• Photo: Steven Frame / Shutterstock


In 1649 a group of Puritan settlers moved from Virginia to a spot at the mouth of the Severn River, where they established a community called Providence. Lord Baltimore, who held the royal charter to settle Maryland, named the area around this town Anne Arundel County, after his wife; in 1684 Anne Arundel Town was established across from Providence on the Severn's south side. Ten years later, Anne Arundel Town became the capital of Maryland and was renamed Annapolis after Princess Anne, who later became queen. It received its city charter in 1708 and became a major port, particularly for the export of tobacco.

In 1774, patriots here matched their Boston counterparts (who had thrown their famous tea party the previous year) by burning the Peggy Stewart, a ship loaded with taxed tea. Annapolis later served as the nation's first peacetime capital (1783-84).The city's considerable Colonial and early republican heritage is largely intact, and because it's all within walking distance, highly accessible.

Although it has long since been overtaken by Baltimore as the major Maryland port, Annapolis is still a popular pleasure-boating destination. On warm sunny days the waters off City Dock become center stage for an amateur show of powerboaters maneuvering through the heavy traffic. Annapolis's enduring nautical reputation derives largely from the presence of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose strikingly uniformed midshipmen throng the city streets in crisp white uniforms in summer and navy blue in winter.

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