Queen Anne’s County is the Gateway to the Eastern Shore. Found in the southernmost corner of Maryland, there is only one way in and out of this area. Although I had never heard of Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, I opted to visit on a press trip. I fell in love with this area’s laid back charm, quaint towns, and amount of history.
An Introduction to Kent Island and Kent Narrows
Kent Island is the state’s oldest English settlement, dating back to 1631. Its towns include Stevensville, Centreville, and Grasonville. Learn about Kent Island’s history and culture by stopping at the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitors’ Center. The Center’s staff will welcome any questions you may have.
Kent Narrows is both a body of water separating Kent Island from the mainland Eastern Shore to the East and it refers to the shorelines of the strip of water which is a popular location for workboats, marinas, restaurants, hotels, and dock bars. Outdoor life in Maryland is most important because of their fishing business and water activities (boating, paddle boarding, water skiing).
A Rockin’ Good Time at the PRS Guitar Factory
Perhaps the biggest draw on the island is the Paul Reed Smith Guitar Factory. The factory opened in 1985 after moving from Annapolis. PRS offers four fascinating tours a week showing how these top quality and coveted guitars are constructed. The workmanship in these handcrafted PRS instruments is unbelievable.
PRS’ guitar tops are all made of maple. They are then cut, glued, dried, veneered, notched, stained, and monogrammed. The spray and buffing rooms are most interesting as this is where the guitars will get their satin or glossy finish and final color. Afterwards, the guitars are played, tuned, photographed for the customer, put in a case, and shipped to the new owner. The entire process takes around 3 1/2 months to complete and roughly 40 are made per day. Fun Fact: Jason Aldean is a big fan of PRS Guitars.
If spirits are of interest, visit the oldest distillery in Maryland. The Blackwater Distillery is famous for their Picaroon Maryland Rum and Sloop Betty Vodka, available in honey flavor, too. They make their rum from pure sugar cane instead of molasses. Just a few months ago, the Blackwater Distillery released a craft whiskey.
Did you know that Stevensville was the third settlement in America, beat only by Plymouth and Jamestown? History lovers will enjoy sightseeing around Stevensville’s train station, colonial houses, churches, and country store. The Train Depot dates back to 1902 and you can even walk inside of the train car.
The historic Christ Church, circa 1880, is absolutely beautiful with gothic architecture and a steep slate roof. Christ Church held Maryland’s first congregation, built with wooden pegs, rather than nails. Christ Church and the Train Depot are both listed on the National Historic Register. The town’s Cray House is a post and plank construction home that was originally a tradesman’s house, built in 1809.
Stevensville Bank, open for business in 1909 to 1961, is a restored stucco building completely in tact with its furnishings and vault. At the old Stevensville Post Office, you can “play” mailman by posting pretend letters to the mailboxes inside. The post office is so old, that there was not even a restroom inside the structure nor running water. Fun Fact: Ben Franklin founded the postal system in 1775 and this post office dates back to 1776.
Also located in this historic area is Peace of Cake. This bakery has a huge display of pastries, muffins, cheesecakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Buy enough for the whole family; they will thank you!
Dining on the Chesapeake Bay in Queen Anne’s County
Hungry for seafood? There are plenty of great seafood restaurants in Queen Anne’s County! In Stevensville, check out Rustico Italian Restaurant & Bar for a great selection of wines and a gorgeous setting. I recommend their Bruschetta with fresh basil, garlic, and Roma tomatoes as well as the Calamari Fritti served with pesto aioli. Yum!
In Grasonville, dine at the Bridges Restaurant on Kent Narrows. This newer casual eatery has outdoor dining with amazing waterfront views and the best sunsets maybe in the whole United States. Bridge’s top quality ingredients create some wonderful dishes. Bridges showcases the best of the Chesapeake Bay, so opt for entrées with Rockfish, Swordfish, Atlantic Salmon, and of course Crab Cakes. This restaurant can be accessed by car or boat. Bridges features live entertainment bar side on the weekends.
Other Points of Interest
An affordable and comfortable place to stay during your trip to Queen Anne’s County is the Holiday Inn Express Kent Island in Grasonville. It is clean, has comfortable triple-sheeted beds, nice views, an indoor pool, and free Wi-Fi. Best of all, breakfast is included. A delicious breakfast. For a more luxurious stay, try the historic Kent Manor Inn, dating back to the 1820’s.
Another area favorite is the Queenstown Premium Outlet, featuring over 65 stores. Stop by to snag deals from Tommy Bahama, Merrell, Gymboree, and Columbia. There are many antique shops in the area, too. For travelers wanting for a more unique experience, try a balloon ride or birdwatching.
Maryland’s Queen Anne’s County definitely has unique offerings. The guitar factory alone is enough to peak anyone’s curiosity. Plan your Queen Anne’s County, Maryland trip today!