Road trip: Touring Maryland’s scenic eastern shore
After an oppressively hot summer, I felt left out in the cold when it came to travel plans. Work took precedence this year, so I was more than happy to pack my bags when a three-day slot opened up allowing me to take off to Talbot County Maryland.
I learned that fall is a fantastic time to visit the picturesque area and with tolerable temperatures and minimal crowds, the visit to Easton, Oxford and St. Michaels could barely have been more pleasant.
Exploring historic downtown Easton
For those who prefer to be centrally located, the Tidewater Inn on Dover Street is a good choice for overnight accommodations. Located in the historic district, the charming, 95-room inn, which dates to 1949, is within walking distance of boutique shops offering everything from gifts, to jewelry, antiques and apparel.
Located across the street from the Tidewater is the historic Avalon Theater. Built in 1921 and touted as the “Showplace of the Eastern Shore,” the renovated, art-deco style venue continues to draw crowds from across the region. Guests of the Tidewater can simply walk across the street to enjoy a show. Today the Theater serves the community as a performing arts center, often featuring nationally renowned acts. Upcoming shows include the Robert Cray Band on Nov. 16.
Easton will appeal to art lovers as well, with seven galleries located within walking distance of the Inn. The Academy Art Museum, located at 106 South Street, attracts nearly 50,000 visitors annually. The Museum’s permanent collection includes drawings, photographs and prints by artists like Picasso, Puryear and Rauschenberg. Starting on Nov. 5 and continuing through Feb. 5, 2017, the museum will host an exhibition titled, “The Myth Makers in Maryland: The Mighty Merganser.” Boston artists Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein will construct a 16-foot-high sculpture on the Museum’s grounds to celebrate Eastern Shore native Frederick Douglass’ independent thinking and bravery.
Although the Tidewater features its own restaurant called Hunter’s Tavern, there are plenty of fine and casual dining establishments within walking distance as well. The Bartlett Pair Inn, which opened in 2009 and serves French-inspired, farm-to-table cuisine, continues to gain accolades from foodies from around the region. In 2014, the husband-and-wife team ranked 25 in the list of “100 Very Best Restaurants” according to the Washingtonian.
One of the oldest towns in America
The nearby town of Oxford, with a population of less than 1,000, gives off a decidedly laid-back vibe. Strolling down the tree-lined streets of the waterfront village is especially lovely this time of year as the fall foliage unfolds in all its splendid glory and early risers can observe watermen unloading their catch.
Tourists seldom leave the area without sampling the ice cream available at the Scottish Highland Creamery. Owner Victor Barlow, who hails from Scotland, offers an amazing 600 flavors. Favorites like tiramisu, birthday cake and double Belgian Chocolate receive rave reviews from locals and visitors alike and the business recently received a “Best of the Bay” award from Washingtonian Magazine.
The Robert Morris Inn is known as the oldest inn in the United States and is one of the crown jewels of Oxford. Built in 1710 and named after the father of the financier of the American Revolution, setting foot inside the inn is like stepping back in time. The tavern, with its exposed brick walls and slate floors is an ideal place for a casual repast. Guests who prefer a more formal atmosphere may choose to take their meals in the main dining room and enjoy daily afternoon tea.
Baltimore Style Magazine reports that “Chef Mark Salter’s crab cakes are just as good as the ones James Michener touted when he supped here many moons ago.”
Ride a ferry to St. Michaels
Step outside the Robert Morris Inn and onto a historic Ferry that will escort you to St. Michaels. Established in 1683, the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry is known as America’s oldest privately owned ferry. The passenger boat runs seven days a week from April through October and on weekends through mid-November.
It is a short ride across the water to the harbor town of St. Michaels where a variety of destinations await. One of the first stops for tourists is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The 90-minute, guided tour educates visitors on the history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay. Many tourists climb the steps of the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse to experience the best view in St. Michaels.
Also located on the property is a boat shed, which was once a cannery warehouse used by the St. Michaels Packing Company. Today visitors walk through the structure to inspect boats that were once used for fishing, crabbing and oystering.
For accommodations in St. Michaels, look no further than the 78-room Perry Cabin Inn. Don’t let the rustic name fool you. If your idea of roughing it is choosing between a couple’s massage or an 80-minute pumpkin peel facial, the Perry Cabin Inn is the right choice for you. The resort offers an array of spa treatments, along with complimentary bike and kayaks to pedal, or row, your way around the region. Staff serves daily afternoon tea and the waterfront property offers beautiful views of the Miles River.
These are but a few tips that will take you on an easy drive through three areas of Talbot County where you can indulge in a laid-back, unhurried, luxurious trip. Talbot County offers so much more than I’ve described here, so for help in planning your own perfect, long weekend, visit their website at www.tourtalbot.org