When it comes to vacations, we need to give a shout out to those amazingly prepared effervescent families that, last spring, were organized and had the foresight to reserve their getaway in advance. This article isn’t for those families — it’s for the rest of us, who neglected to book a spot or plan for this time of year at all.
As many Shore residents know, however, we are lucky to live where other people come for their vacations, and DelMarVa has no lack of variety for the vacation seekers — the streets are filled with people enjoying our quaint downtown shops and galleries; the water is alive with boats and paddlers, teeming with fishing poles looking for a bite; forests and trails are peppered with nature lovers, exploring their way across the landscape.
So this spring, we encourage you to forego the expensive, far-away spring break and opt for a Chesapeake Staycation. This unique region offers so much to do, sometimes we don’t know all of the options available, right here in our own backyard.
Here are a few Chesapeake Staycation ideas right here at home…
History and Cultural Tour — This area is full of opportunities to discover history and culture. Learn about Native American heritage at the Chicone Village at Handsell at 4837 Indiantown Road, Vienna. While there, check out Handsell House, a historic plantation built in the 18th century and a National Register Historic Site. The village is open to explore any time during daylight hours throughout the year. Tours of the Handsell House are by appointment and during special events until restoration work is completed. More information on both can be found at www.restorehandsell.org.
Dorchester County is also the home of the newly opened Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center. Learn about Harriet Tubman’s remarkable life, beginning right in the heart of Dorchester. The museum is part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a scenic driving tour with more than 30 sites marking the path to freedom in the 1800s. For more information on the visitor center and the tour, go to http://harriettubmanbyway.org.
The Eastern and Upper Shores of Maryland also boasts sections of the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. This 560-mile land and water trail connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, tracing American and British troop movements during the events leading up to the Battle of Baltimore which inspired the National Anthem by Francis Scott Key. Local sites along the trail include Historic Elk Landing in Cecil County, Caulk’s Field Monument in Kent County and Bowlingly in Queen Anne’s County. For more information on the National Historic Trail and a complete guide to sites and directions, go to http://starspangledtrail.net.
Water Fun — There are endless opportunities to get on and around the water in the Chesapeake Bay region. From sailing to fishing to paddling the numerous waterways meandering throughout the area, water lovers will find any type of adventure they’re looking for.
Several businesses along the Bay and its tributary streams and rivers offer kayak, paddleboard, and canoe rentals to paddle quietly and enjoy a few peaceful moments with nature. Check out Shore Pedal and Paddle in St. Michaels at www.shorepedalandpaddle.com for rentals of single or tandem kayaks and paddleboards.
In Rock Hall, Chester River Kayak Adventures offers tours, instruction, rentals and sales for paddle buffs. Sailboats are also available for rent to experience the wonder of the Bay area waters. Find all of the details at www.crkayakadventures.com.
If fishing is more your style, check out some of the chartered fishing trips in the area, giving you and your family the option to sit back and enjoy a day on the Chesapeake Bay without all the stress. A few of the many options on the Shore include Foxgate Charters in Stevensville (www.foxgatecharters.com), Josenhans Fly Fishing in Mardela Springs (www.josenhansflyfishing.com) or Sawyers Charters and Tours in Hoopers Island (www.sawyerscharters.com).
Arts and Entertainment — Art galleries, live theater, concerts and fine dining; the Shore has some of the best cultural resources for family-friendly fun and entertainment. The sounds of live local bands echo through the streets on spring evenings, the galleries present unique artistry as well as classes, presentations and workshops.
Take in a play at the historic Church Hill Theater (http://www.churchhilltheatre.org) or catch a concert at Easton’s Avalon Theater (tickets.avalontheatre.com). Washington College in Chestertown also maintains an ongoing schedule of concerts and performances, as well as other talks and workshops which you can find at www.washcoll.edu.
Nature Exploration — One of the Shore’s greatest resources is its abundance of natural beauty and open space. Beaches, forests, meadows and waterways come together in a unique environment ripe for discovery.
Take a hike or a bike ride on the trails at Tuckahoe State Park in Caroline County, or if you’re interested in something a little more challenging, try Tuckahoe’s Challenge Course and zip line. The park also offers camping, fishing, kayaking, playground areas and more.
Elk Neck State Park in North East is a hidden getaway on the Elk River and Chesapeake Bay offering camping, trails, beach area and a boat launch. Explorers can participate in ranger programs or hike to the Turkey Point Lighthouse for an educational adventure.
Find more information on these and other state parks on the Shore at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website at http://dnr2.maryland.gov.
Spring Festivals — With spring begins the season of festivals and carnivals; when the scent of cotton candy and funnel cakes fill the air and children find excitement around every corner.
With so many festivals happening this spring, it would be impossible to list them all, but here is a list of a few of our favorites...