Eastern Shore Crab & Oyster Trail

Explore Maryland's Eastern Shore while enjoying the fruits of the Chesapeake Bay.

Soft shell crab season begins in early summer. The crabs molt (shed their shells) in the shallow grass beds in the bay close to land. When the watermen’s boats come to the docks in Crisfield, look to see if you can tell the difference between the live hard crabs and soft shell crabs.

Photo By: Clark Vandergrift

Eastern Shore

Places along the way

Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is known for its traditional watermen culture, where locals rise with the sun and work the waters to bring in the day’s catch. Drive the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway to explore picturesque and quaint waterfront towns like Chesapeake City, Rock Hall, St. Michaels, Cambridge and Crisfield where you can find live crabs being loaded from boats to docks, sold at markets and then steamed fresh at waterfront restaurants and served at your table. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

The byway stitches together these waterfront towns, traveling through expansive farmland, ripe with farm stands featuring luscious produce, where the fruits of the land compliment the bounty of the bay. Stop and pick up some fresh-picked corn, peaches or green veggies.

On “the shore” you’ll find everything from casual traditional crab houses, like Woody’s Crab House in North East, to upscale dining at well-known restaurants like Oxford’s Robert Morris Inn or Osprey Point in Rock Hall. For the adventurous, tour an oyster farm, like Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company in Fishing Creek, then check out a raw oyster bar in St. Michaels or Easton. And there are plenty of seafood markets where you can buy and cook your own.  

The beach and dock at Crisfield are a fun place for a photo op

Photo By: Clark Vandergrift, OTD

Discover what it was like to be a traditional waterman through hands-on exhibits at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. The museum includes a working boatyard that aims to pass fading maritime skills onto a new generation of shipwrights.

Get out on the water and take a skipjack tour from Tilghman Island or Cambridge to see oyster dredging first-hand. A variety of Watermen’s Heritage Tours provide an unsurpassed, up close experience where you can catch your own dinner - or at least see how it’s done.

Explore many other seafood restaurants on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

See all Maryland Crab & Oyster Trails.

 

 

 

Wild ponies are regularly sighted on Assateague Island.

Photo By: Frank Forgione

Maryland Lore

Soft shell crabs are the same species as the “hard crabs,” but they have recently shed their shells after outgrowing them. The new shell is papery thin as it first forms.

Photo By: Oyster Recovery Partnership