Talbot County’s Sights and Sounds, Exquisite Tastes, and Unforgettable Experiences
Travel is different nowadays, but Talbot County, Maryland, is open for business. With its small towns and rural landscape, it is easy to practice social distancing here. And while we’re readily accessible by car, boat, and small plane, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered your own secret hideaway. Come here to sample the sweet life on the Chesapeake Bay. Check out all the different ways to enjoy Talbot County.
1. Get Out On the Water
Boaters—and those who love the life on the water—have ranked Talbot County among their favorite nautical destinations for generations. The pristine waterfront offers spectacular views of beach, marsh, fields, and forests, along with historic mansions. Those traversing the Chesapeake Bay love the recently dredged Knapps Narrows, the channel that separates Tilghman Island from the mainland and provides a welcome shortcut to Oxford. The area also boasts many full-service marinas and maintenance facilities.
If you don’t own a boat, don’t worry—charters and rentals abound, from yachts to dinghies. Or hop aboard The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the country’s oldest continuously operating ferry, which this year happens to be celebrating its 337th anniversary. For just a few dollars you can board the ferry—on foot or with your car—and cross the Tred Avon River from the scenic small town of Oxford to the charming hamlet of Bellevue as you take in wide water views, along with glimpses of herons, ospreys, and bald eagles.
2. Crack Some Crabs
Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are famous the world over, and Talbot County has plenty of go-to spots for to-go crab feasts. Get the freshest local crabs by the dozen or the bushel at our seafood markets and restaurants. Or take home a delicious cream of crab soup made by The Shore Boys, available at local grocery stores and their own shop, Easton Antiques.
3. Pedal the Back Roads
Bring your bike or rent one when you arrive to roam Talbot County, a place laced with backroads that weave through fields and forests, historic sites and quaint towns, and along the waterfront. An easy-to-use map that you can download at TourTalbot.org offers directions for six rides. The 29.6-mile Easton-Oxford-St. Michaels loop ranks as one of the premier bike trails in the Mid-Atlantic region. Another popular route called “Chesapeake Views” navigates the water’s edge. It starts in the charming village of Claiborne, a former steamboat landing, and ends at the very tip of Tilghman Island, where cyclists are rewarded with vast Chesapeake Bay vistas.
4. Go Fishing
Angling for some angling? Experienced locals will take you out to catch the good stuff, like rockfish, flounder, and sea trout. Or you can drop a line at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park on the Choptank River south of Trappe, where physical distancing is not only possible, but preferred.
5. Buy From a Farmer
Talbot County’s land is as productive as its water. The freshest local produce is at CDC-compliant farmers markets in both Easton and St. Michaels, where fresh vegetables, crabmeat, farm-raised oysters, eggs, baked goods, and other specialty foods are also available.
6. Paddle Through Paradise
Scenic rivers and abundant streams make Talbot County a prime destination for kayakers and paddleboarders. While there’s no shortage of push-off points, there are several popular routes worth noting.
More experienced paddlers can depart from St. Michaels or Tilghman Island to view waterfowl and watch watermen tending their catch. Downloadable water-trail maps are available at TourTalbot.org. And, don’t worry about bringing your own equipment—rental shops abound.
7. Get Back to Nature
Ready to make the acquaintance of a bald eagle or Delmarva fox squirrel? Visit the 400-acre Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton. Talbot County is also home to two state parks—Wye Oak and Bill Burton Fishing Pier—and the Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area on Tilghman Island.
8. Scream for Ice Cream!
For first-rate frozen treats, visit Scottish Highland Creamery in Oxford, which has more than 600 flavors in rotation. There are also scoops to be coveted at Justine’s in St. Michaels and Easton’s Storm & Daughters Ice Cream and Bonheur Ice Cream & Pie.
9. Ready, Aim, Fire!
What’s your quarry? Talbot County is prime hunting ground for ducks, geese, turkeys, and deer. Whether you want to go shooting on land or water, some of the best outfitters and guides on the Eastern Shore are ready to see to all your needs.
10. Celebrate the Bay
“Museum” is almost too small a word for all that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has and does. While there, you can explore a distinctive screwpile lighthouse to get a sense of the spartan and difficult life lighthouse keepers led while guarding the shoals of the Bay. And for a hands-on experience, you can even participate in a restoration of a vintage vessel in an “Apprentice For A Day” program.
This year, you can check out the construction of a new replica of the Dove, Maryland’s most famous tall ship, which was an early 17th century trading ship that made the first expedition between England and Maryland. The state of Maryland has tasked the talented shipwrights at the museum with recreating this 84-foot vessel, which can navigate rough seas and shallow waters. The public can watch the progress of all phases of the work including the rigging of the 64-foot mast and planking of the wooden deck on what will be Maryland’s sailing ambassador upon its completion in fall 2021.
