When I first entered Havre de Grace, I was a bit skeptical. What I thought was going to be a waterfront oasis seemed to be a forgotten ghost town. I drove past abandoned storefronts and wondered what all the fuss was about. I soon realized though, Havre de Grace doesn’t like to give itself away too easily, reserving its charm for those who aren’t discouraged by its initial isolated exterior.
After all, the historic town dates back to the Revolutionary War, christened in 1785 after the French seaport of Le Havre. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River, this spot is the perfect prelude to summer barbecues and beach days, bare feet and boardwalks.
Our first stop was the Concord Point Lighthouse, a well-known focal point and popular spot for boats and fishermen. Built in 1827, it’s one of the oldest lighthouses in continuous operation on the East Coast. It was a grey day, which somehow seemed fitting as my feet dangled over the dock and I took in the salty sea air. The views alone are well-worth the drive, and will remind you of the unique joys of living by the water.
Running alongside the water is the Havre de Grace Promenade, that spans from the lighthouse to The City Marina. Unfortunately, if you want to walk it, you’ll have to leave your pooch at home. But that didn’t stop us from exploring the rocks along the water’s edge and surrounding parks. The area is also a hot spot for bald eagles and water fowl, attracting photographers and bird-watchers.
We then made the short drive to Rochambeau Plaza, located in the center of town offering a mix of eclectic antique shops, art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. It’s fairly small, making it ideal for a quick stroll or an afternoon admiring the old-fashioned. Like many seaside towns, Havre de Grace seemed perpetually suspended in between past and present, with century-old homes just steps away from contemporary frills and fare.
Only 45 minutes from Baltimore, Havre de Grace makes for an easy day or weekend trip. It will see more crowds once summer hits, so if you want to avoid the masses, now’s the time to go! Put on your sunglasses and pack a picnic. Your next water escape awaits.