Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

When in Annapolis (from the perspective of a quasi-Annapolitan)

By ARUSA MALIK | April 10, 2024

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COURTESY OF ARUSA MALIK

Arusa and her friends exploring St. John’s College at the heart of Annapolis. 

Did you know that Annapolis, Maryland was the first capital of the United States? In fact, the Treaty of Paris — the same treaty that ended the Revolutionary War — was signed in the Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House in Annapolis. The history and significance of this beautiful city were unbeknownst to me until I moved next door. Although Maryland’s capital is just 45 minutes away from Hopkins, many students don’t know what it has to offer. Between the views of the Chesapeake Bay to the delicious seafood available, Annapolis is an amazing place to visit for a mini trip away from school!

The city’s official boundary within Anne Arundel County is about eight miles wide, however, downtown Annapolis or historic Annapolis is under one mile, which makes it a perfectly walkable city. If I were taking my friends from Baltimore to Annapolis, here are a few things that I would do with them.

Getting to Annapolis from Hopkins without a car from is a tricky feat. Public transportation directly to the city is limited, so the most efficient mode would be to drive or rideshare. However, if you’re keen on spending the least, you can take the CityLink Silver line and transfer to line 70, which is around a two hour trip.

Once there, I would immediately grab a toffee ice cream or lavender lemonade from The Red Bean on Main Street. This cafe and dessert shop opened in 2015 and has become a fan favorite for Annapolitans across the board. In the summer, their cold treats are light and refreshing, and in the winter, their hot chocolate is thick and rich. The cafe has plenty of sitting space which is perfect for a group.

COURTESY OF ARUSA MALIK

Chocolate ice cream with toffee mixed in from The Red Bean.

Annapolis is known for its small preppy gift shops and boutiques, often boasting high prices and fragile jewelry. If I wanted a shirt or magnet, I would head straight to the back of Naptown Clothing Co. where the clearance section is located. There you’ll find a combination of clothing and trinkets all under $20. Grabbing a long-sleeve cotton shirt with a Maryland flag on the back and a small crab on the front breast pocket is a staple, but if you’re looking for more uncommon souvenirs, you’ll find crab mallets in every shape and leggings completely covered with the Maryland flag.

In the unique situation that you need a formal dress, Annapolis also has a well-known shop called 3 Sisters that sells everything from prom gowns to wedding dresses. You may also notice kids and the elderly alike sporting clothing with a black dog printed on the front or back. These are all from the iconic Black Dog General Store on Main Street. The next closest Black Dog to us is in Connecticut so definitely check it out while you are nearby. 

The next part of your Annapolis adventure — and my personal favorite — is where to eat in the city. Sitting on the Severn River tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is by and large known for its fresh seafood, especially crab. Restaurants in the city are well known for rolling a sheet of butcher block paper onto their guests’ tables, placing steaming hot crabs in the center of the table and handing everyone mallets and crab leg crackers. 

Crabs can be expensive so return on investment is important. Cantler’s Riverside Inn is in the heart of historic Annapolis and maintains a traditional crab-eating atmosphere. The crabs are generously seasoned and served freshly steamed! Their crabs (and crabs in general) are best enjoyed by being dipped in melted butter, honey butter and with a generous sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning. Don’t forget to order a basket of hush puppies as a sweet and savory snack.

For crab cakes, Boatyard Bar and Grill is a great option with a lively and casual environment. The restaurant sports a nautical theme with anchors, burgee flags taken off sailboats and bench-style outdoor seating perfect for a hot summer day. In case the crabs don’t fill you up, Iron Rooster in Ego Alley is the perfect place for a filling home-style meal of chicken and waffles or even eggs benedict with a side of delicious southern potatoes.

Walking around the city is a must-do after eating. St. John’s College sits in the center of the city on its own hill. Walk around the small campus, sit on the benches overlooking Main Street and take pictures in front of the Romanesque brick building. The Naval Academy plays a central role in Annapolis and its culture. The chances of running into midshipmen in their white uniform out and about are common. Annapolitans often sponsor midshipmen in their homes and are very outspoken when it comes to Navy sports.  If there’s a game going on in the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium it’s worth stopping to see for yourself. The Academy courtyard is open to the public during the day along with the Visitor Center (anyone over the age of 18 will need valid identification).

A visit to Naptown wouldn’t be complete without a walk along Ego Alley, a small marina found at the end of Main Street. There you can enjoy an ice cream cone from the famous Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory (they only take cash) or a hot crepe from Sofi’s Crepes. A water taxi runs along the Severn River and costs just under $10 per person. This is a great way to see Annapolis from the water and enjoy views beyond the Severn River.

As a self-proclaimed quasi-Annapolitan (aka I live 10 minutes away), I have nothing but love for this small city. It has character, charm and a feeling of hominess that can’t be found in most cities. I’ve made countless memories with friends and family simply walking along the cobblestone paths or looking out onto the bay. I hope that all Hopkins students, professors and affiliates alike get to spend a warm summer evening in this city I am proud to call home.


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