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The Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay's blue crabs, oysters, and endless waterways figure prominently in our American iconography, but figuring out where to touch down in this idyllic area can be intimidating. Talbot County is a perfect introduction, with its 600 miles of shoreline and charming small towns, including Easton, Saint Michaels, and Oxford. Each is filled with antiques shops, gardens, historical homes, and restaurants high and low, which is why the region has long been a weekend destination for Baltimore and D.C. natives. It's farm country abutting the water -- a landscape as romantic as you imagine it to be.
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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
At these 12 waterfront buildings over 18 acres, you can learn the history of the oyster and crab industries, take a historic-boat cruise, and be a drop-in boat-building apprentice for a day!
213 North Talbot Street, Saint Michaels, cbmm.org.
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The Crab Claw
This local institution, opened in 1965, is a must-stop. Commit to the messy-but-worth-it blue-crab extravaganza, but also try the award-winning crab cakes, buckets of steamed clams, and signature cheese-and-pickles platter to start.
(Open mid-March to November.) 304 Burns Street, Saint Michaels, thecrabclaw.com.
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The Inn at Perry Cabin
With its four public gardens, elegant but cozy decor, and pet-friendly policy, it's a hotel so lovely, you may never want to leave. The elegant restaurant, Sherwood's Landing, is a treat for dinner; don't miss the Smith Island cake (the state dessert). Another sweet touch: nightly cookies in your room from Mrs. Gussy, who's been making them for 24 years.
308 Watkins Lane, Saint Michaels, perrycabin.com.