One of the big advantages of owning an inflatable boat is the ability to travel where you want, whenever you want, to enjoy a day of sailing. If you're a Maryland, Virginia, or D.C. resident, you have access to one the world's best cruising destinations, the Chesapeake Bay.
From fishing and national parks to delicious food like crabs and oysters, the Chesapeake Bay has a lot to offer. Covering over 4,000 square miles, there is plenty to explore. Below you'll find the top 13 Chesapeake Bay cruising destinations.
Top 13 Chesapeake Bay Cruising Destinations
1. St. Michaels
Located on Maryland's Eastern Shore, St. Michael's, Maryland has plenty to offer despite being home to a little over 1,000 people. Home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, several art galleries, restaurants, and other historic landmarks, St. Michaels is also a prime cruising destination. Located on the water, St. Michael's is a perfect place to access the Chesapeake and it offers up some wonderful views.
Located on the western shore of the bay, Galesville is a small town that sits along the West River. A steamship line in Galesville used to connect Annapolis and Baltimore, and the town was once home to many Chesapeake Bay Watermen. It is now a hot spot for pleasure boating and home of the West River Sailing Club and Hartge Yacht Harbor
Located along the Tred Avon and Choptank Rivers, Oxford, Maryland is home to the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the Tred Avon Yacht Club, and the Oxford Museum. The ferry is believed to be the oldest privately owned ferry, with service dating back to 1836. In addition to its local attractions, Oxford access to the Tred Avon and Choptank makes it a great cruising destination for sailors and boaters alike.
Located 40 minutes south of Annapolis, Deale, MD provides many scenic views of the Chesapeake, making it a popular destination with boaters. Home to waterfront bars and open-air crab houses, Deale is perfect for anyone looking to hit the open water for the day and then enjoy a good meal afterwards.
5. Solomons Island
Located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, Solomons Island was the home of many 19th century shipyards that supported the local fishing economy. Today, Solomons Island is home to many marinas, seafood restaurants, the Calvert Marine Museum, and the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center. Its position along the waterfront make it a prime destination for cruising.
6. Rock Hall
The jewel of the Upper Eastern Shore, Rock Hall, MD is a picturesque cruising destination. Serving as the hub for Kent County's maritime industry, Rock Hall is home to the Rock Hall Yacht Club, over a dozen marinas, various charters, boat rentals, and more! A day of cruising in Rock Hall will give you access to beautiful scenery and plenty of open water to explore.
Located along the Chester River, Chestertown was once one of the six Royal Ports of Entry and considered Maryland's second leading port. Today, Chestertown is home to Washington College, a number or restaurants and historic attractions. Offering a wide range of scenic and historic sailing views, Chestertown is a perfect location for day cruising.
8. Kent Island
The largest island in the Chesapeake, Kent Island, is nestled between Annapolis and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Cross Island and South Island trails provide plenty of outdoor activities across the island. For those looking to cruise the open waters, Kent Island offers unique access to the Eastern Bay, Chester River, and the heart of the Chesapeake Bay itself.
9. The Wye River
With easy access to fishing and crabbing destinations, the Wye River is a favorite cruising destination for many. Add in the Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area, and you have a perfect destination for cruising and exploring the outdoors.
Baltimore's Historic Inner Harbor is the mouth of the Patapsco River. With access to a number of marinas, the Inner Harbor is a great launch point for day cruising. Enjoy views of historic Federal Hill and Fort McHenry in the Harbor, and as the Patapsco opens up into the bay, you'll find additional outdoor destinations such as North Point State Park and Fort Smallwood Park.
Sometimes referred to as the Sailing Capital of the U.S., Annapolis is home to various boat shows, the Naval Academy, and the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Its position along the South River, Severn River, and the Chesapeake Bay make it a great launch point for cruising.
12. Washington DC
The beautiful Potomac River runs directly through the Nation's Capital, making Washington, D.C. a prime destination for sailors. With access to historic views in the heart of D.C. to a variety of parks and outdoor destinations, D.C. is a great place to spend a day out on the water.
13. Havre de Grace
Sitting at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of the Chesapeake, Havre de Grace is uniquely positioned to several state parks and scenic views including Elk Neck State Park and Susquehanna State Park. With easy access to the water and the outdoors, Havre de Grace is a worthwhile destination for anyone looking to explore the bay.