Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Baltimore: Family-Friendly Fun in Charm City

This is my eleventh post about our adventure traveling through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the other educational US travel our family has done here

Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the hotels and attractions we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.

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Baltimore, Maryland


My top priority for our time in Baltimore was to visit Ft. McHenry, so that's where we started. 

   

We'd arrived at Ft. McHenry from Hanover about 2.5 hours before they closed. It wasn't enough time to see and do everything, but we did our best to pack it all in. Between the visitor center, the interior of the fort, and the surrounding grounds, there was a lot to see and so much to learn.

  

Trevor earned his Junior Ranger badge, which is always a great way to focus a visit. We also attended two different ranger talks, both fabulous. Steve and Trevor got to help retire the Star Spangled Banner at the end of the day. 


While my top priority for our Baltimore visit was educational, my second priority was purely for entertainment's sake. The three of us watched every episode of Ace of Cakes and are huge fans of Duff Goldman. There's no way we were going to Baltimore without visiting Charm City Cakes. Fortunately, they open the bakery to visitors a few days a week!

  

The lobby area is filled with stunning sample cakes and their prices. Beyond the display tables, we could see the work stations where cake artists were busy. We were allowed to take photos of the display cakes, but not of any of the ones for clients (so as not to ruin the surprise). I would have loved to have photos of the whole layout of the bakery. 


They sell cupcakes so that visitors can taste Charm City Cakes without spending hundreds of dollars. Yummy!


Charm City Cakes is walking distance to Johns Hopkins University, home of the outstanding Baltimore Museum of Art

  

Remember my visit to the Josyln Museum where I kept asking, "HOW IS THIS FREE?!" Same situation. Name any famous artist you can think of and his/her work is probably there, along with the artwork of hundreds of less famous (but equally talented) artists.


Trevor and I love Native American beadwork. 


We actually visited three museums during our 2.5 days in Baltimore. The Walters Art Museum was also free and just a block from our hotel (which I'll talk about tomorrow). They had a little bit of everything. 

  

This mosaic map blew my mind. Even the words are made with tiles! 

  

The Walters is home to two of the 50 Fabergé eggs, but unfortunately they were on loan so we did not get to see them. Trevor has never seen one, so we were hoping he could. I guess we'll have to do some more traveling!

The other museum we saw in Baltimore was Geppi's Entertainment Museum


Their mission is share "popular culture since the nation’s earliest days in an entertaining and educational fashion so that our guests have the unique opportunity to walk through a timeline that parallels and is entwined with history as a whole."

  

Steve was very interested in the comic book displays, while the toys and games interested me the most. It was particularly neat to recognize toys from my parents' childhood (that I remember from digging through closets at my grandparents' house) and then to transition into stuff from my own childhood. Trevor was very interested in seeing how the Disney memorabilia changed over time. He also like the Happy Meals display, the Pez dispensers, everything having to do with Peanuts, and the various space-related stuff. This is the kind of nostalgic museum that is best appreciated by its oldest guests, but it definitely has plenty for everyone to enjoy. 

  

Geppi's is located right next to Camden Yards, so we spent some time exploring Oriole Park. Did you know Babe Ruth grew up in Baltimore?


I was surprised to see that they use both cartoon and realistic versions of their mascot, The Oriole Bird. Neat. 

  

Is it weird that I take pictures of interesting trash cans (or in this case, recycling bins)? 


We did the Baltimore Urban Adventure Quest on our final day in Charm City before heading to the airport. It was a wonderful way to explore the Inner Harbor area


As always, the Quest took us to places we might not have noticed otherwise and taught us so much about the area.

  
  

One of the Quest challenges took us to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.


Even though the Quests are timed, we'd rather take the time to explore interesting things like this instead of just racing past them. 


The Quest ended at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. It's a museum and it sounds great, but we needed to get the airport. Next time!


We did stop for some photos in the courtyard area. This map is inlayed with stone from each of the 50 states and was so pretty. My toe is on our home in Fairfield, California and Trevor's toe is on Baltimore, Maryland.


Looking back on these photos, and that one in particular, fills me with a strange mix of emotions. We had just left Pennsylvania and arrived in Baltimore as the Atlas Fire blazed close to our house. We learned that school was canceled for the week. As we listened to the ranger talks at Ft. McHenry, our neighborhood was put on 'Be Ready' status and I texted friends who'd offered to help us evacuate. I talked with the bunnysitter from Geppi's, checking that she found Trouble's carrier and extra supplies. The nights in Baltimore were very, very difficult for me. I was afraid to sleep for fear of missing a critical update or development. The updates and alerts came often. I was physically and emotionally wiped out. I was in Maryland and doing the best I could to enjoy the experience and Baltimore's hospitality, but my heart was back home.

That said, the photos make me really happy, too. It takes a special city to get my mind off the possibility of losing our house, and there were plenty of times that I forgot all about that. Tomorrow I'll share where to stay and what to eat in Baltimore, as both helped make our trip even more special. 


1 comment:

  1. I'm sure that was hard trying to enjoy your time there while your home/neighborhood was on watch :( LOVING all the photos!! That would be awesome to visit Duff's store and that pop culture museum looks AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

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