When my brother was accepted into the United States Naval Academy, I was very excited. The Naval Academy has always been his dream and I was so proud of him for accomplishing his goal. His acceptance into the Naval Academy also meant I would get to visit him a few times a year in one of the cutest towns in America – Annapolis. Annapolis is the capitol of Maryland and looks like it just jumped from the pages of a storybook. The town is nestled at the mouth of the Severn River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. In downtown Annapolis, you are greeted with sailboats, amazing shopping, unique restaurants and streets lined with colorful row houses. My brother is now a senior (or Firstie) at the Naval Academy and it is bittersweet to see him getting ready to graduate. For those of you who want to visit, I put together a list of my favorite places to stay and eat as well as my favorite things to do in Annapolis;
Where to Stay
Gibson’s – This bed and breakfast is right next to the Yard (what people call the Naval Academy’s campus) and is my favorite place to stay while visiting the Naval Academy. The rooms are cozy and quaint and the breakfast offered is always amazing (Bagels from Naval Bagels, homemade muffins, and delicious yogurt parfaits – just to name a few). Gibson’s also has on site parking for its guests. Parking is pretty difficult in downtown Annapolis so this is a huge plus.
Loews/Westin – These are nice hotel options for people who aren’t a fan of Bed and Breakfasts. The Bed and Breakfasts in Annapolis are small and sometimes fill up quickly, so these hotels are also great for people who are booking closer to their visiting date. They are located on West Street, which is walking distance to the Yard, the stadium, and downtown Annapolis. Full disclosure, I haven’t stayed at one of these hotels but have heard great things from people who have.
Chez Amis – This is the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at the first time we came to Annapolis to drop Matt off for I-Day (the first day of Plebe Summer). This Bed and Breakfast is so charming and the owners make you feel right at home. Staying at such a comforting place really helped calm all of our nerves (I think my mom, dad, and I were more nervous than my brother) before we dropped him off!
Where to Eat:
Iron Rooster – This breakfast and lunch spot is in the heart of downtown Annapolis and is located right on the water. It is always packed and has a wait – for good reason. The food is delicious! They are famous for their homemade pop tarts*, but the rest of their food is award worthy too. I would recommend the bruleed grapefruit, the steel cut oatmeal, and the egg sandwich on their homemade biscuits.
Miss Shirley’s – This great breakfast spot is located on West Street next to the hotels and we come here every time I visit. I normally get the oatmeal, the yogurt fruit and granola, or the Southern Slammer Sandwich (sans bacon). The Southern Slammer Sandwich is an egg sandwich with cheese, fried green tomatoes, and an avocado spread. It’s the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had and is my brother’s favorite too!
Naval Bagels – This bagel shop serves homemade bagels, pastries, and coffee. This is a favorite among Mids (a nickname for Midshipmen) and one of my favorites, too! My favorite bagel is the super blueberry bagel and they have a diverse selection of teas and coffee. Bagels and coffee – you just can’t beat that!
Lemongrass – I can’t visit a city without finding some good Thai food. Lemongrass is another great restaurant on West Street and I love their vegetable fried rice and pad thai.
Vida Taco Bar – This is a “farm to taco” restaurant on Main Street that specializes in tacos and tequila. Their ingredients come from local farms and their fresh ingredients is what makes their food delicious. I recommend their homemade tortilla chips and salsa. I usually get the fried avocado taco (be warned – it is very spicy) and their shrimp taco (also spicy – I think T is slowly converting me into a spicy food lover)
The Big Cheese – The place to get sandwiches in Annapolis. This deli is right next to the Yard which makes it extremely convenient and it doesn’t hurt that they make best sandwiches in town. Mids love this place and we always pick up a sandwich for my brother when he can’t make it off the Yard.
Chick and Ruth’s – This is an Annapolis staple and a must try. This deli has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and has a menu full of diner food (hence, I have only been here once). If you aren’t in the mood for diner food, you should at least stop in for a brown top*(their famous shortbread cookie with chocolate icing on top).
Annapolis Ice Cream Company* – All of the ice cream is made in house and the flavors change daily based on what is fresh. I’ve stopped here to get an ice cream even in the dead of winter when it was freezing – it’s that good. My favorites are the peanut butter chocolate chip and the coconut chocolate chip.
Where to Shop:
The Lucky Knot – This is my favorite clothing store in Annapolis. They feature brands like Vineyards Vines and Barbour and I always have to stop in when I visit (on my most recent visit I picked up something I’ll be featuring on the blog soon!)
Be Home – This home décor shop is filled with the cutest nautical themed home decor. It’s dangerous for me to go in here because I’d like to buy the entire store and refurnish my apartment.
The Annapolis Pottery – This small pottery shop features the most beautiful homemade pottery that is made right inside the store. The last time we were in, my mom’s best friend bought a ceramic pumpkin that was still warm – they had just taken it out of the kiln!
The Annapolis Bookstore – The bookstore is my heaven. It is filled from floor to ceiling with books. I could get lost in here for hours.
What To Do:
Tour the Naval Academy – The Naval Academy has a beautiful campus and is filled with so much history. It is unlike any college campus I’ve ever seen. Whether you take a guided tour or wander around on your own, touring the Naval Academy is a must do. Some of the highlights: the chapel, Bancroft Hall, and John Paul Jones’ crypt.
Shop and Explore Downtown – As you can tell from above, downtown Annapolis has so much to offer. The town makes a big effort to support small businesses and keep chains out. There are so many fun shops and restaurants to explore. Also – the DOORS. I could spend hours exploring downtown Annapolis’ amazing doors. Spend some time exploring what downtown Annapolis has to offer.
Go to Washington DC/ Georgetown for the Day – Washington DC and Georgetown are a quick 75 minute ride from Annapolis. While my brother was in classes, my mom and I took a day trip out to Washington DC and were back in time to have dinner with my brother that same night. I would suggest taking the metro because traffic can be difficult.
Take a Boat Ride – When the weather is nice, there are plenty of sailing and boating excursions offered that provide spectacular views of Annapolis and the Naval Academy.
Attend a Navy Football Game – Coming from an SEC school, I am used to big football games but Navy football games are different. They have a much smaller stadium but the excitement is just as palpable. Also, everyone seems nicer at Navy football games. The opposing teams tend to be more respectful – probably because they know all of Navy football players and students have dedicated themselves to protecting us and serving our country. There are also a lot of traditions that are really fun to watch. The entire brigade (all the students in the school) marches on the field before the game and the plebes (freshman) all run on the field and do pushups for every touchdown.
Whether you visit for a day, the weekend, or an entire week, everyone should consider adding Annapolis to their bucket list.
*The extensive knowledge of the sweets of Annapolis was attained before my year of no sugar started. Sadly, my last trip to Annapolis did not include homemade pop tarts, ice cream, and brown tops.