Escape to Cambridge, Maryland – Alexandria Living Magazine
With a cute and quaint downtown, industrial roots, and significant history, the small town of Cambridge, Maryland is a great retreat for a long weekend this summer.
Located approximately 95 miles from Alexandria on the east coast of Maryland, Cambridge sits on the Choptank River, just slightly east of Chesapeake Bay and just north of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Here’s what we found in Cambridge and near Easton, St. Michaels and Oxford – all perfect for history buffs and nature lovers.
Cambridge was founded in 1684 and is one of the oldest colonial cities in Maryland. It was incorporated as a town in 1793 and developed as a hub for food processing and canning in the late 1900s. In the 1960s, as industry As local food packaging was in decline, Cambridge became a focal point of the civil rights movement.
Over the past 20 years, Cambridge city center has undergone significant revitalization, with a thriving food and arts scene. Historical tours, water sports, bird watching, and hiking opportunities abound.
HISTORICAL SELF-GUIDED TOURS
In the era of the pandemic, Dorchester County has launched a variety of guided walking tours. One of the most popular tours focuses on Harriet Tubman, who was born in Dorchester County and was considered a hero for leading people out of slavery on the Underground Railroad. A scenic drive tour highlights dozens of Civil War and Tubman-era sites in Dorchester County and neighboring Caroline County. Learn more at harriettubmanbyway.org. Of course, don’t miss the Harriet Tubman Museum, 424 Race St. in Cambridge.
A variety of guided and group tours are also available in the spring and summer. Chesapeake Ghost Tours offers tours in Cambridge and nearby St. Michaels and Easton. (chesapeakeghosts.com)
Additionally, the Dorchester County Tourism Board offers guides for tours of the Chesapeake Mural Trail and dozens of local historic sites. More information on visitdorchester.org/see-and-do/tours.
For those interested in architectural history, the Dorchester County Tourism Bureau also offers suggestions for a church tour which includes the Episcopal Church of Christ (built in 1883) and an outing drive off scenic Route 16 southwest to Old Trinity Church, the oldest continuously-used Episcopal Church in the United States (built in 1675). Just a little further on Route 16 is Bethlehem ME Church, the oldest Methodist church in the county. Yet a few miles south is St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church (built in 1872). The route passes through lush wetlands just west of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, about 20 miles south of Cambridge, is a popular stopover for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. Over 45 square miles, the refuge includes forests, marshes and shallow water and is home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles outside of Florida. The refuge is also popular for ducks, including mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teals.
For those keen on more bird watching, start at the Dorchester County Visitor Center at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge and walk along the old US 50 fishing pier from the Choptank River Boardwalk. (The visitor center is at 2 Rosehill Place in Cambridge.) You can see the great blue heron and osprey from there.
Water sports are also in abundance in and around Cambridge, including fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Blackwater Adventures offers paddleboarding tours in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge or along the Choptank River, as well as jet ski and motor boat rentals. See options at blackwateradventuresmd.com.
WHERE TO EAT
There is no shortage of interesting restaurants in Cambridge. From cozy restaurants with eateries outside of downtown, to dockside restaurants with great water views, here are some recommendations.
For breakfast, head downtown to Black Water Bakery, 429 Race St., which offers generous yogurt parfaits and a variety of gourmet pastries, coffee, and hot breakfasts.
Lunch may include a stop at Jimmie & Sook’s, 527 Poplar St., in downtown Cambridge, where crab and Southern BBQ dominate the menu.
Nearby, visit RAR Brewing, 504 Poplar St., for its pub menu or Portside Seafood Restaurant, 201 Trenton St., overlooking Cambridge Creek. The Lil ‘Bitta Bull BBQ, 520 Race St., is also worth a try for its many servings and full page menu of exclusive cocktails.
If you’re in the market for pizza, few places beat Ava’s Pizzaria & Wine Bar at 543 Poplar St.
After dinner at Ava’s, take a stroll to Vintage 414 Wine Bar or DocoVino Wine Bar – they’re close to each other on Race Street in Cambridge city center. For dessert, consider Maiden Maryland Sweets & Treats (conveniently located halfway between Ava’s and the wine bars).
WHERE TO STAY
Cambridge accepts dogs almost as much as Alexandria.
The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina is a 342-acre beachfront resort with an 18-hole golf course, marina, and full-service spa. Add the on-site restaurant, outdoor and indoor pools, fitness center and it can be hard to leave. The hotel will also help you book crabbing and fishing expeditions. To learn more, visit hyatt.com/chesapeakebay or call 410-901-1234 for reservations. The resort allows well behaved dogs on a leash.
There is no shortage of Airbnb or VRBO rentals in Cambridge, including some of the area’s finest historic Victorians. Some come with fenced backyards for Fido.
* BONUS *
According to entomologists, Dorchester County is NOT on the list of places where billions of cicadas are emerging this year. If you really don’t like cicadas and want to get away from it all, Cambridge is a safe bet.
While in Cambridge, take the opportunity to visit some of the picturesque neighboring towns:
The historic town of Easton, Maryland is located just 15 miles west of Cambridge. With blocks of small boutiques, antique stores, art galleries and historic architecture, Easton offers plenty of entertainment. Pick up a gift for the kids at the local Crackerjacks toy store. Stop by the Tidewater Inn for a drink on the outdoor patio next to a log fire. Learn more at eastonmd.org.
2. ST. MICHAELS
With a population of just over 1,000, St. Michaels is a lovely town with museums, artwork, and historic homes (a self-guided tour is available). This summer (May 29 through September), stop by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to see the 18th National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists. Information on the city, events, tours and more can be found at stmichaelsmd.com.
The port city of Oxford is one of the oldest small towns in Maryland. The historic mansions add to its tranquil charm. Take the ferry to Bellevue for a scenic journey – the private ferry company is perhaps the oldest in the United States, as it started operating in 1683. For more, check out oxfordmd.net.