Best things to do in Annapolis
What is it: The richly opulent, painstakingly restored estate of William Paca, a hotshot Annapolis lawyer who was one of four Maryland delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Why go: The 18th century Georgian mansion, with its time-warp period furnishings and sprawling, terraced garden, will have you groaning with envy. But the site also spotlights the unsavory inner workings of upper-crust Maryland households, powered by steady supplies of slave labor.
What is it: A family-run brewery serving frothy glasses of local and house-made beers on tap, plus surf and turf pub fare. Playfully named brews—try a Crab Shanty Pale Ale or Waterman’s Soul IPA—give shoutouts to the Chesapeake Bay.
Why go: This downtown watering hole does the Maryland craft beer game right. Go for the locally made microbrews, stay for the creamy crab dip or lump crab-topped pub burger. They even host neighborhood art crawls.
What is it: Listen up, US history buffs: this must-see landmark is not only where the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783—ending the Revolutionary War—but it’s also the oldest state capitol still in use.
Why go: You can learn about three centuries of legislative history on a free self-guided tour. Also peek at the Maryland senate chamber (unless it’s in use!) and see the spot where George Washington famously resigned from the Continental Army.
What is it: One of Annapolis’s quirkiest hotspots, this massive indoor food emporium—locally referred to as the “Amish Market”—boasts finger-licking goodies like custard-topped doughnuts, stuffed breakfast pretzels and peanut butter milkshakes.
Why go: Whether you’re looking for fresh fruits and veggies or a full meal—the market offers piping hot cafeteria-style options—these friendly, Amish-staffed food stalls feature some of the tastiest treats in town.
What is it: The city’s quaint cobblestoned streets might earn the most accolades, but Annapolis boasts a bevy of natural standouts as well. This lush, waterside abode will give you ample opportunity to appreciate the city’s overlooked greenery.
Why go: Surrounded by the scenic South River and serene Harness Creek, this peaceful, sprawling park makes for a spectacular setting. Hit a shady forest trail or hop on a bike to cruise the full paved loop, where you’ll enjoy the best water views around town.
What is it: The cheeky name for the city’s historic waterfront district, Ego Alley refers to the owners of high-priced boats who regularly hit the harbor to float—and gloat—along the docks.
Why go: This is the perfect spot for an evening stroll. Settle in for some serious ship-watching. Itching to hit the water yourself? You can even arrange a tour on a traditional Schooner—or hop on a water taxi for a more budget-friendly ride.
What is it: An Annapolis institution, this jam-packed dessert joint takes its cups and cones very seriously—as it should. Consistently voted the city’s best ice cream parlor, the local landmark has a pitch-perfect reputation to uphold.
Why go: If you like your sweet treats without artificial colors or preservatives, then brave the line and grab yourself a homemade scoop. You’ll find a rotating list of farm-fresh flavors, from traditional standbys to zany new favorites.
What is it: This blockbuster attraction has been training naval officers since 1845. Home to over 4,000 students, the academy is a living piece of Maryland history that offers plenty of activities and sights to visitors as well.
Why go: An on-site museum boasts two floors of rare naval artifacts, priceless maritime paintings and the largest collection of 17th and 18th century ship models in North America. Dine like a sailor at several restaurants, including the history-filled Naval Academy Club.
What is it: The ornate sarcophagus of revolutionary war hero John Paul Jones, located in the chapel of the Naval Academy. A fierce seafarer, yet civil to a fault, Jones coined the famous battle cry: “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!”
Why go: Jones’ missing remains were discovered in France and transferred to Annapolis after a whole century of searching. The somber and slightly spooky spot merits a visit for persistence alone. The aquatic-themed tomb, featuring ornate, cresting dolphins, is a delightful bonus.
What is it: Maryland’s official museum of African American heritage, housed in a landmarked 19th century church. The name lionizes two titans of the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker.
Why go: Along with temporary shows, a permanent exhibit chronicles the important contributions of African Americans in Maryland. Get a look at sobering artifacts from the city’s darkest chapters, including slave market ads and reward posters for runaways.
What is it: The very first church in Annapolis, whose parish was founded way back in 1692. The current building, still an impressive century-and-a-half old, hosts weekly Episcopalian services every Sunday.
Why go: Open to visitors, the history-filled church might seem humbler than the city’s other landmarked buildings, but the simple decor belies a few key details. Don’t miss the knockout stained glass windows—designed by Tiffany’s—or the charming wooden pews, all bonafide antiques.
What is it: An Eastport mainstay, this splurge-worthy, fine dining joint combines inventive, mouth-watering seafood plates with unpretentious bistro decor—it’s housed in a century-old crab shack. You’ll have no trouble finding the place. Just look for the electric blue, timber-framed bungalow.
Why go: No true Annapolis experience is complete without a taste of crab cakes and this 35-year-old local institution boasts some of the best. Also expect craft cocktails, a slam-dunk brunch menu and a signature take on Maryland’s state fish, crispy rockfish.