25 Can't-Miss Things to Do Along the Chesapeake Bay
Play, sightsee, eat, socialize, collect and explore along Maryland’s famous estuary. Use these 25 ideas for things to see and do along the Chesapeake to get you going.
1 Fort McHenry
Maryland children are schooled at an early age on the facts of the War of 1812, not just because it was America’s “second war of independence” but because of Baltimore’s pivotal involvement in it. Shortly after the British burned the U.S. Capitol and White House, they marched 4,500 troops into Baltimore and sent their warships to attack Fort McHenry and other harbor locations. For 25 hours, British ships bombed Fort McHenry but its defenders would not surrender. The British fleet left in defeat and we raised our Star-Spangled Banner at the fort. Francis Scott Key, a witness to the events, even wrote a song you may know about it (hint: it’s our National Anthem). Learn more about Baltimore’s part in this historic event with a visit to Fort McHenry, where you can help fold the flag at the end of the evening and look out at the harbor as the brave defenders did.
America's Sailing Capital (not to mention Maryland's capital city) is a charming historic town with a serious sailing addiction. The city draws thousands every October with sail and power boat shows, and the rest of the year is pretty much an informal boat show down at the city dock. The Wednesday Night Sailboat Races that occur April to September are a fun way to celebrate the mid-week. Grab a refreshing drink and watch the boats go by.
3 Smith Island
Smith Island is a cultural treasure, discovered by Captain John Smith and settled about 350 years ago. With the land changing due to erosion, storms, and rising seawaters, you should visit it while you still can. Ride a passenger-only ferry to the home of the famous Smith Island Cake (the state dessert) and listen to the distinctive Elizabethan accents, remnants of the original English colonial settlers. Take a bike with you to sight-see, rent a golf cart or go bird-watching. It's a quiet place to visit, a reminder of a time gone by, and represents a way of life that is slowly disappearing.
Home port of the schooner Sultana and home to a thriving arts community, this beautiful historic college town is just up the Chester River on the Eastern Shore. Don't miss the Chestertown Tea Party Festival in May, which holds reenactments of the 1774 incident when residents dumped tea in the Chester River as a sign of protest and symbol of solidarity with their Boston brothers.