Day trips spell pleasure Quaint towns, historic sites await the adventurous traveler

July 19, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

While Ocean City is the destination of most vacationers crossing the Bay Bridge, the popular resort shouldn't be the only diversion.

Maryland's Eastern Shore features a wealth of quaint towns, historical sites and outdoor activities that would interest even the most devout sun worshiper.

Ocean City is a good starting point for day trips west into the heart of the Eastern Shore, north to Delaware and south to Virginia.

Here are three suggested day trips, none of which are more than an hour's drive from the beaches.

Snow Hill and Furnace Town

Just a 30-minute drive from Ocean City, Snow Hill is a pleasant, quiet escape from the hustle and bustle.

"You'd be surprised how many people come here and say they don't want to go back to Ocean City," says Lisa Challenger, a tourism coordinator for Worcester County.

Chartered in 1686, Snow Hill has retained many historical buildings in its downtown and residential areas.

One building worth visiting is the Julia A. Purnell Museum on Market Street. The museum covers the history of the county from pre-Colonial days through the Civil War and Victorian eras. Admission is $2 for adults and 50 cents for children. For more information, call (410) 632-0515.

Also open to the public is the one-room Mount Zion school museum. Originally built in 1869 in Mount Zion, about seven miles from Snow Hill, the building was moved to town in 1959. The museum features antique school supplies, including bells, books and writing slates and a pot-belly stove. The museum's hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and by appointment. Admission is $1 for adults, 50 cents for children. Call (410) 632-0669 for more information.

For lunch, try the Snow Hill Inn, which features an appetizing and affordable menu of seafood and sandwiches in a Victorian setting. The homemade muffins served with lunch and dinner are delicious.

hTC While visiting Snow Hill you can take a quick trip to nearby Furnace Town. The re-created town is by no means an all-encompassing trip, but it provides a short diversion.

Set in a forest, the 19th century industrial village features a broom house, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, print shop and a small museum.

Furnace Town is open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children. For more information, call (410) 632-2032.

Snow Hill is off Route 113, south of Ocean City. Furnace Town is off Route 12 just west of Snow Hill.

Crisfield, Smith Island

About an hour's drive southwest of Ocean City, Crisfield, situated on the Chesapeake Bay, is known as the crabbing capital of the world.

That's one reason to visit this pleasant town. The restaurants, particularly the Captain's Galley with a spectacular view of Tangier Sound, are known for serving some of the best crab dishes in the world.

Many people come here to take a boat to Smith Island, which is about 12 miles into the bay and is Maryland's only inhabited island accessible only by boat.

Visitors can choose from several boats that make daily trips to Smith Island. One of the more popular is the Captain Tyler II, a cruise ship that carries up to 150 passengers. Adults pay $22.50 for a round-trip excursion that includes dinner at the island's Bayside Inn.

Freight and mail boats are cheaper options. The Captain Jason, a freight boat hauling groceries and other items to island residents, charges $7 round trip. Children younger than 12 can ride for free. Visitors can still enjoy dinner at the Bayside Inn. The cost is $10.50 for adults, half-price for children 6 and older and $1 for children younger than 6.

Smith Island is no Disneyland, but that's its appeal. The island is home to some 750 year-round inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of Capt. John Smith. They make their living from crabbing on the bay.

A bus trip, offered to all visitors, showcases the island's homes, churches and few businesses. Visitors can also walk or rent bicycles to see the friendly island.

Crisfield is about 60 miles from Ocean City. Follow Route 113 south to Pocomoke. Pick up Route 13 north and then turn left on Route 667. Follow to Route 413 south to Crisfield.

For information about the Captain Tyler II cruises, call (410) 425-2771. Other boats can be found at the city dock. Most leave for the island at 12:30 p.m.

Lewes, Del.

A 30-minute trip north of Ocean City, Lewes is Delaware's oldest European settlement. And although Lewes is a resort town, it is less so than Rehoboth or Bethany Beach. Lewes is more interested in retaining history than catering to the gaudy desires of tourists.

Many of the town's storefronts and homes have been renovated. One residential development of old homes relocated from other areas provides for a fascinating stroll.

The development is near the town's Historic Complex, which contains several relocated buildings that provide a glimpse of local history. The buildings are open from mid-June through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and until 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $4. Children are admitted for free. Call (302) 645-8719 or (302) 645-8073.

Away from the beach, the town's small business district contains antique shops, restaurants and specialty shops.

The Cape May/Lewes ferry provides rest and relief from the heat with a 70-minute cruise to Cape May, New Jersey's Victorian-style resort. The cost is $8.50 round trip, $4 for children younger than 6. For more information, call the Lewes terminal at (302) 645-6313.

Lewes is about 25 miles north of Ocean City. Follow the Coastal Highway north to Route 404 east to Lewes.

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