Crabs, oysters, U.S. Naval Academy, over 2,700 species of plants and animals, tidal wetlands, historic ports including Annapolis, skipjacks.
Location and Size
Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and the third largest in the world. The bay is bordered by the states of Maryland and Virginia and extends about 200 miles from the Susquehanna River in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south. Including its tidal portions, the estuary covers about 4,500 square miles and has almost 12,000 miles of shoreline.
The history of the bay is scintillating with tales of pirates and privateers, oyster wars, tobacco and tides. Habitation in the Chesapeake region began 12,000 years before the arrival of the British due to the bounty of natural resources that fed thriving communities of native Americans. The arrival Captain John Smith who explored the Chesapeake Bay between 1607 and 1609, brought about the European colonization that followed.
Gradually, the Chesapeake Bay region witnessed a great increase in farming, fishing and oyster harvesting. As things were on the upswing, the region was pushed on the back foot by the Revolutionary War. But when the war ended, the former British colonies were keen on forming a unified nation, and Chesapeake came to prominence as a key economic and political center. A rapid development in the infrastructure followed, which included construction of railroads, and the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is the oldest man-made canal in use in the United States today.
The Bay region was once again in action during the American Civil War (1861-1865), but due to its rich, fertile farmland and access to deep, navigable waters, the Chesapeake area flourished after the War. Annapolis became the temporary capital of the U.S. in 1783 and later went on the become the capital of Maryland. Today, staunch environmental efforts are underway to protect this rich habitat.
Major nearby airports include Baltimore-Washington International
Airport in Baltimore, MD (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia.
Best Time to Go
June-August is the peak tourist season, especially due to the watersports opportunities. July and August are quite hot and humid with more pleasant temperatures in mid-May to June and September through mid-October.
Local Customs to Observe
Though a mix of southern and northern American traditions reflect on the local culture, with over 85% English speakers, social etiquettes are mostly as observed in the rest of the US.
Helpful Fast Facts
Currency: United States Dollar.
Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone (UTC-04:00 & -05:00).
Local language: US English.
Population: 17.9 million (2014).
Airport: Major nearby airports include Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Baltimore, MD (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia.
Entry Requirements: International travelers are required to be documented with a valid passport and a valid United States visa (unless exempted). Detailed instructions about entry requirements into the USA can be found at http://www.cbp.gov/. Citizens of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and EU countries can enter the USA without a visa.
Departure Tax: Non
Legal Drinking Age: 21 years under state laws
Smoking Regulations: All of Maryland and Virginia’s enclosed workplaces, including private clubs, restaurants and bars are 100% smoke-free.
Staying in touch: Cellular connection is excellent.
Medical Information: Chesapeake Bay’s healthcare is very accessible and of very high standard. The Chesapeake Regional Healthcare is the leading medical facility.
Public Holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1); Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15); Presidents Day Day (3rd Monday in February); Memorial Day (May 31; celebrated on the nearest Monday); Independence Day (July 4); Labor Day (first Monday in September); Columbus Day (October 10); Veterans' Day (November 11); Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November); Christmas (December 25)
Shopping Information: Antiques, local art, souvenirs and craft items are available in the little boutiques that line the coastline.
Top Ten "Must Do's"
Not sure what to do in Chesapeake Bay? We have got you covered. Here is our collection of best Chesapeake Bay things to do.
Immerse yourself in the nautical life of the magnificent 18-acre Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Wander the historic streets of St. Michaels with its inviting shops and galleries
Be a Waterman for a Day and tong for oysters, or go crabbing and take back the catch
Order the Crabcakes Benedict at Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis
Find a remote cove and kayak or paddle board through the estuary
Rent a bike and explore the Eastern Shore
Visit a waterside “crab joint” and order a try of Old Bay smothered crabs
Sail past the iconic Thomas Point Lighthouse
Get spooked on the Annapolis Historic Ghost Walk
Experience a wide variety of diving and dabbling ducks, swans and geese at one of many National Wildlife Refuges
Major Local and Regional Events
St Michaels Wine Fest (April) – an annual wine festival held at various wine
tasting venues located throughout St Michaels, Maryland
Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival (May) – celebrated annually with music, food & drinks
Boatyard Beach Bash (September) – an annual charity event for the Annapolis Maritime Museum
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