Summer Weekend Getaways

Mondays after a long weekend are rough. We all know it. What makes me feel a little better is planning some more summer fun. I love Baltimore, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city for a change of scene. Since vacation days are in short supply, I usually try to go on a couple weekend getaways rather than a full on summer trip. Luckily, Baltimore’s conveniently located with a number of fantastic destinations 1-3 hours away.

Day Trips – at around one hour from Baltimore, these locations are great for a day trip.

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1. Sandy Point State Park – or as we affectionately call it, fake beach. This sandy, rocky outcrop at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is not a beach but it’s a decent beach substitute – especially since it’s less than 40 minutes from Baltimore. Bring your towel, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day soaking up the sun and taking a dip in the bay. Cost is $5 a person for Maryland residents. Make a full day of it by stopping for dinner and drinks in Annapolis or a Bowie Baysox game before heading home.

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2. DC – This is an obvious one, yes, but it’s surprising how infrequently Baltimoreans make it down to DC. If you’re going to make the drive, you should try to pack in as much fun as you can. On Memorial Day weekend we did a DC day and started with a couple hours of kayaking on the Anacostia River outside Nationals Park followed by drinks at the Fair Grounds before heading to the baseball game. If baseball isn’t for you, you can also kayak in Georgetown and spend time shopping and dining in one of DC’s poshest neighborhoods. Or, check out the museums on the National Mall, hit up Spike Mendelson’s Good Stuff Eatery for lunch and have dinner at Jose Andres’ Jaleo. The possibilities are endless!

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3. Wineries – You can find many great wineries within 1-2 hours from Baltimore. We like to make a day out of it and aim to get to the winery around 12pm, do a tasting and buy a couple of bottles to drink. Everyone brings some food to share – baguette, cheeses, sliced meats, hummus and crackers – and we picnic while sipping our wine and taking in the beautiful scenery. Most tastings are $10-15 and usually wineries let you bring your own food to eat outside on the property. Hit up Breaux Vineyards and the nearby Maggie Malick Wine Caves, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, or Black Ankle Vineyards among many others.

Overnights – these places are a little further away but perfect for a weekend visit. If you’re traveling North of the city note that both Wawa (yay) and tolls (boo) are plentiful – depending on your route you can pay as much as $30 round trip in tolls.

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1. St. Michael’s – St. Michael’s is across the Bay Bridge, abut an hour and a half from Baltimore. This quiet little town on the water is gorgeous and is absolutely perfect for a relaxing weekend away from the city. Start with steamed blue crabs and a piña colada at the admittedly touristy Crab Claw before walking down Talbot Street and visiting the local shops. If you feel like splurging, stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin where they filmed Wedding Crashers, but for more affordable options try Harbourtowne or St. Michael’s Harbor Inn – you can sometimes find discounted rooms on Groupon or LivingSocial. There are also a number of local rentals on VRBO that are a short drive from the town – we stayed in one that had kayaks and stand up paddle boards to keep us entertained. St. Michael’s also has a winery and brewery so stop in for a tasting.

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2. Philadelphia – I lived in Philly in the summer of 2013 for an internship and spent quite a few weekends doing the easy two hour drive to Baltimore. Philly has a lot more to offer than cheese steaks (though definitely get one from Jim’s while you’re there). There’s a ton of history including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, great museums and some seriously good eats (and many places are BYOB). Check out Reading Terminal Market, an historic covered Farmers’ Market with countless vendors and tasty treats including the best hot, fresh doughnuts from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Take a walk through Old City and Rittenhouse Square and for brunch hit up Sabrina’s or Parc. If you’re looking for a more unusual dining experience, try Cibo Ristorante. Formerly Walnut Street Supper Club, Cibo has continued the “supper club” concept and the waitstaff at Cibo entertain the crowd with show tunes throughout the night.We were very impressed with the quality of the singers and had a great time!

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3. Atlantic City – Ooooh AC. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more lively for your summer getaway, then look no further. I’ve done quite a few weekends in AC over the years and always had a blast. In our younger days we would pack 12 people into one hotel room, but now that we’re just young(ish) we definitely prioritize bed space and so we look for discounted rooms on Jetsetter and daily deal sites. Friday and Saturday nights are considerably more expensive so save money by going midweek if that’s an option for you. I recently stayed at Harrah’s and loved it – the casino has a lot of dining options and a great pool (pictured above). Three evenings a week, the pool becomes a night club with drinking and dancing, and if you’re feeling it – a late night swim. You can also take a walk along the boardwalk and play carnival games (there’s a free shuttle form Harrah’s or take a limo since they are as prevalent as cabs and not much more expensive). On another recent trip we stayed at the Taj and went to the nightclub Mixx at the Borgata. I’d recommend doing some research in advance and planning where you’ll eat and go out since some parts of AC are a little run down and if you’re with a large group many restaurants require a fixed price menu.

