When Pete and Kate Vonderheide moved from Hawaii to Annapolis to live closer to their family, they thought they'd have to give up a career of ocean kayaking to resume responsible office jobs. Soon they recognized the historic city harbor's lack of kayak tours and knew they couldn't stay inside forever. Their shared passion for history spurred them to research and interview the locals until they'd compiled enough historic material to start leading tours. Today, their tours can teach something new even to locals.
The Vonderheides continue to assemble a team of outdoor guides certified in CPR and first aid who all bear a well-researched knowledge of area wildlife and history. These experts lead two-hour scenic tours through the historic harbor. Starting each excursion with a brief paddling lesson, they put first-timers at ease with basic instruction and an amiable demeanor, unlike guides who rely only on their convincing Captain Ahab impressions. Excursions begin at the Spa Creek headwaters in Truxtun Park and lead participants into open-harbor waters to drift in full view of the state capitol building, the US Naval Academy, and historic Eastport. Trips peak at the City Dock, where participants receive a break to take photos and rest. On the return trip, guides field open-ended questions about city history such as presidential visits, the crabbing and oystering trade, and whether George Washington had to swim using floaties.
Despite its food-centric name, the Maryland Seafood Festival casts a wide net over Chesapeake Bay culture, capturing the essence of the area?s music, art, sports, and cuisine in an annual celebration that has endured since 1967. For 30 of those years, the festival has camped out on Sandy Point State Park?s seaside grounds, where, like the mattress of a giant, the event sprawls across a space the size of nearly three football fields. On Saturday, the festivities kick off with one of the event?s two traditions: the Annual Crab Soup Cook-Off followed by the Maryland Fishing Challenge the next day. After that, hungry patrons can sample local flavors at vendor booths by Jimmy's Famous Seafood and the Maryland Watermen's Association, or visit chef demos where pros impart tips on preparing dishes such as blackened snakehead and oyster shooters. Local artisans also fill festival tents, selling colorful wares that range from jewelry to furniture. A lineup of live music will soundtrack the event through most of the weekend, helping kids bop to the beat in bouncy houses while adults sample imported and craft beers from local brewers.
Historic Annapolis at St. John’s College preserves and celebrates the area’s rich social and political history with tours of the colonial city and its landmark homes. The nonprofit group restored the Paca House & Garden, National Historic Landmark, to its colonial-era glory so that visitors could wander the rooms and gardens and travel back in time to an era teeming with revolutionary political ideas and patriotism. A historical museum holds exhibits that illuminate the past, such as a six-foot-by-six-foot model of 18th-century Annapolis and a wormhole to Ben Franklin’s kite shop. At Hogshead at 43 Pinkney Street, living history presentations immerse visitors in the language and thoughts of long-ago citizens. Historic Annapolis also hosts a variety of public events, from historical interpreters presenting on colonial life to summer camps for burgeoning history buffs.
The Annapolis Craft Beer & Music Festival encourages visitors to BYO. That's not BYOB, mind you (there are more than 100 beer styles here from craft breweries around the country). Instead, visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs?and set them up near the Pilsner stage to listen to live music all day while sipping their samples.
But there's plenty to do at the fest away from the lawn, too. Informational seminars teach all about beer, with sessions that might cover the fundamentals of craft beer or cooking gourmet dishes with it. Until festgoers can get back home and can put those lessons to action, there are plenty of hearty eats to try at the festival grounds, including freshly shucked Maryland oysters.
At Annapolis Sailing School, the instructors prefer hands-on teaching to traditional textbook methods. They?ve developed this approach ever since their first lesson in 1959, when the school opened. Many lessons later, the staff continues to introduce novice sailors to the sea aboard their fleet of vessels, which includes a rainbow sailboat and a cruiser. From the get-go, students are encouraged to man the jib and barter with Poseidon over the choicest sailing routes. In addition to these private and group sailing lessons, the staff also rents out sailboats and offers a certification program that adheres to the American Sailing Association?s program.
It may seem intimidating that Annapolis Boot-Camp places beginners and seasoned athletes side-by-side, but classes are about camaraderie rather than competition. Newcomers strive for their goals with encouragement from experienced students and fitness knowledge from personal trainer and boot-camp instructor Sandra Turner. During each session, participants perform scalable cardio, strength, and interval-training exercises that suit their individual abilities. A day's workout may include jumping rope to elevate heart rates, squats to develop muscle endurance, or TRX suspension exercises to show barbells how easily they can be replaced.