a tall ship in the bay

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Guide

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the history, culture, and environment of the Chesapeake Bay region.

Located in the charming town of St. Michaels, Maryland, the CBMM offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests.

Whether you want to explore the museum’s 18-acre waterfront campus, learn about the Bay’s maritime heritage, or enjoy a scenic cruise on a historic vessel, you will find something to suit your taste at the CBMM.

What to See and Do at the CBMM

The CBMM has more than a dozen indoor and outdoor exhibits that showcase the rich and diverse aspects of the Chesapeake Bay.

Working Shipyard

This is where you can see the CBMM’s skilled shipwrights and apprentices restore and maintain the museum’s fleet of historic boats, including the 1889 bugeye Edna E. Lockwood, the last sailing bugeye in the world.

You can also watch demonstrations of traditional boatbuilding techniques, such as steam-bending wood and forging metal.

1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse

This is one of only four surviving screw-pile lighthouses in the Chesapeake Bay, and the only one where you can climb to the top and enjoy a panoramic view of the water.

The lighthouse was originally built to guide mariners through the treacherous Hooper Strait, but was moved to the CBMM in 1966 to save it from demolition.

Oystering on the Chesapeake

This exhibit tells the story of the oyster industry in the Bay, from its boom in the 19th century to its decline in the 20th century due to overharvesting, pollution, and disease.

You can see how oysters are harvested, processed, and consumed, as well as learn about the environmental and economic challenges facing oyster restoration today.

Waterman’s Wharf

This exhibit recreates a typical waterman’s shanty, where you can experience the daily life of a Chesapeake Bay waterman.

You can try your hand at tonging or dredging for oysters, crabbing or fishing with a net or line, or sorting and grading seafood.

You can also interact with live animals, such as blue crabs, diamondback terrapins, and horseshoe crabs, in touch tanks.

How to Plan Your Visit to the CBMM

The CBMM is open year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

The museum hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from April through October, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm from November through March.

The admission fee is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students with ID, $6 for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children under 6 and museum members.

The admission fee includes access to all exhibits and a two-day return visit within a week.

The CBMM is located at 213 North Talbot Street in St. Michaels, Maryland. You can reach the museum by car or boat.

If you drive by car, you can park for free at the museum’s parking lot or on nearby streets.

If you arrive by boat, you can dock at the museum’s member-only marina or at one of the public docks in town.

The museum’s dockmaster can assist you with docking arrangements and provide information on local services and amenities.

Activities and Events

The CBMM also offers various programs and events throughout the year that enhance your visit and deepen your understanding of the Bay. Some of these include:

Small Craft Rentals: You can rent kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, or sailboats from the museum’s boathouse and explore the Miles River and its tributaries.

Rentals are available from May through October on weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on weekends from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The rental fee is $25 per hour or $75 per day for museum members, and $30 per hour or $90 per day for non-members.

Winnie Estelle River Cruise: You can take a relaxing cruise on the Winnie Estelle, a 1920 Chesapeake Bay buy boat that was used to transport goods and produce around the Bay.

The cruise lasts about an hour and offers scenic views of the river and its wildlife. The cruise is available from May through October on weekdays at 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, and 2:00 pm, and on weekends at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm.

The cruise fee is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children under 6 and museum members.

Model Guild Sailing Races: This is a series of radio-controlled model skipjack races that are held on select dates from May through November.

The races take place on the museum’s Fogg’s Cove waterfront from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

The races are free to watch for museum visitors and open to anyone who wants to participate with their own model skipjack.

Final Thoughts about Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

The CBMM is more than just a museum. It is a place where you can immerse yourself in the history, culture, and environment of the Chesapeake Bay region.

You can learn about the people who have shaped and been shaped by the Bay, from Native Americans to watermen to boatbuilders.

The museum also educates and inspires the next generation of stewards who will care for and protect the Bay’s future.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your visit to the CBMM today and discover how you can be part of the Chesapeake story!