Imagine another world, where the byways are beautiful, the fields are fruitful, the waterways are wonderful, and the locals are loveable … a world where nature offers the perfect playground for celebrating life. Possible, perhaps, but not easily accessible, nor affordable?
Such a place does exist, and its magic is oh-so-near.
On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, close to several major cities yet a world apart, visitors will find a very special place … Talbot County, Maryland. Beautiful, bountiful, and blessed with treasures both natural and cultural, Talbot County is easily accessible — and once there, visitors will find world-class recreational options to suit every member of the group. Toss in the fact that each of its destination towns offer a distinctive experience to suit any occasion, budget, or type of gathering, and you’ve got an itinerary that can’t be beat.
Talbot County is already famous, and deservedly so, for its boat-friendly culture and amenities. From working vessels to luxury craft, the county has seen it all over the centuries. Today’s mariners will find seven marinas in the tiny town of Oxford alone, regattas and races galore, and a whopping 602 miles of pristine shoreline. Whether powered by motor or sail, vessels are part of the fabric of this special place, and nowhere offers a warmer welcome to their sailors. (Oxford was even named one of the Top 50 Waterfront Towns in the World by readers of Yachting Magazine in 2011, and several county businesses offer complimentary water shuttles to and from marinas and restaurants or inns.) As for people-powered craft, those get extra-special treatment: the county has 14 mapped water trails, offering waterfowl and wildlife, stunning scenery, a bit of history, and educational opportunities as well. Kayak rentals are available at several locations.
For maritime history lovers, there are several other ways to appreciate the beautiful, historic, and ever muscular Chesapeake Bay. Visitors can board the M/V SHARPS ISLAND for a trip through the storied history of the Chesapeake Bay and its lighthouses. Six different Chesapeake Lights trips accommodate any schedule and all levels of interest. Each includes a recounting of the bay’s history, as well as information about this fragile and beautiful ecosystem. The climate controlled, 149-passenger PATRIOT, also sailing from St. Michaels, cruises the Miles River while providing colorful and educational commentary about the area’s history, historic (and opulent) homes and abundant wildlife, and the local watermen often spotted harvesting clams, oysters, and Chesapeake Bay blue crab.
Then there’s the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where visitors can make a day of learning about the bay’s maritime heritage. A variety of programs, exhibitions, and hands-on displays teaches about the nature of seafood harvesting and waterfront culture, including the significance of the beautiful and practical skipjacks that once roamed the water in abundance dredging oysters. Special exhibits are presented regularly as well. Set on 18 beautiful waterfront acres and host to festivals throughout the year, the museum is a jewel of the Talbot County community.
Yet another delightful way to experience Talbot County: on a bicycle. The stunning scenery, level terrain, and charming destination towns that make for great riding have always been here, of course, and many cyclists have been returning to enjoy them for years. In 2009, however, after considerable planning and preparation, Talbot County unveiled a formal map of six themed bicycle trails covering 180 miles of terrain. Featuring farmland, big sky, water, and historical vistas, the routes are part of an ongoing County Office of Tourism initiative to bring health and wellness activities to visitors and residents alike. Many visitors bring their own bikes, but several shops rent them, and a number of the county’s B&Bs and inns offer guests complimentary use of their “house bikes.” The official Talbot County Bicycle Map – an impressive multi-page folded brochure – is an excellent source of additional information about biking Talbot County.
So easy to reach yet a world apart, offering recreation, dining, shopping, culture, and holiday fun in welcoming and historic settings … Talbot County is a very special place indeed, all year ‘round.
About Talbot County, Maryland:
Talbot County, Maryland invites visitors to experience the perfect balance of rural simplicity and urban refinement. With the timeless beauty of the Chesapeake Bay as their backdrop, the county’s sophisticated small towns, charming country byways, and wide array of activities offer something for everyone who appreciates the opportunity to relax, reflect, and renew. The Talbot County Office of Tourism offers comprehensive information and trip planning services at its Easton, Maryland office (1- 410-770-8000) and on its website (www.tourtalbot.org).