Best Things To Do in Annapolis
Annapolis is a mix of 18th century attractions and water-fueled activities. For instance, in the same day, you could tour the 18th century St. Anne's Church, take a sailing lesson, compare yachts on Ego Alley and chow down on steamed crabs at any number of area restaurants. Simply meandering the wonderfully preserved Historic Annapolis is another popular pastime.
Updated July 26, 2016
- #1View all Photos#1 in Annapolis0.5 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The United States Naval Academy is the No. 1 attraction in Annapolis. The campus is beautiful and pays homage to the naval branch of the military, even while it raises up the new generation. The "noon meal formation," where the midshipmen march in formation, is a must-see as well, and it's held weather permitting. In the free U.S. Naval Academy Museum, you can take a self-guided tour through the navy's history. But recent visitors highly recommend taking advantage of the guided walking tour of the campus — not only will you gain insight into naval history, but you'll also learn about the academy's Beaux-Arts architecture and landscaping.
The Naval Academy is also known for its music department. Throughout the year, multiple choral and instrumental ensembles, including the Naval Academy Band, put on performances that are open to the public. Check the website before your visit to purchase tickets.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Annapolis0.3 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
What visitors usually refer to as "Historic Annapolis" is the abundance of restaurants, galleries and shops that fill the converted row houses on Main Street. You'll find everything from the popular Chick & Ruth's Delly to boutiques like Lilac Bijoux and shops like Annapolis Cigar. On a nice day, this row of shops is a delightful place to meander for a few hours. However, you should also know that the historic area also officially extends to most of the downtown and the harbor, which contain jewels like the Hammond-Harwood House and the Banneker-Douglass Museum.
Recent visitors say it's a nice way to spend a cool fall afternoon, and recommend setting aside about two and a half hours to take a guided walking tour of the area.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Annapolis0.2 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Although the Banneker-Douglass Museum is small, it's loaded with history. It's named for the black scientist Benjamin Banneker and black social crusader Frederick Douglass. Both of these men were involved with the fight against slavery during the Civil War era, and the museum does a good job of telling their stories. The museum is housed in the former Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Visitors to the museum say it presents a well curated overview of African American history in Maryland, and the staff is more than happy to tell the stories of lesser known figures who influenced the Annapolis and Baltimore communities. A TripAdvisor user, who calls the museum "a great learning experience," makes a suggestion: "Be sure to see the mosaic made from the glass that was saved from the windows that were broken during the Civil Rights Movement."
- #4View all Photos#4 in Annapolis2.8 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND2.8 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're looking to stretch your legs in a picturesque place, Quiet Waters Park is the place to do it. Its 340 acres contain everything from a 6-mile paved path, perfect for bike rides or jogs, to formal gardens, ideal for a stroll. You'll also find a sculpture garden and gallery that will appeal to art lovers, as well as a playground, where children can work out their wiggles. In the summertime, there are outdoor concerts and canoes and kayaks to rent; and in the winter, an ice rink appears. The park's South River Scenic Outlook is another favorite spot, as it offers a panoramic view of the South River.
Annapolis locals say the dog park is the ideal place to bring your four-legged friend, and the area provides a wide selection of activities and wooded trails for all types of travelers to explore. Recent visitors do caution that the park is closed on Tuesdays.
- #5View all PhotosfreeEgo Alley#5 in Annapolis0.4 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Ego Alley is not an alley in the traditional sense of the word; rather than a walkway, it's a narrow waterway that spills out into Spa Creek. The name "Ego Alley" comes from the queue of expensive boats that parade through the waterway on evenings and weekends. But it does make for an interesting place to meander.
Recent visitors describe it as a must-see; the benches along Dock Street are the perfect place to sit, relax and watch the boats and people go by. In warm weather, many people order an ice cream cone from the nearby Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory before checking out the boats. The month of December, though cold, is another nice time to take a stroll down here since many of the boats are decked out in Christmas lights.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Annapolis0.3 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Hammond-Harwood House, the self-proclaimed "jewel of Annapolis," is in all seriousness, a gem. William Buckland, the indentured servant turned famed architect also responsible for George Mason's Gunston Hall, began work on the townhouse in the late 18th century. He employed elements of the Anglo-Palladian style, which have been masterfully preserved. Visitors to the home will enjoy 50-minute guided tours that touch on everything from the architecture to the families that inhabited the home. A two-hour, $20 in-depth tour of the architecture of the house is also offered by appointment only.
Recent visitors to the house said they were pleasantly surprised by how interesting the tour was, adding that the guides are knowledgeable and do a great job engaging visitors and soliciting questions.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Annapolis0.1 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Dating back to the 18th century, St. Anne's Church in Annapolis has a storied history. Its first iteration was the area's first and only chapel. Completed in 1704, the chapel was busting at its seams by 1775. So, it was torn down to make room for a bigger house of worship. But the Revolutionary War and its aftershocks delayed the building process, so that the church wasn't finished until 1792. But in 1858 a fire ravaged this iteration, so yet another church was raised. The next one was completed 1859 and stands today. St. Anne's Church is a working Episcopal parish, and its gorgeous stained glass and a handful of other interior touches make it a top sight to see while in Annapolis.
"The history of the church and the stained glass were very much worth the visit," said one TripAdvisor user, who visited St. Anne's Church with a tour guide.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Annapolis0.1 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Even though the Maryland State House doesn't tend to wow visitors with its architecture or exhibits, it is the site of illustrious history. In fact, it once served as the capital of the United States for a short stint. And it remains the oldest state house that is still in legislative use, and the grounds are quite lovely as well.
Most recent travelers found the Maryland State House to be an interesting walk through U.S. history, noting that the building is somewhat small and browsing its rooms and halls didn't take too long. In short, if you have an hour to kill, the Maryland State House is a worthy place to spend it.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Annapolis0.3 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, Parks and Gardens, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/Mansions, Parks and Gardens, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The pristine William Paca House & Garden is an immaculately restored 18th century Georgian mansion, and it was the home of a young lawyer, William Paca, who eventually became one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the governor of Maryland. Along with a tour of the house, visitors should make time to wander around the carefully manicured 2-acre garden.
Recent guests agreed that staff and tour guides were pleasant and generous with their time, and more than willing to answer questions about the house and grounds.
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