If you read our post about Solomon’s Island, you knew we were impressed, and we knew it was one place that would be hard to top on our journey up the East Coast. Well, Havre de Grace, MD came very close.
As is our usual practice, we checked into the Army’s Swans Creek Inn at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, and immediately asked the desk clerk where to eat. He said he always recommends the Tidewater Grill in Havre de Grace…took us about eight minutes to get there after dropping our bags in our very spacious room.
Havre de Grace is a charming town at the northernmost point of the Chesapeake Bay where the Bay meets the Susquehanna River. This convergence led the town to become an important mercantile center in the early to mid 1800’s, and by the 1830’s, coal, lumber, grain, and other merchandise left the town by rail and carriage, in addition to the many ships that came there to pick up cargo.
We found the Tidewater Grill very quickly (thanks to a very overworked GPS) and were seated outside on the deck overlooking the Bay. Helen ordered Crab Bites–small crab cakes and a spinach salad. I went for the Cream of Crab soup and, for the entree, I chose Linguini topped with clams in a white wine and garlic sauce.
Helen said her crab bites were a little too “bready” and gave them a “B”. She gave the salad a “B+” primarily because of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but the spinach was fresh so all was well.
The Linguini was excellent…plenty of fresh clams, and the white wine/garlic sauce was WONDERFUL! The portions were generous, but that didn’t keep me from eating every bite. This dish got a solid “A”. The crab soup was good and thick with a lot of flavor, but you had to look hard to find some crab. I gave it a “B” for that reason.
The setting was as wonderful as the Linguini. The harbor had a lot of boats about and, although the restaurant was busy, it was not loud (pet peeve), but had a lively mix of couples and families having a grand time in great weather under a setting sun.
We made the short trip back to Aberdeen, but resolved to return the next day and do some exploring.
Havre de Grace was viciously attacked by the British in the War of 1812 and a large portion was burned. Nevertheless, a good sampling of the early architecture remained and was later supplemented by the homes of the wealthy merchants who prospered in the period after the war. A number of those old homes are now used as inns, museums, and offices. They gave the town a delightful quaintness.
We parked near the half mile Promenade on the western edge of the town and started our tour at the Concord Point Lighthouse, the northernmost lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay, and one of the oldest lighthouses in continuous use.
In the same park with the lighthouse was a replica of the “Star Spangled Banner”, the 15 star, 15 stripe American flag that was flying on the morning of September 14, 1814, after American forces defeated the British at nearby Fort McHenry. This flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem.
We continued our walk along the wooden walkway toward a small Marina at the end. The Promenade extended over the water of the Bay and gave us a grand view of the boats coming in and out of Havre de Grace harbor.
We passed the National Decoy Museum and went in out of curiosity. It looked interesting, but we decided to save that adventure for another day as our time was short. The museum did appear to be well done and displayed many beautifully carved wooden duck decoys.
At the end of the Promenade was the Promenade Grill where we stopped for lunch. This small grill was covered in an earlier post about food. Please check it out if you are a crab cake lover…like Helen.
We walked back along the Promenade to our car, then drove a few short blocks into the center of town to browse the shops. Not being as attentive as I should have been, I made a left turn after spotting an interesting antique store, parked, then got out of the car only to be greeted by a female police officer…my left turn was a big “no-no”. She asked for my license and registration, explained what I had done, then, with a smile, said she would check out my information, and unless I was on a “Wanted List” somewhere, she would probably just issue me a warning. I held my breath, but checked out OK…whew!. She was very nice and a credit to her profession.
We checked out a few of the antique shops, but kept our wallets intact, then walked the few short blocks of the center of town. Quaint, charming, neat, clean, and aging gracefully is how I would describe Havre de Grace. We left grateful for the time spent there. We’re Easin’ Along and very happy about that!