Over the past few years, many friends had mentioned getting away to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina. When we decided roughly a month before spring break to go away for a few nights, the resort seemed like a good option for what we were looking for – not too far, fairly contained activities, not cheap but not as expensive as flying somewhere, and enough to do for two nights and three days but not too much.
The Pools and Beach
Our family of four made the easy drive from the D.C. area to Cambridge on the Thursday before Easter. As soon as we arrived and explored the resort, my sons (6 and 10) were dying to get in the pool (actually, pools). The heated indoor pool
The outdoor pool was also heated and much more crowded than I would have expected. It was 70 degrees and sunny but definitely not sweltering. This pool has some fun spray features and a small waterslide (minimum height is 42 inches). There is also a hot tub that is half indoors and half outdoors, with signs saying no kids allowed, though that didn’t seem to be strictly enforced. Both the indoor and outdoor pools had lifeguards on duty. Another outdoor pool, set a bit away from the main one, is an attractive infinity pool looking out over the Choptank River and is for adults only.
Also by the river is a small sandy beach area. The river water was definitely too cold to see much action on our visit but my kids were glad to stick their toes in the sand and find a few shells.
Every night, there is a kid-friendly movie shown on a screen mounted on a wall next to the indoor pool (the movies started at 8 p.m. during our stay). The best view – and ability to hear the sound – is from the deep end of the pool. My older son wished he’d had a raft (which are allowed in the pool at all times, as well as water wings and other floaties), my younger son couldn’t hear the audio, and we wound up abandoning the pool movie in favor of TV in our hotel room. There were also other activities at the pool during our visit. My older son had fun in the well-run token dive.
We also explored the grounds and found the sand volleyball court. We planned to play mini golf but when we saw the course (with no fun features and fairly crowded), we decided to skip it. The resort also has Frisbee golf, horseshoes, a large chess set, and tennis and basketball courts. For golfers, there is the River Marsh Golf Course.
At 6 p.m. every night, a large outdoor fireplace is lit. You need to supply the s’mores (a kit is for sale in the gift shop), and there are a few chairs to hang around in while eating the treats.
We spent a lot of time just walking around the resort’s grounds. There is a pier out over the river, a path along the water, and other places for peaceful walks. A partially paved trail that parallels the road from the resort property entrance to the main building is a nice walking path.
For my boys, the game room was a draw. There are a handful of token-operated arcade games, but there are also plenty of free games—Foosball, air hockey, ping-pong and tabletop shuffleboard. We managed to spend a good hour playing in the game room without feeling we had wasted a bunch of money.
I worked out in the Fitness Center one afternoon. It had plenty of machines and equipment and there were only two other people in the room the whole time I was there. It had windows looking out on the river. The Fitness Center is right across from the game room so it’s a good setup if you have older kids who can be on their own but you can still be close by.
Another area of the hotel has two billiards tables; we grabbed some drinks from the nearby bar and played a game one afternoon.
Since it was spring break, the hotel had a few extra things going on: There were inflatables set up in a ballroom and there was an Iron Chef competition for families that required advance registration (and was filled up by the time we called a few weeks before our visit).
There is also a spa at the resort, but sadly we didn’t get a chance to check it out.
The Rooms & Lobby
We stayed in a standard room with two double beds. It had a tiny balcony that you could go on and sliding doors to let the breeze in. Everything was lovely – though not overly luxurious – in our room. The lobby of the hotel has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Choptank River and a nautical motif.
Food & Drink
A friend had mentioned that there isn’t a whole lot in Cambridge, that the resort is the main focus and we probably wouldn’t need or want to leave the property. Our first meal was lunch at the Hyatt’s Water’s Edge Grill. Our crabcake sandwiches and burgers were tasty and we didn’t feel like the prices were super expensive. On another day, we had a late lunch at Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant next to the resort’s golf course. The menu was much smaller but my kids loved the free popcorn and we got the fuel we needed.
But being the explorer-types that we are, we headed into downtown Cambridge for several meals. Our online research pointed us to The High Spot GastroPub. It was a delicious meal of wasabi oysters, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits. It has a great hipster, yet family-friendly, atmosphere. We picked up a postcard that listed other restaurants with the same owners, and then visited two of their other establishments during our trip. For breakfast one morning we went to Black Water, a coffeehouse that has fabulous baked goods (homemade Pop Tarts, muffins, croissants) and coffee, but lacked a full breakfast menu. Another night, we ate dinner at Stoked Wood Fired Eatery. There are mostly high top tables and pizza is a main item, but we also had ribs, wings, mussels and salads. Both High Spot and Stoked had well curated beer selections.
On our last morning, we chose a diner meal at nearby Cambridge Diner. It was a classic greasy spoon and delivered what we expected—big plates of pancakes, eggs and toast.
The Hyatt’s poolside snack bar had a decent selection of food and a large selection of drinks, both with and without alcohol. My kids were excited to order big fancy drinks and say “charge it to our room” (cashiers asked if they had their parents’ permission).
The hotel also has a few other restaurants and offers room service. The gift shop includes a Starbucks and ice cream counter as well as snacks and sandwiches. Free water infused with fruit was available in the lobby one afternoon.
I knew that the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was also in Cambridge and had heard of its high concentration of bald eagles and its nice drive. From the Hyatt, we hopped in the car and were there in about 15 minutes. We spent a couple hours exploring the refuge. After speaking with a helpful volunteer in the visitor center to get the lay of the land, we looked at the indoor exhibits, including some binoculars for bird watching. On the drive through the refuge, you can stop the car and get out wherever there’s space to leave your car. Among the wildlife we saw: osprey, heron, a baby turtle my son spotted in the grass, a pair of bald eagles manning their nest (viewed with professional-type binoculars that a kind visitor offered us a chance to look through), and a snake that my son stepped on that then slithered in some shallow water next to us. We had our eyes peeled for a sika, muskrat and Delmarva fox squirrel but never saw those.
There is a bowling alley and movie theater a couple minutes drive from the resort that we would have considered if we’d had bad weather.
On our drive back to the D.C. area, we stopped at the Queenstown outlets to do a little shopping.
The resort guests were almost all families on our visit. There was no stuffiness that you might find at a more upscale resort. We found the vacation to be a good mix of relaxation and fun activities. We probably could have stayed one more night (but more than three nights would have been too long). The total amount we spent on the two-night getaway was somewhere around $1,000 (for food, hotel, entertainment, gas).