Talbot County Itinerary - Explore the Eastern Shore of Maryland

hunting7/032302 -- Bryan Chitwood works his Chesapeake Bay Retriever, near, West End, North Carolina.

Suggested itinerary brought to you by the Talbot County Office of Tourism

Small Towns
What makes Talbot County so special? The sound of gently lapping waters and the aroma of fresh-baked muffins at a waterside B& B... The plantive cry of wild geese as their "V" traces its way across the blue clear sky...The echoes of rogues and seafarers on the docks at St. Michaels and Tilghman Island...The memories of genteel colonists in Easton and Oxford...the gentle majesty of a skipjack plying its way across the Bay...The reassuring beam from the Hooper Strait Lighthouse at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum...The sound of music dancing across the water at night...The morning mist hanging in the quiet, sheltered coves...The roadside stands overflowing with fresh produce...The back roads and deserted lanes beckoning bikers...The waterside restaurants designed for long, lingering lunches and dinners...The shops filled with antiques and treasures waiting for browsers to discover...

DAY ONE: Start your visit in Easton, the Colonial Capital of the Eastern Shore, recognized as one of the "Best Small Towns in America." Soak up the atmosphere and history with a stroll along the self-guided tour available from the Historical Society of Talbot County. The Society maintains a Federal period garden and two historic houses on Washington Street. Easton is also recognized as one of the "100 Best Small Arts Towns in America." You’ll see part of the reason why when you visit The Academy Art Museum. It houses a permanent collection of works by prominent 19th and 20th century artists and regularly hosts special traveling exhibits. In addition, the Academy Art Museum presents a rotating exhibition program featuring local, regional and nationally respected artists.

What to do for lunch? What’s your pleasure? Easton’s restaurants range from casual pub grub to sophisticated dining. From June through November, you can graze through the Saturday Farmer’s Market or take your treats to one of Easton’s parks for a picnic. After lunch, travel to Oxford. You’ll cross the Tred Avon River on the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry. The oldest family-run ferry in the nation, it holds just twelve cars as it cruises across the picturesque, peaceful river. Oxford itself is an oasis of tranquility. Share an afternoon on the beach areas of the Strand or the Town Park. Take time to review its 300-year history in the town’s museum, located in the recreated Federal Customs House. You can enjoy dinner in Oxford or return to Easton for the evening. Oxford’s Tred Avon Players stage four productions throughout the season and the Community Center’s calendar offers a variety of activities. In Easton, the Avalon Theater and Academy Art Museum both have full calendars of productions and special events.

DAY TWO: St. Michaels, on the broad Miles River, has been a welcome port on the Chesapeake since the earliest Colonial Days. Another town filled with Colonial charm and atmosphere, its main street is also filled with a collection of antique stores and specialty shops that demand to be browsed. Explore the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museums, the only museum dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the entire Bay and its people. In its nine exhibit buildings on 18-waterfont acres, you’ll learn about the history and the technology that shaped the Chesapeake Region. Get a waterside view of Talbot County and learn the history of the area with a historical narration on board the Patriot, a 65-foot steel vessel. View historic homes, waterfowl, and the watermen who harvest the blue crabs, clams and oysters as you cruise the Miles River, a beautiful arm of the Chesapeake Bay. From St. Michaels, it’s a short drive to Tilghman Island. To reach Tilghman, you must cross the busiest drawbridge in the country at Knapp’s Narrows. Not very long or very wide, but it services the many work and pleasure boats that pass through the Narrows. The waterside restaurants at the bridge or on Tilghman itself are the perfect places to sample Eastern Shore cuisine.

An Abundance of Art
Atmosphere and art combine during a candlelit stroll in one of the Top 100 Small Art Communities in America. First Friday of every month. 5 - 9pm.

Over 60 national, regional and local artist offer paintings, watercolors, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, glass and other works of art for purchase and pleasure. October.

