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Travel: Waterfront Appeal

A trip to Annapolis is full of Americana, historic homes and B&B charm.

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Most of the narrow streets in the historic district, where homes sit shoulder to shoulder with restaurants and boutiques, lead to the city docks at Spa Creek. This area is the city's main gathering place, full of stores, bars, restaurants and boats.

Because parking is at a premium, we slipped on comfortable shoes and signed up for a Three Centuries walking tour so we could see the sights. A costumed guide led us through the city, from the Maryland State House to the U.S. Naval Academy. On the way, we stopped by several historic homes — the William Paca House and Garden, the Hammond-Harwood House and the Chase-Lloyd House.

Tired from our citywide jaunt, we popped into Reynolds Tea Room on Church Circle for afternoon tea. Our waiter brought over a pot of savory tea and two warm, heavenly, golden-raisin scones, served with whipped cream and strawberry preserves.

Refreshed, we headed out to scout for interesting boutiques. We slipped into Pueblo Azul, a store that marries the American Southwest with contemporary Mexico. We found everything from hand-carved Oaxacan spirit animals in vibrant colors to pottery, furniture and Tiffany-style lamps. Another fun stop: Plat du Jour, filled with European ceramics, linens, antiques and kitchenware.

We worked our way down to Galway Bay, a charming Irish restaurant where we started our dinner with spicy tomato and Irish whiskey soup spiked with a wee bit of jalapeĀ¤o. We followed that with an order of hand-cut fish and chips, and hefty helpings of Irish soda bread and brown raisin bread.

That night we stayed at Gibson's Lodgings of Annapolis, a historic inn and conference center close to the docks and the Naval Academy. Guest rooms — each has its own personality — are scattered throughout three historic homes. We chose a smaller room with twin beds that reminded Angela of her grandma's guest bedroom.

The next morning we rushed over to Chick and Ruth's Delly on Main Street for breakfast. We wanted to find a seat before 9:30 so we could participate in the daily Pledge of Allegiance. It's a local favorite and both floors of the narrow, tubelike eatery were crowded. While we dined on waffles and eggs, the restaurant's owner dazzled us with a few sleight-of-hand magic tricks.

Later in the day, we caught a launch that took us across the water to Eastport, and we walked to the Boatyard Bar & Grill, a comfy, contemporary hangout for boaters. Here, we shared both the crispy soft-shell crab sandwich and the regular crab sandwich.

That evening, we took a short drive to Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn on the edge of Mill Creek. We knew Cantler's would be crowded — it's the place to go for hard-shell crabs and for people-watching — but hadn't anticipated that it would take us more than 20 minutes to inch up to the parking lot once we were there. There's nothing fancy about Cantler's. It's casual family-style dining — think long picnic-style tables with trays of hard-shell crabs. After dinner, we slipped out back to check out the collection of items, everything from antique china to silver, that the Cantlers have uncovered on their hunt for crabs.

We realized that two days is not enough to see and do everything we wanted to in Annapolis. But that's OK. We'll just plan another all-girl outing next year.



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