Exploring The Chesapeake Region

Graphic from Bob Jones

Here’s my yearly column on family-friendly travel with camping on the Mainland.

Have you read James Michener’s Chesapeake? That’s what drew me to Chesapeake Bay.

The fly-in airport is Dulles – direct from Honolulu on United. A quick drive to Annapolis for a great trolley tour. Then across the bridge to the East Bay.

Your Chesapeake adventure begins south on Route 50 at Easton, one of America’s prettiest towns. The only campground – commercial – is 45 minutes away. The central Tidewater Inn wants $260 for a room.

Fifteen minutes away is the 1677 town of St. Michaels – no apostrophe – with its Maritime Museum.

From there take the Rt. 333 cutoff south to the Oxford-Bellevue ferry across the Tred Avon River into old Oxford, then on the Sunburst Highway into Cambridge.

Big homes on High Street. The skipjack Nathan runs sea tours on weekends and the free Richardson Maritime Museum on High Street is a must. Skip the pathetic Dorchester Art Center.

Alas, camping is 20 miles out of town on Taylors Island – again no apostrophe – with great eats at The Island Grill and Palm Beach Willie’s.

Next is Crisfield and the adjacent Janes – nope, no apostrophe – Island waterfront campground with canoes and kayaks.

Crisfield is all about soft-shell crabs, and you can visit the processing plant. Skip the 45-minute boat trip to Smith – no “s” – Island.

What can you do at a place of 232 inhabitants besides lunch in the store where the manager complains, “I told the owner that I’m tired of cooking in such a filthy kitchen.”?

They say Kiptopeke State Park at the southern tip of East Bay is the best park in Virginia (you’re now in that commonwealth). Immense, immaculate with wooded camp sites and sand dune beaches.

The nearest grocery is six miles north in Cape Charles, as are Kelly’s Pub and the Aqua restaurant.

You must drive the 22-mile Tunnel Bridge to Hampton Roads!

Then you get the incredible Air & Space Center in Hampton and the eye-opening Mariners’ Museum in Newport News.

Newport News has a city park on 8,000 acres with wooded waterfront campsites.

Makes you wonder why Oahu is so camping-unfriendly. Oh, yeah, we want you spending money in hotels.

Re-created Williamsburg was a Disney-like dud to me but the Chickahominy Riverfront Campground is worthy.

I did like Yorktown, but read about that battle before you go or be under-whelmed! Splurge and stay at the Duke of York Motel on the beach and next door to the pub.

Avoid the Moon’s Chesapeake Bay travel guide. I found many things outdated in the latest edition.

Finally, this oddity. The Eden Center mall in Arlington, Va., is totally Vietnamese-run shops. Even the mall parking lanes have Saigon street names. They fly the old South Vietnam flag next to and on equal height with Old Glory.

Isn’t that a violation of flag protocol?