In Annapolis all roads lead to the water and a nautical heritage that runs as deep as the Chesapeake Bay is wide. Founded as Anne Arundel Town in 1649, Annapolis became the capital of Maryland in 1695 and the nation's first peacetime capital in 1783. Today, Annapolis boasts more 18th-century brick buildings than any other city in the country and the oldest State House in continuous legislative use in the nation. It was here that General George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1783 and Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.
A Museum without Walls, Annapolis is a lively, upbeat, contemporary city where four centuries of architecture embraces 21st-century living. The homes of Maryland's four signers of the Declaration of Independence still stand, and three of them are open to the public. William Paca's home features the only two-acre 18th-century pleasure garden of its kind in Maryland. The Hammond-Harwood House boasts the Most Beautiful Doorway in America, and the Banneker-Douglass Museum is Maryland's official repository for African-American history.
A bustling port town in the 18th-century, Annapolis is home to the U.S. Naval Academy and its 4,000-strong Brigade of Midshipmen. Stop by at lunchtime during the academic year to see future officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in noon formation. Tours begin at the Academy's Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center. But you don't have to be on the Yard to know we're a Navy town. Just walk down our brick-lined streets and you're likely to bump into a midshipman. It's part of everyday life in Annapolis.
Don't be surprised if the first thing you see upon entering Annapolis is sail and powerboats strutting their stuff along the stretch of City Dock known as Ego Alley. That could be you! We offer countless possibilities for getting out on the water -- from 40-minute cruises around Annapolis Harbor, to tours of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, to a daylong excursion to Maryland's Eastern Shore. Want to get out on the water but don't know where to begin? Take the helm of an electric boat or let the professionals at our world-class sailing and powerboat schools get you started. Sound like too much work? Then relax on a two-hour cruise aboard a 74-foot wooden schooner, charter a boat for the day, or unwind on a boat and breakfast getaway.
If fishing floats your boat, charter with a seasoned captain or strike out on your own. Want to be closer to the action? Take a different tack and explore the bay by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, grab a seat at one of our many waterside restaurants and drink in the excitement of more than 130 sailboats competing in our Wednesday Night Sailing Races late April through early September.
If one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries, and specialty shops are on your list, stroll through the Historic District where Maryland Avenue, State Circle, Main and West Streets have earned worldwide reputations as shopping hot spots. Nearby West Annapolis with its funky boutiques and eateries has an appeal all its own. Art remains alive and well here. In downtown Annapolis alone, some 25 galleries and studios beckon art enthusiasts to feast their eyes on the work of local, regional, and national artists. Witness lumps of clay transformed before your eyes at Annapolis Pottery, visit the homes/studios of local artisans, or see them at work during our First Sunday Art Festivals.