The serene setting of Annapolis belies its function as the state's capital quite well. It seems as if life moves at a different pace - unhurried in contrast to Baltimore to the north and Washington to the west - and it's easy to forget that this is where political luminaries, both past and present, made their mark.
As a quintessential sailing town, Annapolis' flavor is dominated by all things maritime (not just the Naval Academy). The center of the city is the City Dock where, in times that were not so long ago, fishermen and crabbers moored their boats and unloaded their catch of the day. Today some of those work boats still dock there, but the majority of the harbor is occupied by flashy yachts, sailboats and other pleasure crafts, as well as water taxis and touring cruisers for sightseers. One might call it a sea change - Annapolis has, during the 20th century, matured into a popular attraction for tourists and residents, particularly those for whom money isn't a problem.
In spite of its transformation into a playground for the wealthy, Annapolis still has a job to do. The Maryland State House, which has been in use since the 1780s, is the home to the Maryland General Assembly -- and the place where all the state legislation gets written, debated and voted on. The governor also lives in the Annapolis mansion that has been the not-so-humble abode of Maryland governors since 1870.
Museums and monuments highlight Annapolis' past as a colonial burg and early witness to the strife of the Civil War and the slave trade. It was here that major events in American history took place, such as the signing of the Treaty of Paris (which ended the American Revolution) and George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, both in 1783. Additionally, three signers of the Declaration of Independence lived in Annapolis. Their palatial dwellings and gardens have been restored and are now part of the sights to see on one of the tours offered around the city's most precious and historically significant gems.
It is this sense of keeping up old traditions that makes Annapolis a picturesque waterside community instead of another urban sprawl dotted with skyscrapers and shopping malls. Many of the buildings are the original structures built back during the 18th and 19th centuries. Beautiful Victorian homes and colonial mansions are part of what make Annapolis an aesthetically pleasing town that's rich in our country's - and state's - history.
Location: Anne Arundel County, right on the Chesapeake Bay
Schools: United States Naval Academy, St. John's College, Annapolis High School, Broadneck High School, Annapolis Middle School, Bates Middle School, Annapolis Elementary School, Cape St. Claire Elementary School, Eastport Elementary School, Georgetown East Elementary School, Germantown Elementary School, Hillsmere Elementary School, Mills-Parole Elementary School, Rolling Knolls Elementary School, Tyler Heights Elementary School, West Annapolis Elementary School, Windsor Farm Elementary School
Highlights/Landmarks: Banneker-Douglass Museum, City Dock, First Night Annapolis, Main Street, Maryland State House, St. John's College, United States Naval Academy, William Paca House
Trivia: Annapolis was the capital of the United States from 1783 to 1784.
Tallinn, Estonia; Newport, Wales; Dumfries, Scotland; and Wexford, Ireland, are all sister cities of Annapolis.
The Maryland State House is the oldest state legislative building that has been in continuous use since its construction. Construction began in 1772 and use began by 1780.
Movies such as Syriana, Patriot Games, Sleepless In Seattle and Failure to Launch have been filmed in part in Annapolis. Ironically, though, the 2006 Naval Academy midshipman feature Annapolis was never shot in its titular location.