Blackwater: Where to Go, What to Know

Sunday, April 20, 2008; P08

Travel staffer Christina Talcott recently biked her way through an Eastern Shore wildlife refuge. Her reporter's notebook:

DRIVE TIME About 2 hours from Beltway

COST $25 bike rental $64 hotel $1 for Wildlife Drive $90


Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is 10 miles south of Cambridge and about two hours from the Capital Beltway. Take Route 50 east across the Bay Bridge and follow it into Cambridge. The refuge is on Key Wallace Drive, off Route 341 south.


· America's Best Value Inn (2831 Ocean Gateway, 410-221-0800,, just east of Cambridge, is simple but clean. Rooms start at $54.95 a night.

· The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay (100 Heron Blvd. at Route 50, 410-901-1234, features indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, a golf course and a spa. Rooms start at $239.


· Cambridge's Bistro Poplar (535 Poplar St., 410-228-4884, is the new kid on the block -- and the swankiest. This French restaurant, which opened in January, features a classic bistro menu daily at lunch and dinner. Entrees are $18 to $24, with wines by the glass from $5.

· The classic Cambridge Diner (2924 Old Route 50, 410-228-8898) is an institution, with Italian dishes and diner standards: Blintzes are $6.19, veal parmigiana is $13.99 and a cup of coffee is $1.29.


· Visit the refuge. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (2145 Key Wallace Dr., 410-228-2677, and its Wildlife Drive are open daily from dawn to dusk. The refuge has regular guided bird walks and other events.

· Paddle. My thwarted kayak trip was scheduled with Peake Paddle Tours (410-829-7342 or 410-924-5290,; it leads four- to five-hour trips starting at $100 (includes tour, kayak, equipment and snack) throughout the Chesapeake Bay region from April to October.

Note: If you want to get out on the water, do it in the spring or fall, as summertime mosquitoes can make Blackwater unpleasant.

· Pedal. Easton Cycle & Sport (723 Goldsborough St., Easton, 410-822-7433, rents bikes for $25 a day. It also rent kayaks starting at $55. Blackwater Paddle & Pedal Adventures (4303 Bucktown Rd., 410-901-9255, rents bikes ($25 a day) and kayaks (from $45 a day); three-hour guided bike tours are $55 and include rental and lunch.

· Explore Cambridge. The city's decades-long economic and racial struggles have overshadowed its glory days as a port town and national canning hub, but shop owners and restaurateurs have been trickling in to revive the downtown. For some local history, visit the Harriet Tubman Museum (424 Race St., 410-228-0401; free) to learn about her life and her legacy.


Dorchester County Tourism,410-448-1000,