Looking for a fun and easy day trip this fall? A visit to the picturesque Eastern Shore town of St. Michaels may be just the ticket.
Little more than an 1 1/2 -hour drive from Baltimore, St. Michaels offers a quiet escape with wonderful shopping, antiquing and gourmet dining. Lovingly restored homes, charming inns and museums as well as the beautiful Miles River and St. Michaels harbor all add to this town's appeal.
The shops are almost all conveniently located on the main drag, Talbot Street, and the waterfront is only a block or two off Talbot. So park your car in the free municipal lot and explore the town on foot.
Here are some of our favorite shops. (In the late fall and winter, some shops and restaurants are closed during the beginning of the week, so call ahead).
1. Wood That Works, 400 S. Talbot St., 410-745-0650. The life-size carved wooden figures that greet you as you approach this store give you a good idea of what to expect inside. Owner Blair Schneider travels the country working directly with craftspeople and has pulled together a delightful selection of handcrafted wooden treasures.
Don't miss: The oak- and hickory-tree rockers out front and the sign that says, "Sitting is believing."
2. Keepers-Orvis, 300 S. Talbot St., 410-745-6388. Look for men's and women's classic clothing with an emphasis on outdoor living. This shop also carries fly-fishing equipment and clothing by Orvis, the Vermont-based outfitter, as well as an impressive collection of antique and new decoys.
Don't miss: One of the Eastern Shore's best collections of sports art.
3. Canton Row Antiques, 216-C S. Talbot St., 410-745-2440. One of the few true antiques shops in town, this little gem has a wide range of merchandise from many dealers, including prints, jewelry, crystal, porcelain, silver, linens, decoys and other fine collectibles.
Don't miss: The collection of original magazine advertisements and book covers.
4. Calico Gallery, 212 S. Talbot St., 410-745-5370. This is an interesting combination of an art gallery and toy store featuring a large selection of bay area prints, limited editions and some originals on the first floor and a second floor filled to the rafters with wonderful toys and framed prints for children.
Don't miss: The great selection of greeting cards and stationery.
5. Coco & Company, 209 S. Talbot St., 410-745-3400. An exquisite collection of vintage and new furnishings for the house and garden with a decidedly French-country look. The straw-hat lamps are just one example of the many imaginative items that abound in this store.
Don't miss: The porcelain teacup nightlights made by breaking the cup and saucer in half and inserting the nightlight.
6. The Mind's Eye Craft Collection, 201 S. Talbot St., 410-745-2023. A gallery full of unusual crafts and clothing and representing over 200 contemporary American artisans.
Don't miss: The solar wind chimes. They're sure to bring a sense of harmony to any home.
7. Chesapeake Trading Co., 102 S. Talbot St., 410-745-9797. From men's and women's apparel by some of the biggest names in clothing to jewelry, hats, shoes, home accessories, books, music and even its own coffee bar, this beautiful and classy shop has something for everyone.
Don't miss: The separate shop in the rear specializing in home furnishings and table accessories.
8. Audrey Julian & Co., 104 N. Talbot St., 410-745-5266. A unique mix of new and vintage furniture, accessories and seasonal items for the home displayed in beautiful vignettes.
Don't miss: The charming cottage collection of home furnishings located upstairs.
9. Flying Fred's - Gifts for Pets, 202 N. Talbot St., 410-745-9601. A boutique for pets featuring gifts primarily for dogs and their owners. Dogs are welcome in the store, and the treats are free.
Don't miss: The artwork by Stephen Huneck. His artful graphics and humorous pet sayings make for great prints and T-shirts.
10. Artiste Locale, 112 N. Talbot St., 410-745-6580. A gallery-like store showcasing local artists with an ever-changing selection of painting, pottery, jewelry, Judaica and handmade clothing.
Don't miss: The lovely seaglass wind chimes made by artist Heidi Griebel with glass she collects from beaches along the Eastern Shore.
Sustenance for shoppers
St. Michaels is filled with great dining. Here are some suggestions. (Some restaurants are open for dinner only, so it's best to call ahead.)
208 Talbot, 208 N. Talbot St., 410-745-3838. Winner of many awards, chef Paul Milne has a reputation for creating outstanding and innovative gourmet cuisine expertly served in an elegant atmosphere.
Michael Rork's Town Dock Restaurant, 125 Mulberry St., 410-745-5577. Located on St. Michael's Harbor, Town Dock's menu features award-winning cuisine with an emphasis on local fish and seafood served in a comfortable and casual setting. In addition to the restaurant, Foxy's Marina Bar, on the brick patio of the same building, offers a full bar, raw bar and grill for lighter fare served under a canopy or at umbrella tables harborside.
St. Michaels Crab & Steak House, 305 Mulberry St., 410-745-3737. On the harbor, in a historic building , this restaurant has a reputation for serving some of the best steamed crabs in town. Steaks and other seafood are also available. Indoor and outdoor seating available.
The Inn at Perry Cabin, 308 Watkins Lane, 410-745-2200. With an exquisite menu designed by executive chef Mark Salter, the inn offers perhaps the most elegant dining experience on the Eastern Shore. The cuisine features fresh seafood and Chesapeake specialties mixed with some fine international fare.
Barrett's Tea Room, 204 N. Talbot St., 410-745-3322. Located in Barrett's Bed and Breakfast Inn, the tea room is open to the public daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and features scrumptious home-baked pastries and your choice of teas served on English bone china. There is also a full-service espresso bar serving gourmet coffees, lemonade, hot chocolate, apple cider and snacks.
Blue Crab Coffee Company, 102 Freemont St., 410-745-4155. Located one block off Talbot St. in a beautifully restored building, Blue Crab offers fine roasted coffees, imported teas and desserts. The frozen coffee drinks are especially delicious.
The St. Michaels Business Association has a Web site, www.stmichaelsmd.org, which provides information on food, lodging, attractions, sightseeing, museums and shopping. The phone number is 800-808-7622.
Visitor information is available at the self-serve booth at Mill and Talbot streets. A brochure for a self-guided historic walking tour is available there, as well as maps and other brochures from specific merchants and outfitters.