Living in Washington comes with a few omnipresent stressors — politics, traffic and where to score your favorite kombucha, to name a few. On those occasions when you feel like you’ve hit peak DC, it’s time to get in the car and search for a place to slow down, relax and remember that there’s more to life than avocado toast and SoulCycle.
Easton, found on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is the prescription, and its sweet, low-key streets lined with shops, history and folks calling hello to their neighbors is the cure. After a 1.5-hour car ride through sun-drenched farmland, you’ll be primed and ready for 24 hours of relaxation. Here's what to do when you get there.
Where to stay
There are plenty of budget friendly options around the periphery of the downtown area, but to get the most out of Easton, you’ll want to stay in the center where everything is walkable. Five spots fit the bill — Inn at 202 Dover, Tidewater Inn, Bishop’s House, Bartlett Pear Inn and Hummingbird Inn, and these all happen to be extremely romantic and quaint in addition to being centrally located.
I most recently stayed at the Inn at 202 Dover for the first time and was wowed by the spacious suites each decorated with a theme, such as the Safari Room, and fun amenities like a steam shower, a large air-jet tub (with lights that change colors!), fireplaces, a piano and games like Scrabble in the sumptuous lounge. Bishop’s House and Bartlett Pear Inn look equally charming and each have something special to recommend them. If you’re traveling with children, the Tidewater Inn is the best way to go since the others are more geared toward romance and pampering. Hummingbird Inn, the newest of the bunch having just opened this summer, is housed in an 1865 Queen Anne Victorian complete with a turret and proudly touts being LGBTQ and pet friendly.
Where to eat
For many Washingtonians, a trip to Easton is really just an excuse to eat at the last remaining outpost of The BBQ Joint, a well-regarded BBQ spot that used to have locations in Union Market and at 14th and U streets. And while it’s perfect for those times when you’re feeling like pigging out on ribs, there are undoubtedly moments when you’d prefer a veggie boost. Try Sunflowers & Greens, which is what would happen if Sweetgreen and a gorgeous American bistro had a baby. The line is fast-casual-style, but then your delish salad arrives to your cobalt table via a server, who can also bring you a glass of wine that range from $4-$66 per glass.
The company that owns Sunflowers & Greens has developed nearly that whole block of Federal Street, so if you exit to the right, you can follow lunch with a juice or smoothie at their juice bar Bumble Bee Juice; or exit to the left for an artisanal coffee and pastry at Weather Gage, the restaurant group’s coffee shop. If you like what you see at those spots, make reservations for dinner at Bas Rouge, a stunning restaurant owned by the same group and only open for Thursday and Friday lunch and Friday and Saturday dinner. (It’s still fairly undiscovered, and we recommend getting in there before the word is out.) But there’s no shortage of great food in this tiny town. We also loved the appetizers we tried at the Peacock Restaurant & Lounge at the Inn at 202 Dover, which also happens to have a killer complimentary breakfast for guests. If you’d really like to step back in time, pop into Hill’s Pharmacy for lunch at Hill’s Cafe and Juice Bar, open for breakfast and lunch weekdays and breakfast on Saturdays. While the setting is retro, the hot and cold sandwiches are decidedly updated versions of classics, and the dressings and juices are all made on premises.
What to do
I would argue that the beauty of Easton is doing nothing, but even I couldn’t resist the shopping. If you’re not a fan of waterfowl or hunt-country clothing, don’t be alarmed by the abundance you’ll notice right off the bat in Easton. There are actually a surprising number of funky and fashionable shops featuring eclectic clothing and accessories, such as Marc Randall, Levity of Easton and Frugalicious, a consignment shop where you might come across a vintage Givenchy dress or Louis Vuitton bag among the Talbot’s and Ann Taylor tops. Shelter freaks will want to check out Easton Antiques & Art Gallery, which houses several dealers including an awesome collection of mid-century modern pieces from The Modern Bulldog and an antiques clock dealer. The Academy Art Museum and several galleries around town are perfect for art buffs, and music fans will want to check the line-up at the historic Avalon Theatre.