When you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you can’t go wrong with a day on Tilghman Island. It’s not far from the hustle but it’s far enough to be quiet, slow and scenic. Take a bike ride along flat roads. Launch a kayak and explore the many inlets along Tilghman’s ragged shoreline. Climb aboard a boat and sail into the Chesapeake Bay.
There’s a museum filled with facts about this close-by and faraway place. An inn at the south end of the island will keep you safe and cozy for a weekend (or longer). Restaurants will serve you crabs and oysters fresh from nearby waters.
Ready to go? So am I and I was just there. Here are a few of my faves.
• Sail on a skipjack. I have my favorite, of course. It’s Captain Murphy’s Rebecca T. Ruark. This boat, the oldest working skipjack on the Chesapeake. During the summer, Capt. Murphy takes visitors out for a sail on this hardworking lady. Once oyster season gets going, you could, if you’re game, bundle up in your warmest clothes for a long day of oyster dredging. Another option is the Lady Patty, an elegant 1935-era yacht. Prefer a boat to take you fishing or on a lighthouse tour? No problem, check this schedule. Captain Wade’s son, also named Wade, also takes folks out on his crabbing boat the Miss Arielle. Kayaks and canoes…. yeah, you can find them too. You see, there’s a boat for every taste.
• Watch the drawbridge. The drawbridge that connects Tilghman to the rest of the county fascinates me. It may be the boat traffic underneath — doesn’t everybody like to watch boats go by? But I think I really like to watch the roadway rise to its vertical height. You can watch from the roadway or
you can watch from the Characters Bridge Restaurant. Either are good choices.
• Save an oyster. Or visit Phillips Wharf Environmental Center to see what’s being done to save them. This environmental center offers tours of their estuarium. You can see little oysters, terrapin turtles and even seahorses.
• Then, go eat an oyster, or a crab, or rockfish. I’m a fan of the restaurant by the bridge. But others swear by Harrison’s Chesapeake House. Both are long-established eateries on Tilghman. And there are others. All good.
• Learn more about Tilghman’s long history. Tilghman Island history is bound up in the history of the Chesapeake Bay. At the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum you’ll learn about small town life, the hard work of catching crustaceans and bivalves, and the rise and fall of the local cannery. The best part, in my opinion, is the chance to wander through one of the most interesting house styles every imagined. Tilghman’s W houses (or M houses, depending on how you look at them) allow the sweet breezes to waft through from all angles on a hot summer day.
Crabs and oysters, sailing and history. Ahhh, tranquil Tilghman. I’ll be back soon.
ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman