When it comes to the visit to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, there are a good number of reasons, why the place is so important. Here are 25 reasons why you should visit the place.
Harriet Tubman, “The Moses of Her People,” became a worldwide phenomenon when she was chosen to be the next face of the US $20 note (in 2020).
Much of the area in the Chesapeake Bay Region has remained untouched since Tubman escaped and returned to rescue over 70 others in the mid-1800s. And thus is its allure. If you come here, you can understand what it was like for young Tubman, Anaminta “Minty” Ross.
While Harriet Tubman’s spirit seems to pervade everything here, a visit should also include birding, hiking, kayaking, other historic sites, dining, and staying in unique housing properties.
Start with these 25:
- The new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitors Center provides a truthful, authentic, and human depiction of this little-known American hero. National Park Service in partnership with Maryland Park Service. They’re fast becoming the most popular attraction on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
- You’ll learn where Tubman had a fatal head injury. Stop at the Bucktown Village Store, “Harriet Tubman’s first known act of defiance.” Susan Meredith, Jay’s wife, is the 4th generation Meredith to own this historic home since the Civil War ended. Once inside, Meredith will show you relics discovered during restoration: an actual newspaper announcing the $300 reward for “Minty” and her two brothers, slave dog tags used to identify their owners, and more.
- Continue on the Harriet Tubman Underground RR Byway, stopping at key locations to learn about her family and friends, and why she was so motivated to save as many as she could. (Downloadable maps and apps)
- Stroll down Long Wharf to the 2012 replica “screwpile” Choptank River Lighthouse. From the 1920s until the 1960s, the Choptank was the “Route 50 of its time” – a conduit for oystermen, steamboats, and slaves. On one of the slave ships up this river was Harriet Tubman’s grandmother, Modesty Green.
- Walk along Cambridge’s historic High Street. This one-hour tour is full of history and gossip and is made even more fun by the West End Citizens Association’s costumed interpreters, such as Marge Hull. Walk up leafy High Street and hear tales of Governors and ladies, Harriet Tubman’s brother Sam possibly escaping from a prominent doctor’s house, a tale of a reviving corpse, evil slave-catcher Patty Cannon folklore galore (she went to trial here), and tiny cottages that were law offices, as attorneys were not allowed to practice out of their domiciles.
- 4-5 mile road through Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge past dead tree stalks in brackish water, Loblolly Pine stands, and cattail-rimmed ponds. Observe Sika Deer, muskrats, otters, white pelicans, blue herons, Merganser Ducks, and other animals on the paths or observation boardwalks. Visit the Visitor Center to find directions and ask inquiries.
- RAR (Real Ale Revival) Brewing, Cambridge. Cambridge was barren ten years ago. But that is changing, partially because of the curiosity in Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, but also due to entrepreneurs like Chris Brohawn and JT Merryweather, who have made RAR Brewing a downtown Cambridge landmark.
- Consider eating at one of Cambridge’s unique restaurants, such as Jimmie & Sook’s (a “Jimmie” is a male crab, and a “sook” a female, giving you an idea of what this casual, fun Cambridge institution does well), High Spot (recently opened by New England butcher and restaurateur Patrick Fanning), or Bistro Poplar (considered one of Maryland’s finest French restaurants).
- Stay at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. The 400-room Hyatt on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has reopened after a $7 million renovation. The polished wood floor in the lobby is the first thing you notice. Every year, this Hyatt hosts corporate and government conventions, but in the summer, it’s flooded with families looking to reunite and have fun.
- The Ward Museum of Waterfowl Art in Salisbury has the latest, trendiest, “Cubist” form of a Duck Decoy amid some of the greatest carvings and bird art. It was named for the “Ward Brothers”, Lem and Steve Ward, who created decoys in their spare time. Their doctor, amazed with the craftsmanship of their wooden ducks, began entering them in contests. They became legends.
- Take a self-guided walking tour of Salisbury’s Newtown Historic District. The 240-home historic area has Queen Anne, Classical, and English Cottage, Greek, and Colonial Revival styles.
