At the confluence of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay at the southern tip of Calvert County, Maryland
Museum: State Rte. 2 on the Chesapeake’s western shores
Barely a mile long and fittingly fishhook-shaped, Solomons Island was named in 1870 for Isaac Solomon, the Baltimore businessman who established its first oyster plant. At one time the island was separated from the mainland, but a 23-foot causeway now links the two.
This charming seaside town also offers about 20 casual restaurants; dozens of antiques, craft, and gift shops; several lovely inns and guesthouses; unique attractions.
One of them is Calvert Marine Museum, which reflects the area’s rich maritime heritage, natural marine environments, and prehistoric past. Inside, visitors can see a giant Megalodon shark; touch 20-million-year-old fossils; see live marine life, including skates and rays; watch otters at play; and explore how human history has shaped this part of the Chesapeake region since Colonial times.
Outdoors, exhibits include a boat basin and a re-created salt marsh. From the museum’s dock seafaring spirits can sign on for a one-hour harbor cruise aboard the Wm. B. Tennison, the oldest Coast Guard– licensed passenger-carrying vessel on the Chesapeake, built in 1899.
For more scenic views the adventurous can climb through the hatch of the Drum Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1883 to mark the entrance to the Patuxent River. It is beautifully restored and appointed with period furnishings.
Also restored and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Joseph C. Lore & Sons Oyster House offers a taste of seafood packing, circa 1934, featuring the tools and gear used by local watermen to harvest fish, softshell clams, eels, crabs, and oysters.
For landlubbers the peninsula offers the idyllic Annmarie Garden on St. John’s Creek, which combines sculpture with cultivated flora. Throughout the year the garden hosts cultural programs and seasonal festivities, including the Garden of Lights each holiday season.
Museum open year-round except major holidays. Garden also closed July 4. Admission charged for both.