The world's premiere waterfowl art show, with painting, sculture, etching, watercolor, and - of course - decoy carvings, over 600 artists. Second weekend in November. 410-822-4567

Showcasing local and regional professional and casual artists working with oils, watercolors, wood, metal, glass, film and fiber. September, Oxford Community Center, 410-226-5904

Debut and traveling exhibits, concerts by national performers, lectures, and special shows. 106 South Street, 410-770-ARTS

Modern, minimalist gallery, 13 Goldsborough Street, 410-770-9044

Fine art by 42 nationally known artists, 5 South Street, 410-770-8350

Orginal art by national, international, and regional artists displayed in a working studio, 9 South Harrison Street, 410-770-9190

GALLERIES - St. Michaels
An ever-changing selection of paintings, pottery, and jewelry by local artists, 112 North Talbot Street, 410-745-6580

Working studio where members create glass, jewelry, textiles, garden art, and bronze sculptures, Canton Alley & Freemont Streets, 410-745-4125

Rotating shows by regional artists capturing the ambiance of life in the Chesapeake region, 410-886-2141

Restored art deco theatre with a schedule of music, dance, drama and comedy, 40 East Dover Street, Easton, 410-822-0345

A calendar of plays performed outdoors, under the lights and under the stars. Dinner theatre and shows only, August. Mason's, 22 South Harrison Street, Easton, 410-822-3204 or Chesapeake Summer Stage, 410-770-5838

Community theatre with a year-round schedule of hits and undiscovered theatrical gems, Oxford Community Center, Oxford, 410-226-0061

Talbot County....A Rich, Relaxed, Romantic Experience

Bay, Boats, Birds, Boutiques
DAY ONE: Start Your Day On The Bay! From the waterman village of Tilghman Island, there are many ways to get onto the water. If sailing is your pleasure, look into a skipjack cruise with the Herman M. Krentz, the Mamie A. Mister, Rebecca T. Ruark or on the Lady Patty, a lovingly restored 1930s yacht. If you want to meet some of the bay aquatic natives, join a charter boat trip for a half or full day of sport fishing. Harrison's Sport Fishing Center, All Aboard Charter or J.B. Charters are known throughout the East Coast as some of the best sport fishermen around. Become one with nature as you explore the Chesapeake in a sea kayak. The shoreline of the island offers a limitless number of areas to explore, and the kayaks are the ideal vessel. Lunch, of course, must be enjoyed at one of the waterside restaurants. There are several on the island where you can dine while watching the busiest drawbridge in the nation letting pleasure boats and sailboats through the narrow passage. Leaving Tilghman, it is a short drive to St. Michaels. This colonial seaport is home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Bay and its people. The town of St. Michaels maintains its colonial and nautical ambiance. The pleasant maze of winding streets let you wander past delightfully-restored Victorian houses and well-tended gardens, while the main street is heaven for any browser with its unique shops and antiques. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage through the town in the afternoon and dinner at one of the nationally-acclaimed award-winning restaurants. Live entertainment is featured at various locations in town after dark.

DAY TWO: Begin with a visit to Oxford. To reach this oasis of tranquility, you will cross the Tred Avon River on the Oxford Bellevue Ferry, a small passenger car ferry that is the oldest family run operation in the country. The best way to explore Oxford and the surrounding countryside is by bicycle. Rent a bike in Oxford and take advantage of the flat terrain and wide roadways to meander past colonial mansions and farmland. You will undoubtedly meet deer, foxes, groundhogs, geese and other residents as you travel. If you did not pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on your biking trip, don't worry. Oxford boasts many places to eat from casual waterside bars to upscale dining in three star restaurants. Easton is your next stop. The handsome architecture of its shops and historic buildings recall its role as the Colonial Capital of Eastern Shore. Take your camera to the Pickering Creek Environmental Center outside of Easton. Over 400 acres of protected land includes forests, wetlands and a nature preserve. You can stroll on the trails or rent a canoe to get closer to the birds and wildlife in their natural habitats.

