My husband and I moved to Annapolis from Washington DC’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, building a house in a waterfront community on the Severn River. For him, it was a return to the hometown of his boyhood, a move that delighted his parents and childhood friends. For me, a native New Englander, Annapolis was the best choice from a list of residential options that ranged from visionary James Rouse’s city of Columbia to a town in Great Britain where my husband’s employer had an overseas office. I loved the big city vibe of the nation’s capital and was less than enthusiastic about living elsewhere. But with a brand new baby and an under-two toddler, it was time to go.

Photo courtesy of VAAAC

We moved from Washington, DC’s Cleveland Park neighborhood the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated. Riots catalyzed by an angry population made the streets unsafe but we needed to brave the circumstances and head to Annapolis. My husband remained calm even as the roof of our little red Volkswagon was battered with baseball bats at a traffic stop in the beleaguered city. I sang silly songs to our two-year old, sheltered our month-old baby boy in my arms and prayed a lot. We arrived safe but shaken at our new home, where a plate of homemade cookies had been left on our doorstep as a welcome from our new next-door neighbors.

Photo courtesy of VAAAC

That inauspicious beginning of our Annapolis adventure led to a lifelong love affair with a historic city founded in 1649 and in 2020 considered one of America’s best places to live. Our personal “love affair” began with an appreciation for friendly neighbors and appreciation of the community beach, where I spent most days with a growing brood of children. All four joined the local swim team, learning good habits for mind and body through self-discipline. Friendships between my kids and their peers have survived moves to different cities for college and jobs, with many staying strong to this day.

Photo courtesy of VAAAC

There’s lots to love about living in Annapolis: a rare opportunity to be part of the Naval Academy community, whether it means soccer practice on academy grounds, “adopting” a student as a sponsoring family or being the mother of a USNA graduate who went on to become a Navy SEAL; enjoying access to a vibrant arts community that includes the highly-rated Annapolis Symphony Orchestra; classes for all ages at Maryland Hall for the Arts, also a venue for popular entertainment groups, top-notch performances by local talent at Colonial Players, Summer Garden Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre; writing classes taught by Laura Oliver and Lynn Schwartz that I attended at St. Johns College; Main Street, Maryland Avenue and West Annapolis for owner-operated specialty shop; a quirky springtime sock burning celebration at the Annapolis Maritime Museum; an amazing number of restaurants, from fine waterfront dining at Carroll’s Creek to teatime at Reynolds Tavern to Pajama Brunch at Grump’s. And most of us are proud of our hometown newspaper, The Capital Gazette, the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in America, perhaps best known for the killing of five staff member by an irate reader one recent afternoon, an event that made us all mourn.

Photo courtesy of Bob Peterson

Over the years our love affair with Annapolis has grown from an infatuation with its beauty to a deep appreciation for its history and a growing commitment to enlightened ethical choices based on recognizing the reality of rising waters that threaten the paradise and paradox of Annapolis.

Mary Lou Baker

Mary Lou Baker is a longtime food and travel writer who relishes the opportunity to tell her readers about good eating and drinking in the Chesapeake Bay area. Among her culinary credits are as a weekly columnist and restaurant reviewer for the Capital, (the Annapolis daily newspaper; a monthly columnist for Chesapeake Life Magazine; former food and wine editor for Baltimore Magazine; co-author of "Dining in Baltimore"; and co-author of Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the United States Naval Academy Gift Shop. A native New Englander, she is happy to have called Annapolis her hometown for most of her adult life. Cooking is her favorite thing to do, second only to sampling the talents of the chefs who make Annapolis and the Eastern Shore a mecca for food-loving visitors. She can be reached at [email protected]