What trips do you have planned for the summer?

Are there any other good summer getaways that we missed? 

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Working for the weekend!

Does this week seem like it’s crawling by to anyone else? Maybe it’s because it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend here in Baltimore and I’m planning on spending as much time outside as possible. I’ll be playing tennis with my mom, going to a Father’s Day cookout and hopefully picking up some veggies for the week at the farmer’s market. I also signed up for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k that takes place around Federal Hill next Sunday the 28th so I’m hoping to do a practice run this weekend.

It’s also Wonderful Waterfront Weekend – a summer kick-off put on by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

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It looks like a great schedule of events and there are a few in particular that I wanted to flag:

1. Summer Social at West Shore Park – unfortunately I already have plans to be in Virginia Friday night because this Summer Social looks awesome. There will be live music, food trucks and beer & wine. It’s also a family friendly event with activities for kids. Two other summer socials are scheduled for July 24 and August 21 so I’ll try to make it to one of those!

2. Harbor East FIT + Festival – From 9-1 on Saturday on Aliceanna Street in Harbor East there will be complimentary group fitness classes and healthy food demos. Classes include zumba, boxing, boot camp and yoga. You can rsvp (for free) at the link above and buy a cute tank top with proceeds going to Living Classroom. I love group fitness classes, but the gym I belong to doesn’t have them so this sounds like such a fun opportunity to try a bunch of classes, enjoy the beautiful weather and work up a sweat with fellow Baltimoreans.

3. African American Festival – This is a huge free two day festival held outside Camden Yards that includes a health and wellness pavilion, a beauty bar and a beer garden. There is also a Black Enterprise Empowerment Zone with a special forum on #blackmalesmatter. This seems like a great opportunity to discuss an issue that is affecting so many in Baltimore. Bonus – former Raven, Ray Lewis is said to be a special guest!

4. L’Hermione and the Pride of Baltimore II – I LOVE when the ships come into the harbor. I walk through the harbor every day on my way to work and it’s easy to forget that it is a working harbor and the rich history of the city. When the tall ships come in it just reminds me of an earlier time and I love it when the port is bustling. Free public tours, demos and reenactments will occur on the Hermione throughout the weekend. Checkout this schedule for details!

Ship in the Harbor during last September's Star Spangled Spectacular

Ship in the Harbor during last September’s Star Spangled Spectacular

 

 

Weekend Recap: more Italian food and NYC

Happy dreary, humid Monday, Baltimore! My day got off to a rough start when I walked half the way to work only to remember I had left my work laptop at home. Oops! Don’t worry, I got some coffee and now I’m feeling much more chipper. This past weekend was a great one though so it makes Monday morning a little more manageable.

Friday night Adam and I wanted a quick and easy dinner out and headed into Federal Hill to try out Brendali.  I had seen it promoted a few times on the Fed Hill neighborhood facebook group (hooray for grassroots marketing!) and Adam was on board to check it out. I think we both had Italian food on the brain after my Friday Five post.  The small restaurant was aesthetically not much to look at but the staff was friendly and it had a welcoming, neighborhood feel. It’s also BYOB so we brought a bottle of wine to share.

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Our meal started with hot, fresh baked rolls and a caprese salad. The rolls were perfectly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The caprese salad was also really good, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and a pinch of salt and pepper. The tomato slices were a little thicker than I usually see with this dish, but still very tasty. For my main course I got the chicken cacciatore and Adam got the linguine with crab sauce. Both were huge portions and we brought home leftovers. My dish was good, but Adam’s was definitely the winner – there was a ton of crab meat and a great marinara sauce. There were a lot of dishes that caught our eye on the menu and we hope to head back soon to try some other things. We hope the place succeeds since there aren’t any other Italian options nearby!

After dinner I came home to pack since I had an early morning train to New York. Saturday morning I arrived in Manhattan for a friend’s baby shower. The shower was held at an unlikely location – a wine shop in Tribeca! New York Vintners has a great event space and the shower hosts decorated with some nautical touches to match the “Ahoy – it’s a boy!” theme.

Nautical baby shower decorations

Nautical baby shower decorations

Guests enjoyed wine and sangria while the mom-to-be sipped lemon water and we munch on cheese, charcuterie and a make your own taco bar. We had a great time catching up though yours truly may have had one too many glasses of sangria. Sunday morning we went for a run through Central Park and had a relaxing brunch at Hundred Acres before catching a train back to Baltimore. It was a great 26 hours in Manhattan!

Linking up with Katie to read about the blogosphere’s weekend highlights.