Fun Adventures

Spend a day learning about the life and lore of the Chesapeake Bay. Many Hands-on exhibits. Events during the year include "Crab Days" in August and summer evening outdoor family concerts, 410-745-2913

Ferry crossing of the Tred Avon River started in 1683. Continuous crossing every 25 minutes from early morning until sunset, 410-745-9023

400 acres of protected wetlands is home to eagles and osprey, otter and foxes. Kid-friendly programs on weekends, 410-822-4903
www.pickering creek.org

The 19th century grist mill operates the first and third Saturday of each month, 410-827-6909

James Michener's Chesapeake
Spanning over 300 years, Michener's Chesapeake follows the lives and fortunes of four families who both shaped and were shaped by the Eastern Shore. The village of Patamoke is a composite of several towns in the area, but the Choptank River and other sites are authentic. Spend a day tracing the real footsteps of James Michener and the fictional ones of the Turlocks, Steeds, Paxmores, and Caters.

Easton: The original manuscript for the novel is kept at the Talbot County Free Library, 100 W. Dover Street. It's not on public display, but the Maryland Room, where Michener did much of his research is open during the library's normal hours. Monday 9-9, Tuesday & Wednesday 9-6, Thursday & Friday 9-5, and Saturday 9-1. Open until 9 on Thursdays and 5 on Saturdays in the Summer. Closed on Sundays.

The Third Haven Meeting House mentioned as the place the Quaker family Paxmore worshipped is located at 405 S. Washington Street. It's the oldest religious building in continuous use in the country.

Oxford: Michener wrote the original outline for the novel in the tavern of the Robert Morris Inn. He frequently ate there, and declared more than once that the crab cakes served at the Inn were the best on the Eastern Shore.

Stop at Cutts and Case Shipyard to see Byeberry, the oldest house in Oxford, possibly dating to 1668, as well as several other historic houses. Visitors can watch workers build elegant wood yachts, combining traditional materials with state-of-the-art engineering and design.

Cross the Tred Avon River via the Oxford Bellevue Ferry and head for the Jean duPont Shehan Audubon Sanctuary. Use the nature trails to get close to the herons, osprey, deer, geese, and other creatures so loved by Michener and his characters.

From there, continue to Tilghman Island. This waterman community is home to the skipjacks, the Retrievers, and the independent people who are more at home on the Bay than on its shores. Continue through town to Black Walnut Point. Park in the lot at the end of the road by the Naval Radar Station, and amble through the refuge maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. It's open 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. The view east across the Choptank River includes the spot where the fictional Devon Island was located.

Returning through Tilghman Island, stop to see (and even cruise on) the skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, the oldest skipjack on the Bay, at Dogwood Harbor. The "Rebecca" has a schedule of cruises in the summer.

St. Michaels is another town that was incorporated into Patamoke. This town actually was bombarded one early morning during the War of 1812. But the wily locals hung lanterns in the trees, so the British aimed too high and mostly missed the buildings. Only the Cannonball House on Green Street was hit.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is the perfect place to see log canoes and other wooden boats that played such a vital role in the life on the Bay. There's always a vessel under construction in the Boat Building Shed. Buy boats, like Mr. Jim, were used to circuit the Bay and purchase the day's catch from the watermen. These boats carried their purchases into port while allowing watermen the opportunity to continue with their harvest.

The Museum's efforts to save the remaining working skipjacks helped to earn one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Eleven Most Endangered Places for 2002. The skipjack Rosie Parks is docked at the Museum, while the E.C. Collier, is the focal point of the exhibit called "Oystering on the Chesapeake", which demonstrates the hard work of harvesting the bivalves. In town, the H.M.Krentz takes passengers on daily cruises in season.

Leaving St. Michaels, look for Railroad Avenue. Michener lived in a house at the end of this street while working on Chesapeake.

The Choptank River is as much a character in the novel as any of the people. Spend some time with it by visiting the fishing pier off Route 50. It's a good place to have a picnic while appreciating the wide river. The site of the fictional Patamoke is approximately where the bridge crosses the river. It's a good place to contemplate the saga of the Chesapeake and its people.

Itinerary for St. Michaels, Easton, Oxford, Tilghman and the rest of Tablot County sourced from http://tourtalbot.org/sugitinerary.asp

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