Saint Michaels is one of the most popular boating destinations on the Chesapeake Bay. With a nautical flavor that goes back hundreds of years and the history to back it up, Saint Michaels hosts thousands of visitors by boat and car every year.
An easy stroll from the harbor, where your boat is secured at one of St Michaels fine marinas, there are a ton of activities to be had. A number of fun festivals throughout the year range from a Winefest, to Christmas in St. Michaels, most of which include a parade! Various tours offer a number of ways to enjoy the history of the area, or you can have your own crab feast at one of the local seafood restaurants, check out the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, or grab a fishing charter out into the bay for Maryland's state fish, the striped bass. There are plenty of browsing and shopping opportunities as St Michaels is home to many trendy retailers, galleries and antique shops.
Verrazano may have explored these peninsulas in 1524, andCaptain John Smith cruised this "delightsome land" during the summer of 1608. William Claiborne, the Virginia Secretary of State, a friend of John Smith, and later a pirate (Shomette), founded a trading post and settlement in 1631 just 10 miles from the current town of St. Michaels on the lee side of Kent Island across Eastern Bay.
Land grants dating from the 1640's to the mid-1670's established much of the present periphery of the town. The river and (probably) the tiny village were known as St. Michaels before 1658. It is likely that the current name of the river, the Miles, is a corruption of the town name, and there is at least one citation, in the will of William Hambleton of Martingham, in 1675, which refers to the "Myles" river. In about 1677, the Christ Episcopal Church of St. Michael the Archangel parish was founded on a narrow neck of land between the Miles River and Broad Creek.
In the dark morning hours of August 10, 1813, a number of British barges had planned an attack on the town and a fort on the harbor side. The residents of tiny St. Michaels, forewarned, hoisted lanterns to the masts of ships and in the tops of the trees, tricking the British by causing the cannons to overshoot the town. This first "blackout" was effective and only one house was struck. Now known as "The Cannonball House" a cannon ball penetrated the roof and rolled down the staircase as Mrs. Merchant carried her infant daughter downstairs. The house still exists as a private residence.
After the War of 1812, St. Michaels declined as an ocean-going shipbuilding center and after a brief depression in the 1820's, began to rise as a seafood processing and packing center. Oysters and blue crabs were the principal fare. The opening of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in October, 1829 added new seafood customers in Philadelphia, Wilmington and points north.
In the 1930's, 40's and 50's visitors came to the St. Michaels area by auto to enjoy a leisurely waterfront vacation in one of the many "mom and pop" boarding houses, cottages and inns which dotted the local landscape. They came to fish and crab. They came to enjoy the quality of life "on the Shore". In the mid-1950's, after the William Preston Lane Memorial Bridge (the "Bay Bridge") replaced the Sandy Point (Annapolis) ferry, more came. It was a good thing, too. They began to form the base of the tourism industry which now supports these picturesque peninsulas.
Information Courtesy Saint Michaels Business Association. stmichaelsmd.org
Use NOAA Chart 12270.
Saint Michaels is located on the Miles River, which is a tributary of Eastern Bay. The Miles River bends southward off of Eastern Bay at Tilghman Point, near flashing red buoy “4.”
From the flashing red buoy “4,” head southeast to red nun “6,” and then farther south to red nun “8,” green can “9” and flashing green “1.” Flashing green “1” marks an extensive shoal in the middle of the Miles River north of Hambleton Point.
Red nun “12,” red nun “14,” flashing green “1,” (at Fairview Point) flashing red “4,” flashign red “2” and green daybeacon “3” mark the final approach leg to Saint Michaels. Depths inside the harbor range from eight to 10 feet, and there is an excellent (but usually full) anchorage behind Parrot Point. There is water taxi service available from the anchorages, and plenty of marinas inside for those who want to tie up and plug in for the evening.
One of the most popular attractions in Saint Michaels is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum,located right on the harbor, with short-term tie-ups available at the museum dock. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a living, breathing museum dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating the working boats of the Chesapeake Bay. On approach, you can’t miss the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, an old screwpile building that used to stand watch on the Chesapeake Bay. See the “Helpful Links” section below for museum hour and admission details.
Saint Michaels is remote and there is no public transportation available. Car rentals may be available; check with the local marinas for details.