Maryland's two capitals, present-day Annapolis and the state's first capital, St. Mary's City, are only 86 miles -- and 3 centuries -- apart. Both were founded by people seeking a place to practice their faith in a time of religious persecution. Annapolis thrives today, while St. Mary's City has disappeared. But St. Mary's is reemerging, with archaeological digs and reconstruction of the colony's first town.
Though it's a state capital, Annapolis retains much of its Colonial heritage. The State House is where George Washington resigned as commander in chief and Congress ratified the treaty to end the Revolutionary War. More than 1,500 Colonial buildings are scattered along the narrow brick streets and alleys -- more than in any other town in the country.
It's also a college town, home to the United States Naval Academy and to St. John's College, known for its "Great Books" curriculum.
Lawmakers meet in the General Assembly from January to April. Midshipmen march in "The Yard" every semester. And on most weekends, Annapolis's streets bustle with packed restaurants, bars, and shops. Workboats still seek the shellfish for which the Chesapeake Bay is known. In spring, the pleasure boats arrive. Warm weather brings the festivities to the water's edge, and downtown takes on the air of a casual long-running party.