Annapolis Boat Show – The Perfect Weekend Getaway

Historic Downtown Annapolis - Annapolis Boat Show

Annapolis Boat Show – The Perfect Weekend Getaway

The Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is the official kickoff to sailing season on the East Coast. Sailors eagerly await its arrival and the welcome opportunity to commune with fellow sailing junkies. The Annapolis Boat Show is a sailor’s paradise, with the chance to ogle beautiful boats and shop for boaty things. But there’s more – so much more – to Annapolis than the boat show. Naptown is glorious in the spring, so treat yourself to a little extra time to enjoy this lovely city. Here’s our insider’s guide to a perfect Annapolis weekend getaway.

Colorful Flags Fly From Masts At Annapolis Sailboat Show - 12 Degrees West

Plenty to do and see at the Annapolis Boat Show.

First off, you’ll want to carve out plenty of time for the boat show. The 2018 show will be April 20-22 at the Annapolis City Dock alongside infamous Ego Alley. The hours are 10am – 6pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am -5pm Sunday. The Annapolis Boat Show is the largest spring sailboat show around, so there will be lots of boats to see ranging from sailing dinghies to full on luxury yachts. The land exhibits feature an A-Z of all things sailing, from boat accessories to yacht clubs and everything in between. There are in-water demos of small boats, kayaks and SUPs, Learn To Sail sessions, and educational seminars including the famous Cruisers University. Just in front of the docks on the Entertainment Plaza, you’ll find live music and free food and drink tastings all day. There’s plenty to keep a sailor happily occupied for hours, if not days!

Don’t have your tickets for the Annapolis Boat Show yet? Click here to purchase.

But when you’re ready for a break, Annapolis has so much to offer that you’ll want a weekend to take it all in. Annapolis is a charmer, full of 18th century attractions located on one of the nation’s prettiest harbors. You’ll enjoy just wandering the wonderfully preserved Historic Annapolis, but there’s so much more to discover.

Exploring Annapolis History

No visit to Annapolis would be complete without seeing the U.S Naval Academy campus. The “Yard” occupies 340 acres, with lovely Beaux-Arts architecture and lush grounds. The excellent Visitor’s Center is the place to join guided tours, and the USNA Museum celebrates the history of seapower and the U.S. Navy. On weekdays in good weather, the midshipmen line up by brigade for the “noon meal formation” and march into Alumni Hall for lunch, just as they’ve done for over a century. It’s high pageantry and quite a sight to see.

Midshipmen on the Yard at the U.S. Naval Academy. Photo courtesy USNA.

Midshipmen on the Yard at the U.S. Naval Academy. Photo courtesy USNA.

Another beautiful architectural (and historic) “must see” is the Maryland State House. Dating back to 1772, it’s the oldest state capitol still in continuous use. It boasts the largest wooden dome in the country built without nails; the dome is an enduring fixture on the Annapolis skyline. The fledgling Continental Congress met here from 1783-1784, when Annapolis served as the capitol of the United States.  The Treaty of Paris was ratified here, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War.

Maryland State House Annapolis - 12° West

The Maryland State House, still in use today for Maryland’s state legislature.

Just up the hill from the State House is St. Anne’s Church, the area’s first chapel. The church has occupied this site since 1704, and the current building dates from 1859. It’s a beautiful example of Romanesque Revival architecture. The stained glass window on the south side is an original creation of Tiffany Studios.

Just downhill from the State House, the Hammond-Harwood House is a masterfully preserved jewel of Anglo-Palladian style and showcases a fine collection of colonial-era furniture. Around the corner is one of our favorite hidden gems, the Georgian style William Paca House and Garden. It was built in the 1760s by William Paca, one of Maryland’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. The 2 acre walled garden has been restored to its original condition; it’s an oasis of pristine calm right in the middle of downtown.

William Paca House Garden - 12° West

William Paca House garden in full bloom. Photo courtesy Historic Annapolis.

A Little Shopping

If you haven’t exhausted your wallet at the Annapolis Boat Show, take a stroll down the bricked blocks of Maryland Avenue. Yes, there’s plenty of shopping on Main and West Streets, but Maryland Avenue has an abundance of charming independent stores. One of our favorites is Annebeth’s, a gourmet specialty shop that will appeal to food, wine and beer connoisseurs. Other recommended stops: the Annapolis Bookstore specializes in maritime titles, BeHome has lovely nautical-themed home goods, and Natalie Silitch has a unique collection of antiques and the artist’s own folk art.

Maryland Avenue Annapolis

Quaint shops along Maryland Avenue. Photo courtesy Visit Annapolis.

Food and Drink

By now you’re hungry, or thirsty, or both! Luckily, Annapolis has no shortage of great places to eat and drink. The quintessential place to find the boat show crowd is Boatyard Bar & Grill in Eastport. Just a short walk up from the Annapolis Yacht Club, this is where local sailors go after weeknight races for a beer and the Boatyard’s award-winning crab cakes. Also in Eastport, we like Blackwall Hitch for oysters, creative cocktails, and an excellent happy hour menu. A little farther off the beaten path in Eastport, Vin 909 serves fresh farm to table fare accompanied by an extensive wine list – with over 30 wines available by the glass.

Boatyard Bar & Grill Annapolis -12° West

The Boatyard Bar & Grill is a true sailors hangout. Photo courtesy Humans At Sea.

Downtown, you’re likely to run into sailors at the bar at McGarvey’s. On Main Street, the old school Chick & Ruth’s Delly is a quirky Annapolis institution. Our favorite breakfast spot is Iron Rooster – this is high class comfort food and quite possibly the best chicken and waffles we’ve ever had. But it turns out that Iron Rooster is everyone’s favorite breakfast spot, so there’s often a wait. Reservations are recommended, and the good news is they serve breakfast all day long. In fact, a Bloody Mary sounds good right about now!

Every town needs a great Irish pub, and in Annapolis it’s Galway Bay. This replica of a typical Connaught pub is another of our favorite stops. It has a big wooden bar, live music on the weekends, and it’s cozy like an Irish pub should be. Insider tip: go for the fried oysters or fish & chips. Or both, why not?

Galway Bay Irish Pub Annapolis -Boatyard Bar & Grill Annapolis -12° West

A little taste of Ireland in Annapolis.

West Street is another hot spot for Annapolis restaurants. We always visit Tsunami for their excellent sushi and creative Asian-fusion dishes. They have an extensive and ever-changing cocktail list, or just tell the bartender what liquor you like and they’ll make up a cocktail for you on the spot. Just up the street and from the same owners, Lemongrass has excellent (and spicy!) modern Thai food. And Paul’s Homewood Cafe is an Annapolis favorite since 1949, serving seafood and Mediterranean fare with amazingly friendly service.

Finally, a word about ice cream. There is some local debate about which is better – Annapolis Ice Cream Company, or Storm Bros. Ice Cream Company. In the name of research, we’ve tried both. Suffice to say, both make fresh, handmade ice cream with unique flavors so you can’t go wrong either way. Problem solved.

Need More Time?

There’s so much to do and see in Annapolis, you likely won’t be able to do it all this spring. So make your plans now to come back in October for the United States Sailboat Show, the largest and most prestigious in-water boat show in the world. Sailors from all over descend on Annapolis for 5 days of full-on sailor revelry. It’s the can’t miss event of the sailing season. And trust us – once you’ve experienced the many charms of Annapolis, you’ll want to come back again and again.

Come see us in Tent A at the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show! We’ll be showing new styles for 2018. Vote for your favorite color or print and enter to win one of our limited edition pieces.