There are many reasons to visit Berlin, a charming little village on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but your first stop should be The Mermaid Museum. Located less than 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, this is billed as the country’s first mermaid museum.
It’s worth the drive, no matter how far you have to drive.
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Building a Mermaid Museum in Maryland
When you’re looking for a silver lining about the Covid-19 Pandemic and the horrible year that was 2020, look no further than The Mermaid Museum in Berlin, Maryland. Alyssa Maloof ran a successful photography business from a second floor studio, just off Berlin’s main thoroughfare.
And then the world stopped us all in our tracks. While some of us cleaned our closets, binge-watched everything on TV and learned to make sourdough starter, Alyssa took this time to indulge in one of her favorite topics – mermaids.
She decided her spacious photography studio could double as the country’s very first mermaid museum. Built in 1902, the building her studio is in was originally an Odd Fellows Hall. The door contains a peep hole that members used to screen those entering the members-only club. It now serves as a ship’s port hole to the mermaid museum.
Alyssa did her research, learning about mermaids sightings from the beginning of time and in various cultures. The first written words about mermaids came in the first century from Pliny the Elder.
On Jan. 9, 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote about seeing mermaids on his voyage.
And in 1837, Hans Christian Andersen published the now famous fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
In 1971, Starbucks became a thing. I’ve never really paid close attention to the Starbucks logo, but it is actually a mermaid. Just as mermaids are supposed to lure sailors, Starbucks is supposed to lure coffee lovers everywhere. So there. I learned something.
Suggested reading on mermaids
What to See/Do at Maryland’s Mermaid Museum
Upon entering the Mermaid Museum, you’ll find a big treasure chest filled with mermaid costumes. Ideally, these are for children, but it’s not unusual to see an adult female wearing a crown and rope of pearls. For kids, there’s also a scavenger hunt.
There is place to touch a real mermaid tail, a place to receive a blessing from a mermaid and a place to watch vintage videos of the Weeki Watchi Mermaid Show from the 1950s in Florida, among the many exhibits.
The one thing you’re not supposed to do at the Mermaid Museum is take pictures of the naked mermaids above the waist. There are signs and everything, so c’mon, show some class and just don’t.
And of course, what good would a mermaid museum be if it didn’t include a bathtub and an opportunity for visitors to climb in and get their picture made as a real mermaid? Here’s a tip: make sure you are traveling with someone who will help you get out of the bathtub after the photo op. It’s a narrow old iron bathtub and the fish tail takes up about half of it. It’s just not as easy as you would think getting out of a mermaid bathtub.
Gifts for the mermaid lover in your life
What To Do in Berlin, Maryland
The people of Maryland do not pronounce Berlin like the city in Germany. Instead it’s pronounced BUR-lun.
Now that we have that settled, Berlin is adorable. It’s been voted one of America’s Coolest Small Towns. The architecture, the shops, the restaurants, the hotel – just so cute!
The Mermaid Museum is just across the street from the historic Atlantic Hotel, which opened in 1895. Several of the 15 rooms have lovely balconies. The front is dominated by an outdoor dining courtyard that just hums with happy people and energy.
Across the other street from the Atlantic is Rayne’s Reef, an old-fashioned diner with a soda fountain, a great breakfast menu and good service. We also enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Boxcar on Main. There are a couple of wine bars and a craft brewery, a meat market and so much more to fill your belly while in Berlin.
The best part of Berlin, besides the Mermaid Museum, is its proximity to Assateague Island National Seashore. This is the barrier island with pristine beaches where wild horses have made their home for hundreds of years. I’m pretty sure they have seen some mermaids in their time on the ocean as well.