Members of several local tourism boards and destination marketers recently joined Sen. Jim Mathias and Somerset County Director of Tourism Julie Widdowson on a whirlwind tour of some of the under-appreciated destinations in Somerset County. Widdowson coordinated the trip to raise public consciousness about the museums, world-class kayak trails, State parks, boat rides, and fishing that make Smith Island and Crisfield worthy and exciting destinations for day trips and longer excursions.
The day began with a visit to Janes Island State Park, just outside of Crisfield. John Somers, one of the park rangers talked about how, in addition to no entry fee, the park offered free boat and jet ski launches and required no permits for fishing and crabbing. For visitors who don’t rent a campsite for the weekend, it presented, from his perspective, the perfect way to spend a day on Delmarva.
“You can go home tired and happy spending absolutely nothing,” he said of the trip.
The tour continued to Crisfield and included a stop at the J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum, a tour of Somers Cove Marina and a presentation from Mayor Kim Lawson on the historic waterfront. Lawson described the city as “a Chesapeake Bay destination full of rich history with wonderful restaurants, daily access to Tangier and Smith Islands, and an active waterfront, all with close proximity to Ocean City and Berlin.”
Smith Island was the next destination. The trip to the town of Ewell on Smith Island aboard the Chelsea Lane Tyler, a boat run by Smith Island Cruises, took just about an hour. The boat docked at the Bayside Inn Restaurant where the passengers were served an ample, family-style meal of crab cakes, oyster fritters and corn pudding among a myriad of other Smith Island delicacies including a 10-layer version of the Smith Island Cake, Maryland’s state dessert. Obviously a favorite, Smith Island Cake slices are available for purchase to take home with you in case you left somebody behind who might want to get a glimpse of your day’s adventure.
During the two hours the group spent in Ewell on Smith Island they explored the town and enjoyed the scenery. In addition to the larger Bayside Inn Restaurant, there is also a sandwich shop that gives visitors access to more of the traditional and delicious fare Smith Island offers.
For those who want to embark on a similar adventure,, Smith Island Cruises run their trips from the Somers Cove Marina. Visitors can also catch ferries to the island. One goes to Tylerton and Ewell and the other boats go only to Ewell. These ferries leave from the town dock and return the same day. Most of the ferries will carry freight including kayaks and can be chartered.
For tourists, choose your destination, Ewell or Tylerton on Smith Island or Tangier Island, and contact the ferry operator or Smith Island Cruises to confirm the operating schedule. Most trips leave Crisfield at 12:30 pm. Golf carts are available for rent to explore the town.
Upon arrival back in Crisfield, Mathias encouraged the tourism professionals to continue to work together promoting the area as a whole. While Ocean City has world class beaches and hotels, the rich diversity of day trips available is something that continues to make it a premiere and unique destination.
“I have loved Smith Island for many years and am amazed that this is the first time many of my colleagues have explored the island,” said Ann McGinnis Hillyer, president and CEO of destination website OceanCity.com. “I think the exciting opportunities in Somerset County highlighted today will certainly enhance the experiences of our visitors to Ocean City and Berlin. We will all encourage our visitors to stay an extra day and take advantage of this unique area.”
For more information about this or other day trip opportunities in the region, contact Ann McGinnis Hillyer at 410-703-1970 or amh@Maryland.com.