Weekend Escape: Cambridge, Maryland
Even though I've lived in Maryland my entire life, I had only visited the Eastern Shore a few times. Once as a child to see the wild horses on Assateague Island and some visits to the beach at Ocean City. This time, a friend invited me along with her for a quick two-day getaway and I'm never one to say no to a low-maintenance weekend trip.
We stayed in Cambridge, Maryland, a town in Dorchester County, and loosely planned out some activities. Obviously, the first thing on our agenda was to stuff our faces, but when we headed to historic downtown Cambridge we looked around a bit first.
Downtown Cambridge is small and quaint, with brick streets and beautiful architecture that shows evidence of Southern charm and a British colonial past. It's the kind of place you can tell has a lot of history behind it even if you know nothing about that history.
The Cambridge area is most known as the place where Harriet Tubman grew up as a slave and, after freeing herself, returned to multiple times to free her extended family via the Underground Railroad. On Cambridge's main street, we stopped into the Harriet Tubman museum before finding something to eat.
We had lunch at Jimmie and Sook's, which I highly recommend for seafood. I had the pan-seared rockfish and some oysters, all locally caught. I don't usually order white fish at restaurants because chances are it will be flavorless, but that wasn't the case here. The oysters were huge, not too salty, and also very fresh. After lunch, we headed across the street to Katie Mae's Country Shoppe for some farm fresh ice cream. Basically, everything was fresh.
Our itinerary for the weekend included a lot of history. We had originally planned to drive to Chincoteague Island in the evening to see fireworks, but it was too far, too hot, and we were tired. Instead, we signed up for a ghost tour with Chesapeake Ghosts. The tour led us along a portion of High Street in downtown Cambridge which contains a lot of history for just one block. Our guide, Missy, started at the courthouse and gave us a bit of history (see my previous post for details) along with the ghost story of Bloody Henny, a slave who was hanged there.
We then walked along High Street towards the Choptank River as Missy told us ghost stories mixed with history of the historic mansions and their previous residents. My personal favorite is the story of the LeCompte Curse. The British granted Antoine LeCompte land along the Choptank River, but the Choptank tribe lived on the land and would not leave. So LeCompte invited the chief to his home and the chief brought his two sons. The chief still refused to leave the land, so LeCompte became angry and shot the chief and his sons to death. The story goes that the tribe cursed LeCompte with blindness since he was blind to the ways of peace. Generations of LeCompte men up until today have developed blindness and it is believed that the curse is responsible. Obviously, I support this curse.
The tour ended at the Christ Episcopal Church graveyard, across the street from the courthouse.
The majority of our weekend was spent visiting stops along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. This is a self-guided driving tour that takes you to locations significant to the life of Harriet Tubman and others involved with the Underground Railroad. The courthouse and Harriet Tubman museum in downtown Cambridge are two of the first stops. Read about my full Harriet Tubman UGRR experience and see photos in my previous post.
After an amazing trip to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge (again, more detail on this in my Harriet Tubman UGRR post), my friend and I were exhausted and sweaty from enduring the July heat and unrelenting harassment from biting flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Instead of drinking a lot of water like responsible adults, we headed straight to Layton's Chance Vineyard. It was the right choice because they had wine slushies and we were magically brought back to life by those miracle beverages.
After devouring our wine slushies way too fast, we had to have a flight of five wines for only $3. THREE DOLLARS. A flight of all wines costs $12, but I was driving and in our tired, dehydrated state we didn't want to kill ourselves. If we had been bright and fresh, I wouldn't have minded spending more time there to try all of the wines and then relaxing in the rocking chairs that look out onto the vineyard.
Cambridge and the surrounding area is perfect for a weekend getaway. There's enough to do in a weekend, but not so much that you become overwhelmed. The scenery is beautiful, the people are friendly, and history is everywhere. Despite my past neglect of the Eastern Shore, this may become a go-to destination when I need a quick and convenient break from my daily city life routine.