The Almost Complete Guide to Solomons
Discovery is yours in Solomons and Solomons Island
Oct 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
First of all, know that when people refer to Solomons, they may be talking about Solomons and/or Solomons Island, Maryland. Solomons Island is just south of Solomons but in truth, you can hardly tell it’s an island–although this stretch of land is surrounded by lots of water. If you blink you might not even notice that you’ve gone over the bridge from Solomons to Solomons Island. Part of their beloved boardwalk fringes both as well. It doesn’t matter much, since both Solomons and Solomons Island boast an array of fun things to see and do, great places to eat and dine, cute places to shop and nice places of lodging. (You’ll find more hotel options in Solomons proper though.)
Although inhabited since colonial times, Solomons has become an increasingly happening place in recent years due to its proximity to Washington, DC. At only about an hour and twenty minutes away by car, Solomons has grown as quite an attractive place to visit–and even live–for Washingtonians. What does this mean for you? Well, this makes for a vibrant dining, cultural and recreational center that really puts this place on the map. That would be a Discovery Map, of course!
There’s even a Smithosonian-affiliated sculpture park that’s a great place to visit for children and adults. The Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, which showcases works from internationally-known artists such as Picasso and Matisse as well as pieces depicting more regional themes, ranks as one of the most beloved places of interest in Solomons. Lots of events take place here, too!
The Calvert Marine Museum, situated at the mouth of the Patuxent River, is also a must. You can easily spend a whole day here visiting their various exhibitions, buildings, boats and the historic Drum Point Lighthouse. Devoted to telling the unique story of the Chesapeake Bay through both regional and natural history, here you can see and do things as varied as taking in an exhibition of fossils and artifacts or touching turtles and rays within their tanks. It’s very hands-on, making the Calvert Marine Museum particularly exciting for kids. Check out their programs ahead of time to see if you can join in on a boat building workshop–for model boats and small watercraft–or perhaps enjoy one of their boat tours.
Both of the above sites are open year round.
Boats have always been a big part of Solomons. Shipbuilding became significant during the nineteenth century, largely to sustain the fishing industry on Solomons Island, which became increasingly important over the centuries. Then during World War II, it became a training ground for amphibious invasion forces, preparing the troupes for waging battle in Normandy and the Pacific. Today much of the boating activity is of the recreational kind and if you look at your map, you’ll see that there are plenty of waterways to explore before you even venture out onto magnificent Chesapeake Bay.
If you have your own boat, and let’s say you’re coming down from New England or up from the south, you can find many excellent marinas to meet your needs. Spring Cove Marina & Boatyard, Solomon’s Yachting Center, Calvert Marina, Drum Point Marine, Washburn’s Boat Yard and Zahniser’s Yachting Center rate among the best. Can’t you tell it’s all about the boats in this part of the world?
For rentals (including kayaks and SUPs), go to Solomons Boat Rental, Patuxent Adventure Center and Bunky’s Charter Boats. In addition to their rentals and charter fishing trips, Bunky’s also offers dinner cruises. Sailing aficionados must check out Sail Solomons Sailing School & Yacht Charters.
Many of the above places offer waterfront dining from super casual to a full bar and grill. For more noteworthy eats, go to The Pier, Angler’s Seafood Bar & Grill, Kingfisher’s Seafood House, Hidden Harbor, the Island Hideaway and Charles Street Brasserie. Views at these predominantly waterfront establishments range from nice to fantabulous! And if you like crab, you can feast on the celebrated Chesapeake blue crab in a basketful of preparations. Great oysters, too. The CD Café regularly receives rave reviews for its signature crab cake sandwich. And if you’re looking for something to really change things up, go to Boomerangs Original Ribs for mouthwatering barbecue and all the fixings including hush puppies, baked beans and cole slaw.
Preserving and understanding the Chesapeake has been an ongoing process. The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the University of Maryland has been doing just that since 1925; it is the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast. Go to the Visitor Center here to learn about the ongoing research, the bay’s health and to see an oyster reef aquarium. You can also make an online donation, which is always greatly appreciated and put to good use.
Last–but certainly not least–wine lover’s should put the Solomons Winery on their list and maybe even grab lunch at The Pier Restaurant that overlooks the Patuxent River. It should come as no surprise that here you can delight in freshly shucked oysters with your glass of perfectly chilled white wine.
Remember too that the title of this section is The Almost Complete Guide. Cheers to all that you will discover on your own!