The Chesapeake Bay area is rich in maritime history. As a result, there are many museums to visit - some quite small and open only one or two days a week - others large with generous donors. Here are my favorites:
The big Kahuna on the western side of the bay is the Newport News Mariner's Museum. While they used to have a lot of information about Chesapeak Bay boats, they are now more focused on the Civil War and especially the Monitor. While they have no floating fleet, they do have a wide variety of small boats in a dedicated building and many models including the Crabtree Collection. The Harold Hahn diorama of a colonial shipyard is also here though you may have to search for it.
The Deltaville Maritime Museum has a real buyboat (in the water), a round-stern workboat (under a shed). and a small sailboat inside the main building. Also outside is a replica of the John Smith Shallop. There are some terrific boat models to see there. There's also a small boat shop that is open randomly.
The Reedville Fisherman's Museum is another really nice museum. They have a buyboat and round-stern in the water. Many really nice models in the main building. It is not open year-round, so check the website before planning a visit.
The Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland has a large collection of real boats both in the water and under a shed. There are also some very nice models inside the museum.
If you visit the Calvert Marine Museum, don't miss the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum. It's a bit out of the way, but they have a number of real boats on display including the skipjack Joy Parks.
Moving across the Bay to the Eastern Shore, the dominant museum there is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. It's a large museum with many real boats on the water and on land. Lots of models to see as well. Plan to spend at least a full day there.
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Last Updated: April 3, 2021