I always say that one of the many benefits of being from and living on the East Coast is the close proximity to a number of major cities. I grew up less than 90 minutes from both New York City and Philadelphia. Boston was about five hours north and Baltimore three hours south, with Washington D.C. just another hour beyond. In an afternoon’s drive you could be in a completely different urban environment.
On the second-to-last-weekend in August, Brendan, Finn, my father-in-law and I headed down for a short trip to Baltimore. I had been there before—my good friend Dave lived there for a number of years. But it had been a while since I had been to the birthplace of Babe Ruth and The Wire. It was a short stay, but here is what we did that you can consider doing too if you ever make a quick jaunt to Baltimore.
Night 1: Drink and Sleep
We got to the Days Inn in Baltimore Inner Harbor at 9:30 with a sleeping toddler so that made some decisions for us: I went to bed and Brendan hit a local pub, Pratt Street Ale House, with his dad. If you’re in Baltimore on certain summer Fridays during an Orioles game, you can also check out the fireworks being shot off from the stadium at around 10:30.
Day 1 Morning: Breakfast and Baseball
I got a lie-in the next day (I rarely sleep well the first night in a hotel) while the boys explored Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The stadium was actually open to check out, and there is the Kids’ Corner, located near Gate C, that has a play area, a batting cage, Oriole Bird bobbleheads and other entertainment for tykes and tots.
When I woke up, we took the free Charm City Circulator (gotta love that for alliteration) down to the Inner Harbor for breakfast. We walked over to Family Meal after foregoing the wait at Miss Shirley’s. It was perfect for our crew: there wasn’t much of a crowd, soccer played on the TV screens and they had kids’ pancakes for Finn. I got the biscuits and eggs with sausage gravy and a pineapple soda made on premises while the other boys got eggs.
Afterward, we went to see about taking a trolley tour at the Baltimore Visitor Center. Unfortunately, the 11 am tour left early so we occupied ourselves watching Finn run through a fountain along the Inner Harbor before heading back to the hotel for pool and nap time.
Day 1 Afternoon: Hitting the Water
After naps and showers, we decided to take a water taxi to Fells Point. You can get an all-day pass for $14 ($7 for seniors and free for kids 2 and under) and go to any one of the 17 locations on the route. Once we got off the taxi, we strolled around the main plaza and grabbed some ice cream at Fells Point Creamery (peanut butter chocolate milkshake for me, chocolate and strawberry with rainbow sprinkles for Finn and Brendan and a vanilla cone for Grandpa Frank). We strolled along the boardwalk and took in the harbor.
Our first pub stop was at Admiral’s Cup, which is right near where the water taxis dock. We got to sit outdoors in the shade, a perfect scenario for the sun-beaten adults and wired-up toddler. After some brews and curly fries with Old Bay, we headed to Sláinte for another round of drinks before rocking up to The Wharf Rat for dinner and, you guessed it, more beer. The Wharf Rat is an eclectic little dive with coasters plastered to the ceiling, a red phone booth and sea paraphernalia lining the walls. It reminded me of going out in Australia in that you order your food and drink at the bar. We had the shrimp, hush puppies, crab and cheese-stuffed pretzel and a plain cheese pizza.
When we got back, everyone but Brendan tuckered in for the night; he paid $25 to take in a couple innings of the Orioles game.
Day 2 Morning: Indulgent Eats
With everyone up early, we decided to try Miss Shirley’s again. We got in right away and proceeded to order way too much food, which comes in enormous portions. I ordered the stuffed coconut French toast—featured on my beloved Guy Fieri show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives—for the table and a soft shell crab eggs Benedict that literally included a whole crab. Finn got the most beautifully-presented kids’ meals I’ve ever seen, with pancakes, biscuits, scrambled eggs, fruit and apple sauce, of which he ate about .2%. The other guys once again stuck to omelets and scrambled eggs.
After breakfast, we strolled a bit with family friends who we found out were also briefly in town. We left each other just as it started to rain and caught an Uber back to pack, check out and begin the five-hour circuitous journey to drop Grandpa Frank off in Philly before heading home to New York.