Central and eastern Maryland live for the water. During the summer, Marylanders crowd on dock bars from Baltimore to Ocean City, along the Chesapeake Bay and all the tributaries, to drink fun summer beers and cocktails, enjoy views of the water, and be happy that summer has finally arrived. Here are the seven best dock bars to check out in Maryland.
Harborside Bar and Grill
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
The Harborside Bar and Grill’s claim to fame is as the birthplace of the Orange Crush, Maryland’s unofficial summer cocktail. If you are going to Ocean City this summer, it’s worth stopping at Harborside so that you can say you’ve had the original crush experience. The dock bar is also just a fantastic place to hang out with friends. The atmosphere is relaxed, with lots of people who are ready to have a summer party.
Mike’s Crab House near Annapolis is a great place to get your summer party going. Located along the South River with beautiful views of the water, Mike’s has become a tradition for good crabs and Orange Crushes by the bucket-full. Their sister restaurant, Mike’s Crab House North, lies in Pasadena off the Patapsco River and also has picturesque views of the water from its deck, plus a tiki bar.
A lot of times, crabs and deck bars seem to go together, which makes sense since they are both summertime staples in Maryland, and crabs are so messy that you have to eat them outside. The Crab Claw in St. Michaels, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, has been open seasonally since 1965 and is a wonderful place for a seafood lunch. The inside ends up feeling a little like a deck too, since the building does look a bit like a crab shack, but there is also plenty of outdoor seating at picnic tables.
Located on Bear Creek in Dundalk, Hard Yacht Cafe can also help you escape the mundane week with a dock-side treat. There are not a lot of frills with the outdoor seating, but you’ll be able to get cocktails and summer beers at a good price—and all underneath palm trees. They offer a typical American food menu, live music six nights a week, and cheap bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys during the weekend brunch.
If you want to give out-of-town guests a real Maryland experience, or are passing through the Baltimore area and want that for yourself, then check out Nick’s Fish House. Located in the soon-to-be-developed Port Covington area and right on the Patapsco River, Nick’s has a variety of seafood for any level of adventurous eater. Although their crab prices tend to be on the higher side, you can get steam pots with just a few crabs. You’ll also find crab cakes, fish platters, and raw bar items. If you have a large party, make sure to call for reservations in advance. The dock bar offers scenic views of the river, making you feel like you were away for the weekend instead of on the outskirts of Baltimore.
Just after you’ve crossed the Bay Bridge and arrived on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, you might spot lots of little restaurants and bars overlooking the water in Grasonville, Maryland. One place worth stopping at is The Jetty. You can grab a drink and take in views of Kent Narrows or have a seat and enjoy some fresh crabs and seafood. Once the sun goes down, the party really starts, with live bands and people packed on the dance floor.
If you are in the Baltimore area and need to escape to the tropics, head to Sunset Cove. The deck bar along the Middle River will immediately transport you to places with sweet drinks, refreshing beer, and ocean breezes. The palm trees and sand right on the water are a perfect place to try a variety of crushes, from traditional orange to less tradition creamsicle, plus tiki cocktails.