By Bob Tagert
Solomons Island, MD
With the weather taking a permanent change to the warmer temps, I thought it a good time to explore Solomons Island, Maryland. May ushered in the 36th annual opening of the famous Tiki Bar, which also signals the official beginning of summer on the island. The three-day party that is attended by thousands begins on Friday and continues until Sunday. Solomons is the ultimate destination, but the trip from Alexandria is part of the fun.
“From the White House to the Light House” is a popular phrase because you can literally get on Route 4 (Pennsylvania Avenue) in front of the White House and take it all the way to Solomons, Maryland – the home of Drum Point Lighthouse. Once outside the Capital Beltway you will soon run into a less populated environment. Old wooden barns and roadside vegetable stands will begin to appear. By now, fields have been plowed and the new crops will begin to appear. As you continue south on Route 4 you will pass through the towns of Upper Marlboro, Dunkirk, Huntington, and Prince Frederick. Each town has its own charm with Prince Frederick being the largest town. After passing through Prince Frederick you will come to Broomes Island Road, which will lead to Stoney’s at Broomes Island-which sits on Island Creek and looks out on the Patuxent River.
Whether by boat or by car, Stoney’s at Broomes Island has long been one of the areas great draws. Famous for their crab cakes, Stoney’s is a perfect stop over for lunch and joining the many locals at their Tiki Bar while looking out over the creek. The drinks of choice here seem to be a cold beer or an Orange Crush made with fresh squeezed orange juice. The restaurant has indoor seating and loads of outdoors dining. “The Point” is a fairly new part of this Stoney’s location. It boasts a panoramic view of the waterfront, complete wit waterfalls and lush landscaping. There is often live entertainment on The Point and the area can be rented out for special events including weddings. It is a fabulous place to have an adult birthday party!!
If you happen to be there on a Saturday or Sunday and you see an energetic brunette beauty behind the bar that makes the Eveready Bunny look like he is standing still, that would be Jeannie Stone – the owner. Say hi and tell her that you read it here in the Crier. Taking in the scenery can be mesmerizing, but we need to head to Solomons.
Making your way back to Route 4 and then heading south, you will arrive in Solomons in about 20 minutes. The Patuxent River and Back Creek border Solomons Island. The Patuxent River empties into the Chesapeake Bay about two miles east of the island. The abundance of water makes Solomons an ideal water paradise. There are small boats to rent for fishing. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are available for rent as well, and the calm waters of the creeks are an ideal place for exploring.
Originally called Bourne’s Island (168010, then Somervell’s Island (1740), Solomons takes its name from 19th century Baltimore businessman Isaac Solomon, who established a cannery and oyster business there shortly after the Civil War. In the 19th century, shipyards developed to support the island’s fishing fleet. The Marsh Shipyard built schooners and sloops but became famous for its bugeyes, the forerunner of the skipjack. In the War of 1812, Commodore Joshua Barney’s flotilla sailed from here to attack British vessels on the Chesapeake Bay. The deep, protected harbor has been a busy marine center ever since.
During World War II, because of its deep water and short beaches, the island was chosen by the Allied command as the site for training amphibious invasion forces. The lessons learned at Solomons proved invaluable on D-Day, at Tarawa, Guadalcanal and in numerous other military operations. Coincidentally, many of the servicemen who trained at the Solomons base in Maryland were sent to fight in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The town now welcomes tourists with numerous marinas, seafood restaurants, gift shops and galleries (be sure to check out Carmen’s for beautiful artwork), a boardwalk along the Patuxent River, Annemarie Sculpture Garden, the Calvert Marine Museum where visitors can climb atop a former lighthouse, harbor cruises, and occasional outdoor concerts by national acts. Chris Young is performing June 4 and Toby Keith June 17.
The Annemarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center is a Smithsonian-affiliated forested sculpture park where creations by major sculptors are on exhibit. Most sculptures are on loan from the National Gallery of Art or the Hirshhorn Museum. The site is both a family-friendly place with educational activities for children and a host of world-class professional artwork, including pieces by Picasso, Matisse and Miro.
The dining and drinking options are numerous. The Tiki Bar is more of the occasional visitor or tourist and the only food is next door at Grill Sergeants BBQ (this place is the bomb). Across the adjacent parking lot where the fishing boats are gathered is Charles Street Brasserie. Here you will find fewer young people and the pace is slower than the rest of the island and the interior has a late 40’s early 50’s vibe and the food is very good too!
As you come on to the island (15 feet of water pass between the river and the creek), the first restaurant you will come to on the left is Stoney’s Kingfisher’s. I have good friends here on both sides of the bar and it is a good stop for that crab cake. A short distance down from King Fishers is Stoney’s new addition…the Striped Rock, named after Maryland’s number one sport and game fish, the Striped Bass or “Rockfish”.
Even though the Stoney’s name is on all of the three restaurants and serves the seafood that Stoney’s is famous for, each restaurant has also developed their own identity with different menus. Not to be left out, either on your way to Solomons or home, you can always stop at the Stoney’s in Prince Frederick for a quick bite or food to take home. Its only drawback is that it is in a mall and really doesn’t have the ambiance that the other locations have. You will find a great crab cake on their menu as well.
While Solomons is an easy day trip, my recommendation is that you make arrangements to spend the night. There is a Hilton Garden Inn, a Comfort Inn, a Holiday Inn and several cute B&B’s nearby. If you stay the night and are looking for a good breakfast, two of my favorites are Anglers Inn behind the Comfort Inn on Back Creek or Hidden Harbor on the east side of Back Creek on the Calvert Marina property. The Striped Rock also serves breakfast. All have outdoor dining and wonderful views.
Space is running out for me to go on, however, there are lots of other sites to see and activities to take part in both on the way to the Island and on the Island! For information on what is happening in and around Solomons, check out ChooseCalvert.com! Bring on the sun!