By Peggy Sijswerda
Standing at the edge of the Tred Avon River in Oxford, Md., before us a palette of colors cascaded from the evening sky onto the calm water’s surface. Layers of blue, pink, orange, green and gold created a magical glow that shone on our faces. Like a painting in motion, the scene evolved, colors changing and deepening before our eyes.
I looked around to see who else was marveling at the brilliant sunset and discovered we were quite alone; we had it all to ourselves.
The therapeutic effects of nature are well known. City planners incorporate green space into urban designs for that very reason. Recently, researchers in the United Kingdom began studying the soothing effects of blue spaces—think water fountains, pools and other bodies of water.
Scientists still don’t know why, but it seems that blue spaces cheer people up. That’s no surprise to me. I grew up walking on the beach, often alone, mulling over the turmoil of adolescence. After my sojourns on the sand, I always felt better.
Gazing out over water helps me unwind, so I always seek water-centric destinations when I travel. Luckily, along the Eastern seaboard water is everywhere. And you’ll find it in abundance in Talbot County, Md., where towns such as Oxford and St. Michaels offer enchanting views of creeks, bays and rivers.
With 620 miles of shoreline, you’re never far from water in Talbot County. Water sports such as boating and fishing are big in the warm-weather months, but this serene Eastern Shore destination promises special charms year-round, for a girlfriend getaway, a romantic escape, a family gathering or a celebratory event.
On the Water
A rich maritime culture has existed in Talbot County since the first European settlers came ashore. At the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, visitors can deepen their appreciation for what it’s like to live and work on the water. Spread over 18 acres, the museum occupies the site of St. Michaels’ once-vibrant waterfront industry. Saved from demolition, the buildings and boatyards that comprise the museum invite you to revisit another era.
Today you can observe craftsmen as they build, repair and maintain classic wooden boats in a working boatyard. You can even lend a hand through the museum’s Shipwright Apprentice program—no experience required. Joining the team may entail shaping a bow stem, nailing a bottom board or hanging a plank. Materials and tools are provided, so all you have to do is show up. A sign hanging in one of the sheds says, “Experience starts when you begin”—advice that applies to any new venture in life.
Another hands-on opportunity is a 45-minute boat excursion on the Miles River aboard the 1920 buy-boat, Winnie Estelle. Participants can learn about oyster harvesting as well as the region’s cultural and ecological history. The museum also hosts special events and festivals.
We had hoped to explore some of the region’s inlets and waterways in kayaks during our visit, but a stiff spring breeze changed our minds. Instead, we took a peaceful drive through the country to Tilghman Island, a remote town on the Chesapeake Bay. Seeing all the lovely little coves, creeks and inlets as we drove made me long to be out on the water, but the March wind would have blown us clear down the Bay.
Bike trails and birding
If you’re prone to seasickness, no worries. You can keep yourself busy on land on the Eastern Shore. For example, Talbot County is home to many miles of country roads ideal for biking. Pick up a detailed map of bike routes at Easton Cycle and Sport, which also rents bikes, kayaks and paddleboards and can deliver to you. No matter the season, you’re likely to spot a variety of birds as you explore the countryside, from snow geese in winter to yellow-throated warblers in spring.
Art aficionados will want to visit the Academy Art Museum, in Easton. It occupies a beautifully restored historic building that once served as a high school, a funeral home, and an antique store. Founded in 1958, the museum strives to develop and expand the local community’s appreciation for the arts.
If shopping is your thing, you’ll find St. Michael’s cozy Talbot Street to your liking. Specialty shops and boutiques offer gifts and wares, from antique jewelry to nautical décor. After shopping, save time for a wine tasting at St. Michael’s Winery, housed in the Old Sewing Factory building, and then visit the Eastern Shore Brewing Company in the Old Mill next door for a microbrew.
Need a spa escape? The Linden Spa at The Inn at Perry Cabin will transport you to a blissful state. The spa is named after the large Linden trees that line the pathways, and Linden blooms are used in many of the spa’s signature treatments. We enjoyed being pampered with a massage and a facial before heading to Stars, the resort’s fine dining restaurant, for a delicious lunch.
Our girlfriend getaway ended too soon, but we drove home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Travel should always include new experiences, and in Talbot County you’ll find a series of sublime moments, each one an opportunity to refresh your soul and inspire your spirit.
Robert Morris Inn
314 N. Morris St.
The Linden Spa/The Inn at Perry Cabin
308 Watkins Lane
Harbourside Grille at the Harbour Inn
101 N. Harbour Road
Eastern Shore Brewing Company
605 S. Talbot St.
St. Michaels Winery
609 S. Talbot St.
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
213 N. Talbot St.