Just off the Atlantic Coast, the massive Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary and a key part of the region’s culture, economy and cuisine. Chesapeake Bay gateways include parks, wildlife refuges, maritime museums, historic sites and water trails. Explore the entry points below to pick your preferred way of experiencing this noteworthy natural attraction.

Annapolis Maritime Museum

The museum is located on the shores of Back Creek and boasts unequaled views of Annapolis Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Take a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, an icon of the Bay.

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine

Fort McHenry successfully defended Baltimore from the British during the War of 1812 and is the birthplace of the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.

USS Constellation

Launched in 1854, the USS Constellation is the last all-sail ship built by the U.S. Navy. Discover life on board this Civil War-era vessel through demonstrations and activities.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Encompassing more than 25,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a major stop on the Atlantic Flyway. Huge flocks of ducks, geese and swans migrate through the refuge in November and December. Blackwater is home to the largest nesting population of American bald eagles on the East Coast.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

The museum’s twelve exhibit buildings sit on 18 waterfront acres offering vistas of the beautiful Miles River. Encounter Chesapeake Bay history first-hand through the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, a working boatyard, traditional craftsmen and original exhibits.

Ocean City

Ocean City is a resort town in the U.S. state of Maryland between the Atlantic Ocean and Isle of Wight Bay. It features miles of beach and a wooden boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops and hotels. At the boardwalk’s southern end, Trimper’s Rides has hosted theme-park attractions for decades. The surrounding waters are active with kayaks and tour boats, some of which journey to popular Assateague Island nearby.


Cornmeal Crusted Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish

Cheff Jeff Eng, Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge, Rockville, MD


–  Maryland Blue Catfish

6 ozs. blue catfish
1 oz. chantrelle mushrooms
2 ozs. corn kernels
1 oz. grape tomatoes
1 oz. pickled green tomatoes
½ c cornmeal crust
1 t yuzu aioli

– Chantrelle Mushrooms

½ # chanterelle mushrooms
2T butter
1 clove (garlic) chopped
1 ea shallot (finely diced)
2 sprigs thyme
to taste salt and pepper

1. Melt butter, saute garlic and shallots and sweat until soft.
2. Add chanterelle mushroom and thyme, season with salt and pepper.
3. Saute until mushrooms give up their liquid and reduce liquid to concentrate flavor.
4. Taste and adjust seasoning.

– Pickled Green Tomatoes
1# green tomatoes (sliced)
½ ea spanish onion (julienned)
2c apple cider vinegar
2c water
2T sugar
1t Kosher salt
1t mustard seed
1t whole coriander
1/4t crused chilies
1/4t turmeric

1. Slice green tomatoes and place in a bowl or dish.
2. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil, pour over green tomatoes and cover.
3. Refrigerate, tomatoes will be ready to eat in 2 days.

– Yuzu Kewpie
3/4c yuzu juice
3/4c egg yolks
1/4c rice wine vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
1 1/2t sugar
1T salt
6c canola oil
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime

1. Blend the first 6 ingredients, slowly drizzle in oil to create an emulsion and mix in zests.

– Cornmeal Flour
½ pound cornmeal
½ flour
1T Old Bay Seasoning
1T salt
1t granulated garlic
½t smoked paprika
1/4t cayenne

Chesapeake Bay Seafood Stew

This version of a bouillabaisse-styled main dish is teeming with fresh clams and Chesapeake crab in a saffron-tinted broth. The side serving of Rouille, a classic French accompaniment to fish stews, is mayonnaise-like in texture and made from garlic, chilies and olive oil. Pass around plenty of hot, crusty bread for dipping in the broth.


¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 leeks, well washed, halved and cut into pieces
1/3 cup chopped fennel bulb, or 1 Tablespoon fennel seed
5 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups fish stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Grated zest of one orange
3 – 4 threads of saffron
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 – 10 pieces of French bread, sliced on diagonal
Melted butter and chopped garlic for toast
2 pounds bass, rockfish, bluefish, or other firm-fleshed fillets
1 pound backfin crabmeat, picked over to remove shells
1 ½ pounds small hard-shell clams, well scrubbed
Rouille (recipe follows)
Chopped parsley


Heat oil in a heavy pot and sauté the onion, garlic, leeks and fennel until slightly softened, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, wine, stock, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour through a fine sieve and return to the pot. Add the orange zest, saffron, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until somewhat reduced, about 20 – 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the over to 3750F.

Brush the bread slices with melted butter and top with garlic. Toast in the oven until browned.

Cut the fish into chunks about 2 inches square. Add to the sauce and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the fish is done. Add the crabmeat and clams. Stir, then cover. Cook just until the clams have opened. Remove 1 cup of the liquid for making the Rouille.

Prepare the Rouille according to the recipe that follows.

Place 1 piece of garlic bread in each bowl, then spoon in the fish and broth. Arrange the clams on top. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve the Rouille on the side.


1 small potato, peeled
1 cup of the broth from Chesapeake Bay Seafood Stew
6 cloves of garlic
4 fresh or died red chilies
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ cup olive oil
Salt, to taste

Quarter the potato and cook in the broth. Drain, reserving the liquid. Finely chop the garlic and the peppers in a blender or food processor. Add the potato, Tabasco, and olive oil. Process until the mixture forms a paste. Slowly add enough of the reserved broth to give the mixture the consistency of Mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt.

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

(4 servings) – From Chef Keith Long


¼ cup dijon mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup panko
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp JO # 1
1 Whole Eggs
1 pound Fresh Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
2 Cloves Roasted Garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh Italian Black Truffle (optional)


In a mixing bowl whisk together eggs, ½ cup mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and JO #1. Gently fold in jumbo lump meat, be careful not to break up the meat. Add the panko while folding in the crab. Carefully form the crab cake mix into four even cakes. Mix ½ cup mayonnaise with roasted garlic in a separate
bowl and set aside. Sauté the cakes at a medium/low heat in oil and butter mix, cook on each side until they are fully cooked through the middle.

Plating: Place a spoonful of the garlic mayonnaise in the middle of a plate and place crab cake on top. Using a Japanese Mandolin or truffle slicer shave paper thin slices of the truffle and arrange them on top of the crab cake.


Chesapeake City

A tiny little town located on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Chesapeake is an idyllic little section of Maryland filled with history and charm. The town lies right on the edge of the waterfront, and is bordered by trees and fields. These turn a lush green or a beautifully burnished bronze and orange according to the season and fill the town with color and warmth. Chesapeake itself is largely unspoiled, having retained an incredible proportion of its 19th-century buildings and houses which have been converted into inns and restaurants. The local museum is perfect for experiencing the town’s heritage and culture.


Founded in 1772, Ellicott City is one of the most historic towns in the state. The town is home to the oldest surviving railway station in the country. In being made from blocks of locally quarried granite and having a gabled roof, the station exudes an old world charm, and is now used as a museum. The entire main historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has more than 200 18th- and 19th-century buildings. There is also the largely unspoiled Main Street, which is home to numerous local shops and picturesque houses.

Rock Hall

Known as the ‘pearl of the Chesapeake’, Rock Hall is a quaint seashore town with a thriving fishing and boating community. The harbor is filled with crab and oyster boats which leave the town every morning, returning with heaving baskets of shellfish for the town’s fresh seafood restaurants. The main town is equally lovely, with two large 18th-century mansions on the National Register of Historic Places, three museums which discuss the town’s local heritage and the maritime industry, and many picturesque board houses. The town is particularly stunning at sunset, when the warm light envelops the town and harbor in an intense glow.

St. Mary’s City

Historic St. Mary’s City is the site of Maryland’s first capital and the fourth permanent settlement in British North America.