Baltimore is like an old shoe. I know the nooks and crannies of the town, it’s comfortable, and it gives me very little surprises. This analogy rings truest when I ride down streets in Baltimore City and I’m instantly reminded of my childhood. Smells of soft bread from H & S Bakery on Fleet street take me to my teen years. And I can’t drive past Sinai Hospital without imagining my mother birthing me there on the warmest day of an October weekend long ago.
But while my roots are in Baltimore, there are many things that are becoming unfamiliar. The mere fact that a Four Seasons Hotel is in the Harbor East district is enough to make my head spin with delight. This was only a figment of our imagination years ago. I remind myself that Baltimore is the 21st largest metropolitan area in the country; so should I really be shocked that there’s a bevy of things to do? From indoor and outdoor play areas to some of the top restaurants and hotels in the Northeast, Baltimore offers endless attractions that appeal to adults and kids of all ages. One thing is certain: there’s much excitement for the future of this town, and my family and I were ready to explore.
I recently took a trip there with my husband and two small children to see my dad. We hadn't seen him in an over a year (thanks, Covid!) so a trip to Baltimore held special weight this time. We were not only going to explore family-friendly entertainment, but also see old faces that bring us so much joy.
Here’s what we did in our short weekend in Charm City, and what I suggest you check out the next time you’re there.
Places to Visit
35 Market Pl., Baltimore, MD 21202
If you’re looking for a center for purposeful play, you must check out Port Discovery. Infants through kids aged 10 will enjoy hands-on, interactive fun that helps them learn how the world works. Through play, kids will build confidence, and enhance gross motor skills. Port Discovery wasn’t around when I was a kid, but I’m glad my kids were able to experience play that inspires their curiosity. My toddler loved the sensory-filled soft play areas, and my oldest dove into a giant four-story SkyClimber, a working Port, theater and several art programs.
5001 Washington Blvd., Halethorpe, MD 21227
Arthur Guinness may have started brewing beer in Dublin, Ireland in 1759, but the history continues in Baltimore. The cool factor is that the brewery is so much more than a local watering hole. For starters, it’s family friendly. Of course, you must be over 21 to consume alcohol, but kids can enter as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. You and your fam can take part in tasty eats (indoor and outdoor) and stop by the gift shop for classic Guinness apparel and accessories. And be sure to take a tour to learn about the rich Guinness heritage and see first hand the brewing process. But note to view the brewing process of the company's iconic stouts, you'll have to cross the pond. Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout will continue to be brewed in Ireland.
1000 Wills St., Baltimore MD, 21231
From a beachy atmosphere and stunning views to strong drinks and DJ sounds, there’s something for the whole family at this outdoor sand and lounge area. Not only are the views beautiful (water and high rise buildings abound), but it’s the perfect hideaway to just relax and unwind. Be sure to check out yoga every Friday evening at 5pm. And yes, bring your dog, too.
3224 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
Technically, this hip venue is a restaurant, but it stretches beyond food and drinks. Enter the recently opened gathering spot to experience a bookstore, events venue, and a cultural hub for entrepreneurs, artists, activists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers. And, the name is fitting—it refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s. So chic!
Where to Stay
101 W Monument St., Baltimore, MD 21201
I’ve stayed at many hotels around the world, but I always prefer boutique hotels and Hotel Revival is definitely one of my favorites. Opened in 2018, the 14-story building sits in the Mount Vernon part of town that’s notable for its history of art and culture. Following its heritage, you can find work from 30 different artists around the space. There are also three karaoke rooms that are perfect for family functions. Other perks include Jonathan Adler bath amenities, valet parking, a 24-hour fitness center and luxe linens. Also be sure to check out 'Dashery Café on the lower level and sink your teeth into overnight oats in the morning or crab and avocado toast in the afternoon.
1715 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21231
Perhaps, the most compelling aspect of this waterside destination is the landscaped courtyard that features a stunning 12-foot Botero Horse sculpture as its centerpiece. Although, my four year old would say otherwise. He became a big fan of the gorgeous pool with panoramic views of the harbor. Can’t say that I blame him. The Sagamore Pendry has everything you need in one place: top-notch service, great vibes, warm pool, stellar accommodations and best-in-class food. We came for the pool-side cabanas, but stayed for the relaxed atmosphere that was appealing to my 80-something year old father and to my toddlers. We will be back for sure.
20 W Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201
What you’ll remember long after you’ve returned from your visit here, is the 1920’s architecture with a private club aesthetic. The lobby boasts sexy espresso furniture and vintage artwork. each room is designed by interior designer Scott Sanders. When booking, select the Aquarium Package that includes overnight accommodations with two 2-Day adult passes to the National Aquarium with access to the 4D Immersion Film on the first day and complimentary self-parking.
Where to Eat
1641 Aliceanna St., Baltimore, MD 21231
In a city where seafood is readily available, finding crab cakes is easier than locating a traffic light. What’s harder is enjoying a crab cake that’s actually tasty. That’s why I look to The Choptank to deliver on atmosphere and delicious foods and drinks. The decades-old restaurant eschews traditional Baltimore bites. Dishes sound basic, but they are from it. Favorites include the Salmon BALT, a BBQ rubbed grilled salmon, topped with hickory bacon, avocado, lettuce, heirloom tomato, dill-citrus aioli. There’s also seafood nachos that are prepared with grilled mahi, shrimp, crab, corn, queso, avocado, pickled chiles, and cilantro. And of course you can grab crabs by the dozen and half-dozen. The venue also hosts live music featuring local bands which makes this an easy pick for family outings.
222 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
If you have a thing for chicken and waffles, then you’ll adore Connie’s Chicken and Waffles. There are six variations of chicken and waffles (our favorite was the Oreo waffle) and they all taste like they’re straight from your grandma’s kitchen. They also have several locations around town, so you’re a stone's throw away from an on point treat from practically every town in the city.
6807 York Road Baltimore, MD 21212
Did someone say ice cream? Stop by The Charmery at any one of the four locations to enjoy a modern take on a classic dessert. Of course you can enjoy vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors, but adventurous tastebuds will devour honeydew jasmine cucumber, old bay caramel, and cheese and cracker flavors. Not feeling ice cream? Stop by for specialty sundaes, hand-spun milkshakes, and floats.