Dining Out in Maryland

Heya there, folks!

Today I’m all about sharing the wonders of being a local tourist. Meaning, explore your own home turf with curiosity and you’ll find all kinds of joys without needing to go far.

I’ve lived in Montgomery County, Maryland for the last seven years (just on the northern border of Washington DC), and in that time I’ve taken part in all kinds of activities from special events to viewing historic homes to hiking, biking, dining, you get the gist. This is everything within my county and beyond in DC, Virginia, and further out in Maryland.

But it never ceases to amaze me how many spots I still haven’t seen, how many experiences I still haven’t tried, and how may foods I have yet to taste. This weekend I checked off one truly Maryland thing that oddly I hadn’t done (oddly, because it’s right up my alley and I’m not sure why I didn’t make it out before!).

This weekend, I went out to Annapolis (the town of Riva, to be precise), and had a full on Maryland crab feast along the Chesapeake Bay. I ate at Mike’s Crab House and had a feast like none other.

pile of crabs

Though I’d had my share of crab legs, crab cakes, and lots of other crab dishes, I didn’t even realize I’d never had a whole blue crab. The kind where you take the full-on approach of banging, crushing, snapping and ripping to get the meat. The kind where the treasured meat was in the body, not in the legs, like the Snow crab legs I was used to getting — you don’t even see the body of those crabs from my experience at other restaurants.

Trying this blue crab experience just brushed past me before in terms of dining things to do. This is funny because it’s really my kind of thing to check off the list (in my try-everything in life list).

crab feast

(I just love how this photo captures the experience — a table LOADED with food, shells, mallets and drinks. A lively affair!)

I’m so glad I tried this style of dining! It was a messy job, with Maryland’s favorite seasoning, Old Bay, caked onto every shell, a slew of crabs spread across the table, corn, hushpuppies, hands caked in spices and crab juice, and arms getting extra exercise by working the mallet, knife, and the number one tool, my hands. All this for the prized goal to get the most meat from the shell.

Crab with Old Bay

(Me with Colin, my hubs. Can you see the crazy amount of Old Bay on my hands?)

The work it took to get into the crabs meant all the more rewarding to eat the meat. And another thing I wasn’t aware of was that vinegar is the dip of choice for the meat. Then an extra dipping of Old Bay is up for grabs (though this is for the real die hards only, as there’s so much flavor from the spices slathered onto the crabs themselves.

Would I recommend this place? Heck yeah!

And an added tip for you: if there’s a wait for an outdoor table, embrace this, put your name on the list, and head past the flower garden to a tucked away tiki bar. Blended rum runners await.

How to be a local tourist anywhere

Being a local tourist means going to places in your own hometown that you typically wouldn’t do unless you had an outside motivation like an out-of-town visitor. Or when moving from a city, trying to check off any and everything the city has to offer that you haven’t taken advantage of yet. The trick of being a local tourist is to do this without an outside motivator.

How to find the best things to do?

  1. The most touristy fun things are often easy to find on your local convention and visitors bureau website.
  2. Try local magazines for both destinations and events that’ll share a good time.
  3. Don’t overlook the tourist brochures the next time you go into a gas station convenience shop just out of town. They’ll get your juices flowing for new ways you can experience the region near to your home.
  4. Ask around. Your neighbor might just have the key to the best dining or entertainment that you hadn’t even heard of.
  5. Drive…just drive. Find a quaint small town, stop in the nearest coffee shop or diner and inquire about the best thing to do in the area.

What places do you recommend as a local tourist? Would love to hear — please share in the comments below.

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