We had the most incredible time exploring Baltimore! All of this was accomplished in 2ish days, and everything listed is within minutes of the next thing.
Nick’s Fish House
We started things off with a bang heading straight from the airport to a waterfront lunch at Nick’s Fish House. This was the most remarkable and memorable meal of the trip that I know we will continue to talk about for years to come. The crabs were HUGE and absolutely outstanding, the ambiance was perfection and it was just an excellent way to dive in to Baltimore.
Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop
Oh my goodness, our first jaunt into Baltimore’s Little Italy was ahhh-mazing! We stopped in Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop for iced coffee and cannoli. Every item on the menu looked delicious. I only set out to have half of my chocolate dipped cannoli but you know what they say about the best laid plans.
Tagliata Italian Chop House
Also in Little Italy, we enjoyed the most divine little lunch at Tagliata Italian Chop House. This restaurant absolutely puts the charm in Charm City. Everything from the ambiance to the garden to the service to the music to the food was exceptional. It is a place I wish I could return time and again! I imagine that the courtyard and outdoor bar area is spectacular at night with the twinkle lights and music.
The meatballs were a standout and every one of us enjoyed our pasta lunch. Whit had the chicken parmesan over angel hair, Honey and John did the Bolognese and I chose the pasta with vodka sauce. It’s my favorite when done well and this was done well. :-)
When the growing boys were hungry for a “midnight” snack, Honey and I headed across the street from Pendry to Kooper’s Tavern. We received such a warm welcome and bellied up to the bar while waiting on their to-go order. We struck up a conversation with two friendly bartenders and before we knew it had two “Natty Boh’s” sitting in front of us. We asked for what the locals drink and they delivered! Natural Bohemian is a Baltimore beer dating back to 1885. It is rimmed with Old Bay, a Baltimore original from 1939. It was quite tasty and we will definitely enjoy it at home (not with Natty Boh). Old Bay is a favorite among Savannahians as well and something we’ve had in our kitchen since I was born. If you’re curious, the boys gave two thumbs up on their burgers and mozzarella patties.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Moving along to the “sees” and “dos”, visiting Fort McHenry National Monument was our collective favorite and most memorable experience we had in Baltimore. We really enjoyed learning about the Fort’s storied history, from the Revolutionary War to WWII.
We definitely recommend doing the self-guided tour since ranger led tours have not returned. Use your phone to access it from the National Park Service site as you walk through the fort. You will learn about 1814 soldier life, the bombardment of Fort McHenry, and other interesting times in the forts history such as hospitals and taverns.
It was interesting to compare the similarities (too many to count) and differences (primarily being Union versus Confederate) of Fort McHenry and our favorite “hometown” fort of Fort Pulaski during the Civil War. The boys used Fort Pulaski almost as a playground in their young summers spent in Savannah and Tybee Island. Whit did the same the moment we arrived at Fort McHenry – taking off down the winding pathways and hills of the fortress.
Fired by the British Naval Forces during the Battle of Baltimore on September 13-14, 1814, the light of “bombs bursting in air” inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that became the U.S. national anthem. The valiant defense of Fort McHenry was the birth of The Star Spangled Banner.
We were also excited to get two more stamps in our National Parks Passport!
A teeny tiny little sign that I stumbled on in the gift shop on our way in led to the most incredible experience and souvenir! We purchased a 50 star flag and the park rangers hoisted it over Fort McHenry. Our new flag was flown over the home of the Star Spangled Banner… the sight where Francis Scott Key saw our flag gallantly streaming through the perilous fight. It was such a neat moment and a souvenir we will treasure!
Federal Hill was a defensive stronghold during the War of 1812. Now, Federal Hill is characterized by historic brick row homes and numerous locally-owned shops and restaurants. We took a few minutes to explore the neighborhood and soak in the panoramic view of Baltimore’s downtown and Inner Harbor.
Our hotel was located right at Fell’s Point and it was a charming area to explore. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Baltimore, Fell’s Point was once a bustling shipbuilding port. Picture Belgian block streets, waterfront restaurants and cozy boutiques just a few blocks east of the Inner Harbor.
We did not get to these things, but they look amazing!
Established in 1763, Fell’s Point is a city, state and National Historic District and boasts more than 300 buildings on the National Register, including the oldest standing residence in Baltimore City, the Robert Long House, which is open for tours by reservation. You can also learn about Fell’s Point’s history as home to the first African American-owned shipyard in the country at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum. Walk the Belgian block streets, the original stone bricks brought over by trade ships from Europe, to Broadway Market, a year-round indoor market built in 1786 that houses a number of international delicacies and local treats. Once you’re done, stop for a drink at the city’s oldest bar, The Horse You Came In On Saloon (rumored to be Edgar Allan Poe’s last stop before his mysterious death).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention or jaunt into the Harbor East neighborhood. A highlight for the boys was shopping in the Under Armor Brand Store, who’s global headquarters is also in Baltimore.
National Aquarium & Inner Harbor
Finally, we spent a couple of hours exploring the National Aquarium! It was easily the most crowded place we’ve been in a LONG time (Disney parks included) and it was hard to get close to many of the exhibits. The boys both wanted to visit the National Aquarium and I’m glad we did. Overall, I think it was pretty great as far as aquariums go, but we are soooo spoiled by the Georgia Aquarium right here at home!
The Inner Harbor area was full of restaurants and excitement and we enjoyed walking around the bridges and waterfront area before our entry time for the aquarium. One note… Baltimore is as hot as the surface of the sun come 2:30 PM. I thought Georgia was hot. :-)
We packed in a whole lot of fun and returned home feeling SO glad that we tagged on time before and after lacrosse games to explore Baltimore!
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