Sandwiched between our time in DC, Rafa & I spent five nights in Maryland. My bestie’s parents —Suzanne & Jim— invited us last year, but we changed plans & went to Boston after finding insanely cheap airfare. Now that DC was our main destination again, getting to Annapolis was super easy; a whole new state for us to explore. Hello, Maryland!
Situated on Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis has a small-town character that I didn’t expect… especially as the state capitol of Maryland. The Society of Architectural Historians has a great explanation of why the city retains its colonial charm:
Annapolis was surpassed by Baltimore in size and importance during the post-Revolutionary era. Freed from British control over production, Baltimore benefited from industrial development, easier access to western and Caribbean markets, and the switch to more lucrative grain production and export. Annapolis remained influential as Maryland’s cultural and governmental center and regional marketplace.
Establishment of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1845 for the education of midshipmen gave Annapolis grand architecture & purpose without the pressure of relying on industry. Amanda’s father retired from the Navy as a Commander, so we couldn’t wait to have him show us around. He even got a salute when we entered the grounds!
Jim drove us around for an overview of the entire complex, then we stayed to explore the Yard on foot. We’d hoped to catch formation, but excessive heat that day cancelled outdoor activities. With good reason! We hopped from fan to fan to air-conditioned building that day but still enjoyed it all: Senator John McCain’s tombstone in the cemetery, the chapel with Tiffany Studios stained glass + the sarcophagus of John Paul Jones, sprawling Bancroft Hall, Dahlgren Hall, an incredible buffet lunch at The Alley, & the museum with paintings, artifacts & models galore. We even got to see midshipmen moving into the dorms that day.
I’ve lost count of how many capitol buildings we’ve visited, but the Maryland State House has a number of distinctions: the oldest in continuous use (since 1772), the only to serve as national capitol (1783-84) & the largest wooden dome without nails for support. The building has also witnessed a number of historic events like the signing of the Treaty of Paris (ending the Revolutionary War) & George Washington resigning his command of the Continental Army. Loved the life-size statues of important figures placed in rooms where events took place —a great way to bring history to life.
Rafa & I love to see historic houses & had to visit at least one: the William Paca House & Garden. Designed & finished in 1765 by one of the four Maryland signatories of the Declaration of Independence, the house managed to survive through various incarnations… including being part of a 200-room hotel complex in 1901. Purchased by the state government in 1965, the entire site has been restored to it’s colonial look. No small feat. A $12 fully-guided tour allows visitors to learn about the interior & the building’s varied history:
A couple of days we just wandered —sweating all the time with so much humidity— but loving every moment. Amanda & Cris took us on a neighborhood walk one day to marvel at beautiful houses, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, beer at the Rams Head (so good we went back on our own), St. Anne’s Church (with the best security camera notice ever), & the historic city center. We also wandered over to the Charles Carroll House (the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence) & St. Mary’s Catholic church. Lots of sights to see in such a compact area.
Other days we did a little shopping, spent some quality time at the wonderful public library —which seemed to function more like a community center, as all libraries should. In fact…
We were also wowed by all the produce, cakes, cheeses, meats & tasty treats of the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer’s Market run by Amish merchants. Oh, those deviled eggs! Oh,those pretzel bread hot dogs! What an amazing place.
Probably the most stunning part for me was the views of Chesapeake Bay… stunning natural scenery everywhere. So glad I finally got to see it!
But the most fun was just hanging out with Amanda & family. What a wonderful treat… & the evening with Mama Sue as the bingo queen turned out to be most I’ve laughed all year!!
No words can express the gratitude that Rafa & I have for our wonderful stay in Annapolis. Not only was the opportunity to see where Amanda grew up a real treat, but also hanging out with her parents, Cris & the boys turned out to be the most relaxing part of our vacation. Thanks so much for having us! And thanks to Cris & Rafa for some extra photos to use in this post. Big besos a todos!