Best Things To Do in Annapolis
Annapolis is a mix of historic attractions and water-fueled activities. For instance, in the same day, you could tour the 19th-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 Hammond-Harwood House
Recent travelers said a visit here is a nice way to spend a cool fall afternoon. If you're driving, visitors suggested leaving your car outside the historic district to avoid the frustrating street parking.
- #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 in the 19th century, 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.
Recent visitors to the museum said 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.
- #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 an approximately 7-mile paved path, perfect for bike rides or jogs, to formal gardens ideal for a stroll. You'll also find a variety of sculptures and two art galleries 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 Overlook 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.
- #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 described 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 Bros. Ice Cream Factory before checking out the boats. During the winter holiday season, 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 has a storied history. Its first iteration was the area's first and only chapel. Completed around 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 razed. The next one, which stands today, was mostly completed in 1859. 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.
Previous travelers pointed out the beauty and history of the church as highlights of their visits.
- #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.
Several 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 informative, and more than willing to answer questions about the house and grounds.
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