Anyone wishing to locate a romantic getaway in February would be hard-pressed to find a lovelier spot than the Tidewater Inn in Easton, Maryland. Reachable from Potomac in less than two hours off-season, the Tidewater offers a cozy and unpretentious bed and breakfast that is loaded with history and class.
Those in-the-know about Maryland’s Eastern Shore recognize Easton as a relaxed, small town that happens to be jam-packed with charming shops, art galleries, restaurants and even several wineries. It is also the county seat of Maryland’s Talbot County where its district and circuit courts reside. The town also boasts the historic Avalon Theatre, originally built as a cinema in 1921 but which today serves as the prime venue of the mid-shore area for performing arts.
The Tidewater Inn, long a beloved landmark in Easton, started as a hotel dating back to 1891. It has known several owners through the years and operated under several names, included the Avon Hotel, when it was destroyed by fire in 1944. However, a gentleman named A. Johnson Grymes broke ground on the Tidewater Inn in 1947 where it still resides today. The grand opening of the Inn saw 4,000 guests celebrating its completion in 1949.
According to the Tidewater’s General Manager Lauren Catterton, the Inn welcomes people from all over including New Jersey, New York and DC. Many families decide to hold wedding receptions and even the wedding ceremony at the Inn, sometimes taking over its 91 rooms with their guests. In fact in its 70 years of existence over 1,000 wedding celebrations have taken place here. The receptions can occur in the Gold Ballroom (which can accommodate up to 220 people seated and 375 reception style) or the Crystal Room (which can accommodate 120 seated or 200 people reception style). The facility also offers a private garden courtyard or a sailcloth-tented Gold Room Garden pavilion for weddings. Smaller spaces are available for rehearsal dinners and post-wedding brunches. If you are planning a wedding you are encouraged to book early – they are already taking reservations for 2021! The Grand Bridal Tasting on February 22 will include all contracting bridal families and is certain to be a festive affair. An on-site salon, Studio2, is another plus offered to brides and bridesmaids on their wedding day.
The Tidewater enjoys celebrating the seasons and Easton is home to the annual Waterfowl Festival in November as well as hosting a caroling sing-a-long and tree-lighting ceremony in December. Romantic carriage rides are offered in Easton as well. When the weather warms up visitors can catch runners participating in Cambridge’s triathalon and other races zooming through the town.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Tidewater is offering the entire month of February for visitors to “celebrate love, unplug, relax and reconnect.” Its Valentine Getaway package includes overnight accommodations for two, a bottle of champagne in the guest room and a $50 gift card to Hunters’ Tavern, the hotel’s main dining room. A continental breakfast, coffee and mimosas will be delivered to the guest room.
It is probably a good idea to book a room early for Valentine’s Day because for the first time Easton is hosting a Fire and Ice Festival with the Tidewater Inn serving as one of the sponsors. Taking place from February 14 – 16 the festival will feature dozens of ice sculptures throughout Easton’s historic district. According to the Discover Easton Website, https://discovereaston.com/ the week-end will kick off with a Friday night Ice Block Party on Valentine’s Day which will include live music and entertainment, and a grand ice carving demonstration where spectators can watch carvers design 3,000 pounds of ice into a unique work of art. A tour of other ice sculptures is ongoing throughout Friday evening and Saturday and ends Sunday at noon when the festival finishes with sculptors smashing their creation to pieces during the “Ice Breaker Party”.
Visitors during the Valentine’s Day week-end should surely visit the inn’s restaurant, Hunters’ Tavern, which often garners rave reviews from diners. Although its crab cakes and other offerings of seafood are popular menu choices, its unique specialty item is a definite crowd-pleaser: Snapper Soup. It is the creation of Chef Raymond Copper who has worked at the Inn for over 50 years. He inherited the recipe from his grandparents, which he tweaked to make his own. It is made once a week with Eastern Shore turtles, called snappers, covered in a tomato-based broth. Even a non-adventurous eater like this writer will testify that it is delicious. Inside the tavern is the newly-renovated Skipjack Bar, a popular gathering spot for week-day happy hours. A brunch on Saturday and a la carte breakfast on Sunday also take place in the tavern.
Finally travelers wishing to find a smaller and more intimate experience in Easton should definitely visit the Tidewater House -- previously called the Inn at 202 Dover-- an historic mansion built in 1874 which is just one block from the Inn, which it purchased in the spring of 2019. The Tidewater House contains four suites and one guest room. With names such as “The English Suite,” “The French Suite,” “The Asian Suite” and “The Safari Suite” guests can enjoy newly-renovated rooms furnished with antiques or authentic reproduction furniture that would look right at home in Architectural Digest. Modern conveniences including air jet tubs, cable TV and steam showers are included.
Both the rooms in the Tidewater Inn and the Tidewater House are currently being renovated to keep them fresh and up-to-date. The completion of one last item – The Terrace Spa – will offer even more opportunities to relax and savor the good life courtesy of the Tidewater Inn.