Maryland has a total area of 12,407 square miles and 3,190 miles of coastline, which means that few places in the state are very far from the shore. From the Chesapeake to the Delaware Bay and the Potomac River to Tangier Sound, meeting planners have ample options for memorable waterfront events.
Of all Maryland’s small coastal cities, Cambridge manages to make you feel farthest from urban Baltimore in the least time. Just an hour out on the Eastern Shore, the town, which was first settled in 1684, feels as though it has changed little from those early days with its narrow cobblestone streets and plethora of watermen plying the same trades as their forebears.
Meeting groups can also get the best of both worlds in Cambridge thanks to the 400-room Hyatt Chesapeake Bay, which brings all the amenities of a first-tier destination into the quiet town. Its 370 acres include 37,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 85,000 square feet of seasonal lawns, gardens and terraces, as well as an 18-acre rookery where groups can learn about the area’s famous blue herons. The resort can also organize an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience at the J.M. Clayton Company, a local crab institution that dates back to 1890 and bills itself as the oldest working crab-processing operation in the world.
Groups staying at the resort or elsewhere in town can get out on the water in 20th-century style on a 100-seat paddleboat from the marina at Suicide Bridge Restaurant or go back to nature on a kayak tour of the 27,000-acre Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, home to local herons and migrating bald eagles. In 2017, the Harriet Tubman State Park is set to add additional fireplace-equipped rental spaces near Blackwater.
Havre de Grace
In Havre de Grace, a waterfront location and deep Revolutionary history create a rich backdrop for meetings. When Havre de Grace was originally planned in 1783, Union Avenue, one block from the waterfront, was the main business thoroughfare. After the city was burned to the ground during the War of 1812, it became populated with wealthy families’ palatial mansions, which groups can today use for events and accommodations. The largest, the Vandiver Inn, can accommodate groups of up to 250 for a combination indoor and tented outdoor function.
At Tidewater Marina, the event space, right on the water, gives way to a deck along the wharf where attendees can watch the watermen bring in the day’s hauls during breaks. The city’s top event venue is LaBanque de Fleuve, a converted bank that dates back to the 1800s and that can hold up to 250 people for events. The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, dedicated to the history of the local fishing and crabbing industries, and the Decoy Museum, with its more than 1,200 decoys and decorative carvings, are also available for day use for meetings, receptions and tours.
The Martha Lewis, a historic skipjack designed for oystering in the Chesapeake, is now undergoing a full restoration but is set to reopen for tours this summer.