It’s known as Groove City, and Cambridge, MD is the soul of the shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay. It sits on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on the Choptank River’s south bank and is a city surrounded by, and shaped by, water. That’s just one of the reasons boaters have made it a “must stop” destination since 1686. Today, boaters flock here for the robust boating community, the rich history and contagious energy that makes the Chesapeake Bay area famous. What you’ll find when you arrive in Cambridge, is a wonderfully boatable, friendly and walkable city.
If you’re curious as to just why Cambridge is branded as the Groove City, it’s because in its glory days it was a stopover for great names from the Harlem Renaissance. From there it became a breeding ground in the emergence of hip-hop. It had groove then, and it has groove now! What it also has is a boat-centric culture. That’s why it’s hard to choose the best boating spots around Cambridge, there are so many, but we do have a few that stand out...
Boating spots around Cambridge
With so much glorious water, there are endless ways to boat the day away. Here are just a few you won’t want to miss. And, if you’re new to the area, before you head out, take a look at Maryland’s Online Water Access Guide for information on public water access sites throughout the state.
Tilghman Island is a charmingly authentic Eastern Shore watermen’s village on the Chesapeake Bay and Choptank River. It’s about three miles long and separated from the mainland by Knapps Narrows, but a drawbridge provides vehicle access. The pace on the island is a leisurely one, and there’s just enough to do to fill your days. Visitors enjoy strolling its tree-lined streets, dining waterside, ducking in and out of quaint shops, and visiting the museum. The Tilghman Watermen’s Museum is a storehouse of maritime history. Its current exhibits focus on the art and artifacts of the island with photos, original paintings and prints. There’s also a one-of-a-kind collection of boat models by Bill Sommers, Vincent Haddaway, and others. And if you’re planning to cruise there, be sure to download the free “Tilghman Island and the Bay Hundred Water Trails” map before your visit.
In the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay, between the Wye River and the Wye East River is where you’ll find the Wye Island NRMA. It’s 2,800 expansive acres set aside for recreation and agriculture. This is a very popular destination for boaters looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy fishing and crabbing. Kayakers and canoers are also welcome – an excellent way to explore the beautiful, ever-changing shoreline. Plus, it’s an ideal spot for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and wildlife peeping.
On a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, sits the breathtaking Point Lookout State Park. Steeped in its beauty, you wouldn’t anticipate its history - the location of a camp that imprisoned 52,264 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. There’s a museum on site for history buffs, that vividly recounts this history. On site are park headquarters, camp office, camp store, and Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center. The park also features the Point Lookout Lighthouse, but it is currently closed for renovations. Additionally, a boat launch facility and fish-cleaning station are available for boaters. While there, you can also enjoy hiking, biking, camping, fishing and hunting.
Martinak State Park is a picturesque recreational facility and natural area for the enjoyment of all. Deeded for preservation in 1961 by George Martinak, it’s home to forests, fields and marsh. Bordered by the Choptank River and Watts Creek, this area supports an extensive variety of plant and animal life. It offers modern campsites as well as hiking trails, playground, shelters and a nature center. Pets are welcomed in all areas except the shelter and cabins. There’s also a pavilion and amphitheater that hosts a nice selection of events.
Marinas in Cambridge
Whether you’re planning a quick overnight or a good long stay, Cambridge has its share of impressive marinas. Here are two boaters’ favorites:
Located on the gorgeous Choptank River, near the mouth of Cambridge Creek, rests the Cambridge Yacht Basin. With a maximum depth of 13 feet, it’s an ideal stop for boats large and small. And its generous list of amenities includes everything from laundry facility, bath houses, and gas and diesel, to ice. Anything else you could want is within walking distance in downtown Cambridge.
The Hyatt River Marsh Marina is one of the premier marinas and resorts on the Chesapeake Bay. Designed for every type of boater, the marina was named by Bay Magazine as the “Best of the Bay” for four years in a row! This marina offers a substantial list of amenities for boaters, most notably Maryland's leading Eastern Shore golf course. On-site activities include miniature golf, Frisbee golf, FootGolf, tennis, water activities, scavenger hunts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, fishing excursions, live entertainment, a fitness center, yoga, guided bike tours, kayak tours, nature hiking tours, paddling in the Bay, and the famous Sago Spa and Salon. Phew! There is also a delightful variety of dining options on site.
Dock & Dine in Cambridge
Fresh seafood and great eateries abound in Cambridge! Whether you want a quick bite or a proper night out on the town, there are many restaurants you can cruise to, tie up and enjoy. These are sure to keep you coming back for more:
Snappers Waterfront Cafe serves up Caribbean and Maryland-inspired cuisine you won’t soon forget. Sit up on the deck and enjoy the views along with a frozen margarita, or head down to the Tiki Bar to spend the evening with your toes in the sand. Either way you’ll get a meal fit for a captain.
At the Water’s Edge Grill, you’ll delight in regional specialties for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while you enjoy the view of their crescent pool and the waterfront. They even offer kid-friendly dishes for your youngest crew members. And you can’t beat the ambiance, with a two-story stone fireplace, soaring ceilings, and a balcony. So you won’t’ be disappointed, reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner.
Originally a popular oyster house, the Portside Seafood Restaurant has been family-owned and operated since 1997. Their friendly and welcoming wait staff, that make you feel right at home, serve up fresh and delicious fare. And you can enjoy a perfect view of Cambridge Creek from their upper, lower, inner and outer dining areas.
Isn’t it time you experienced Cambridge? This completely walkable city is always humming as locals and visitors enjoy its restaurants, museums, bars, boutiques, galleries, festivals and events. Year-round, there’s no shortage of merriment to be had for every member of your crew.
Written by: Jo Montgomery