometimes the quickest way between two points in America's Sailing Capital is to simply hop aboard a water taxi, especially from City Dock to Eastport for an enjoyable meal along Restaurant Row. They are quick, relaxing, and affordable. 410-263-0033

4. Travel on a Duffy Electric Boat - Enjoy a fun, environmentally-friendly afternoon on the water with friends by renting a ten-passenger Duffy electric boat. Board a climate-controlled, 22' Duffy at the Chart House Restaurant pier at 300 Second Street in Eastport. You can charter the boat with or without a captain for an entire day or as little as an hour. No boating experience necessary. 443-433-2129

5. Experience patriotism at Chick & Ruth's Delly - Okay, let's get off the water and forget your waistline for a moment. This is home of the largest milkshakes in the world, and their three-pound Super Duper Colossal Burger acts as a vehicle for patriotism in Annapolis. Weekday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and weekends at 9:30 a.m., owner Ted Levitt invites patrons to get their day off to a bright start by joining him in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Think of it as your carbohydrate duty. 410-269-6737

6. Ride an eCruiser - Electric-powered eCruisers are de rigeur in historic Annapolis. Six-passenger, environmentally-friendly vehicles provide complimentary transportation to those who flag them down for an easy ride to attractions and restaurants. Take note Niagara politicians. 443-497-4769

7. Test Drive an Electric Bike - Cycle throughout the Historic District without breaking a sweat by hopping aboard a Green Pedals electric bike. High efficiency electric motors enable the state-of-the-art vehicles to simulate standard bikes, but they require as much effort as you want to put into your ride. Bikes typically are rented for a two-hour period. 410-280-5005

8. Feast on Steamed Crabs - Getting hungry? Myriad restaurants dot more than 400 miles of shoreline that weave throughout Anne Arundel County. Favorites such as Mike's Restaurant and Crab House, Cantler's Riverside Inn, Skipper's Pier and others claim that 3.9 million crabs are cracked here each year. The Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast held at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium the first Friday in August each year, is recognized as the largest crab feast in the world. 410-280-0445

9. Take the Roots and Tides Driving Tour - Time to branch out and explore nearby maritime villages such as Deale, Galesville, and Mayo, escaping to a simpler time. Trace southern Maryland's history as you drive along picturesque roads past the carefully preserved homes of early settlers. Experience the life of a 19th-century waterman at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum in Shady Side. Enjoy the quiet of Galesville's Quaker Burying Ground before wandering past Victorian houses on Main Street to the Heritage Museum. Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater continues to unearth the past at the largest ongoing archaeological dig in Maryland. 410-222-1805

10. Enjoy a Free Concert or Festival - Finally, on a weekend, catch the Summer at City Dock performances that feature street performers and musicians at Annapolis' waterfront every Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays on holiday weekends. Every First Sunday of the month from May through October, a First Sunday Arts Festival takes place on the first block of West Street from Church Circle to Calvert Street. During the noon to 5:00 p.m. celebrations, craft vendors, artists, musical acts and street performers gather to celebrate the arts. Remember the big band era? This year's First Sunday offerings include swing dance lessons. Summer at City Dock: 410-268-1636

USNA Graduation  USNA Chapel  Sail Race  Crabbing  Capitol, Historic District

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo credits
Courtesy of Annapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau:

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About.com: http://dc.about.com/od/daytripsgetaways/a/Annapolis.htm
Visit Annapolis: http://www.visit-annapolis.org/

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