New York City, Miami, Hollywood: all three are top tourist cities in America. Places with glitz and glamour, landmarks, amusement parks, and beaches are usually where people flock to go on vacation. As my family was looking for a home away from home, I found that the bustling tourist attractions are not always the best places to enjoy a getaway.
In the summer of 1998, my parents decided that they wanted to get a glimpse of a relaxing environment, but not just a temporary glimpse but a permanent one. We were in the market for a shore house: a place we could go to on weekends to take a mental vacation. My parents wanted something by the Chesapeake Bay, so we centered our search in Maryland. A quaint little town stood out in all of our searching. It was a town where the bay splashed against the shore from morning until night. North East, Maryland is a tiny bay front town where everyone knows each other. Without much hesitation, we bought a townhouse in North East Isles, a condominium and townhouse development on the outskirts of town. The town itself has been a beautiful landscape to my family, friends, and I for over ten years. There is something there for everyone who wants to do nothing more than just relax and enjoy nature.
Upon entering North East, you get a fresh “taste” of what the town is all about right away. On the right hand side of the entrance of town is a shack no larger than half of a pizza joint that serves over 100 flavors of snow cones. The main street reminds me of an old western town, because it is barely over a mile long with houses and not much more than a bank, a dollar store, a deli, and a few shops. The shops make North East a unique place because they are not the typical shops America has to offer. There is a book store that invites anxious historians to search the shelves that are filled with novels and stories that date back to the 1800’s. Right across the street is a small cabin that sells collectible Christmas items all year round. On the main drag also lies “5 and 10,” which is the most unique store of them all. It is an antique store that still sells their candy for a dime. The owners of the shop created the two story building to mesmerize those who enjoy everything from old coca-cola bottles, to toys from the early 1900s, to an old organ that was in use decades ago. Though the feel of the town is very localized, there is one restaurant that attracts travelers from near and far. “Woody’s Crabhouse” is a favorite to those that enjoy the succulent taste of shrimp and the creamy taste of crab bisque. The atmosphere is so casual that guests are given peanuts upon their arrival and may toss the shells right on the floor.
North East is famous for its serene environment though. Our development offers a picturesque scene of beauty. Standing on the porch of our townhouse you can see the bay calmly streaming towards the two peninsulas that are adjacent to our view. I spent a countless number of times exploring the two “islands” as I used to think of them as a child. My friends and I would find sea creatures of all sorts mixed with buried treasures. Most of that “treasure” was someone else’s trash, but as kids we didn’t care; it was a fun adventure. Looking out over our balcony during the wintertime, you could also see hundreds of geese flocking on top of the bay, because the water is all frozen over with ice. There is also a pier right behind our development which gives a home to dozens of boats in the spring and summer months. There were many sunny days where my family and I would pack a picnic lunch and take a long ride on our boat. It was always very peaceful as our boat would glide in the water, leaving our stress and worries back on land. We would have a blast riding over the waves and touring new destinations all the time. One of my favorite places was called “The Flats.” It was a spot smack dab in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay where the water was never deeper than three feet. My family, friends, and I would love taking the few mile trip there on our boat, getting into the water with a few drinks, and feeling as though time was standing still.
One of the most glorifying sights to see while in North East is Turkey Point Lighthouse. Just a few miles past the town starts a mile path through nature’s pure beauty. The walking path leads you through a forest while overlooking the Chesapeake. Once the end of the path is reached, there lies a lighthouse that overlooks the bay and sits on the edge of a cliff. My friends and I have taken this path to the lighthouse to see the sunrise and the sunset. Both are indescribable scenes of stunning magnitude. I have seen couples proposing near the lighthouse as well as other families taking their children to enjoy what nature really has to offer.
If all of those things don’t appeal, there is a town called Havre De Grace (which is Maryland’s “Cape May”), just a few miles west of North East. It is a small town on the water where every house has architecture like the Victorian houses you would see up in Maine. It is a town where many people live after retirement because of its quiet atmosphere. On the other side of North East is Wilmington, De., where one can find numerous shopping outlets that would be of great interest to the average American shopper.
The main reason I recommend North East though simply has to do with the relaxation factor. Every few months for many years, my two best friends and I would go down to the townhouse for the weekend. We all were in school and had part time jobs, so going away for a weekend would let us relax our minds. We would spend most of our time just sitting by the fireplace and catching up on old times. Those are the times that I remember most about my time in North East, just the fact that I could go down there and let my mind drift away from the realities of life. Unfortunately given the troubling economic times we are living in, my family had to get rid of our townhouse this year. It was hard to let it go because of the endless memories we had made there in 13 years, but all good things must come to an end.
So next time you want to get away for a weekend, try somewhere new. Instead of going to the crowded beaches of Wildwood or Ocean City, try the quiet and more peaceful town of North East, Maryland. You won’t regret it.
Adam Anders is a fourth year student majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA652656@wcupa.edu.