Where to kayak, sail and more in the Chesapeake Bay

Heading north on I-95, the off-ramp sign for Havre de Grace is easy to ignore on the way to major East Coast cities. But the Maryland city is a great waterfront weekend destination where almost everything is within walking distance and glimpses of the shoreline are almost always in sight.

By Bridget Reed Morawski

Havre de Grace sits at the bend where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy the confluence, grab your fishing gear and go catch pike, perch, herring, catfish, carp or one of the many types of bass in the heavily forested Susquehanna State Park .

Back in town, sweat it out and try not to fall overboard with a yoga class on a stand-up paddleboard. BeachBee Yoga and SUP offers seasonal 90-minute private SUP yoga lessons, but if you’re not yet coordinated enough to balance yourself on the water, Yoga studio 723 offers seasonal yoga classes along the river.

paddle board
Photo courtesy Explore Havre de Grace

With an abundance of seabirds, waterfowl and other aquatic creatures, the river is well worth exploring beyond the immediate shore. Rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards from the Havre de Grâce marine center or take a guided kayak tour with Kayak Made EZ Maryland Kayak Tours to delve into the city’s history and waterfront environment.

Looking for a challenge? Head to the BaySail sailing school for introductory courses to advanced sailing courses, all accredited by the American Sailing Association. If you already know how to sail, skip the class and fill out an application on their website to rent one of their 22ft keelboats.

If you’d rather stay dry, plenty of antique shops, beauty spas, and co-op shops brimming with home decor and edible treats dot the main streets. Dozens of regional artists exhibit their paintings, handmade jewelry and multimedia products at Bay Arts Gallery. A hodgepodge of kitsch and niche nostalgia awaits both the teetotaler and the booze lover at Bahoukas Antique Mall and Beer Museum.

Or buy a $6 ticket for the Havre de Grâce Bait Museum to discover not only the intertwined hunting and coastal histories of the region, but also the carved and painted faux waterfowl used as both hunting tools and folk art. Events delving deeper into this history are held throughout the year, including the annual Decoy & Wildlife Art Festival, held for the 40th time from April 29 to May 1 this year.

EAT

java by the bay will provide your morning fix with over two dozen coffee flavors. Peruse the display of mid-century memorabilia while you wait for your beans to roast, then head down the street to Goll’s Bakery for one of their thick, flaky cinnamon rolls.

Need a stronger sugar buzz? Walk to the intersection of Market and Girard streets and immerse yourself in Homemade Bomboy Ice Cream for a generous scoop of peanut butter crunch. Or cross the street to its sister store, Bomboy’s Homemade Candy, for a cluster of cashews and caramel between discs of milk chocolate they call a “giant crab.” (In any case, take a photo with the giant cow-shaped bench inside the ice cream shop.)

TO STAY

A handful of attractive guest houses, bed and breakfasts and house rentals are available in and around the city center. Full of Victorian charm and warm hospitality, the Vandiver’s Inn is steps from the waterfront and restaurants along North Washington and St. John streets.

This story originally appeared in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.

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