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August 7-8 

Chesapeake Bay

When you're talking the Chesapeake Bay, you're talking crabs.

Of course, the bay and its environs have a lot more to offer than shellfish, but for a weekend exploring the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore, let's start with the crab.

Fortuitously, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, Md., hosts their Crab Days, a celebration of crabs and the life of the men who catch them, Aug. 7 and 8. There's live music and great food all weekend long, as well as crabbing technique demonstrations. Kids can learn how to crab and catch their own for the crab races, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. (you read that right — and you thought terrier racing at Strawberry Hill was wild!).

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Maritime Museum admission is $7.50, $6.50 for seniors, and $3 for kids 6-17. Kids under 6 get in free, and there are AAA and student discounts (Call (410) 745-2916 for info.). The Crab Day festivities are included in the museum admission. Enjoy the crabs and the museum on Saturday. The museum has lots of exhibits on bay life, the seafood industry, and watermen and bay boats. The museum owns and operates a considerable fleet of bay craft and is the home of one of only three screwpile lighthouses in the country.

St. Michael's is very quaint, if a little on the snooty side, and has some good antiquing and a bunch of bed and breakfasts. The snazziest one is The Inn at Perry Cabin (800-722-2949), just across the water from the museum. Rooms go for $295-$795. Most have a water view, and include breakfast, afternoon tea, use of the croquet lawn and complimentary bicycles.

People with a budget, read on. Easton, the more commercial town adjacent to St. Michael's, has a Best Western, Days Inn and other affordable accommodations.

The museum is sure to be packed, so as the crowds get thick, go a little farther afield. Maryland's Eastern Shore has some great sites. Start by heading to the town of Bellevue, about 15 miles from St. Michael's on Route 13. In Bellevue, catch the Bellevue-Oxford Ferry across the Tred Avon River to Oxford. The ferry is the oldest continually operating private ferry in the country — since 1683 — and you'll have a fun, leisurely ride. (Call 410-745-9023 for info.) In Oxford, meander along sleepy streets and shops to the Robert Morris Inn, a historic inn with an excellent restaurant. Go for lunch or dinner, depending on when you get there. Or both, the food is worth it.

Get back in the car and on the ferry for a trip to nearby Cambridge, home of Annie Oakley's house and a monument at the birthplace of Harriet Tubman, a hero of the Underground Railroad. And after all that history, relax and have a drink at the Wild Goose Brewery, also in Cambridge. Still going strong? Then make Clark W. Griswold proud with a trip to Wye Mills, where the recent Middle East peace accord was brokered. But that's not all. Wye Mills is also the home of Wye Oak State Park. The Wye Oak is the tallest oak in Maryland, and at more than 450-years-old, one of the oldest. The park is the only one-tree state park in the country. And justifiably so.

That's a lot of driving, and a lot of sites to see. But there's more. The best way to get to the shore from Richmond is to take 64 to Norfolk, and cross the Bay Bridge tunnel. That puts you on Route 13, which takes you north all the way to St. Michael's. On the way home, take full advantage of the fruit and vegetable stands that will line the road, stocking up on fresh silver queen corn, tomatoes, Hayman potatoes, and butter beans in particular. And for dinner, near the town of Onancock, stop at Tammy and Johnny's (open on Sundays from 11-8, for more info call (757) 787-1122) for fried chicken and a milkshake. That's guaranteed to put you right where you need to be for the last leg home, exhausted, full of seafood and ready to tackle the week to
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