Exploring Annapolis and the Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy is located in the heart of downtown Annapolis, Maryland and just a short drive from Washington DC. It was established in 1845, making it the second oldest of the five US service academies. Both Annapolis and the Naval Academy boast incredible historical significance, picturesque views as well as plenty of things to do, see, and eat!

The Yard

Take a tour of the “Yard,” the United States Naval Academy campus, located in the heart of historic Annapolis. For first time visitors, a guided tour is the perfect way to start off your stay. Click here to view tour times and information. Campus highlights include the Crypt of John Paul Jones — the resting place of the man known as the Father of the US Navy — and the daily noon meal formation of the 4,500-member Brigade. Another campus landmark is Memorial Hall, which contains the honor roll of the Naval Academy alumni who have died in military operations. Be sure to check out these tips and policies for visitors before you arrive at the Yard.


The History of Annapolis

Annapolis was founded in 1649 and boasts a rich and fascinating history. A must for history buffs is a visit to the room in the Maryland State House in which Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the Revolutionary War. The building is the longest continuously used legislative building and the largest all-wooden dome in North America. Click here for information about tours. 

Also check out the Maryland State Archives, which holds the Maryland copy of the Treaty of Paris as well as a printed proclamation by the Maryland governor telling Marylanders that the treaty had been ratified.

If that wasn’t enough history for you, try the 90-minute Colonial Annapolis Walking Tour! You’ll see landmarks like the William Paca House and Middleton Tavern. Click here for prices and dates.

Go Midshipmen!

Come out to support your Midshipmen, or “Mids,” or the United States Naval Academy. With 33 varsity sports teams and 12 club sports teams, there is sure to be something for everyone! Attend a football game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, a basketball game at Alumni Hall, or gymnastics at Macdonough Hall. Athletic events feature the mascot, Bill the Goat, as well as fans singing along to the fight song, Anchors Aweigh, and the alma mater, Blue and Gold, which was written in 1904.

A highlight of every Navy fan’s year is the Army-Navy rivalry football game, which is one of the nation’s most intense rivalries, dating back to 1890. This event is chock full of traditions, like the “prisoner exchange” in which cadets and Midshipmen studying for a semester at their sister academy are exchanged and get to enjoy the game with their comrades. The national anthem is also sung before the game by the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy choirs. The game is usually played in Philadelphia in early December.

Of course, you can also attend a regatta, which is a series of boat races. Every year in November, collegiate sailors travel to Annapolis to race the Naval Academy’s fleet of Navy 44s in the Kennedy Cup. This event serves as the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s Big Boat National Championship.

Food, Galore!

Annapolis has tons of dining options for everyone, including award-winning seafood, farm-to-table fare, and authentic Italian. It was a tough choice, but here are some of our Annapolis favorites.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly has been an Annapolis institution for over 50 years. Be sure to check them out for their famous crab cakes! Bakers and Co. is a great spot for a quick breakfast. They offer a variety of fresh breads, croissants, and scones, but you can’t go wrong with their orange-cinnamon market buns! Reynold’s Tavern is legendary for its happy hour but also has live music and movie screenings as well as tons of history — it’s the oldest tavern in Annapolis!

Annapolis Cup Croquet Match

The Annapolis Cup Croquet Match every April between the Naval Academy and St. John’s College dates back to 1982. Attendees don “Gatsby-style” attire for this lavish lawn party that features music from the St. John’s Freshman Chorus and the Naval Academy’s Trident Brass Band. Although the Midshipmen have only won 7 out of 37 matches, this event is an essential piece of Annapolis culture!

Water Sports

Annapolis is known as the sailing capital of the United States, so partaking in water activities during your visit is a must. Annapolis Boat Shows have been an Annapolis tradition since 1970, making it the first in-water sailboat show in the country. Some of their biggest events include the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show in April and the United States Sailboat Show in October. Click here to view current shows.

To try sailing out for yourself, you can take a class, spend a day on the Chesapeake Bay, or even spend the night in the Annapolis Harbor. If sailing isn’t your thing, there are tons of options for renting a paddle board, canoe, or kayak. You can even take an early morning yoga class on paddle boards!

By Anabel Mast

Anabel will be a 2021 graduate of the University of North Carolina.