I had never really thought much about Maryland, nor had I heard of a little waterside town, population a smidge over 1,000, called St. Michaels.
But turns out the town an hour and a half from Washington, D.C. was the site of the wedding in Wedding Crashers (the crashees were married at the centuries-old Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond) and it’s been described among the ranks of the Hamptons and Nantucket, yet without the pomp and glut of people. It’s also where a teenage Frederick Douglass toiled as a slave for a time, and where he taught himself to read and write before he escaped and fled north. The St. Michaels Museum offers weekend or by-arrangement walking tours highlighting Douglass’ early life and an expanded exhibit indoors called “Frederick Douglass: His world 1818-1895.”
It was voted one of 2015’s best coastal towns too, and I completely get why.
To get there, you’ll drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, better known as the Bay Bridge—the world’s longest over-water steel structure in case fun facts are your thing. The Miles River runs along St. Michaels and empties into the Chesapeake Bay so there are few places you’ll find yourself without a water view.
Talbot St., the town’s main street, looks just like the postcard-worthy place you’d expect from somewhere established in the 1700s—historic colonial homes turned coffee shops, fresh-made ice cream parlors like Justine’s where residents and repeat visitors line the sidewalk out front and boutiques selling the kinds of antique gems you’d imagine ladies onboard the Titanic sporting.
While there’s nothing wild about St. Michaels, you wouldn’t want there to be. The quiet is part of the charm. Most go there for the views and the eats anyway, and those of the crustacean variety are king here.
Maryland blue crab is famed the country over for its taste and that good ole’ Old Bay seasoning its residents swear by (hence the saying, “I put Old Bay on my Old Bay”). And it’s no joke. You can snag a bushel of crabs for around $150 from some restaurants for carry-out and they come so slathered in the Maryland-made seafood seasoning, the smell will easily fill a room or three and make you salivate. But I’ll tell you all about downing a bushel of blue crab in my next post.
When it’s time for dinner, waterfront is the only option and St. Michaels Crab and Steak House is one of the best. Sit outside for a backdrop of boats on the marina and try the crab dip to start and the crab cake for a main, it’s easily the most beautifully flavored, melt-in-your-mouth crab cake I’ve ever had. If you tire of crab, there are oysters and a salmon filet that’s done right too.
This town is kind of a sweet secret I was fortunate enough to discover when my boyfriend’s family invited us for a visit, so go, but don’t tell too many people or we’ll spoil it.