By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger
If you’re in a pinch for a last minute spring break idea, you can never go wrong with a road trip to Baltimore and Annapolis. They are both easy to get to, and make for not only a fun trip, but an educational one as well!
The easiest and most affordable way to get there is by car, and honestly, you’ll want to have a car to zip between the two cities, take a side trip, or stop in another destination along the route. Both Baltimore and Annapolis are roughly six hours from the Triad, and they are only about 45 minutes apart from each other. If you have the time, you can also add on a couple of different side trips like Washington DC (less than an hour’s drive), Williamsburg, VA (a good stop either on your way north or south), the beaches in and around Rebobeth, DE (a 2.5 hours drive), or Virginia Beach (a good stop either on your way north or south).
Baltimore is beautiful and it’s one of my favorite harbor towns. I’ve been here few times and always find something different to love! All the times we stayed overnight in Baltimore, it was near downtown and Inner Harbor which is a great location for attractions and walking tours.
One of the first things we did with the kids in Baltimore was walk (most of) the Waterfront Promenade around the harbor. This is an almost seven mile walkway that hugs the waterline – from Fort McHenry to the Canton Waterfront Park. We did not walk the entire length, but there are a few breaks along the way, it’s all flat, and it takes you through many historic neighborhoods including Harbor Place, Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton.
You can hop on a water taxi (something we did not do and wish we did!) as a fun experience or to actually get from one point to another along the harbor.
We also took the kids to the National Aquarium which is one of the best aquariums I’ve ever been to. Much of the aquarium is glassed in overlooking the harbor, and features five levels of different aspects of sea life.
After our aquarium visit, we grabbed lunch at the famous Attman’s Deli, a landmark along Baltimore’s Corned Beef Row that has the vibes of a typical NYC deli with mouth-watering sandwiches!
Also not far from the aquarium is Port Discovery Children’s Museum. We did not visit this attraction, but you can find more information here: portdiscovery.org.
If your kids are up for more walking, you should take a stroll down the beautiful stone streets of historic Fells Point neighborhood, admire the architecture, and sample the local food. An extended family member of mine lives in this district and she highly recommends booking a Ghost Tour, checking out the Pendry Hotel (it’s stunning inside) which is owned by Under Armour CEO and overlooks the Under Armour Global HQ across the harbor. Also in Fells Point, she recommends ordering crab cakes at Kooper’s Tavern, and lobster rolls at Thames Street Oyster House. If you are able to get out at night without the kids, there is are a few pubs with live music: Bertha’s, Cat’s Eye Pub, and The Horse You Came in On.
As for other restaurants around Downtown and Inner Harbor, there is pretty much something to please any palate! You’ll find many chains (both upscale and casual) like Hard Rock Café, McCormick & Schmick’s, Ruth’s Chris, Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory, and Shake Shack to local favorites like Rusty Scupper Restaurant & Bar, The James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant, and Phillips Seafood (to name a few places we’ve tried!).
If you’re a baseball enthusiast, then another must-see in Baltimore is the beautiful Camden Yards stadium, just a 12 minute walk from the Inner Harbor. Spring break is baseball season, and you can see the Oriole’s full schedule here: mlb.com/orioles/schedule.
I’ve only been to Annapolis once, and although our visit was quick and we had to battle a huge rainstorm while there, I fell in love with this harbor town as well, and would go back again any day!
Just like in Baltimore, we stayed in a waterfront hotel in downtown Annapolis and close to many restaurants, pubs and shops. Annapolis is known as one of the best walkable cities in the US, and I found this article that gives you a walking itinerary of the entire historic city.
For those of you traveling with little kids, the Chesapeake Children’s Museum is not far from the main historic district and could be a fun break for mom and dad while you let the kids play!
As soon as we arrived, we headed out on foot and went to lunch at Middleton Tavern, known to be the oldest operating tavern in the US! Plus when in Maryland, you have to order crab and they have lots of options for that on their menu! Next door is McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar, and I found out later that many friends recommend this place for food and drinks! If you love old, historic restaurants, I found this link with a few more recommendations in downtown Annapolis.
After lunch, we walked to the Naval Academy…a must-see in Annapolis! Make sure you bring bring your ID or you will not be granted access. We know the best way to truly see this beautiful campus is to purchase tickets for a guided tour, but we decided to check it out on our own. They also have self-guided tour brochures which we used, and while our entire visit was awe-inspiring, these two stops were the most memorable: The US Naval Academy Museum and the Naval Academy Chapel. While at the Chapel, look for the entrance to the crypt below where the remains of John Paul Jones were interred inside a sarcophagus. Even the kids loved this part of the tour!
We capped our visit with a drive over to East Port for dinner at Boatyard Bar & Grill, a very lively seafood restaurant (perfect for kids!) that also serves lots of crab entrees and apps – my favorite! The wait was extremely long (but worth it) so plan ahead! East Port is another walkable area of the city, and it’s where you’ll find Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park as well as great views of the water.
Have you been to either of these cities? If so, I’d love to hear what else you would recommend!
*Baltimore photos courtesy of Baltimore.org
* Annapolis photos courtesy of VisitAnnapolis.org