Annapolis is a gorgeous city that is located near the Chesapeake Bay. With picturesque buildings and a stunning view of the ocean, the state capital of Maryland is a lovely community filled with a laid-back vibe and old-school charm.
That’s not to say Annapolis, MD is a sleepy town, since there’s certainly no shortage of great things to do and sites to see in the area. From intriguing museums and historic sites like the United States Naval Academy, the Academy Naval Museum, the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and the William Paca House and Gardens, to its bustling bay area that hosts a variety of boat shows, you’re in for a grand time when you visit Annapolis.
To help you organize your itinerary, we’ve listed down below some of the best outdoor activities to do in and around Annapolis. Enjoy!
1) Visit the U.S. Naval Academy Museum
The United States Naval Academy Museum was created over a century ago to help commemorate the different traditions of the U.S. Navy and Marines. Its goal is to preserve artifacts and memorabilia that relate to the significant achievements, naval figures, and training at the Academy. While there are plenty of collections at this museum, its most impressive is its model ships. What makes these things pretty remarkable is the fact that these were created at the same time their full-sized counterparts were being constructed. Some models date back as early as 1650!
There are also other exhibits that are worth checking out such as the history of naval operations and uniforms of the different ranks of seamen. There is even a collection of ship instruments. The best part of it all is the museum does a fantastic job of engaging kids, which means both the young ones and young once can enjoy this trip.
2) Have some fun at the Quiet Waters Park
You’ll find plenty of fun things to do at Quiet Waters Park, a gorgeous and scenic hub that sits in between Harness Creek and the South River. An expansive locale that covers a whopping 340 acres, you’ll find hiking trails and six miles of paved trails that are made for running, walking, or riding bicycles, most of which end in stunning scenic overlooks.
Pet lovers will also enjoy this place and its dog parks and beach. Kids will also relish playing in the large playground. The park also features a mini-marina where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats.
3) Tour the Annapolis Maritime Museum
The Annapolis Maritime Museum is found on the shores of Back Creek in the last oyster packing plant to function in the area. It was made to place the spotlight on the history of boat making and the local oyster industry of Annapolis through a vast collection of artifacts. You can even learn about the complex ecosystem of an oyster reef through its massive aquarium.
Other exhibits feature the local maritime history and how big of an impact it had on the area’s culture and economy. You can even take a peek at actual oyster boats including the Miss Lonesome and the 1940 Wilma Lee, which can be toured with a guide.
4) Get on a Sailboat and Enjoy Chesapeake Bay
When you’re in Annapolis, you must not ignore the call of Chesapeake Bay. With cruises and charters typically departing from Annapolis Harbor, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to vessels that you want to get onboard. You can also take your pick from different themes such as a narrated historic tour, a romantic sunset cruise, and so much more. There are also fishing excursions for those that are keen on reeling in a fresh catch.
The Chesapeake Bay is also a great area to learn how to sail. Lessons are available for every level — from beginners who want to try sailing to experienced sailors who are looking to sharpen their techniques. Annapolis also hosts several grand boat shows including sailboat shows in April and October.
5) Visit the Historic London Town and Gardens
Take a short drive from the city and make your way to the Historic London Town and Gardens where the original settlement was established during the 17th century. It soon became a significant trade junction, and a few centuries later, it developed into an area that rivaled Annapolis both in size and importance. Visit the town and see it depicted as it once was during its heyday. You’ll see costumed interpreters and many interesting buildings, which are either in its original state or had gone through some reconstruction. You can enjoy listening to an overview of the history of the area at the visitor’s area or on the ground with a guide.
6) Explore the Fort Meade NSA Cryptologic Museum
Take a short trip from Annapolis and head over to a tourist spot that’s as unique as it is intriguing —The Fort Meade NSA Cryptologic Museum. This place opened in 1993 and here, you’ll find an assortment of documents, artifacts and equipment that were used in the art of code-making and code-breaking.
While there are plenty of items that are worth your time at this place, one must-see piece of equipment is the famous Enigma machine that was used by German forces during World War 2.
The exhibits give you a concise yet clear look into the various elements of science and explain the crucial role it played in history and continues to play in national security.
7) Visit the Banneker-Douglass Museum
The Banneker-Douglass Museum is the official state collection of African-American history. The museum’s permanent exhibit takes an in-depth look into the history of African Americans in Maryland, dating back to the arrival of the very first slave back in 1633.
You can also listen to a speech made by Frederick Douglass, and learn about Thurgood Marshall’s inspiring efforts to change the education system, and take a peek at various artifacts such as Harriet Tubman’s reward poster.