In October, I spent several days in Baltimore, Maryland. The city is known for its harbor and famous crab cakes. I spoke about my quest to run two marathons within two weeks, and it didn’t go as planned. I ended up demoting myself from the full marathon to what’s called a bal-ta-mor-athon, which consist of running a 5k and the half marathon. However, I truly enjoyed myself and the city. If you are running the race or just coming to hang for the weekend, here is a travel guide of the city of Baltimore and the Baltimore Running Festival. So I wanted to share a race recap, travel tips and obviously things to see and do in Baltimore.
Travel to Baltimore
I travel by way of Southwest airlines straight into Baltimore main airport – BWI, but you can also travel into Washington D.C., which is about an hour away. Additionally, you can fly into Regan or Dulles and take either a train or rent a car to travel the hour distance to Baltimore. So in short, there are a few different ways go getting to B-more.
I like BWI because it’s nice, clean and connects directly to the light train. I took the light train from the airport straight into the downtown harbor area for only $1.80!! It was a great way to see the city and relax my feet for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, on the way back due to leaving at the crack of daw, I had to take Uber to the airport, which cost me a little over $20 but it was a short 10-15 minute trip from my hotel.
Getting around the city is very easy. I walked most places because they were within walking distance and when not Lyft, which has a more significant prescience in Baltimore during this time, was available within a few minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take the bus, but the bus is free and very easy to navigate throughout the city.
Hotels to Stay At In Baltimore
While there, I visited several different hotels for an upcoming event I am planning with the Black Marathoners Association. My favorite hotels thus far are the Baltimore Renaissance Hotel by the Harbor and Hilton Baltimore.
Baltimore Renaissance Hotel
From amazing views of the harbor every time you wake up to their endless healthy breakfast buffet, this hotel is perfect for families and those who want to be within a few feet from most tourist attractions and less than a mile from Wholefoods.(Gotta be close to a store for last minute item!) Additionally, the hotel is connected to the mall, which may be great for some or not so great for others. I was tempted to do some massive shopping, but I didn’t! HA! I liked that the Marriott allowed guest to make reservations for dining at any time because there is nothing like wasting time for waiting around for a table. Additionally, their breakfast and bar for a night cocktail are great. I was able to make my own juice as I overlooked the harbor before race morning. The hotel is half a mile from the train and pretty easy to access for anything.
I stayed at the Hilton Baltimore, which is my top pick of hotels to stay at. It is currently undergoing some updates, but they have already started and should be completed by March 2018. I got a chance to see the newer rooms, which are amazing! The view is breathtaking because you get to look at the beautiful baseball stadium and some of the city skyline. Hilton’s customer service is unlike any hotel I had.
Additionally, I liked the Hilton because I was close to several local bars (not tourist stuff), directly off the light train and could easily walk with 10 minutes to the harbor to meet up for drinks. Oh yeah, the food there is the BOMB! I had crab dip, salmon BLT, and beet salad; which everything I ate was so fresh and delicious.
Dining Places in Baltimore Harbor
Speaking of food, Where can I start! There are so many places to eat in Baltimore, and most of them are within walking distance of either hotel or a short 5-minute ride. I want to focus on most of the restaurants and dinning within the harbor area because I didn’t get a chance to eat at all the places but here are a few highlights of places to go.
- The Land of Kush – the Best Black vegetarian restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. Make sure you grab it and then some for the next day! It’s that good.
- Phillips Seafoods: Be careful, you can eat everything at this restaurant and want to continue to eat more. There are so many options, but I had the salmon salad; however, I will be back for their famous seafood mac and cheese.
- Hard Rock Cafe – Because I know some of you gotta grab the magnet and pins of each location.
- The Grub Factory – Great spot for vegans. Can’t make it? Then hit the grub hub for delivery to you.
- Pappas Restaurant – Known for the best crab cakes for decades. Additionally, Oprah listed them as one of her favorite things, so ya know if O’ says it then.
- Hilton Hotel: For a hotel, this food is the bomb.com. Get into the beet salad, which these pecans were like heaven or their crab dip. If you are staying there, they have tons of specials and goodies before and during the baseball games, which are across the street.
- Rita’s Frozen Custard – If you haven’t had Rita’s you are missing out. Nothing like stopping midday for some frozen homemade custard, Italian ice or any one of the countless sweets. There is one right in the harbor with fast service and loads of options.
- Other Vegan & Vegetarian Spots Close –Here is a list of other vegan and vegetarian spots close by. I couldn’t visit them all but they are all worth a visit or two.
- Other Options – If you wanna save a few extra coins, then head on over to Wholefoods, and CVS is often within a few blocks of where you are in the harbor to pick up groceries and such. Also, the whole foods have delicious juice and food options too.
Things to Do In Baltimore
So, honestly I had a business meeting so I couldn’t do any of the things I am listing, but I did see all the stuff I want to do in the harbor next time.
- Maryland 9/11 Memorial – In the harbor you will notice an artifact inspired by New York’s World Trade Center – three, 22-foot-long twisted and torn amalgamated steel columns from the Twin Towers.
- Historic Ship Tours – Located within easy walking distance of each other, four ships and a lighthouse exhibit are perfect for the history buffs and ship lovers.
- Cruises – You can go on a variety of cruises that go around the city of Baltimore all day but if I had to pick the Saturday night cruise would be the thing I gotta do when I go back next year.
- Maryland Science Center – Great for kids and science lovers as it includes an Imax and planetarium.
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – Museum with kitschy oddities on display, including shrunken human heads & rare animal skeletons.
- Top of the World Observation Level – Really cool building where you can see the entire Baltimore skyline and city
- National Aquarium Baltimore – Large aquarium featuring giant turtles, dolphins and electric eels.
- Power Plant Live! – A block from the harbor where there are a collection of bars, food spots and such till the wee hours of the night/morning. From live music to dance spots, this is yours after hour spot.
- Inner Harbor: Inner Harbor is a sightseeing hub, home to everything I mentioned and much more. From shipping to great dinning and hotels it’s pretty much your one stop shop for everything B-more. From the Tower that over looks the entire city and warships docked below; to. Power Plant Live- a complex of bars, eateries and music venues, the inner harbor is where it’s at!!
- Visit Washington, D.C. – Within an hour you can head to a number of other states such as D.C.. It’s a great time to make a quick road trip to see visit the new Smithsonian or catch a football game.
- Crab Medals – Crab is a thing in Baltimore… so the medals are crabs. Folks love the crab medals!
Baltimore Running Festival Race Recap & Tips
Baltimore has several different races, but it’s most popular races take place during the Baltimore Running Festival Weekend. The Baltimore Marathon is the flagship race of several races held in Baltimore, Maryland known collectively as the Baltimore Running Festival. There is a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full-marathon.
- Crowd support and sights are really nice in the race as you go through each neighborhood
- Post-race party is a lot of fun. It includes charity tents and a family celebration area where there is food, live music and much more
- FREE race pictures within a day of the event and can easily share online
- Baltimore PD hands out medals and they are super nice and easy on the eyes!
- The race allows you to visit all the areas of Baltimore and also get a glimpse of the cities heritage
- Finishers beer or wine. The wine is very good! I almost bought a bottle to bring back.
- The half marathon started on one of the toughest hills one minute into the race. Yeah it’s that hilly.
- Expo and finishers items are nice. It’s under amour house so you can expect nice merchandise.
- Expo wasn’t filled up with annoying companies and I enjoyed being at it. Just as a heads up you pickup bib first but your race your shirts are at the end of the expo.
I have a million photos that I took so make sure you check out the gallery at the top of this post. :-)