Maryland State House

Annapolis looks like it would be a great place to live.  You’re right on the water, the historic center beckons with restaurants, cafes, boutiques and bars and not far from bigger cities like Baltimore and Washington, DC.  Maryland’s capital is a mix of politicians, students, Navy mids, and people of all ages.  The Maryland State House’s dome is an easy landmark and we started our day by walking towards it.  The dome is completely made of wood.  Proof of its importance, it figures on the back of the Maryland State Quarter as well.  Like most government buildings, be prepared to show ID and show your bags at the entrance.  We took a guided tour of the Maryland State House.   To be honest, for once, the tour was an accident.  Unless you’re coming with a group, self-guided tours are the norm.   Along with some other visitors, however, we happened to be in the right place, at the right time for a visit.

Old Senate Chamber, MD State House

The State House is the oldest continually used state house in the United States.  Annapolis was even briefly the capital of the USA!  While I knew Philadelphia had been the capital before Washington, DC, I had forgotten about Annapolis’ moment of glory!  From November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784, the MD state house was home to the Continental Congress.  Notable events?  George Washington resigned his commission in the Old Senate Chamber and the Revolutionary War ended here too–the Treaty of Paris was signed in the building.  The Old Senate Chamber is currently being restored.  You can see where the walls are being stripped away and the original architectural details are emerging.  That said, what caught my attention was the balcony in the room: a balcony with no staircase or access point from the room’s floor.  Women were not allowed to touch the Chamber floor.  Female visitors had to enter the balcony from a staircase out in the hall!  Times have changed and our guide showed us the chambers where Maryland’s delegates meet and decide the fate of today’s citizens.  With our civic tour behind us, we headed down into town and a bite to eat.

Mural Outside the Naval Academy

We walked everywhere.  Annapolis is not designed for easy parking.  We chose to take the free shuttle bus from Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.  The bus, it looks like an old-fashioned trolley, takes you from the stadium and drops you off in the historic center.  Even with kids (as long as you have a stroller) the center of Annapolis is easily walkable.  Depending on where you are there is limited shade.  Since Annapolis sits on the water, be prepared for the humidity as well.  Depending on the breeze off the water, it can go from feeling hot but comfortable to unbearable in seconds!  The hardest part about lunch was choosing where to eat.

Ship Detail, US Naval Academy Museum

The Naval Academy is where the United States turns some of its finest young men and women into the Naval and Marine officers of the future.  With the weather as hot as it is, I had a thought for the new midshipmen.  This year’s plebes are in the midst of Plebe Summer–a mentally and physically challenging introduction to Naval Academy life.  Visitors 16 and over to the Academy must show ID when entering the grounds through the Visitors Access Center at Gate 1.  Guided tours lasting 1:15 are available for a fee.  We chose to go directly to the Naval Academy Museum in Prebble Hall.  The highlight of the museum is the Rogers Ship Model Collection.  While I don’t share my father’s obsession for building models, having grown up watching him build them, I do like to look at them.  The collection contains gorgeous Admiralty Models as well as impressive ships built by French POWs in English captivity using whatever they could find.  Exploring the collection was the perfect afternoon activity–interesting and inside in the air-conditioning!

While there looked to be plenty of ways to spend the evening in the city, we headed home after checking out the Academy’s gift shop.  Even in the summertime, traffic in the Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis area is impressive and the girls were ready for some pool time back at the house.  Next stop–Delaware and its beaches!

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