Located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, visiting St. Michaels offers a unique mixture of historic, nautical, and modern vibes. This riverfront town is replete with colorful historic buildings, locally-owned shops and galleries, museums, classic crab decks, and upscale dining.
The History of St. Michaels
Located on the Miles River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, St Michaels, Maryland, is the oldest town in Talbot County and has a rich trading and shipbuilding history dating from the 1630s. The town earned American glory when it thwarted an attack by the British Army during the War of 1812.
To learn more about the town and the area, jump aboard a Patriot History Cruise for a 65-70 minute narrated, scenic river cruise that also offers great views of local water fowl, historic riverfront homes and even a possible siting of watermen harvesting blue crabs, clams or oysters.
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is an 18-acre waterfront campus that details the cultural environmental history of the Chesapeake Bay region. One could spend an entire day here visiting the working shipyard, climbing the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, exploring the Touch & Explore kid’s area, and much more. You can also see the Floating Fleet, the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay watercraft in the world.
Don’t miss the Museum store and Waterman’s Wharf!
Each fall, Oct. 6-8, 2023 this year, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum hosts the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. Hundreds of amateur and professional boatbuilders and enthusiasts come from all over the region to display and view a variety of watercraft such as sailing skiffs, row boats, kayaks, canoes and paddle boats.
Exploring Downtown St. Michaels
Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find something to do in St. Michaels. Car enthusiasts will enjoy the classic Motor Museum with cars, trucks, motorcycles and farm equipment. Nature lovers will discover bald eagles, white-tailed deer and osprey while hiking at the 400-acre Pickering Creek Audubon Center.
Duffers can hit the links at Hog Neck, a public course, or the Pete Dye-designed course at Perry Cabin. And those who love to shop can browse locally-owned boutiques and galleries along the walkable main street of St. Michaels.
Spend a morning or afternoon in Easton, MD, a small town not far from St. Michaels. This charming town is a mixture of historic Federal-era mansions, colorful Victorian homes and charming cottages.
Easton is known for its artsy vibe — the Academy Art Museum draws art lovers and focuses on American and European masters such as Rembrandt.
When you need a break from all the great shopping, stop at Storm & Daughters Ice Cream Shop, a whimsical, charming, kinda old timey-y, ice cream parlor. Although there are many unique flavors to choose from, I recommend their top-selling Brown Bourbon Truffle in a waffle bowl. Yummy!
Where to Eat When Visiting St. Michaels
The Chesapeake Bay’s “holy trinity”—crabs, rockfish and oysters reign supreme in St. Michaels’ eateries from crab shacks to more upscale restaurants.
For a fun, relaxed meal, I highly recommend the seasonal (March-November) Crab Claw Restaurant (next to the Maritime Museum), with its great views of the river. The restaurant evolved from a clam shucking and crab business in the 1950s to a seafood eatery in 1965.
They are known especially for their steamed Maryland blue crabs and other fresh seafood.
For a more upscale dining experience, try Ruse restaurant. The name Ruse embraces the legacy of St. Michaels, the town that fooled the British.
Located in the Wildset Hotel, Ruse is a seafood-centric American restaurant that offers elevated coastal dining. The restaurant is light and airy with a raw oyster bar and a seasonal dinner menu that offers a wide variety of options from seafood, pasta, steak, salads and desserts.
Also, check out their great selection of wines and innovative cocktails.
Where to Stay in St. Michaels
The Wildset Hotel, in the heart of St. Michaels, is a laid-back luxury hotel with vintage and modern touches. Housed in three renovated historic buildings, the hotel offers 34 rooms, many with fireplaces, balconies, or patios.
There are wide outdoor spaces with firepits—complete with s’mores kits, lawn chairs, games, and complimentary bikes. Each morning guests will discover fresh pastries, coffee, yogurt and fruit in the downstairs lobby.
Don’t miss coffee and a gift shop in the Wildest Hotel lobby.
A visit to St. Michaels is sure to capture your heart and draw you back to the Eastern Shore again and again.
This article was written by guest blogger, our friend Sandra Chambers.
Sandra was hosted at the Ruse Restaurant and the Wildset Hotel on her St. Michaels visit, but comments and reviews are 100% her own.)