If you’re spending time in Solomons Island, you need to visit the Calvert Marine Museum. The museum itself is the perfect spot for you and your family to enjoy the day, with interactive exhibits and hands-on learning. It’s equally enjoyable for adults, with year-round special events and big-name concerts to catch. Aside from the main museum facility, the fun at Calvert Marine Museum extends to the Drum Point Lighthouse, a marsh walk, and other outdoor exhibits. You can even take a river cruise on the William B. Tennison. Here’s what I recommend exploring at this unique museum:
14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, MD
The Discovery Room is the perfect place to start your day here. They have an interactive model of the Cove Point Lighthouse where kids can climb up and turn on the light. There’s also a skiff built in the museum’s boat shop where kids can pretend to sail, even steering, using the sails, and lowering the anchor. They can also dig around for real fossils and take one home. The Discovery Room includes touch tanks where little ones can interact with some of the marine life found in the Chesapeake Bay and nearby Atlantic Ocean, including sea stars, turtles, and horseshoe crabs.
Estuarine Biology Exhibit
This exhibit allows visitors to explore the habitats of the diverse marine life found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. They can learn about the formation of the modern Chesapeake Bay while encountering all kinds of wildlife in this exhibit, including skates and rays, and playful river otters.
Maritime History Exhibit
In this exhibit, visitors can learn all about the Patuxent River and how humans have interacted with it over time. From the Pawtuxunt Indians to English settlers in the Colonial period, and even the War of 1812’s mark on this region. You can explore ship models of the workboats, as well as artifacts from the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek which were pulled from the bottom of the river.
The Paleontology Exhibit includes a vast mural including prehistoric fossils on a timeline, highlighting where fossils from the Calvert Cliffs fit in. You can expect to see fossils from sea-shelled animals from the Miocene deposits of Calvert Cliffs as well as other creatures like whales, birds, sharks, fish and land animals. They have a geo-animation video to pair with the fossil mural, showing the geologic changes that took place.
More to Explore
Save time to explore the Marsh Walk on a mild day, where the museum opens its scenic saltmarsh to visitors. This outdoor exhibit showcases the plant and animal communities that inhabit these waters. You might spot traces from creatures like raccoons or opossums, as well as crabs or water snakes below. Great blue herons frequently make an appearance here as well, so keep your eyes open for these stoic creatures.
The Drum Point Lighthouse
On the waterfront of the museum is the grand Drum Point Lighthouse. It’s one of the only three remaining lighthouses of its kind on the Chesapeake Bay (from the original 45). It’s also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the highlight of this waterfront area. It was restored in 1975 and has since been furnished with an authentic early twentieth-century style. Museum visitors can register for guided tours of this spectacular place.
River Cruises on the Wm. B Tennison
You can extend your visit beyond the museum and take a cruise on the Wm. B Tennison. These tours last an hour on the river with sightseeing on the Solomons inner harbor. Tours happen at 2:00PM Wednesday through Sunday from May through October. In July and August, they run additional tours. You can catch their special Father’s Day Evening Cruise this weekend on Sunday, June 16th, from about 5:00 – 6:30PM. They’ll serve hors d’ oeuvres to celebrate this special cruise.
This is by no means an extensive list of all that you’ll find at the Calvert Marine Museum, but it’s a good place to get started. I recommend planning an entire day to explore all they have to offer, and make sure to check out other exhibits like their Mezzanine Changing Exhibit Gallery, currently “Working the Water: Photography by Jay Fleming”, as well as their Wood Carving Shop where you can watch a master woodcarver and model maker in action. After your visit, be sure to explore around picturesque Solomons Island and grab a bite at one of their many delicious eateries.