ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — Few things are as ubiquitous in historic districts as the trolley tour. From St. Augustine to Boston you could pretty much make your way up the I-95 corridor just hopping from trolley tour to trolley tour. So naturally, in a town as historic as Annapolis you’re going to find a trolley tour.
But before spurning the trolley as the realm of blue-haired ladies knitting scarves while staring at buildings, consider this: there are few easier ways to get a cursory overview of a city with almost 400 years of history. And Discover Annapolis offers a nicely-priced and paced tour departing from the visitor center multiple times a day.
Of course, there are tours by foot and boat. But the difference for driver and guide Lance Lancaster is quite simple.
“You don’t have to walk,” says Lancaster. “And a trolley is air conditioned and it’s comfortable, we go down all the little skinny streets, which you might not do unless you have a tour guide.”
For a small town, the map of Annapolis is certainly capable of stirring pangs of fear among the directionally-impaired. It was drawn long before the automobile existed, which means it’s great for walking. But, not so much for driving and parking.
“Parking is at a premium,” says Lancaster. “A lot of people get upset because there’s not a lot of parking, but what are you going to do?”
For one, you can park in a garage at the Visitor Center on West Street. That’s also, conveniently, where the trolley tours start. Without a meter to refill every two hours, at least the garages allow you to relax without the terror of a subliminally ticking clock.
The trolley features big windows, which can be open when the weather cooperates. The commentary is extensive, but not overwhelming.
“I’ve been doing it about 11 years and the tour takes about an hour,” Lancaster says there’s also a 45 minute version focusing only on downtown, either way he says there’s no shortage of information. “It’s 47 pages of dialogue which takes a little bit to remember.”
Lancaster, a navy vet, peppers in personal anecdotes and observations so it never really feels as if he’s reading from a script.
The trolley tour is a blunt instrument. It’s a good overview and it offers a comprehensive look at the town in a short time, giving you more time to focus on what interests you.
“There’s a lot of history…just in the state house,” says Lancaster. “We have four signers of the Declaration of Independence who had homes in Annapolis, on the tour we see three of the four houses. We have 1300 buildings in Annapolis that are 100 years old or more.”
The tour spins around the State House before bouncing along the cobblestone streets and then crossing the Severn River for a stop at the Maryland World War II memorial. That’s when you’ll get a chance to get out and take some nice pictures of the city and the Naval Academy from a pretty perch.
This mid-point in the tour is also when the $18 fare in cash, so plan on hitting the ATM before the tour.
The tour passes by the Naval Academy, along City Dock and over into Eastport before returning to the Visitor Center.
And for a lot of couples getting married in Annapolis, the trolley is a big part of matrimonial planning.
“We also do weddings…we do a lot of weddings,” Lancaster says. “We’ll pick up the bride and groom and maybe the guests and take them back and forth to their hotels, to the reception, to the service itself because a lot of the hotels there’s not a lot of parking. Annapolis is an old town, you know 1649, so there’s not a lot of parking.”
If only our forefathers had planned for more parking.
For more, visit VisitAnnapolis.org.