Most folks in the District survive the holidays unscathed -- unless forced to eat another sugar cookie or listen to a new version of "Jingle Bells." And who would blame the most stressed-out among us for darting out of town, seeking a day or two of blessed escape, toward any tranquil port in the storm? Cambridge, Md., a quaint and colorful maritime town hugging the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, should be calling your name right about now.

If you go
Cambridge, Md.
Distance: 88 miles from D.C.

True, Cambridge cannot claim to be the oldest of American waterside establishments, but it is close, having been settled in 1684. It is also the seat of Dorchester County, which ensures more than a few buildings of architectural interest -- many of which are open to the public.

When crossing the bridge on U.S. 50 east over the Choptank River into town, notice the fishing pier adjacent to you. These are the remains of the old bridge where, as long as any resident or traveler can remember, men and women have stood quietly beside one another, poles into the water in hopes of pulling out catfish, perch and striped trout for their dinner. If the day's catch is skimpy, the pier is lighted for night fishing as well.

On brick-lined High Street, the Cambridge House Bed and Breakfast is a grand home dating to the Victorian era, as its period-style furnishings reflect.

Here, visitors will enjoy a relaxing night's sleep in one of the six large guest rooms, each with its own bathroom.

"We're right in the historic district, so it's just a block from the marina and two blocks from historic downtown," said owner and innkeeper Jody Zarbano. "Everything is within walking distance."

There are more modern accommodations in Cambridge, but none as quaint or conveniently located near the water, shops, eateries, galleries and museums, as guests soon learn.

"We give recommendations for dining and activities," Zarbano continued. "A lot of folks come with specific things in mind to do [or] come for an event. But a lot just want to get away for the weekend to a really quiet place to rest and relax."

Where events are concerned, the Dorchester Center for the Arts, located in the historic Nathan Building on High Street, is usually hosting them, but within its 17,000-square-foot building there are galleries to visit and an artisans' gift shop to explore. The Decoy Carvers Show runs there until Jan. 29.

Shopping for antiques is a delightful pastime along Cambridge streets. Examples are Backfin Antiques -- with the look and feel of an early 1900s general store -- and Heirloom Antiques Gallery, specializing in co-op collectables such as furniture, books, pottery, jewelry, china and primitives.

Dining in Cambridge caters to every palate. Bella Luna serves up Italian dishes, while Bistro Poplar offers French cuisine and Portside features seafood with a beautiful view of the Cambridge Creek drawbridge.

Visit A Few of My Favorite Things for chocolate, wine and cheese; also to hear owner Carol Levy fuss over the town she has been a part of for more than seven years.

"I love this beautiful place," she said. "It takes me back to my younger days; when you felt safe with the world around you. A safe haven is right here in Cambridge!"