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Seven ways to play in Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay.

Get on the water

In a region where water taxis connect popular entertainment districts, and where kayakers equal the number of joggers, visitors can expect to float a few times while they're here. The options available appeal to beginners, thrill-seekers and everyone in between.

Paddleboat and schooner tours offer a popular, if low-impact, way to earn your stripes on the water.

Learn to sail-join a crew, or skipper your own vessel. Boating schools get novice sailors and powerboaters up to speed and on the water in the same day.

Rental companies let visitors take small boats out on the Chesapeake Bay to explore hidden coves and creeks. Or, charter a boat with an experienced captain and crew, and focus on sportfishing and sightseeing. Some outfitters even invite guests to stay aboard overnight in decked-out staterooms.

Indeed, the Chesapeake Bay interacts with all of Anne Arundel County. Wherever your vacation takes you, be ready to get your feet wet.

Bring the kids

From toddlers to tweens to the kid in you, Anne Arundel County offers plenty of family friendly fun.

With an eye patch and a curly mustache, your little one will be ready to set sail with Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake in downtown Annapolis. This romping adventure at sea gives kiddos a chance to wear a pirate costume, uncover a sunken treasure and defeat the evil Pirate Pete.

Older kids will enjoy a kayaking trip around the historic Annapolis harbor. Guides lead the way, plying them with snacks and fascinating history of the area, as everyone paddles their own kayak through the gentle waters.

Young Picassos will love The Clay Bakers in Annapolis, a do-it-yourself pottery and glass-fusing studio. Here, they can create a masterpiece-either on their own or with assistance from the friendly staff.

Ships galore, a crabbing pier and boat tours to a lighthouse: You can experience it all at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

For a mellow afternoon with the whole family, grab a blanket and some sandwiches, and then enjoy a picnic at Quiet Waters, Truxton or Downs Memorial Parks.

Fisherman's feast

A delictable Maryland Blue Crab awaits - Tony Weeg Photography/Flickr

Come to Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay for the history and scenic beauty, and stay for the food. Fresh, fresh and fresher. That's what you'll find at the area's seafood and crab houses. And if indulging in same-day-caught fish and crabs isn't tempting enough, savoring this bounty from the bay while dining waterside sure is.

For cold beers and hearty crab cakes, go where the fishermen go. Boatyard Bar & Grill-a local favorite known for its raw bar and bountiful seafood offerings-and Middleton Tavern, a cozy sidewalk cafe on City Dock, beckon with fresh crab, oysters and other delicacies from the Chesapeake Bay. Arrive hungry and thirsty if you want to keep up with the locals.

Fine dining comes in the form of Osteria 177 with its smart wine list and fresh Italian-Mediterranean fare or Severn Inn, which delights diners with bay views as far as the eye can see (not to mention a menu of oysters, scallops, shrimp and fish).

To get your hands dirty, dig into a bushel of Maryland blue crabs. Mike's Restaurant and Crab House and Cantler's Riverside Inn both offer a lively atmosphere and a chance for diners to partake in the state's rich crabbing tradition.

See a show

The performing arts community offers something for everyone, from opera, ballet, pops and chamber music to live theater year-round. See local talent and nationally renowned acts perform at stellar venues throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Intimate venues throughout the county give visitors the best seats in the house. For most fans, all roads lead to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, home to Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Annapolis Opera, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and Annapolis Chorale.

Small-stage favorites such as The Bay Theatre Company, Infinity Theatre Company, Summer Garden Theatre and Compass Rose Studio Theater showcase local acting companies and national touring acts. Another crowd-pleaser, Colonial Players of Annapolis, performs at a theater-in-the-round where every audience member is, well, fair game.

The theatrical bent takes a family friendly turn to the north, where Medieval Times at Arundel Mills performs feats like jousting, horsemanship and falconry to spectators in ringside seats.

Revisit the past

Our Colonial past makes its presence known everywhere, from 18th-century architecture to the Annapolis Towne Crier, who strolls the streets of Annapolis in breeches and a tricorn-plumed hat.

Soak in more of Annapolis' history with a guided tour. Annapolis Food Tours offers Capital City Colonials, a historic walking tour, and the Annapolis Food & History tour. This one is perfect for foodies, with stops at local restaurants to sample cuisine highlighting the culinary history of the region. Colonial-attired guides from Watermark bring history to life on the Four Centuries Walking Tour, which visits not-to-be-missed sites; African American Heritage Tour, in conjunction with Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation; and the spooky, post-sunset Haunted Ghost Tour.

To enjoy a little historic transportation, make good use of the Discover Annapolis Trolley, which runs regularly around town.

Game on

No one does it better than the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The winningest team in the history of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the Bayhawks have won three MLL championships in the league's 11-year history. Be warned: watch one game and you'll be hooked. The Bayhawks play May-August at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Our other signature sport, of course, is college football, specifically Navy football. Saturdays transform our charming epicenter into one big tailgate party. The tradition that goes into a Navy football game, from the midshipmen in attendance to the band playing "Anchors Aweigh," speaks as much to civic pride as to the thrill of the game. Visitors should plan their Saturdays in the fall around a game.

Road trip

Mid-Atlantic gems pop up throughout Anne Arundel County. Chesapeake Bay charmers such as Herrington Harbour offer luxurious resort amenities perfect for a relaxing day on the bay. Inland attractions such as Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville and Severna Park operate at a quicker pace during seasonal festivals. Either way, enjoy the drive through spectacular countryside on the way.

A popular stop is Historic London Town and Gardens, a Colonial port town captured in time. Visitors witness some 300 years of history preserved in structures such as the William Brown House and re-created in period gardens. Historic interpreters bring out the color and drama of the experience.

Just across the inlet in Edgewater, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center invites the public for a full calendar of educational events, including the smartest canoe tour in the land.

Another fun road trip leads to Sandy Point State Park. The public beach here gets the most play, but the park also offers a marina, boats to rent, hiking and other outdoor activities-great views, too, of the Bay Bridge and the unique beauty of the Chesapeake Bay.

This article originally appeared in the 2013 Annapolis & the Chesapeake Bay Visitors Guide written by Jessica Dunham.

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