- You can play a 250-year-old instrument. The Poplar Hill Mansion in Newtown’s Historic District has rooms painted in 1805 hues. It is a rare case of a doctor and his family living as slave owners in the early 1800s. The Mansion also has a “restored to playable condition” 1700s pianoforte, one of just a handful remaining in the world, that visitors with keyboard competence are welcome to play.
- Pemberton Hall at Pemberton Historic Park, Salisbury, has flooring “older than America itself”. Built in 1741, it was in ruins until historic preservationists saved it. And it had the country’s only Tester Bed Frame in its original location, integrated into a “Williamsburg Quality” renovation of a 1700s boy’s chamber above.
- See a community’s heart in action. The Salisbury Zoo has a playful bear, alpacas, a jaguar, an ocelot, owls, otters, and other creatures from the Americas (North and South). Ben’s Red Swings, a massive playground created by the community in remembrance of 4-year-old cancer victim Ben Layton, is one of its most popular features. Ben’s brief life and sad death brought joy to many children.
- SBY Art Space in downtown Salisbury lets you produce art as well as observe it. Drop-ins are welcome on Thursdays 2-4 pm at the Clay Studio.
- Evolution Craft Brewing and Public House in Salisbury, a prominent brewery expanding its wings around the Mid-Atlantic, serves crisp, smooth new beers with fresh-from-the-bay oysters. It’s a local favorite with premium pub meals and a hip, edgy ambiance
- Visit Market Street Inn in Salisbury. “Miss Flo” Harris’ delicious hot Apple Bread Pudding Pie with Caramel Sauce will have you at hello. It’s insanely delicious. Why eat at this upscale/casual riverside restaurant? Traditional dishes like beef burgers with Fried Egg and Risotto, Fried Rockfish Sandwiches, and Short Rib Puttanesca are given a twist by these cooks.
- Whitehaven MD’s Historic Whitehaven Hotel This 8-room 1810 B&B is perfect for those seeking secluded, lovely river-set historic inns. Saved from demolition, this accommodation in White Haven’s historic neighborhood, on the banks of the Wicomico River, is now an upmarket spot to unwind.
- At Preston’s Linchester Mill, you can see where slaves may have planned their escape. On the grounds of Winchester Mill is Maryland’s only Braille Nature Trail and a Miller’s House with an Antique Museum Shop. Slave, free black and white allies brought their grain to be processed here.
- The Museum of Rural Life in Denton depicts farm life. Plan to spend 30 minutes in this 1819 Townhouse to see the original oil painting of Harriet Tubman and her parents fleeing Maryland.
- The Foundry Art Gallery in Denton has well-crafted furniture, art, and jewelry for a fraction of the cost in the city. This little rural town’s visionaries turned a run-down area into an “Arts and Entertainment” zone, enticing artists to buy or rent houses, clean them up, and use them as studios/shops.
- Hiking the Adkins Arboretum paths in Ridgely will transport you back to Harriet Tubman’s time. Since it opened in the 1980s, this 400-acre preserve has attracted nature lovers and birders. Bring your dog (treats and water bowls supplied), explore the wetlands (platforms soon to be rebuilt), forests, meadows, streams, and gardens, and meet four resident goats that consume invasive species.
- Even PETA people won’t mind Shooting Clays at Schrader’s Outdoors, Henderson (aka Schrader’s Bridgetown Manor). Known as a “hunting lodge” and “sportsman’s retreat,” Schrader’s also has one of the top Sporting Clay courses in Maryland. A mile-long path winds through forest, fields, and a turquoise-watered gravel pit to 16 stands. Sporting Clay is ideal for sharpshooters who don’t want to kill anything. Guests can stay overnight in one of the 11 manor rooms.
- A little town with a Culinary Arts Center can provide outstanding food. Denton boasts superb eating options for lunch, supper, and after-evening drinks. Start at Caroline Schoolhouse’s Culinary Arts Center’s surprising Shore Gourmet Market. Indulge with a picnic or eat-in lunch at this trade High School.
- With a stay at Turnbridge Point, Denton, you will be treated to the dreamy French pastry that sells out in seconds. The lovely Victorian home is a block away from shops and restaurants in this small town. It is Warm, courteous, and excellent.