With the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River at its doorstep, Annapolis is the pleasure-boating capital of the eastern U.S. The city offers many opportunities to enjoy sailing and watersports, as well as other outdoor activities.
Free Wheelin', an Annapolis Transit program, loans bikes every day 9am to 5pm, June through August, to riders ages 18 and older. Bring a photo ID and plan to have the bike back by 8pm. Helmets are recommended and required on USNA grounds. Riders also get a pass to ride the transit buses, all of which have bike racks. For information, call tel. 410/263-7964, ext. 101.
If the streets are too crowded for a leisurely excursion, try one of the parks and paths outside of town. The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail (tel. 410/222-6244) is a smooth 13-mile asphalt route from Annapolis north into the suburbs. Formerly a rail corridor, it's ideal for biking or walking. The trail, which connects with the waterfront Jonas Green Park, under the Route 450 bridge, runs parallel to Ritchie Highway and ends on Dorsey Road at Route 648 in Glen Burnie, where it connects with the 12.5-mile BWI Trail. The trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Outside the city, on the South River and Harness Creek, Quiet Waters Park (tel. 410/222-1777) has 6 miles of biking and hiking trails with an overlook along the South River. Dogs have their own park and beach. The park is open Wednesday through Monday, 7am to dusk; you'll pay $6 per vehicle, $5 per handicapped vehicle.
Sailing Schools & Sailing Trips
The sailing capital of the world has lots of schools that will get you at the helm for a weekend or a week. Learn to sail at the oldest sailing school in America: the Annapolis Sailing School, 601 Sixth St. (tel. 800/638-9192; www.annapolissailing.com). With more than 50 boats and a huge support staff, this school offers programs for novices and veterans, including KidShip for children 5 to 15. Options range from a weekend beginner course for $475 to a 5-day vacation sailing course for $5,000 for up to six people. Grads may rent the 24-foot Rainbows. Hotel packages are also available.
Womanship, 137 Conduit St. (tel. 800/342-9295; www.womanship.com), is a sailing program for women. Instruction levels range from "Chicken of the Sea" to advanced, in daytime or live-aboard settings. Learning cruises range from 2 to 7 days and from $575 to $2,750.
There are many other sailing schools in the area, so call around for one that best suits your needs. Try JWorld Annapolis (tel. 800/966-2038 or 410/280-2040; www.jworldannapolis.com) which uses the wicked fast J-boats, or Chesapeake Sailing School (tel. 800/966-0032 or 410/269-1594; www.sailingclasses.com), which offers courses on Back Creek.
The 74-foot schooner Woodwind, 80 Compromise St. (tel. 410/263-7837; www.schoonerwoodwind.com), departs from the Marriott side of the City Dock for 2-hour sailing trips four times daily, April to November. Departure times vary, so call or check the website. If you like sailboat racing, you can watch the Wednesday-night races aboard the Woodwind. Prices are $31 to $34 for adults, $29 to $32 for seniors, and $20 for children 11 and under. Special-destination cruises, overnight trips, and bed-and-breakfast sails are also available.
The professional Washington Bayhawks (tel. 866/994-2957; www.thebayhawks.com) play home games through 2011 at Navy/Marine Corps Stadium on Rowe Boulevard. The season runs May through August.
Paddle or Pedal (tel. 410/271-7007; www.paddleorpedal.com) offers 3-hour sunset kayak tours in the South River on Fridays at 6pm. It also offers trips in creeks on both sides of the bay, as well as instruction and kayak rentals at Quiet Waters Park south of Annapolis. Preregistration is necessary for sunset paddles. Admission to Quiet Waters is $6 per vehicle; walk-ins and bike-ins are free.
Kayak Annapolis (tel. 443/949-0773; www.kayakannapolistours.com) rents boats from its Eastport shop by Spa Creek and guides tours from nearby Truxtun Park.
Visitors don't have to go too far to find a Chesapeake beach. Beaches at Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Pkwy. (tel. 410/974-2149), are guarded Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are concession stands, boat rentals, picnic areas, and hiking paths, too. Admission is $6 for nonresidents. The park is open dawn to dusk. The park is located by the Bay Bridge, Route 50 off exit 32.
Watersport Rentals & Charters
To charter a sailboat, contact one of the sailing schools or call South River Boat Rentals (tel. 410/956-9729; www.southriverboatrentals.com), which rents both sail- and powerboats; it's south of Annapolis by the South River Bridge on Route 2.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.