Marina Spotlights

Marina Spotlight: Rod 'N' Reel Marina

Susan Elnicki

“The Monaco of Southern Maryland” is what developers envisioned in the mid-1800s when they drew up plans for Chesapeake Beach. Only 49 miles southeast of Washington, DC, and 54 miles from Baltimore seemed like a perfect place to build a resort and casino for high-end day-trippers. Fortunately, the area did not live up to that hype, but instead it’s become a fantastic getaway destination for boaters, anglers and families.

Located on the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore, life in this charming town evolves around the water, and Rod ‘N’ Reel Marina is the hub of all the action. With 268 slips (three lift slips included) and four lots dedicated to land storage, the marina accommodates motorboats, sailboats and fishing charter vessels up to 60’ and 23-foot beams. A new tackle shop with big walk-in coolers, tackle, bait and snacks is a handy stop for provisions. The 65’ long Miss Lizzy, the largest headboat in the mid-Chesapeake, is ready to take you out for bottom fishing, private charters, and dolphin or sunset cruises.

The marina is part of a lovely resort complex with amenities that seem unlimited: two restaurants and a dock café, two swimming pools (indoor and rooftop), a sauna, gaming room (gambling became legal here in 2008), business center, 24-hour security, band shell for concerts and more. Fish-cleaning stations are a good sign that charter excursions and fishing tournaments are very popular here. Visitors can also rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and mini catamarans.

The walk to the waterpark is so short that you can wear flipflops, and after lathering up with sunscreen, the kids can play all day on water slides, a sprinkler lagoon, lap pool and lazy river. If your crew prefers sand and waves, go one mile up the shoreline to North Beach to enjoy a boardwalk, shops, pubs, snack shacks and all the attractions of a sweet beach town. For a unique beach experience, drive 27 miles south to Calvert Cliffs State Park, where huge cliffs that were formed 10 to 20 million years ago have eroded and now display prehistoric species including whales, rays and birds. Spend hours digging in the sand for fossils and shark teeth.

When all these activities work up an appetite, next to the marina are several excellent dining options. The 1936 Bar & Grill offers good seafood dishes indoors and outdoors, and the new CBQ restaurant replaces the beloved Smokey Joe’s Grill by serving pulled pork, smoked chicken, ribs and brisket. Cuisine at other eateries around town include Mexican, Chinese and Italian, but your best bet is eating what the local watermen are catching.

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