There's so much to see and do in this sailing capital of the U.S.

Centuries blend in the charming city of Annapolis. Horse-drawn carriages, tiny alleyways adjacent to red brick streets, colonial-era buildings standing shoulder to shoulder… you are transported in time. Most of these streets lead to the City Dock, a harbour where boats and yachts are anchored.

Annapolis, with more surviving 18th Century buildings than any other city in the U.S. is a quiet, beautiful, quaint city. Situated just a hand's throw away from Washington DC, this city is known as the sailing capital of the U.S.

The heritage city is located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, a paradise for water lovers, famous for its crab cakes, lighthouses, and 500 miles of gorgeous shoreline.

It is believed that the city is named in honour of Queen Anne of England. The entire early town is within the designated National Historic Landmark area.

Anne's city

On November 22, 1708, Governor John Seymour, appointed by Queen Anne of Great Britain, granted a charter to Annapolis, making it the oldest incorporated municipality in the State of Maryland. In fact, Annapolis is the only Maryland city whose charter was issued under the royal seal.

During this period, Annapolis was the site of the nation's first state house, the first printing of the Maryland Gazette, the resignation of George Washington, the signing of the Treaty of Paris — which officially ended the American Revolutionary War — and the 1845 founding of the United States Naval Academy.

And, for a short period, between November 1783 and August 1784, Annapolis even served as the capital of the U.S.

The City Dock is the heart of historic downtown Annapolis. The waterside park here is the site of summer band concerts.

Immortalising Roots

At the head of the dock is the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley memorial, commemorating the site where the young African, immortalised in Alex Haley's Roots, was sold into slavery in the 18th Century. The sculpture features a life-size sculpture of Alex Haley reading to children.

The Dock is lined by shops focussing on everything from maritime antiques to designer clothing as well as numerous pubs, restaurants and ice-cream parlours.

It is here that most of the heritage buildings stand. The Market House, Harbour Master's Office, work boats, tour boats, pleasure craft and visiting ships ensure that this area brims with life and activity.

The best way to explore this lovely, quiet city is by foot. As you walk along the cobble-stone streets, quaint souvenir shops and eateries, people wish you as they pass, and dogs, woken up from their slumber, stare lazily at you.

Walk up to the historic Maryland State House, built in 1772. This is the oldest state capital building in the U.S. still in legislative use. The Maryland State House was the first peacetime capital of the U.S. The ‘Archives Room' contains a cross-section model of the State House dome and early photographs.

The adjacent Old Treasury building, built between 1735 and 1737, is the oldest public building in Maryland. It was restored in 1949 and opened to the public.

Before you walk further away, don't miss some of the colonial buildings now designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Gothic facade

For instance, the Banker-Douglass Museum of African-American Life and History housed in the historic first African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1803. It was rebuilt in 1897 after being damaged in a storm. The superb stained glass rose window and Gothic façade make this is a truly antique beauty.

Two other heritage landmarks are Hammond-Harwood House and William Paca House.

Even if you have spent most of the day walking around this city, try and carve out some time to visit the US Naval Academy. The campus includes Beaux-Arts buildings and contemporary architectural structures. The scenic campus, known as the Yard, is a blend of tradition and state-of-the-art technology.

If you're lucky, you may be in time to see the midshipmen sit down for a meal in Bancroft Hall, one of the largest dormitories in the world. You may be able to catch the noon meal formation in Tecumseh Court, where the entire brigade assembles and marches into lunch during the school year.

The other sites inside the Academy are the Navy Chapel with its Tiffany stained-glass windows, the museum that features some of the nation's earliest battle flags, the table on which the agreement was signed for Japan's surrender at the end of World War II, and a collection of model ships considered to be the finest in the world.

Perhaps the best view of the Academy is from aboard the ‘Harbour Queen,' on a regular 40-minute cruise of Annapolis along River Severn. Sailing is more than a hobby with the people here. The cruise will take you past lighthouses and ancient buildings — for some time, to another world altogether.

Don't forget to spend the last leg at West Street, a centre of art and entertainment. From boutiques to vendors selling homemade goods to original paintings and prints by local artists, there are a lot of shopping options here, but also take the time to enjoy the music of street musicians.

And for those who have more time to spare, check into one of the many lovely hotels here and take a drive right through South County.

It is sure to be a charming, tranquil experience.