We've got your next Maryland date night or girls' night all planned out!

Now that spring is here and summer is on its way, there are so many things to do in Maryland and beyond! We’ll be celebrating these fun activities with a new series called “Dinner & …” Each article will pair a delicious restaurant with a fun activity. We hope to give you some fun places to spend your time in Maryland!

Dinner

In downtown Annapolis, a few blocks from the docks, lives the Boatyard Bar & Grill. Though this local hangout doesn’t officially reside on the waterfront, its décor perfectly reflects the boating atmosphere of the Annapolis docks. Between the expansive bar, the sailing paraphernalia, and the tall ceilings, you get the feeling you’re in an old boat shed. The only difference here is that this boat shed serves up delicious seafood and other favorites.

boatyard bar and grill

On the Saturday that we were there, the joint was hopping thanks to the first weekend of sunshine and warm weather. Rather than wait the hour it would take to find a table, we were quick enough to snag a seat at the well-stocked bar. Judging by the number of people enjoying their food at the bar, it seemed to be a good plan. While only two bartenders were manning the bar, they managed to serve everyone in record time and still have time to chat with the regulars.

boatyard bar and grill

Because we live in Maryland, where seafood is king, the Boatyard’s menu consists of mostly seafood dishes. But in addition to seafood, the restaurant also serves burgers, salads, and homemade pizzas (with made-from-scratch crusts, including a cauliflower crust for gluten-free customers). I chose the fish tacos – electing the fried cod instead of the grilled Mahi. They were fresh and delicious! My friend chose the special clam and corn stew, as well as a pizza. Both also received high marks from her.

The restaurant’s drink list is also expansive, including many draught beers and specialty drinks. While I’m not a drinker, I can attest that the iced tea I had was delicious. Though our food and drinks came out quickly, we never felt rushed. We were content to sit at the bar and chat with other patrons and watch the baseball game on television.

Boatyard bar

As far as local places go, the Boatyard Bar & Grill seems to be one of the best in the city. They have a friendly staff, a great atmosphere, and an extensive and delicious menu. And if that’s not enough to sway you, according to the article (strangely) hanging in the restroom, Boatyard Bar & Grill is on the top 10 list of the best boating bars in the world. So, if you’re looking for a bite to eat in Annapolis, wander away from the docks a bit, and head down to Boatyard. You won’t be sorry!

Boatyard Bar & Grill | 400 4th Street, Annapolis MD, 21403 | Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week | www.boatyardbarandgrill.com

& …

After dinner, we decided to wander to Main Street to get crafty with a bit of pottery painting at The Clay Bakers, a quaint paint-your-own pottery studio that's been in Annapolis since 2009.

Clay Bakers studio

While the space is small, it’s always so inviting -- especially if you’re a crafty type like me. Down one entire wall there are dozens of choices of items to paint, as well as a few more down another wall. Ranging from plates, mugs, and platters to bigger items like garden gnomes and banks, there’s always something to pique your interest.

The Clay Bakers also carries seasonal items. This week, there were Easter eggs and spring items for the garden. Just choosing one item from the selection is always the hardest part! After some hemming and hawing, we decided on a sailboat salt and pepper shaker set for me and a platter for my friend. Then it was off to the fun part – the painting!

painting pottery

Featuring communal tables down the center of the shop, The Clay Bakers allows customers space and a chance to chat with each other during the sometimes-lengthy painting sessions. What I enjoy is that there’s no time limit or reservations that need to be made. If there’s space to paint, you have access to their supplies and that spot for as long as you need. Because of that, and because of our sometimes-particular nature, we spent about three hours painting and chatting.

There are plenty of paints and brushes for everyone to choose from, all organized in a manner that’s custom-made to make choosing colors easy. The staff is friendly and ready to provide suggestions or assistance if you need it, but they’re also good with just leaving you to your own devices. They realize that everyone’s creative in their own way. Samples of many of the items to paint have been provided and are on display. If you’re feeling stuck, you can just look around for quick inspiration.

While painting is super-fun, it’s also enjoyable to watch how others attack their projects. Even my friend and I differed greatly in our approach. She came prepared with a stencil and a plan she found on Pinterest. I, on the other hand, just sorta winged it. Then there were our table mates. On one side, we had two little girls having a blast choosing a multitude of colors and trying them out. On the other was a couple that was determined to make their pieces perfect. Seeing these differences is always so interesting and entertaining.

When you’ve finished painting your masterpiece, you write your initials and date on the bottom of each piece with a special pencil and check out. The prices for all items are listed on the bottom as well, so there are no surprises. What’s nice is that you’re only paying for the item. There are no extra seat or supply fees. You can be as extravagant or thrifty as you like!

pottery on shelves

The lovely staff are responsible then for firing your item. You leave your masterpiece with them, and in a week’s time it will be ready for use. The waiting is the hardest part … You can pick it up in seven days, or if you are much more patient than I, they will hold the items for up to 60 days.

While painting pottery may not be for everyone, it’s an activity that’s perfect for any skill level. You don’t have to be an artist to make something amazing! And if you have little ones, it’s the perfect place to take them to get their creative juices flowing.

Also, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, what mom, grandma, dad, or grandpa, wouldn't appreciate a homemade gift from their little angel? So, if you’re looking to get crafty and chat with some other crafty people, look no further than The Clay Bakers! It’s the perfect hangout for a rainy day or a girl’s night or any time you just feel like being creative!

The Clay Bakers | 151 Main Street, Annapolis MD, 21401 | 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. during the week, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends | www.theclaybakers.com