Five Worth the Drive
Thinking about an island getaway? We have two—along with three other refreshing retreats—all within driving distance of home.
When on Smith Island, do as the locals do: enjoy blue crabs in all their forms.
(page 1 of 5)
Exotic Isle: Smith Island, Maryland
If you really want to get away, head for the southernmost tip of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Park in the tiny town of Crisfield ($3 per night at the municipal lot) and board the Captain Jason II ($20 one way) for the 45-minute ferry ride to Smith Island, actually the only two inhabited islands among a number of them in the Chesapeake Bay. You won’t miss your car; the 300-some year-round residents in its three rustic fishing villages, Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton, get around on the unpaved lanes on foot or by golf cart. Crabbing is the principal livelihood and the basis of a uniquely Chesapeake culture complete with its own dialect, a distinctive combination of Cornwallian English and American South.
Drive time: Three hours.
Stay here: When Rob Kellogg picked us up at the ferry dock, he brought a wheelbarrow to tote our luggage to the Inn of Silent Music in Tylerton (2955 Tylerton Rd., 410-425-3541) he operates with his wife, Linda. Surrounded on three sides by water, this laid-back—no phone or TV—three guestroom, circa 1916 home is a no-stress zone. Complimentary canoes, two-person kayaks and bikes and full breakfast are included in the nightly $110-$130 rate (no credit cards).
Eat here: Before I recommend where you eat, I’m going to suggest what you should eat—crab cakes and a generations-old tradition that has become Maryland’s Official State Dessert, Smith Island Cake, eight to 10 super-thin layers of golden cake filled and frosted with chocolate fudge. That said, you can enjoy a seafood-centric dinner at the Inn at Silent Music ($25 per person). For crab cakes, don’t miss the locally-made quarter-pounders with fries and sides for $9.95 at Drum Point Market (21162 Center St., 410-425-2108), Tylerton’s only store. The homey market also carries jellies and jams made from the figs and pomegranates that grow wild on the island. Bayside Inn Restaurant (4065 Smith Island Road, Ewell, 410-425-2771), best-known for its $19.99 double crab cake plus all-you-can-eat clam fritters, baked ham and slew of sides meal.
To-do list: Make sure you watch the video, “Land and Water, People and Time” and listen to the Smith Island-speak audio exhibit at the Smith Island Cultural Center Museum (20846 Caleb Jones Road, Ewell; 410-425-3351; smithisland.org; $3 admission). Then stop in and chat with the watermen’s wives and other local women as they “pick” the day’s catch for home use and sale at the Crabmeat Co-op in Tylerton (21228 Wharf St., 410-968-1344).
Janes Island State Park (410-968-1565, dnr.state.md.us) offers isolated sand beaches for swimming and miles of trails for hiking and wildlife viewing. Rent a kayak ($50) or canoe ($60) to explore more than 30 miles of marked water trails or do some crabbing or fishing. For overnighters, you’ll find campsites ($25/$35 with electricity), rustic camper cabins with shared bathrooms ($50) and full-service cabins ($90).
Thrifty Tips: No need. Everything on Smith Island is inexpensive.
Page 2: Urban Oasis: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania