I owe Not-So-SAHM a huge thank you for prompting a great day out yesterday. She recently posted her ten favorite local spots to play, and topping the list is Cantler’s Riverside Inn, an Annapolis institution for crabs and a fun, relaxing meal by the Severn River.
It had been years since Levi and I had been to Cantler’s, and the kids had yet to go at all. But once I saw it on that top ten list, I couldn’t get it out of my head. We actually had completely different plans yesterday, but as we were about to embark on them, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “How about getting crabs at Cantler’s instead?” Levi didn’t miss a beat; he turned the stroller around, we headed home, hopped in the car, and made our way out to Annapolis. It was on.
We lucked out and got the last outdoor table available when we arrived just before noon, as I heard the hostess tell the family behind us it would be a 35-minute wait for the next one. Owen and Sasha were immediately psyched — they could see boats, kayakers, and ducks from their seats, the waitress laid out butcher paper and handed them both crayons, and the bucket at our table included enough mallets for everyone to pound some claws. Levi and I were even more psyched that we’d get to enjoy our first crabs of the year — at one of the best places for them, no less — and it seemed like we were in for a great time.
Eating crabs is one of those things that can be tricky with young children, at least it has been for us. Delving into a pile of the steamed critters is a commitment — there’s work involved, hands get dirty and caked with Old Bay, and extricating good chunks of meat from a deconstructed crab takes focus. If little ones require hands-on attention, it’s not super easy to switch gears once immersed in crabphoria. It never stopped Levi and I from getting a crab fix, but we had to be strategic about it, taking turns eating and hanging with the kids. (Now writing this, I’m wondering if we’ve just been way too uptight about the whole thing.)
Anyway, it seems the kids are now at ages where it works. At least it did yesterday. And not only did it work, it was wonderful. The crabs were delicious, and we couldn’t have had a better day weather-wise to enjoy a relaxing meal by the water. Levi and I split a dozen extra larges, and Owen and Sasha noshed on fried clam strips, mac-n-cheese, and corn on the cob. And, of course, we gave them claws and mallets to let them do their own crab whacking. Needless to say, we were all very satisfied with the entire dining experience.
After our leisurely lunch, we walked down to the dock for a closer look at the boats, kayaks, and ducks. I could kick myself for forgetting to check out the live crabs in the tanks, but that’s something to do on our next visit. And now that we know we can feast easily with the kids, we’ll definitely be heading back there soon.
Our day trip to Annapolis didn’t end with the crabs. We decided to spend some time downtown, since we were all the way out there, and it had been awhile since our last visit. Mainly, we walked around by the water, checking out boats, the Alex Haley memorial, and an old ship docked there (though I’m not sure which). We then strolled up Main Street and stopped for ice cream cones at Kilwin’s, which the kids enjoyed right next door in the small lot containing a few benches, big painted wooden flowers, and a hopscotch board painted in the middle.
Our visit to Annapolis was not nearly long enough — we had to get home for late afternoon plans — but that just gives us even more reason to go back, both to hang out downtown and have us another fine crab feast.
Cantler’s Riverside Inn is located at 458 Forest Beach Road in Annapolis. Their hours are 11am – 11pm Sunday – Thursday, and 11am – 12am Friday and Saturday. It gets crowded fast, so arrive early for lunch if you want to sit outside without having to wait awhile for a table. And parking is limited, so there could be a wait for that, too.
Kilwin’s is located at 128 Main Street in downtown Annapolis. Hours are 10am – 10pm Sunday – Thursday, and 10am – 11pm Friday and Saturday. Be prepared for a line on a nice, sunny day.