11. Hunt for Treasure
Our boutiques are reopening to responsible shoppers who follow a few simple safety rules. Whether you’re looking for high-end antiques or shabby-chic furniture, funky costume jewelry, fine estate pieces, fair trade accessories, designer handbags, antique books or crafty garden ornaments, you’ll find it all while strolling the streets of Talbot County.
12. Hit the Links
On a spectacular peninsula overlooking the Miles River and Eastern Bay in St. Michaels, you’ll find The Links at Perry Cabin, an 18-hole championship course designed by legendary golfer Pete Dye. Here, you can learn from a stable of PGA professionals or jump on an indoor simulator, where you can try your hand playing a classic course. In Easton, Hog Neck Golf Course is an affordable municipal course, with an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole executive course.
13. Savor the Sound
Fully restored in 2019, the Avalon Theatre is a stunning Art Deco performing arts venue where patrons can catch nationally known acts on a regular basis. The building is also home to the Stoltz Listening Room, a small club venue with outstanding acoustics and a relaxed, intimate setting. New programming is added all the time. The best way to get the inside scoop about what is happening is to visit the Avalon’s website at avalonfoundation.org. Can’t be in Easton as often as you like? Subscribe to the Avalon Theatre’s YouTube channel to get live streaming programming right to your home!
14. Take a Walk
You can soak up plenty of history simply by strolling the brick sidewalks of Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels, all of which date back to the colonial era. When you’re ready to dig deeper, take a historic walking tour. In Easton, there’s a self-guided walking tour that will lead you to historical and architectural features of the town. Easton is also home to an area known as The Hill Community, which is recognized as the oldest free African American neighborhood in the country. Download maps for both tours at TourTalbot.org or pick up guides at the Visitors Center. On Saturdays in Oxford, you can take a free tour with a local expert who knows the history of the streets, alleys, and marinas of this postcard-pretty town. Guided walking tours that start at the St. Michaels Museum at Mary’s Square and chronicle the rich history of this waterfront town are offered each Saturday from May through October.
15. Get Inspired
Artists have long been drawn to Talbot County’s beautiful landscape of gentle farmland, bustling marinas, and unspoiled waterways, not to mention quaint historic towns. All of this makes Talbot County a hub for outdoor painting. Watch for news about signature events such as Plein Air Easton and the Waterfowl Festival. Easton is also home to the Eastern Shore’s premier art center, The Academy Art Museum, which focuses primarily on works on paper from the 17th to 20th centuries. Its permanent collection includes more than 1,000 works, mostly pieces by Americans and Europeans, including many by significant artists such as Rembrandt and Rothko.
16. Come Stay Awhile
Just 90 minutes from both Washington and Baltimore, Talbot County is a prime destination for a weekend or week away. Plenty of inns and B&Bs offer visitors a chance to bed down in historic digs, including The Tidewater House, a newly reimagined Beaux Arts mansion in downtown Easton which has five differently themed suites. Across the street is the Tidewater Inn, a cornerstone of Easton since 1949, which has hosted some of the biggest names of the 20th century such as John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby, and Robert Mitchum. In the town of Oxford, guests can sleep in the waterfront home of Robert Morris Sr., whose son was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a financier of the American Revolution. The elegant Inn at Perry Cabin, a resort on the edge of the Miles River in St. Michaels, is centered around a manor house, built in 1816 by an aide-de-camp to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, which was designed to resemble Perry’s cabin on the USS Niagara.
17. Gather Together
It may be a while before we can gather and celebrate in a big way, but ingenuity will win the day. Talbot County hosts some of the Eastern Shore’s most impressive events. While they may change as the situation dictates, keep an eye out at TourTalbot.org for the latest news about what’s happening.
18. Follow Frederick Douglass
The preeminent abolitionist, orator and statesman Frederick Douglass was a native of Talbot County, where he was enslaved as a child and young man. Four driving tours show the lands and locations where he developed the strength and spirit that made him a towering figure of the 19th century. Visit frederickdouglassbirthplace.org.
19. Explore Talbot Online
COVID-19 may have temporarily closed many Talbot County cultural attractions, but Easton’s Academy Art Museum website has weekly Art-at-Home posts with artworks and activities. The Oxford Museum has changing exhibitions in its windows and online, while the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum is hosting “Tilghman Back in the Day,” a virtual exhibit featuring historical photos of the island.
20. Taste the Chesapeake Bay
Keep calm and carry out! Talbot County restaurants are open for pickup and delivery, so you can experience the best Chesapeake cooking across a wide range of cuisines.