Want to play on the water? Then come to Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. With an abundance of fabulous waterways surrounding the area, from winding creeks and cooling rivers to the region's crown jewel the Chesapeake Bay, you're just steps away from splashing good times.
Not sure where to start? Check out our range of recommendations, from traditional water fun to a brand-new water sport that you may not even know existed.
Cruising on the Annapolis Harbor and Beyond
It's one thing to stroll along the Annapolis Harbor City Dock and watch the boats out in the harbor and beyond. But you don't have to just look.
Try a sightseeing cruise along the waterways of the Annapolis Harbor. The family-owned company Watermark has been giving families tours of Annapolis and Chesapeake Bay for over forty years. You can choose from a public or private cruise on one of their (mostly temperature-controlled) boats, seeing up close the banks of the United States Naval Academy and gazing up at the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Classic Sail Charters, another Annapolis-based operation, offers tailor-made private sailing excursions for up to six guests at a time.
Then there's the Annapolis Water Taxi, a fun way for the whole family to get to various points in Annapolis. It travels through the Annapolis Harbor as well as Spa Creek and Back Creek. In addition to designated pick-up times, it also picks up customers upon request (with advanced notice).
Want to steer the boat yourself? You can rent an electric boat for your family in the heart of Annapolis' Eastport neighborhood from S.J. Koch Duffy Electric Boats, LLC. Once aboard, cruise around Spa Creek or the Annapolis Harbor or head for open waters as you wish.
Have you ever seen the elegant sail boats that grace the Chesapeake Bay and yearned to be on one yourself? Here, in America's Sailing Capital, you can. The Schooner Woodwind gives families an authentic sailing experience on one of its two 74-foot, wooden schooners. On the boat, you can do as much or little as possible: help raise the sails, steer the boat, or sit back and enjoy cruising along the Chesapeake Bay.
For the smallest of sailors with the biggest of imaginations, there's Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Once kids board this authentic-looking pirate ship, they're quickly transformed into pirates, with bandanas, eye patches, and more. When the ship leaves its dock from Annapolis, those on board go seeking-what else? - hidden treasures. It's a treat that little ones won't easily forget.
To see some real sailing excitement, check out the Annapolis Wednesday Night Sailing Races. Join this fun tradition here in Annapolis by watching as approximately 150 sail boats jockey for position on the Chesapeake Bay and make their way around several markers before heading to the finish line in Spa Creek, at the Annapolis Yacht Club.
On a warm summer day, there's something special about sitting on the edge of a pier casting a fishing rod and hoping for a bite. At Downs Park Pier, you and your kids can wander onto a 350-foot pier that juts out into the Chesapeake Bay and cast a rod or dip a crabbing net into the bay. Keep your eyes wide open: If you're at the park's sandy beach or pier on a windy day, you might catch sight of some windsurfers or kite boarders out in the bay. That's just one of over a dozen fishing spots sanctioned by Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks. To find out about the others, click here.
Kids will get a kick out of this twist on traditional fishing: Casting your line from a kayak! Annapolis Canoe & Kayak, conveniently located on the waterfront in the Annapolis neighborhood of Eastport, has an enormous inventory of various styles of kayaks for rent-including 'fishing' kayaks. These stable, roomy kayaks include places to keep fishing fear and bait (note: fishing licenses required).
Cruise the Waterways in a Kayak or Canoe
Paddling through our waterways is a fun and scenic way to spend the day. Whether you're looking for a backdrop of shore birds and wetlands or the bustling Annapolis Harbor, you can find it on the water in Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay.
We've got plenty of places either to launch your own canoe or kayak or rent one. Quiet Waters Park, tucked between the South River and Harness Creek, is a favorite local spot with a serene setting. Families can set out on their own or take guided sunset and sunrise tours and lessons.
For a history-rich tour by experienced guides, contact Kayak Annapolis, LLC. Tours begin in the calm headwaters of Annapolis' Spa Creek, head over to downtown Annapolis, then back again. Sit-on-top kayaks make it a simple excursion, even for beginners.
If you have a more 'do-it-yourself' family, head over to Annapolis Canoe & Kayak. Here, you can rent from the outfitter's stock of 200-plus canoes and kayaks and launch either from their floating dock in Eastport or take to your favorite paddling spot. Experienced staff members also give demonstrations to get customers acquainted with effective paddling techniques.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Paddling while sitting in a boat on the water is fun, but what happens when you stand up (on a board that resembles a surf board) and paddle? This sport is called, aptly, Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, and it's fast becoming a popular recreational choice in and around Annapolis. SUP gives you a unique vantage point: Once you get your balance and find a rhythm, you feel as though you're walking-or rather, skimming-across the water. Kids think it's pretty cool because it allows them to do something they're normally told not to do: Stand up in a moving object on the water. Parents like it because it's a great workout. You can try SUP in the calm waters of a river or, for more excitement, head out to the bay where it's a little choppier and more challenging. Either way, prepare to get wet and have a blast. For local rentals, check out Capital SUP or Quiet Waters Park.
As you can see, there's no shortage of wonderful ways for your family to experience Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay on the water. Come discover what makes this place so special in the summer.