Tag Archives: Day trip from Washington DC

Getting Crabby (in a Good Way) in Annapolis

Maryland's finest

 

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.

Happy kid having lunch by the Severn

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.

Sibling love on the docks

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.

Ice creeeeam!

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.

 

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Filed under All ages, Destination from DC, Eats, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

The Scoop on The Turkey Hill Experience

The Experience at Turkey Hill begins out front with a giant cow and ice cream container.

 

When you see the words “deal” and “ice cream” in the same email, you’re going to do more than just scan and trash it.  I am, anyway.  So, when I received a message in my inbox from Certifikid a few months ago about a deal for the Turkey Hill Ice Cream Experience, that finger that was grazing the delete button made a fast detour to the mouse, so I could click through and find out more.

Upon checking out the deal, I learned that the Turkey Hill Experience was a new, interactive museum created by the folks from Turkey Hill (of the ice cream brand) located in Columbia, PA.  It sounded fun, and we had a free day the coming weekend, so I asked a friend if her family was interested in meeting us there, and her enthusiastic reply sealed the ice cream deal for us.

Just over four months later, Certifikid is offering a Turkey Hill Experience deal again: $6 for NEW Turkey Hill Experience Admission (2017 Update: It’s now $7).  That’s actually $2 less than I paid per admission.  (But seeing it reminded me that I had yet to post about our family’s visit there, hence the belated scoop on our Experience.)

If only the ice cream truck could have taken us there...

We headed up there on a Sunday, the drive from DC about an hour and 45 minutes.  I thought it would also be fun to visit the Lancaster Central Market, the oldest continuously operated farmers market in the U.S., while we were up that way. But when I looked up the hours the evening before, I was disappointed to learn it is closed on Sundays.

Arriving at Turkey Hill, a large brick building that was an old silk factory, the kids’ excitement was piqued by a giant cow and ice cream container next to the entrance. Once inside, we exchanged our deal vouchers for tickets and headed up a flight of stair to begin our Experience.

Those stairs take you to a landing where a couple of exhibits — large blown-up photos of the Turkey Hill founders and family — offer a history of the company.  But the real Experience starts once you venture through a set of double doors.  It essentially takes you through the production of ice cream with a variety of interactive installments that either explain a concept of or simulate a step in the creamery process.  (It should be noted this is not a tour of an actual creamery, but a kids museum that explains what happens in one.)

An udderly good time (had to!)

It all starts with a cow milking station, where three large mechanical cows are not just on display to look at, but ready to be milked. Equipped with “udders” that can be squeezed and pulled to produce “milk” (it’s actually water), the cows all have small stools next to them where guests can perch themselves and pretend to draw milk from the fake bovines.

The tour continues with more stations that similarly explain the ice cream making process through fun, hands-on activities that appeal to kids.  The Clean Up shows how milk is pasteurized through a game where you can blast away unwanted stuff.  In the Mix & Match station, you can stamp cards with scents to see, or make that sniff, which flavors blend well. Mix Blending describes how all the ingredients come together to make ice cream.

Oh, and I have to mention that there are samples, digital interactives, a milk truck to climb aboard, even a couple of slides and a ball pit, where kids can play and channel some energy and excitement, along the way.

And there are even more stations.  The Flavor Frenzy kept the kids busy for awhile.  It included empty containers of flavoring that they pretended to pour into mixers to create ice cream blends.

Creating his package design

There was a packaging area where, with adult help, they could create a design and name for an ice cream blend. A small room with fans blowing cold air demonstrated the freezing process.  And a popular part of the tour was the on-air area where guests can make their own commercial.

The whole tour took about an hour and kept the kids engaged the entire time. We did keep them moving at a fairly moderate pace, so it could take even longer if you wanted to spend more time.

After the tour we had lunch at the cafe located on the ground floor that offers sandwiches, salads, and, of course, ice cream.  It was fine, but if we had to do it again, I’d probably try to find a restaurant in town to grab a bite to eat. Or I’d plan to go on a day when we could visit the Lancaster Central Market and have lunch there instead.

Stars in training

So, all in all, I do recommend the Turkey Hill Experience if you’re up for the drive and a day trip.  However, I would definitely try to combine it with another activity up that way, whether you visit the Market, explore Amish country, visit a museum, or tour the canning and pretzel factories in Intercourse (which isn’t too far from Blue Ball… ha ha, you gotta love the names of the towns up there).

And with my Beavis and Butt-head moment out of the way, here’s what you should know if you plan to go:

* Admission is $11.50/adults, $9.50 ages 5-17 and seniors, free for children 4 and under.

* For the last few days of December , it’s open 10am-4pm Monday – Thursday, and 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday.  In January and February, it’ll be open daily  11am – 4pm. Beyond that, see the website for hours.

* Certifikid currently has a deal for $6 tickets.

* The Turkey Hill facility is stroller-friendly, with elevators to take you to all levels.

* Ice cream and tea samples will be available along the way, but not extraordinary amounts.

* The whole experience is a bit of a marketing ploy, but it’s a fun, educational, and tasty one.

* Definitely plan for another activity while you are in that area to make the drive worth it.

* As with most venues offering kids activities, crowds are probably smaller on weekdays, but we found it wasn’t too bad on the Sunday we visited.

 

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Filed under All ages, Deal, Destination from DC, Eats, Educational, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend