On the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, close to several major cities yet a world apart, Talbot County, Maryland is many things: historic, friendly, charming, sophisticated, oh-so-beautiful, and thoroughly family friendly. Whether the kids are athletes or bookworms; whether mom loves shopping or fine dining; whether dad savors museums or sailing, the towns of Talbot County have something for everyone (including pups – the county is Fido friendly too!) There are too many reasons to visit to list them all here, so we’ll start with the top ten:
No. 1 – The Setting. Beauty is everywhere in Talbot County, every day of the year. Water buffs will enjoy sailing, kayaking, power boating, and sails aboard the Selina or Lady Patty. For landlubbers, Talbot County is a cycler’s dream (it’s flat, flat, FLAT and has six mapped trails), hosts three public golf courses, has a YMCA with a rock-climbing wall and tennis courts, and is home to the historic and charming Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.
No. 2 – The History. History, too, is everywhere in Talbot County. One of the oldest centers of European settlement in the New World, the county has had several large personality changes, transforming from tobacco-centered commerce to a maritime economy to tourist mecca. The county had one of the highest percentages of free blacks in the nation; they and their enslaved brethren were the cultural forebears of Frederick Douglass, born a slave in Talbot County in 1838, later to become one of the most remarkable men of the nineteenth century. Just a few of the places that showcase this rich history: the Historical Society of Talbot County in Easton; Wye Mills, home to a grist mill dating to 1682 that famously ground flour for the Continental Army; and the Oxford Museum, with its rotating displays. Visitors can also arrange for a walking tour of Easton and the Historical Society’s James Neall House and gardens.
No. 3 – Hollywood Stars. Many a movie has been filmed in Talbot County, and locals will be happy to point out where. Even more fun than seeing them is recreating some of the activities depicted in the movies. Silent Fall was filmed at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and Crab Claw Restaurant; Failure to Launch included footage of Cutts & Case Shipyard, Masthead Restaurant, and the Town of Oxford Park (Ms. Parker and Mr. McConaughey stayed at the Inn at Perry Cabin and other crew members rented vacation houses and Bartlett Pear Inn and frequently dined at Mason’s Restaurant in Easton); and Wedding Crashers was shot in part at the Inn at Perry Cabin, with sailing scenes captured in Oxford. Three films premiered at the Avalon Theater in Oxford: Wedding Crashers, Failure to Launch, and Notebook.
No. 4 – The Ecology. Talbot County is “green” in more than one sense of the word. Not only are its fields and forests gorgeous, but there are many opportunities to learn about the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and the livelihoods it has supported. Pickering Creek Audubon Center, a 400 acre working farm, hosts nature walks, while the Philipps Wharf Environmental Center in Tilghman teaches tots about the denizens of the Chesapeake Bay. The touch tanks are a treat! Also great fun: working as an apprentice at the phenomenal Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, with its entertaining and educational docents, original artifacts, visual arts, and indigenous water craft. And a stop at the newly refurbished Oxford Community Center to learn about its many eco-friendly features (including the geothermal wells for heating) is a must!
No. 5 – The Drive. For those on the eastern seaboard, there’s no need to brave the airport with kids in tow. Enough said!
No. 6 -- The Festivals. Talbot County is famous for its festivals, and rightly so. There’s something going on year ‘round, from the Waterfowl Festival in autumn to the Festival of Trees at holiday time; from the Oxford Day Parade to WineFest in St. Michaels; and oh, the Independence Day celebrations!
No. 7 -- The Lighthouses. Visitors can board the M/V SHARPS ISLAND for a trip through the storied history of the Chesapeake Bay and its lighthouses. Six different Chesapeake Lights trips accommodate any schedule and all levels of interest. Each includes a recounting of the bay's history, as well as information about this fragile and beautiful ecosystem.
No. 8 -- The Crabs. Eat ‘em (many locations), catch ‘em (with the help of a local watermen), learn about them (at Philips Wharf), and pack some up to take home.
No. 9 – The Food. Talbot County is a foodie heaven. No fewer than twelve Talbot County dining spots are listed in the 2012 edition of the famed Zagat guide to Washington, DC and Baltimore restaurants, dominating the Eastern Shore category. But no worries for those who love low country food – there’s plenty of that here too. From barbeque to crabs to rockfish to locally sourced cheese, Talbot County makes the most of its bonanza of natural resources.
No. 10 – The Welcome. Visitors are genuinely welcome in Talbot County, and families most of all. Though culturally sophisticated and bustling with activity, its residents and business folk – from innkeepers to docents to watermen to gift shop clerks – value the enthusiasm and interest families bring with them when they visit ... and their canine companions too!
Talbot County – It’s for Families!
About Talbot County, Maryland:
Talbot County, Maryland invites visitors to experience the perfect balance of rural simplicity and urban refinement. With the timeless beauty of the Chesapeake Bay as their backdrop, the county’s sophisticated small towns, charming country byways, and wide array of activities offer something for everyone who appreciates the opportunity to relax, reflect, and renew. The Talbot County Office of Tourism offers comprehensive information and trip planning services at its Easton, Maryland office (1- 410-770-8000)