One of the best ways to get to know a place is to talk with the locals — not only are they familiar with the destination, but they know what makes it special year-round. In Maryland’s Somerset County, this means extending the laid-back, nature-loving way of life into another season.
“Fall in Somerset County is just as good as the summer season; it opens up a brand new set of things to do,” said Clint Sterling, director of Somerset County Recreation, Parks & Tourism. “Fall fishing season is remarkable; the striped bass and speckled trout are coming into the marshes, and there’s nothing like getting out on the water on a crisp autumn day. The cooler salt air clears your lungs and clears your brain.
“There’s also different types of seafood available at our restaurants in fall. The crabs are sweeter and heavier, and oyster season starts in October. You can eat them raw, single-fried, steamed, in a fritter, or in a pot,” he continued.
Sterling added that the 44th Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, which is usually held in the summer, has been rescheduled this year to take place on Oct. 13 at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield.
Those interested in the history of this fishing area can visit Deal Island to see watermen preparing their boats for the season, or check out the Skipjack Heritage Museum, open on weekends, which shows how people have made their living on the Chesapeake Bay for the past 350 years.
“Deal Island is known as the home of the skipjacks, which is a special boat designed to dredge for oysters under sail,” said Sterling. “These 100-year-old boats make up the last commercial sailing fleet in North America and we’re super proud of it. It’s a real labor of love for the people who keep them going.”
He adds that in October, the Burgess Rural Living Center will also open to visitors. This free museum, attached to the county visitors center in Princess Anne, documents rural life from the 1880s.
Fall is still a wonderful time to be on the water, and the county has two private marinas, Goose Creek and Scott Cove, as well as state-run Somers Cove Marina, which are located in prime fishing and sightseeing areas. The county also offers a number of boat ramps free of charge, so it’s easy to get towed vessels afloat.
“Janes Island State Park offers first-class kayaking, and there are miles of clearly marked trails,” said Sterling. “The area still looks like it did 100 years ago; it’s a therapeutic way to just press pause on the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”
Somerset County has a very robust trail system (www.somersettrailmix.com), which includes the Terrapin Run Recreational Trail, a hike/bike trail from Crisfield to Marion that opened in July. The Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway was also recently named part of the federally designated All American Road: Part of the Great Chesapeake Bay Loop, it runs 419 miles from Chesapeake City to Crisfield on country roads along the bay’s edge and makes for an amazing road trip.
“Just because the seasons change doesn’t mean the fun goes away,” said Sterling. “One of the lessons we’ve learned in this pandemic world is that we need a place to get off the grid, and to enjoy some serenity and seclusion. We provide that in so many ways.”
For more information, visit www.playsomersetmd.com.