There are so many opportunities for side trips in Annapolis, Maryland. Annapolis is a great jumping off spot for forays to the more rural area south of the city. Take this opportunity to visit the picturesque rivers and creeks that meander through Southern Anne Arundel County’s farmland and frame its quaint villages and towns. Three of my favorite destinations are highlighted below.
Beverly Triton Beach Park
Located at the confluence of the Rhode and West Rivers and 14 miles south of Annapolis, Beverly Triton Beach Park is a recreational jewel offering water sports, nearly 4 miles of natural trails, fishing spots, and sandy beach front. Dogs on leashes are welcome. The 341-acre waterfront park was a former private resort that drew city dwellers from Washington D.C. and Baltimore to swim, play and gamble in the cooler realm of the Chesapeake, until it was closed in 1968 after the owner lost a federal court case to keep out minorities. Anne Arundel County bought the land in the mid-1980’s, and opened it to the general public as a park in 2013.
While swimming is not permitted, children splash in the calm, briny water and build sand castles on the beach. Sand toys are available for day use. The view across the Bay to Kent Island is nothing short of spectacular. On a windy day, colorful kite surfers dance through the sky. The hiking trails traverse the diverse habitats of woodlands, marsh, and pond, and skirt the beach. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their bait off the stone jetties in the Bay or by the pond. Wildlife abounds in all areas of the park. Osprey reign regally atop their stick nests, and great blue herons stalk their prey in the marshlands.
On the way home, be sure to stop at the Old Stein Inn just down the road for happy hour or a traditional German dinner. Eat some sauerbraten, bratwurst, or other German favorites in the shaded outdoor biergarten, and sample a wide selection of German brews with your meal. The oompah band will surely entertain, and, if you are lucky, a strolling accordionist or yodeler will regale the whole family!
Quiet Waters Park
Rescued from development by Anne Arundel County, Quiet Waters Park opened in 1990 as the County’s “showplace” public park. Now a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modernity, Quiet Waters boasts 340 acres of wooded and tranquil parkland situated between South River and Harness Creek. The park design encompasses unrivaled river views, fountains, a reflecting pool that doubles as an ice rink in winter, foot bridges, destination gazebos and pavilions, and a formal garden. Teak benches, brick walkways and sculpture adorn the natural environment. The Visitor Center art galleries exhibit local and regional talent, and host receptions for openings.
Visitors enjoy an abundance of activities from walking or biking on six miles of paved trails to tossing a Frisbee or football on acres of open fields. Rent a pedal boat, paddle board or kayak. Join the kids at the multi-tiered, well-equipped playground as they swing, slide, or scale the rock wall. Ready for a picnic? You can choose from six covered pavilions equipped with grills and picnic tables, or a multitude of picnic tables dispersed throughout the park’s domain.
There is something for everyone at Quiet Waters, including the dogs! The park offers two off-leash dog parks, one for small dogs and the other for large dogs, as well as a small dog beach. Dogs on leashes are also welcome on park trails. And, after your excursion, you can take your dirty dog for a clean up at the Bark ‘n’ Bean Dog Wash and Coffee Bar, located right next to Quiet Waters Park. Admission to the park is $6.00 per vehicle for the day.
Just 14 miles by land and a two-hour sail from Annapolis, Galesville awaits your exploration. Enveloped in the embrace of Tenthouse and Lerch Creeks, and the West River, Galesville charts its history back to 1652, when the village was the area’s main colonial era port for both shipping and travel. During the heyday of steamship travel on the Chesapeake in the 1800s and early 1900s, steamboats carried summer visitors to Galesville, and transported local residents, tobacco and produce to more populated climes. Now, you can walk down the well-travelled pier where the Emma Giles docked, and enjoy the 180 degree view of the West River from Thursdays Steak & Crab House.
At the entry to Galesville from Route 468, the Quaker Burying Ground overlooks the village. Quakerism in Maryland dates to the West River meeting in 1672. The visiting Quakers would set up tents, giving Tenthouse Creek its name. Just down the street from the Burying Ground is the newly refurbished Hot Sox Field now owned by Anne Arundel County. This historic site was the home of the Galesville Hot Sox, a “sandlot” baseball team that was affiliated with the professional Negro League. The field is still in play, and you might be lucky and catch a game!
Around the corner from the baseball field is the restored “Rosenwald” school built to educate African American students in 1929. Closed as a school in 1956, the structure now houses the Galesville Community Center, which hosts oral history events, historical exhibits, and community gatherings.
As you meander down Main Street, stop by the Galesville Heritage Museum, open on Sunday afternoons, to learn more about Galesville’s history as a maritime port. Farther down Main Street you will find “Re-find”, a vintage furniture and home decorating shop next to the River Gallery. Open the first and second weekends of the month, the shop and gallery offer unique restored pieces and paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry and other original art work, often with a Chesapeake flair.
There are also several antique shops at the outskirts of the village and along Main Street. And, make sure to check out Galesville’s fascinating boat building history at the Hartge Nautical Museum located at Hartge Yacht Harbor at the end of Church Lane. When you are done exploring Galesville’s quaint streets, shops, and waterways, it will be time to refuel at one of its notable restaurants. In addition to Thursdays, Pirates Cove Restaurant offers seafood dining year round with scenic views of the West River. Enjoy lively entertainment in the lounge on weekends, and out at the Dock Bar from late May through October.
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Janet LaBella is a freelance writer who enjoys exploring a multitude of natural, historical and cultural environments in the U.S. and abroad. For many years she worked as a public interest attorney, and is embarking on a writing/editing career. In addition, Janet provides consulting services on management issues.