ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — If you want to visit Annapolis it’s easy enough to walk up and down Main Street and along the waterfront. But, if you want to discover Annapolis, you may have to take a few steps off the beaten path.
Maryland Avenue is one of those spots that you can really dive into the Annapolitan lifestyle.
The road connects the State House to Gate 3 of the Naval Academy.
Maryland Avenue has long had a reputation for antiques, but now it’s much more: record shops, book stores, consignment shops and restaurants.
And it’s a great place to dodge the crowds along the waterfront.
Books and Coffee
Walking from the Naval Academy to the State House, take the chance to duck into the Annapolis Bookstore.
“This is the kind of place where the book finds you … the book you’re looking for finds you,” says Janice Holmes, co-owner of the store.
Books are stacked in shelves, on shelves, on desks and, in some spots, on the floor. The layout begs you to dig a little deeper for that title singing your name.
There’s one corner devoted to the Western canon as studied at St. John’s College. The children’s section feels like a walk through the stories in the printed on the pages. The smell of musty books mingles with some freshly brewed “best coffee in town.”
But, most importantly, this book store does what a book store should do. It stirs conversation … and then it sells books.
“I always feel like it’s a stream of stories that come and go through here and you step into the stream and you don’t know what’s going to touch you … it’s cool,” says Holmes.
The coffee shop in the back of the store offers up a chance to get caffeinated, and there’s extra seating on an outside patio.
“We have a little secret garden. People come back here to be quiet and read and have their coffee and conversations,” says Holmes. “But, we also have a little house that’s built out of books and inside the house is a locked box with a riddle where you have to find a key, and when you find the key and open the box there’s a serial story that everyone can add to.”
The blend of attic collection and tiny history museum is what stirs curiosity in antique stores. Each item tells a story about previous owners or the style of a particular era. On a street historically known for its antiques, you can bet the pickings are unique and rich.
Mary Jo Murray says her shop, Evergreen Antiques, is the oldest left in historic Annapolis.
“We have a long history of antiques here,” says Murray. “There was one dealer who sold antiques in one place or another on Maryland Avenue for almost 40 years, he was still selling antiques into his 90s.”
Walking into Evergreen Antiques you’ll notice collections of plates in just about every room of the shop. The U.S. Naval Academy plates were first commissioned by the alumni association in 1932. Each plate is printed with an illustration from campus.
“They are collected by people all over the country and I ship them all over the country,” says Murray.
The plates are just a snippet of what’s offered at Evergreen.
“We sell a lot of silver, a lot of jewelry, a lot of furniture. We sell a lot of a variety of things, I keep it very much a mixture,” says Murray. “I decided that when I had a chance to do this that I would make it the type of shop I would want to go to.”
Murray’s storefront sits just a half-block from the oldest continually-operating State House in the nation. It’s surrounded by historic homes once owned by signers of the Declaration of Independence. And it’s on a street bookended by the Naval Academy. It’s a place that seems like antique heaven.
“We sell a lot of things that are nautical because, after all, we are in the sailing capital of the world,” Murray says. “We sell a lot of things that have to do with the navy, the Naval Academy and the Chesapeake Bay … and also things that are just American history.”
Across the street from Evergreen is a shop offering antiques of a different sort — at least in terms of the medium.
Stacks of vinyl records round the store and posters paper the walls at Ka-Chunk Records. It’s a welcome relic in a world where music is bought with the click of a mouse.
Like Murray, it was a personal passion that drove Matt Mona to open up this shop on Maryland Avenue.
“I just always liked records and I feel like Annapolis needed a cool place to hang out, and for people who appreciate music to come together,” Mona says. “And do that in Annapolis instead of D.C. and Baltimore, which already has all the cool stuff anyway.”
The collection is varied and affordable. You’ll find new releases next to ageless classics, and reproductions next to original pressed vinyl. It’s an exercise in cultural history, a rarity these days.
“It’s weird because I opened up this shop and I knew it was the only shop in Annapolis, but I didn’t realize that it’s the only shop in the county,” says Mona. “That was even surprising to me as someone who goes to record stores all the time.”
This is a great place to leaf through musical history or find a rare gift. And Ka-Chunk’s location seems to fit its purpose.
“I like Maryland Avenue because it’s off the beaten path a little bit … without being too far off the beaten path,” Mona says. “And most of the stuff that’s on Main Street, no offense to my Annapolis brethren, it’s mostly T-shirt shops and stuff like that. I couldn’t see myself doing that much better, I think this is better over here.
The Real Irish
The American pub landscape is tragically marred with Irish bars run by people claiming some tangential Celtic heritage to drum up business every March.
And then there’s Galway Bay.
“Galway Bay is very different,” says general manager Sean Lynch. “We’re a restaurant first with a pub attached, that’s our philosophy. That’s why our dining room is three times bigger than our bar.”
Lynch’s Irish accent adds an air of authenticity that’s backed up by the space.
The building’s been gutted to its original walls, the false ceilings were removed and the windows were replaced. There is originality everywhere, including on the plates. Dishes like the corned beef poppers and cabbage wraps and oysters are top recommendations — they even landed the restaurant on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives.”
“Our top two sellers year-round are fish and chips and shepherd’s pie,” says Lynch. “We do excellent corned beef … we cook it for five-to-six hours and we create something very individual to us.”
They also turn out an excellent crab cake, and Lynch says the menu changes by the season.
The bar offers up healthy amounts of Guinness and Irish whiskey, but don’t go expecting to watch muted talking heads on ESPN. There are no TVs.
“Because of that it is a conversation bar, but it drives itself,” says Lynch. “I have customers here who work for NASA, St. Johns, the Academy, plumbers, whatever else. As long as you carry a conversation you’ll enjoy it.”
Galway Bay also prides itself on its green reputation. Just about everything that can be recycled is recycled.
“Because the volume of straws we go through in a year, we go through 100,000,” Lynch says. “We have a guy who comes by twice a week to pick up all of our food trash and then all of these straws, sip sticks, sauce containers, our to-go boxes are compostable, they go in with that and he takes it to a farm in Aberdeen, and it has a composte farm there.”
Lynch says the oil used in fryers is turned into bio-fuels and they buy electricity from utilities using renewable energy.
If you’re looking to test your brain power, Galway Bay offers up a charity trivia tournament. Teams buy in for $10 and the winning team decides which charity gets the money. Just keep in mind that you’ll likely be competing with teams from the Naval Academy and St. John’s College. They tend to know a thing or two about, well, everything.
Then again you can just go for some live music, and relax and enjoy a Guinness.
For more, visit VisitAnnapolis.org.