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Ahoy! Enjoy Annapolis

Date: October 11, 2016 American Roads and Global Highways, Roberta Sandler

There's smooth sailing for you and your grandchildren when you visit Annapolis, Maryland. With plenty of water views and water sports, this county seat of Anne Arundel County is an invitation to fun. Annapolis is called the Sailing Capital of the World, no surprise considering that it's situated on the Chesapeake Bay. It's less than an hour from Baltimore and Washington, D. C.

Rent a kayak, sign on for (seasonal) Family Fishing Adventures or take your grandkids to 350-feet-long Downs Park Pier, and help them cast their rods into the bay. See what takes the bait. Or bring the kiddies aboard the Sea Gypsy.  It's a boat that's a make-believe pirate ship.

You get to sit onboard the Sea Gypsy and relax while your grandchildren dress up as pirates, search for sunken treasure and engage in fun activities. The Sea Gypsy is owned by a company called Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, and the mission of the owners and staff is to provide children with a fun experience.

Water is plentiful in Annapolis but so is American history. That's a good thing for families because while they're enjoying time together, they're also learning together.

Annapolis has about 100 colonial structures. Notable are the homes of four signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Charles Carroll, who lived longer than any other signer, and lawyer William Paca, who was a three-term governor of Maryland.

A tour of Paca's 26-room house reveals the private life of an upper-class household in Colonial and Revolutionary Annapolis. Paca's property includes a beautiful two-acre pleasure garden. The house offers a schedule of children's programming

Another notable house was not owned by a "signer," but rather by Matthias Hammond, a  wealthy young tobacco planter. Hammond Harwood House, built in 1774 on four acres of land, is a prime example of colonial American architecture. This National Historic Landmark is filled with antique 18th- and 19th-century furniture and decorative arts, and paintings by Charles Wilson Peale (famous for his portrait of George Washington).

Banneker-Douglass Museum, a repository for African-American culture and history, is housed within the Gothic-Victorian former Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The museum is named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass and astronomer, surveyor and almanac author Benjamin Banneker. Banneker's mother was a free black woman. His father was a freed slave.

The museum may not sound like a must-see tourist attraction, but there are lessons to be learned here. Among the museum's exhibits and historical documents is a letter that Banneker wrote to Thomas Jefferson. The marvel is that the letter was written by a black man to a slave-owner (Jefferson) in protest of the poor treatment of Jefferson's slaves. The letter initiated a correspondence between Banneker and Jefferson.

Maryland State House is the oldest state Capitol in continuous use. It served as the nation's Capitol for one year, 1783 to 1784, when the Continental Congress met here. The dome is the largest wooden dome in the United States. Remnants of history are on display all over the interior of the State House. Some of it will impress your grandkids, because the State House has links to George Washington.

In 1783, the future first President of the United States, while standing in the old Senate Chamber, resigned his commission as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

Here, he gave his farewell speech. A replica of Washington's uniform is on display. There's another link to Washington at the top of the State House's Grand Staircase leading to the second floor.  Here, he appears in an 1859 painting, "Washington Resigning his Commission."

Direct your grandchildren to a small glass case in the State House. When they look inside, they'll see the miniature Maryland flag that astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins brought with them into the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Next to the flag, there are miniscule moon particles the astronauts brought back to Earth.

The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis -- the undergraduate college of the Navy -- traces its roots to 1845, when it was simply the Naval School. Today, the campus, affectionately referred to as "The Yard," covers more than 300 acres and the student body consists of some 4,000 men and women.

This National Historic Site hosts more than one million annual visitors who, ready to explore the campus, smile at passing midshipmen. For example, Preble Hall's U. S. Naval Academy Museum displays some 50,000 items pertaining to naval history and space exploration.  

Head for the Academy's Halsey Field House, featurings a high-tech exhibit with interactive screens, including  a touch-screen wall map pinpointing sites you'll want to visit around the "Yard."

The crypt of John Paul Jones is located beneath the United States Naval Academy Chapel. Look down at the floor and you'll read the names of Jones' seven ships. Look at the walls and you'll see Jones' medals and other artifacts relating to his life.  If your visit is planned right, you can watch a dress parade or attend a free Naval Academy Band concert. The Academy's Drydock Restaurant is usually open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In warm weather, sailboats bob along Chesapeake Bay, and strolling the City Dock is a nice leisurely pastime, but year round, Annapolis offers enough to provide an enjoyable family-vacation getaway. For information: www.visitannapolis.org; (888)-302-2852

 

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