A little while ago, a friend of mine asked me for travel recommendations for her and her husband on their anniversary weekend. They wanted to stay and play in the Annapolis area, and they would be traveling without their two young children. Without children?! As parents, the opportunity to travel together sans children is as rare as seeing a unicorn, finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or—you get the idea. Of course I gladly obliged by writing her a short novel on the City of Annapolis, and after I sent her the information I thought perhaps I should share with all of you as well. So this month, my normally kid-focused blog will be on an adult vacation, in honor of the official start of summer.
Having lived in downtown Annapolis for several years as a single young professional, I tend to favor the spots with local flair. And there is no better way to experience all that a local can than by staying right downtown. Annapolis has four big name hotels that are within walking distance to everything in the historic district (plus a dozen or more quaint and comfortable bed & breakfasts). The historic “downtown” itself is only seven square miles, so be sure to pack comfy shoes and take it all in by foot. But first, a word on some of those brand-name hotels.
Some downtown Annapolis hotel suggestions
Loews Annapolis Hotel and O’Callaghans [Hotel] are a stone’s throw apart and located on the opposite end of town, at 126 and 174 West Street, respectively. The West Street corridor (known as the Annapolis Art & Entertainment District) is very “up and coming”; the City of Annapolis has really done a lot to economically develop that area—come see for yourself. Loews has an attached parking garage, which is going to be attractive as downtown has extremely limited parking. The restaurants here have changed hands quite a bit since I lived there, and I don’t recognize much when I go back. However, neighborhood restaurants Lemongrass and Tsunami remain. They both feature ethnic foods: Lemongrass focuses their menu on Thai cuisine while Tsunami boasts outstanding sushi.
The Westin Annapolis is the newest of all the downtown Annapolis hotels. It’s located at 100 Westgate Circle, even further up West Street, so it’s a farther walk from the true historic district—about five or ten minutes, depending on how fast your feet take you. But there are restaurants right there near the hotel, including Fado’s Irish Pub which is a great spot for beers, Irish fare, and even brunch.
The Annapolis Waterfront Hotel is located at the bottom of Main Street at 80 Compromise Street. It is very touristy in that area, but you’ll want to see the waterfront while you’re there so I’d consider staying at this Marriott property. There are lots of bars and restaurants right there—too many to mention! Fox’s Den is the sequel to Sly Fox, one of my former favorite watering holes. Pusser’s is in the in-hotel restaurant and they have outdoor waterfront seating where you can watch the boats come and go, so on a nice day that’s a good spot. Try the P.E. Island mussels…delicious when served with a big hunk of French bread.
Slip over the bridge to Eastport
The hotel is also walking distance from Eastport, which is a charming waterfront town—a more laid-back ‘cousin’, if you will, to historic downtown Annapolis—just over what I call the Eastport Bridge (properly named the Weems Creek Bridge). The bridge itself is one of my favorite landmarks: It is a functioning drawbridge that raises daily at 1 pm.; be sure to watch it.
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Eastport has restaurants that I favor, including Davis’ Pub, a tiny little hole-in-the-wall with good beer. The Chart House is in Eastport as well, and though that’s a chain restaurant it has a nice atmosphere and good food. I’ve been visiting there since I was three, mostly for special occasions. f you go there, sit in the bar area so you have views of Weems Creek and the boats gliding by. Lewnes’ steakhouse is also in Eastport as is O’Leary’s steak and seafood. Lewnes’ is my brother’s personal favorite and where he took my husband for his “bachelor party.”
A walkable town
If you’d like to stay active during the day (before you eat and drink all night), you’ll find hiking at Quiet Waters Park, which is a short drive from downtown Annapolis. You have to pay a nominal entry fee, but you can hike all the trails and they have pretty fountains and flowers. No hilly terrain around Annapolis—on sea level, of course—but there are a lot of trails at Quiet Waters.
Aside from that, the whole experience of staying downtown is a bit of a hike as you can walk everywhere. You can even walk to Eastport at night from the hotels up West Street. I think if you’re going out to a nice dinner driving is preferred, but it’s all walkable. I always liked to just walk around and check out the architecture of the old houses. King George, Prince George, Duke of Gloucester, Charles and Cathedral Streets all have gorgeous old homes for your eye to behold. And if shopping is your thing, Main Street and Maryland Avenue are the two main shopping streets. Of course, there is also the United States Naval Academy and St. John’s College.
I’m confident that I’ve given you more than enough to do in one short weekend away. As a parent of young children, you probably just want to go sleep somewhere, but do try to explore Annapolis during your visit. It’s a charming little seaside town, and I know you’ll enjoy yourselves. Here’s hoping you are able to get away for a kid-free weekend in Annapolis this summer!
For more about this great city, visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County at VisitAnnapolis.org.
Photos courtesy of The Westin Annapolis, O'Callaghan's, Loews Annapolis Hotel, The Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, and Darren Heater.