Baltimore Staycation: A Review
Since this is my last summer in the DMV, one way I’m taking advantage of everything in the area is by having a few staycations. This weekend it was Baltimore.
On Friday nights the Baltimore Aquarium is half off beginning at 5pm, and it was this stellar deal that led to this getaway. The aquarium closes at 8pm on Fridays giving you three long hours to see all the wonders of the water. Trust me, three hours is plenty of time.
We got off to a bit of a late start on Friday afternoon, which meant that we got caught up in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. But we persisted! Almost two hours later we arrived at our hotel, dropped off our bags, and were enjoying the fabulous weather as we walked through the Baltimore inner harbor. All that traffic worked up our appetites so we stopped by everyone’s favorite burger and shake spot – Shake Shack.
A BBQ bacon burger, mushroom burger, bacon cheese fries, more fries, and salted caramel shake gave us some much needed fuel to tackle the aquarium.
One of the centerpieces of the museum is the Blacktip Reef exhibit, modeled after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Over 265,000 gallons of saltwater and mounds of sculpted coral reef provide a home to 70 species of fish, a 500 lb sea turtle, over two dozen sharks, and reticulated whiptail rays. We were captivated by the Blacktip Reef exhibit. I could have watched the fish in this exhibit for hours. Though we didn’t explore the Blacktip Reef for quite that long, I’m glad we took it all in because it was a while before the sea turtle appeared. For a brief moment, the turtle emerged and then disappeared again. It was an absolute beauty to behold!
For the rest of the time, we made our way through a dozen exhibits including a Maryland-focused exhibit, where we saw two terrapins “fighting.” I’m not sure if it was a macho display or courtship, but every guest nearby was captivated by the incessant fighting and biting between the two terrapins. At the living seashore we were able to pet horseshoe crabs and skates. But my favorite exhibit was the Amazon river forest. The white-botched river stingray with its distinct pattern of dots and spots was gorgeous. And, of course, I always love seeing the jellyfish (Jellyfish Invasion exhibit) and octopus (Surviving through Adaptation exhibit).
The octopus reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. Author, naturalist, and filmmaker, Sy Montgomery takes her reader along her fascinating investigation into the behavior, intellect, and emotions of octopus. We follow her to various aquariums and the open water and along the way meet a cast of curious invertebrates. I won’t divulge too much here (I’ll save that for a formal review), but suffice it to say I highly recommend her book.
We closed out our aquarium visit with the dolphins. Then, we were off to explore the inner harbor. The weather was thankfully mild for mid-June, so we made our way towards Harbor East. Sadly, we were still full from our pre-aquarium meal so partaking in more delicious bites was out of the question, but a movie was still an option. Landmark Theatres in Baltimore is always fun because of the lobby bar, so we grabbed a couple tickets for Ocean’s 8.
After the movie, which was not that great but still not a bad way to spend a Friday night, we took a Lyft back to our hotel. Now we were hungry. We ordered shrimp tacos and veggie flatbread and waited the arrival of our midnight snacks, but UberEats never delivered our order! And so ended our evening.
The next morning we were greeted by another glorious day. We checked out of our hotel and headed to Pitango Bakery & Café in Fells Point. (There’s also a Pitango Gelato around the corner.) We had an impromptu brunch dockside with a mascarpone and jam croissant, RED sandwich – Prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, and avocado on the most amazing tomato focaccia, raspberry cake, and drip coffee (Pitango sells Vigilante coffee, delish). The day was heating up but the river breeze and the shade from the patio umbrellas made it more than bearable.
We walked around Fells Point, browsed the outdoor market, and then ultimately took in more views and river breezes from the Bond Street Wharf.
Eventually we walked back to ourcar – where we found it had been attacked by birds! – and made our way to the next destination, which was now the car wash.
It might seem odd that we would spend part of a vacation doing some work, but we’re nerds and we had already agreed to having a study day. So for a couple hours we set up shop at a Starbucks and did a little bit of work. We ended our second day the same way as the first – with a movie, TAG at Columbia AMC, and with some super tasty cheddar and caramel popcorn!