Spring Break: Annapolis
Ultra-preppy East Coast sailing capital. History geek’s paradise (with a fascinating — if somewhat flimsy, at least from a Philadelphian’s point of view — claim to having once been the U.S. capital). Home to the United States Naval Academy, with its 4,000 sharply uniformed midshipmen. Spring’s when Annapolis comes to life, through a burst of seafaring activities and an annual croquet match between the Naval Academy and in-town rival St. John’s College. (This year’s face-off is April 30th.)
HEAT INDEX: The average temperature in March is 54 degrees; in April, 65 degrees.
STAY: Annapolis abounds with B&Bs, but if you prefer something contemporary, make reservations at the Westin Annapolis, one of the town’s newest hotels. The 225-room hotel has the sleek style and upscale comfort you expect from a Westin — though with an intimacy that meshes well with Annapolis’s tiny streets and cozy vibe. The family dog is welcome, too. From $209 per night.
DO: A guided tour of the Naval Academy is well worth the 90 minutes and $9.50 per head ($7.50 for kids). You not only get a sense of the 338-acre campus’s grandeur (it was founded in 1845), but also what strong and smart graduates the place churns out. A tour of the 230-year-old Maryland State House (above, inset) is a great way to learn about the history of Annapolis and the early days of our country. As for the Chesapeake, well, there are myriad ways to enjoy it — two-hour cruises; chartering a sailboat, powerboat or fishing boat; exploring the bay by canoe or kayak. If you happen to do a midweek getaway, catch the Wednesday-night sailboat races beginning on April 27th. Up to 150 boats sail around several marks in the bay before finishing at the Annapolis Yacht Club. (Drinks follow at various spots around town.)
EAT: The Boatyard Bar and Grill, part of the lively restaurant scene in the Eastport section, is a must-visit. (Recent visitor Michelle Obama declared their crabcakes the best she’d ever had.) It also still delivers on the drinking front: Sail magazine once named the Boatyard one of the world’s top 12 sailing bars. Another classic is Chick & Ruth’s Delly, a greasy spoon in the heart of town that’s a popular haunt of Maryland politicos. It’s perfect for breakfast (the corned beef hash is tops) or colossal milkshakes on a sunny afternoon. For dinner, the Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant (top), also in Eastport, offers terrific seafood along with what might be the best nighttime view of the harbor, while Galway Bay is one of several upscale Irish-influenced pubs around town.
GET THERE: Annapolis is an easy two- to two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Philly area. When you’re in town, ditch your car at the hotel and take full advantage of the awesome eCruisers (443-481-2422, ecruisers.com) — totally free electric vehicles that will chauffeur you from your hotel to most of the restaurants or other locations in town.
DO: U.S. Naval Academy, Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, 52 King George Street, 410-293-8687, usna.edu/visit.htm. Maryland State House, 100 State Circle, 410-974-3400; open every day except Christmas with free guided tours. Boatyard Bar and Grill, 4th Street and Severn Avenue, 410-216-6206, boatyardbarandgrill.com. Chick & Ruth’s Delly, 165 Main Street, 410-269-6737, chickandruths.com. Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant, 410 Severn Avenue, 410-263-8102, carrolscreek.com. Galway Bay, 61-63 Maryland Avenue, 410-263-8333, galwaybayannapolis.com.