What?… Four I-Days?

Some things change and some stay the same…

I-Day  Courtesy of CNET
Photo Courtesy of CNET

I-Day marks the beginning of the unique journey that is USNA. It is an emotional day for both parent and incoming Plebe and also marks the beginning of a rollercoaster of emotions that make the journey unique. It is designed to train our young men and women to be Naval Officers, and is challenging on many levels.

Due to Coronavirus, social distancing, and safety measures I-Day for the Class of 2024 will be very different. As a matter of fact, there will be FOUR I-Days! None of the massive crowds, the expectant families waiting to catch a glimpse fo their processed Plebe-to-be, and the parental bonds and friendships to be made arising from the common experience that is I-Day. This year there may be a greater number of Plebes that arrive unescorted by family, which reminds me of the stories I have heard from my Dad and his classmates when Plebes would travel to report on I-Day on their own without the benefit of family, blogs, or any pomp and circumstance.

Parents are able to accompany their incoming plebes on to the Yard, but only so far (please check latest guidance for the Naval Academy). Although the goodbye will be brief it will be just as difficult and emotional, perhaps even more so.  And it will happen four times from June 29 to July 2nd as social distancing and safety concerns have reshaped the way the incoming Plebes report.

But some things don’t change.

I still remember my husband wiping off a tear as our daughter said goodbye and prepared to walk into Alumni Hall.  The moment was caught by a camera and became a part of the USNA I-Day video for the Class of 2020. After Detailers saw the video they asked our then-Plebe about it, “Is that your father crying?”, “Yup! it is!”

For our oldest, he had cut his hair very short in preparation to report. While walking down Main Street on I-Day Minus One a young man stuck his head out of the window of his car and yelled, “Plebe!” at the top of his lungs. Our son looked around and seeing that he was the only one to which that comment could apply simply looked at us in resignation saying, “And so it begins…” and kept walking.

For our former Plebes, we arrived for I-Day a few days early and were able to explore Downtown Annapolis. We found it to be a quaint historic town with much to do and an endless array of good restaurants, art galleries, and shops that we vowed to try at one point or another over the years.  Here is a growing list of our favorites to try as you travel to Annapolis for I-Day. It is a good idea to plan on having a good dinner the night before reporting just in case. 

I have more recommendations in my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal.  Please do check beforehand to make sure that the restaurants are open and make sure to bring a mask – just in case! It is also a good idea to make reservations where available. To help determine what food option works for your schedule. I’ve divided up the Main Street Restaurants into categories and I am sure that you will find your own favorites to add to the list: 

Sit Down Restaurants


Quick Service


  • The Red Bean – Creamy ice cream. You can choose your own flavor combinations.
  • Old Fox Books – Great coffee and pastries, book store with a relaxing atmosphere, big comfy chairs, beautiful outside area. It was our Plebes’ refuge during Plebe Year and after.

On the more formal side, here are some restaurants in DTA and within walking distance in Eastport:

  • Osteria 177 on Main Street – Excellent upscale Italian food.
  • Reynold’s Tavern – A historic inn, B&B, and restaurant on Church Circle. Delicious food, excellent afternoon tea, delicious dinner.
  • Blackwall Hitch – in Eastport. Excellent food, great ambiance.
  • Carrol’s Creek Cafe – in Eastport. Great seafood, crab cakes.
  • Severn Inn – Great for lunch on the outside dock, overlooking the river and USNA. Nice upscale dinner, good seafood.
  • Harry Browne’s – On State Circle. Great steaks and good food. Nice Sunday brunch and great for events.
  • Cantler’s Riverside Inn – great for local crabs and seafood. An Annapolis favorite!

On West Street there are a myriad of options, Here are a few of our favorites:

  •  Lighthouse Bistro – great food with a great mission. One of our favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The furniture and accessories have historic significance and have been repurposed for use in the cafe. For example, all of the chairs are the old USNA King Hall chairs.
  • Miss Shirley’s Cafe – famous for their unique breakfast and lunch menu. 
  • Tsunami – great appetizers, bowls, and sushi.
  • West 49 – Good coffee, breakfast, brunch. Live music.
The Lighthouse Bistro repurposed historic furniture and items with local and USNA significance.

I hope you are able to enjoy some of these during your visits over the next four years. There are so many more! You can also find most chain restaurants like PF Chang’s, Julep, ModPizza, and Maggiano’s. Many offer military discounts as well.  Please share any of your favorites in the comments below.

Remember to enjoy the moments – they become so precious! I will talk about how to survive Plebe Summer after I-Day, and know that you are not alone! Parents that have walked before you are here to help and I am only a message away! GO NAVY!

Based on the book, A USNA Mom’s Journal: Plebe Summer through Commissioning and Beyond! What You Need to Know by AN Shine. Copying in whole or in part without the prior consent of the author is strictly prohibited. Copyright 2019.

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