Family Vacations: Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel features submerged sections to allow ships to pass overhead.

Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in North America, is shared by Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. The bay stretches almost 200 miles from the Susquehanna River to the Atlantic Ocean and ranges from 4 miles wide to 30 miles wide. The mighty Chesapeake is spanned by the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the shorter and busier Chesapeake Bridge.

The beautiful bay was once the valley of the Susquehanna River, which helps explain why the bay is surprisingly shallow--most of it is less than six feet deep. Nonetheless, the Chesapeake Bay was the site of the American Revolution's critical naval Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781. It was also the site of the standstill battle between the ironclads CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.


Giant Chesapeake Bay, called "Great Shellfish Bay" by the Algonquin Indians, has benefited from recent conservation and restoration efforts. The devastating pollution of the bay's waters has remained a threat since the 1970s but no longer greatly detracts from its natural beauty. The bay today is a feast of art exhibitions, waterfront festivals, regattas and races, sportfishing contests, and boat shows.

Chesapeake Bay Information

Address: Visitor Center at 26 West St., Annapolis, MD

Phone: 410/280-0445 or 866-BAY-WAYS