History buffs and family-vacation planners take note: The new Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail follows the routes of Smith's explorations around the bay and its tributaries. This is the U.S.'s only water-based historic trail; ones on land include the Trail of Tears and the route taken by Lewis and Clark.
The trail is so new that at this point it's not much more than a map. In May, the first in what will be a series of buoys providing historical info was launched--when you come upon a buoy, you can call a toll-free number (877/286-9229), select the buoy's location from a list, and listen to recorded messages about colonial-era history and Smith's observations of the area, or about current climate and tide information. A website, buoybay.org, presents a more-detailed version of the information collected at the buoy.
Somewhat confusing is the fact that there is also Captain John Smith's Trail, which was established by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. This is a set of three loop trails on the James River and the roads along it. Free maps note historically significant points of interest as well as water-access points for boaters.--
[Correction: The maps aren't free but cost 25 cents for a set of three (one for each loop).]