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Crab cakes, anyone?Crab cakes, anyone?

Kent Island, MarylandKent Island, Maryland

If you’ve flown over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, you’ve seen Kent Island. If you love good seafood and especially crab cakes but haven’t landed there, you’ve been missing out! As a pilot, you can choose from two airports and enjoy fly-in dining from either one.

  • Dave Hirschman (in front) and former AOPA President Phil Boyer (in back) fly Boyer’s beautiful red Waco over Kentmorr Airpark on Kent Island, Maryland. Photo by Christopher Rose.
  • Within an easy walk from the Bay Bridge Airport, you’ll find good crab cakes at the Kent Island Depot, inside this mini-mart. Photo courtesy Kent Island Depot.
  • Hemingway’s has great seafood and panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay, just north and west of the airport. Photo courtesy Hemingway’s.
  • Stevensville Crab Shack is just northeast of the Bay Bridge Airport. Their steamed crabs are made the traditional way. Photo courtesy Stevensville Crab Shack.
  • Each autumn, millions of waterfowl follow the Atlantic Flyway to the Chesapeake to spend winter feasting on the Bay’s rich abundance. A pair of blinds just off the trail in Terrapin Beach Park allow you to spy on the osprey, ducks, geese, and swans that hang around the tidal pools. Photo courtesy NPS.
  • Kent Manor Inn guests have complimentary access to bicycles. Explore the Terrapin Beach Park, which includes over 4,000 feet of shoreline and 73 acres of wetlands. The trail meanders through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands, and sandy beaches. A gazebo and boardwalk, located along the beach, afford a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay. The trail connects to the County’s Cross Island Trail system. Photo courtesy NPS.
  • The Bridges Restaurant overlooks the Kent Narrows from Maryland’s eastern shore and is open daily for lunch and dinner. Photo courtesy Bridges Restaurant.
  • For over 30 years, The Narrows Restaurant has featured Eastern Shore classics with contemporary cuisine. Photo courtesy The Narrows Restaurant.
  • Cream of Crab soup from The Narrows. Photo courtesy The Narrows Restaurant.
  • The Narrows’ award-winning jumbo lump crab cake and steak paired with asparagus. Photo courtesy The Narrows Restaurant.
  • The Kent Manor Inn dates to 1820. The 220-acre property was originally part of the tract granted to Thomas Wetherall in 1651. Kent Island has deep roots in Maryland history. Kent Fort, founded in 1631, is the third oldest English settlement in the country, after Jamestown and Plymouth. The island later developed into a major seafood packing and processing area. Photo courtesy Kent Manor Inn.
  • Picture yourself curled up in front of this fire with a delicious novel. Guests who’d rather be more active enjoy complimentary use of bicycles, kayaks, and a seasonally-heated outdoor swimming pool. Photo courtesy Kent Manor Inn.
  • A Sunday buffet brunch is even more delectable when enjoyed in such a fine setting. Photo courtesy Kent Manor Inn.
  • The Inn at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, right across from the Bay Bridge Airport, opened in 2015. The Inn features luxurious guest rooms and suites, two locally-inspired restaurants, and a full-service spa and salon. Photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.
  • Fly your sweetheart to one of Kent Island’s two airports. Enjoy the crab cakes, stroll along the waterfront, and watch the sun set over the bay. Who knows where your getaway will lead? Photo by Alyssa Cobb.

Kent Island sits at the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which connects Maryland’s eastern and western shores. Bay Bridge Airport lies just south of the bridge, on the island’s western shore. The Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area (DC SFRA), which forms a circle with a 30-nautical-mile radius of the DCA Vortac, begins about 3 nm west of the airport. Because the airport is outside the DC SFRA you can fly to it without having to file a flight plan, talk to Potomac Tracon, or squawk a discrete transponder code (VFR flight following is always a good idea, though). However, all pilots-in-command who fly within a 60-nm radius of the DCA Vortac must complete an FAA online training course, required by 14 CFR 91.161, to become familiar with operations in and around the DC SFRA. After you complete the free course, print your receipt and bring it with you. And unless you plan to fly within the DC SFRA, take care to stay outside its borders. When departing Bay Bridge Airport from Runway 29, a right turn back toward the east will keep you farther away from the DC SFRA than a left turn.

Excellent crab cakes are just a two-minute walk from the airport at the Kent Island Depot, which is actually a gas station and mini-mart with a deli inside. Plenty of other sandwiches are available, as well as a case full of fresh-baked desserts and a large selection of wines. For a more upscale environment, walk counterclockwise around the east and north perimeters of the airport and, in 15 to 20 minutes you’ll arrive at Hemingway’s. Savor their broiled crab cakes and other delights out on the patio or inside. Either way you’ll have panoramic views of the bay and the bridge. The Stevensville Crab Shack is just past the northeast corner of the airport. Open mid-March through late November, they specialize in the other great Kent Island culinary delight—steamed crab—although shrimp, oysters, clams, and rockfish share the menu.

The crab cake sandwich at Kent Island Depot. Photo courtesy Kent Island Depot.

The 276-acre Terrapin Nature Park is just north of the bridge. A 3.25-mile oyster chaff walking trail meanders through meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands, and sandy beaches; it connects to the County’s Cross Island Trail system. Two observation blinds overlook the tidal ponds where waterfowl often spend the winter.

You can grab an Uber or contact Kent Island Sedan Services to visit any of the numerous restaurants that lie along Maryland’s eastern shoreline, just across the bridge east of Kent Island. These include The Jetty Dock Bar, Bridges Restaurant, Fisherman’s Inn, Big Owl Tiki Bar, Narrows Restaurant, Harris Crab House, and Annie’s Paramount Steak and Seafood House. Buttery crab cakes and crab soup are specialties at the Narrows, but you’ll also find juicy steaks, rack of lamb, and much more, along with fabulous views. The Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center is also located on the Kent Narrows waterfront.

Phil Boyer and Dave Hirschman approach Runway 10 at Kentmoor Airpark. Photo by Christopher Rose.

Check your sectional and you’ll see another public airport on Kent Island, just 4 nm south of Bay Bridge Airport. Kentmorr Airpark has a 2,400-by-75-foot grass strip; friendly residents welcome visitors. Note that the DC SFRA begins just 1.6 nm west of Runway 10/28. Enter left traffic for Runway 28 from the east by flying upwind and turning crosswind over the shoreline of the bay. Just minutes after you tie down, you can be walking in to the Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House, founded in 1954 by Bill Morris, who also built Kentmorr Airport. Many people swear these are the island’s best crab cakes, served broiled or deep-fried. Kentmorr is known for their steak and crab, too. A few blocks south of the airport, the Blue Heron Golf Course is an 18-hole, par 63 course opened in 1959.

Kent Island has numerous accommodations, but two are outstanding. The historic Kent Manor Inn, about a mile from the Bay Bridge Airport, was built in 1820 and restored to perfection; indulge in their Sunday buffet brunch. The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, directly north of the Bay Bridge Airport, was built in 2015 and features two restaurants and a spa. So, fly in for the day or stay the weekend—you can’t go wrong on Kent Island!

The Blue Heron Golf Course is a short walk from Kentmoor Airpark. Photo courtesy Blue Heron Golf Course.

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Crista Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. She has single-engine land and sea ratings. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association. To suggest future destination articles, send an email to [email protected]
Topics: US Travel

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