To Tour or Not To Tour, That is the Question…. It seems like every time we visit a city Lauren and I have the same question come up. Being pretty seasoned travelers and explorers we normally pop into a city, find a few key attractions to visit, and then handle the rest of our day by simply talking to locals and making plans on the fly. This usually works out pretty well for us, and it’s our preferred way to explore. Every once in a while though, we put on or best “tourists’ hats” and give a tour a shot. While in Maryland we decided to give Urban Adventures Annapolis a try, and discovered exactly what they mean when they say “locals know best”
Our tour began on a chilly morning in Annapolis. We had never been to the city before and thought that it would be fun to take a tour since it’s one of America’s most historic cities. The other factor that really interested us in the tour was the fact that we got to take a ride in an eCruiser. If you’ve never seen one it’s basically a stretch golf cart that goes bit faster. The reason this was such a plus for us, is that it would give us the ability to cover a lot more ground than a walking tour, but also be able to be close to our guide unlike a bike or Segway tour.
We met up with our guide, John, and within a minute of meeting him we knew that we would be in for a treat. Normally on tours you get one of two guides: The stuffy serious boring guy who’s trying to rush from site to site plugging little factoids in as he speaks or you get the other kind of guide, what I like to call the rare breed. Every once in a while you find a tour guide that absolutely loves his job and even more so, his city. That was George. Having lived in Annapolis for nearly 40 years, the time we spent with him was more like one continuous story told by a favorite uncle, than a tour being led by a guide. He was filled with fun facts, history, and local gossip, but also beamed with pride as he showed you around. There’s one thing to have a guide show you a famous church, but there’s a whole other side of it, when he can tell you he got married there.
Our tour continued through the residential part of the city and we were able to gawk at stunning examples of Georgian Architecture while hearing the sordid tales of previous occupants. While I knew that Annapolis was steeped in American history, I never realized how many of our founding fathers once called the city home.
After we took in many of the residences of the area, and got a brief lesson in architecture, our tour took us to the Annapolis waterfront. While the port itself has changed quite a bit, many of the buildings on the waterfront have not. Annapolis’s ports were once some of the busiest in America. The combination of tobacco and slave trade meant that there were always ships waiting to dock and be unloaded. The waterfront is still lined with many pubs and eateries, as they never seem to go out of style. The port itself has changed quite a bit though, while no longer a major cargo port, it’s now home to “Ego Alley” a place where many local mariners pull up there mega yachts while enjoying weekends in the historic city.
After taking in the lovely seaside we made our way back to downtown Annapolis to take a look at State Circle, which is the country’s oldest continuously running state house, and some of the homes and offices of the signers of the Declarations of Independence.
As the tour wound to a close, we had the opportunity to ask all the questions we wanted and John was kind enough to offer to drop us (or the other tour guests) off wherever we wanted in the city. It was little touches like these that really made the tour feel extra special and personal to us. Unlike large bus tours or walking tours, we really had the opportunity to interact with our guide and spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each site. On top of that, we saw a whole other part of Annapolis while on our Urban Adventure tour, that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. While we may have driven our own car through the residential area, and walked through downtown on our own, there is no way we would have fit so much in two hours without the tour and learned so much history at the same time. So, if you are ever in the area the answer is definitely “To Tour” with Urban Adventures Annapolis.
Thanks for reading our review of Urban Adventures Annapolis. If you your own Annapolis adventure you would like to share, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Otherwise you may be interested in these other Maryland related posts.
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