We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Queen Anne’s County, Maryland
Driving 6 hours Northeast of Charleston, West Virginia brings you to Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Known as the Gateway to the Eastern Shore, this hidden gem is in the Southernmost corner of Maryland, with only one way in and out. This beautiful area is full of quaint towns, historic sites, and amazing outdoor life as sits on the Chesapeake Bay. I would hate to say that the fresh seafood alone is worth the drive, but it truly is.
UNDERSTANDING THE GEOGRAPHY
The Queen Anne’s County region is first reached by Kent Narrows, the body of water and shorelines separating Kent Island from the mainland (Eastern Shore). They have several marinas, restaurants, hotels, and dock bars to try out. Kent Island is home to the towns of Stevensville, Grasonville, and Centreville. You can visit the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor’s Center to learn more about this unique geographic location.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN STEVENSVILLE, MARYLAND
Stevensville is the third oldest settlement in the United States, dating back to 1631 (following behind Plymouth and Jamestown). Among the plethora of historic sites to see are the train station and depot, colonial houses, Christ Church, and the Stevensville Bank. Both the church and train depot are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Stevensville Post Office is a hands-on experience, not to be missed.
Besides history, a big draw in Stevensville is the Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitar Factory company and tour. See where these one-of-a-kind guitars are made and the step-by-step workmanship involved. A single PRS guitar takes three and a half months to complete, which you learn on your tour of the massive facility. Famous musicians that use PRS guitars include Carlos Santana, Jake Owen, and John Mayer.
Check out the shops around historic Stevensville starting with Olive’s Attic, Salvage Sisters, and Relics. Head to the Queenstown Premium Outlets for 65 designer and name brand shops, including Michael Kors, Eddie Bauer, Harry & David, and Tommy Bahama.
Fancy a drink? Check out the Blackwater Distillery, famous for Picaroon Maryland Rum and Sloop Betty Vodka, both tasty choices made in this small-batch facility. Blackwater’s rums are made from pure cane sugar and go down smoothly. It is the oldest distillery in Maryland.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN GRASONVILLE, MARYLAND
Outdoor life in Maryland is highly important, so fishing, kayaking, water skiing, and paddle boarding are all popular things to do. Several companies offer chartered fishing excursions and nautical cruises. There are two walking and biking trails (Cross Island and South Island) that are perfect for the whole family, as well as two public beaches and fishing piers. Watch for sea glass on the beach–a great souvenir to take home.
WHERE TO EAT IN QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY
In Stevensville, be sure to stop by Peace of Cake, a specialty bakery with incredible muffins, cookies, cakes, and cinnamon buns. The carrot cake and Chesapeake mud cake are both scrumptious!
A delightful place to dine for lunch or dinner is Rustico Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar. The Bruschetta is fantastic, with garlic, basil, and plump Roma tomatoes, while the Crespelle di Mare dinner crepe with shrimp, scallops, and jumbo crabmeat is a little slice of heaven. Be sure to check out the massive wine selection.
How about a great appetizer and cold drink? An awesome choice is Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar for a tasty bucket of crabs or Hot Crab Dip to pair with a nice cold beer or cocktail. Enjoy the hammocks and beach areas.
In Grasonville, Bridges Restaurant on Kent Narrows is a great choice for both indoor and outdoor dining. With its proximity in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, the seafood doesn’t come any fresher. Go for the Atlantic Salmon, Crab-cakes, or Rockfish, a local favorite. Stay for the sunset; the views are absolutely breathtaking. Bridges Restaurant was listed as one of the “Top 100 most scenic restaurants in America” category by Food and Wine Magazine. The restaurant also has live music on the weekends.
WHERE TO STAY IN QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY
Grasonville has several affordable chain hotels that will be good for your visit. The Holiday Inn Express Annapolis East-Kent Island in Grasonville offers nice views, an outdoor pool, and free WiFi. Breakfast is included with your stay. For a luxurious stay, consider the waterfront Kent Manor Inn, circa 1820’s, in Stevensville. With 24 individually decorated rooms (English country style), this charming inn offers four poster beds, hardwood floors, custom linens, and Italian marble fireplaces.
A LESSER-KNOWN TREASURE TROVE
Queen Anne’s County is a special place that doesn’t get near its share of publicity; perhaps the locals like it that way. Once you explore the nooks and crannies of this Chesapeake Bay jewel, you will be so glad you did. Kent Island and Kent Narrows are going to provide great history, food, accommodations, and memories for your weekend travels.