Charming Annapolis boasts more surviving colonial buildings than any city in the country, and the entire downtown is a registered National Historic Landmark. More than 60 eighteenth-century structures survive in the Annapolis downtown area. Annapolis is a great city to tour on foot with its unusual street layout in the center city—there are two major circles with streets spoking around them. Sightseers can observe an attractive mix of Colonial, Federal, and Victorian architecture, especially in the National Historic Landmark District. Visitors can also observe the comings and going of yachts at the waterfront.
The focal point of sightseeing in Annapolis is the Maryland State House with its unique narrow dome, which is topped by an unusual tower and observation deck. Built in 1779, it is the oldest capital building in the United States that has been in continuous use. The old Senate Chamber was the site of the meetings of the Continental Congress during 1783–84 and also functioned as the U.S. capitol. It was here that George Washington resigned his position as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1784. Just a few weeks later, the building was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. Tours of the building are offered daily.
From the State House visitors can see the colorful streets featuring houses and shops from different periods and in various styles as they wander down to the riverfront and Market Square, a popular tourist spot. City Dock is the only remaining pre-Revolutionary seaport in the country.
Annapolis provides tours of a number of interesting private residences. The Banneker-Douglass Museum, set in the first African Methodist Episcopal Church of Annapolis, dates from 1803. It houses the Douglass Museum of African American Life and History. The Charles Carroll House, with its terraced gardens, is also open for visitors. It was the home of the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Tours of the Chase-Lloyd House, with its large and magnificent facade, allow visitors to view its prized interior woodwork, furniture from three centuries, and a dramatic arched triple window. The brick Hammond-Harwood House, the Georgian masterpiece work of famed architect William Buckland, contains unique wood-carved trim and an authentic period garden. The William Paca House and Garden was the home of a three-term Maryland Governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Georgian mansion, built in the 1760s, has a carved entrance and formal rooms and stands as another fine example of William Buckland's design skills. Another residence, called The Barracks, is a typical dwelling of a colonial tradesman and is furnished to depict the life of a Revolutionary War soldier.
Tours are available of the magnificent grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, often referred to as "the Yard," where highlights of the history of the American Navy are represented by statues, artifacts, paintings, and ships. Memorial Hall honors Academy graduates who were killed in action. The Lejeune Physical Education Center contains the Athletic Hall of Fame. Among other highlights of a visit to the academy grounds are the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, the crypt of naval hero John Paul Jones, and the 600-year-old Liberty Tree, the site where in 1652 the early settlers made peace with the local Susquehannock Indians.
Arts and Culture
Annapolis is home to excellent museums and performing arts groups. The Maryland Federation of Art Gallery on the Circle provides juried exhibitions by regional artists. The Mitchell Art Gallery at St. John's College features art shows, gallery talks, and tours.
Local residents and visitors enjoy performances by the Annapolis Chorale, a 150-member chorus; the Annapolis Opera, which presents one full opera each year plus special events such as vocal competitions and children's operas; the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, which features a family series, a classic series, and a pops series, plus an annual gala event, the Black and White Ball; and the Annapolis Brass Quintet. The Ballet Theatre of Maryland, the state's largest professional ballet company, offers a mix of classical and modern ballet. Patrons can take a variety of classes from pottery to puppetry at the Maryland Hall for Creative Arts. Other local arts groups include the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, featuring Broadway and Shakespearean productions; the Chesapeake Music Hall, a dinner theater; the Colonial Players of Annapolis theater group; the Talent Machine Company, a children's theater group; and Them Eastport Oyster Boys, who provide a comical musical history of the area.
Festivals and Holidays
September brings The Anne Arundel County Fair and the Maryland Seafood Festival, both of which provide many opportunities for food and fun. October's highlights are the U.S. Sailboat Show and Powerboat Show and the Scottish Highland Games, which feature piping, fiddling, and physical fitness competitions. Candlelight tours through historic homes and public buildings and the Lights on the Bay holiday displays herald the arrival of the holiday season. December features include the Lights Parade of decorated sailboats and First Night Annapolis, a New Year's Eve celebration of jugglers, dancers, and choirs. January is enlivened by the Annapolis Heritage Antique Show. The City Dock is the site of April's Spring Boat Show, while May offers the Waterfront Arts Festival and the Children's Fair.
Summer activities include June's Annapolis JazzFest and the Star-Spangled Celebration and Fourth of July fireworks. August's Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival at St. John's College commemorates the landing of the ancestors of Alex Haley, the author of Roots, the book and television series that tell the story of Haley's family who were slaves in America. Also in August, the Annapolis Rotary Club Crab Feast is the world's largest event of its kind. The Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place in an English village setting with ten stages and a jousting arena and continues through October.
Sports for the Spectator
Annapolis calls itself the Sailing Capital of the World. Sailboat racing is a popular sport and enthusiastic fans can watch water events such as regattas, boat festivals, and races. The Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association provides information on the racing scene. March brings the Marlborough Hunt Races in which horses race around a three-mile track. Sports fans also enjoy athletic events at the U.S. Naval Academy including football, basketball, and lacrosse contests as well as women's basketball.
Sports for the Participant
Annapolis provides endless opportunities for yachting and water sports. The Annapolis Department of Recreation and Parks maintains more than 15 neighborhood parks on 96 acres, including street-end or "pocket" parks; they have basketball courts, ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and boating facilities. The department offers a variety of programs including athletic tournaments, arts and crafts, and fun runs. Truxton park offers outdoor activities on 70 acres, including 12 tennis courts, 5 basketball courts, 3 outdoor playing fields, and 1 multi-purpose facility. The public may also use recreational facilities at public schools in Anne Arundel County for sports and leisure activities. The Arundel Olympic Swim Center has a 50-meter pool, wading pool, poolside spa, and diving boards. Residents can also enjoy the county's parks, sports leagues, fitness and self-defense classes, and other activities.
Shopping and Dining
The city is served by Annapolis Mall, also known as Westfield Shoppingtown, which features more than 175 specialty stores and restaurants, including Nordstrom, JC Penney, Lord and Taylor, and Hecht's. Other malls include the Annapolis Harbour Shopping Center, boasting more than 290,000 square feet of retail space, and Harbor Square Mall. The city's downtown has a variety of exclusive gift and specialty shops, galleries, antique shops, and jewelry stores. The city is also served by the Colonial Parole, Eastport, and Forest Plaza shopping areas.
Annapolis has a fine array of restaurants. Although many of them specialize in seafood, there are also Mexican, French, Mediterranean, Chinese, Italian, Irish, and Japanese dining spots to enjoy. The Treaty of Paris Restaurant offers fine dining in a lovely eighteenth-century dining room. The 49 West Cafe is a European-style café providing light gourmet fare in a relaxed atmosphere filled with art, music, books, and newspapers.
Visitor Information: Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau, 26 West St., Annapolis, MD 21401; telephone (410)280-0445; email firstname.lastname@example.org
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