#TravelTuesday Where to Go: @BaltimoreMD – My 5 Fave #InnerHarbor Spots #FamilyTravel

Baltimore is one of our favorite cities to visit as a family.

Why ?

It’s a great place that ends up pleasing almost everyone who has ever visited there. Waterfront fun, world class restaurants and attractions play a big part in it’s charm

Our recent visit centered around the Inner Harbor and all it has to offer.

Baltimore‘s Inner Harbor

Here are my 5 favorite places to stay~eat~play with my family while visiting downtown Baltimore: 

Hyatt Place Baltimore Inner Harbor East 

The Hyatt Place Hotel was our base camp for our stay. Located in the trendy Harbor East area, Hyatt Place is situated perfectly to access all the Inner Harbor has to offer. Superb bedding, modern and chic style are everywhere, but it is their superior customer service and local knowledge that sets them apart from other choices. Their breakfast is awesome and they have a great room service menu to boot!

To see a more in depth hotel review, read here.

National Aquarium

My little one LOVES fish and all things in the ocean so The National Aquarium was a easy choice.

Within walking distance from Hyatt Place you will find one of the world’s greatest aquariums. Opened in 1981, this structure houses an impressive array of fish, shark and coral reef species. It’s open design allowed us to view all sorts of sea animals while at different levels of the building. Rays and sharks. Jellyfish and giant groupers. My daughter just LOVED the Dolphin tank. They have many interactive kid sized exhbits. She even put on a puppet show ! Most of their viewing windows are low enough for her to see at eye level. The rain forest was simply amazing. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say keep looking carefully in the trees and you will be surprised

Phillips Seafood

Blue Crabs are THE quintessential Baltimore summer food so what better place to go then Phillips Seafood Restaurant.

Walking distance from the Aquarium sits world renowned Phillips. They have an over water crab deck open for diners in the summer, so we indulged in crabs and shrimp right over the water. My daughter loved seeing the ducks swim by to say hello. Their kids menu is much more varied than most places. They had everything from grilled salmon to clam strips. Stellar service matched the laid back cuisine.It lived up to it’s iconic reputation.

We recently did a “Tasty Thursday” feature of this restaurant , as seen here. Check out this photo slideshow of some of the deliciousness we enjoyed on the crab deck at Phillips Seafood Baltimore!

Baltimore Water Taxi

We also wanted to get ON the water and there’s no better way than to buy a daily ticket on The Water Taxi. For just $14 you have on and off rights all day long. The Water Taxi stops at various popular destinations throughout the Inner Harbor area. We embarked at Fells Point and went on a short cruise to Fort Mchenry.

*Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine 

Fort Mchenry was the decisive battle that decided the War Of 1812. That battle inspired our national anthem. We toured the grounds and the cannons. You could still feel the weight of history here. We also witnessed some folks in historic dress telling visitors about the rich history of the Fort.

We caught the Water Taxi back to Fells Point to transfer on another boat. The warm breeze on the ride was a welcome relief from the summer heat ! Next stop was for Harborplace on the west side of the harbor. Besides being a major restaurant and shopping destination, Harborplace also has some entertaining attractions.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Baltimore

Located in the HarborPlace, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium Baltimore was a fun and fascinating entertainment spot. It is Filled with artifacts and interactive exhibits. My little one spent extra time in their kaleidescope dancing mirror area ! Hubby tried to measure up to tthe world’s tallest man !

After some window shopping off we went again on the Water Taxi back to Fells Point. An easy walk back from there back to the Hyatt Place for some well needed rest. Baltimore is a great place with so much to do. Until next time

Go to Baltimore.org and discover more about the exciting things you can only see and experience in “Charm City”. We love the Inner Harbor and hope you get a chance to visit some of our faves !

BTW…Baltimore has had a rough last year and seems to be bouncing back . This T-Shirt just exemplifies how I feel about this port City. Hope you feel the same way too https://www.amazon.com/Idakoos-Baltimore-Cities-Sleeve-T-Shirt/dp/B01KOUL45U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471824436&sr=8-2&keywords=keep+calm+and+love+baltimore

#TastyThursday spotlight on @PhillipsSeafood #HappyHour + #BloodyMaryMeals = OMG ,so good!

Summer for Baltimoreans means two things. Humidity and steamed crabs. Both were in abundance last week when we visited Phillips at the world famous Inner Harbor. We dined alfresco on their pier “Crab” deck adjacent with their regular restaurant.

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We started off by enjoying a few of their happy hour specially prices drinks, like white Sangria! We also enjoyed a half dozen of oysters that they harvest themselves. Their Happy Hour $4 cocktails and specially priced apps run Mon-Fri between 4pm and7pm.

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Some friends and family joined us for what can only be described as the worlds most incredible Bloody Mary. It was delicious and came in a HUGE Quart sized glass container.

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While that by itself was amazing, it was what the bloody mary was topped with. Steamed crabs, steamed shrimp, chicken wings and potatoes !! You read that correctly. Phillips calls this their “Crab Feast Bloody” !! Enough for the whole table !!

It is quite a production and comes balanced like a tightrope walker in fish netting and all !! The waiter assured me it would not fall over , just be careful taking it all apart ! All heads on the deck turned once folk saw this gargantuan meal of a bloody mary making it’s way to our paper topped picnic table !!

My 5 year old didn’t know what in the world to make of this “meal”.
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It was amazing. The crabs, shrimp and chicken soon began to dissappear as did the perfectly boiled potatoes. Slowly the bloody mary level starting to drop also !! My mom simply LOVES Bloody Mary’s and she was a big part in assisting in it’s demise !!

Hot weather, Hot Crabs and Ice cold Bloody Mary. THAT ,my friends is what summer is all about.

Next trip to Phillips, try something new, something big, something HUGE . Try the Crab Feast Bloody !

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Follow this link and you can buy a small can of their famous seafood seasoning at a great price https://www.amazon.com/Phillips-Natural-Famous-Seafood-Seasoning/dp/B00H3TE19W/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1473261349&sr=8-2&keywords=phillips+seafood

Recap #SpringTravel to @BaltimoreMD for @LightCityBmore

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In February, we visited Charm City to explore the “Romantic Side of Baltimore” (read more here) and learned about the upcoming Light City Baltimore and immediately made family travel plans to return in the Spring. Since we enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt Place Baltimore Inner Harbor East during our last visit, we knew that it would be the perfect location to walk to shops, restaurants and also most of the BGE Light Art Walk during the festival. When we arrived early Friday, we were thankful that staff was able to expedite check in and allow us to lounge in the cafe area until our room was ready. My 4 yr old immediately relaxed on the bed and tuned into her favorite TV show on the flat screen TV.
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After we settled a bit, we visited the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to learn how to start a Family Tree. Read our interview here with the Resource Center Manager, Lisa Crawley. We then parked our car and decided to explore this walkable city and head over to the HarborPlace, located in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Along the way we saw some of the Light Walk attractions and other installations by day. My daughter really enjoyed playing music on the oversized instruments and playing in the sound garden found in the Kiddie Light City area.
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We had lunch at Phillips Seafood Baltimore because you can’t visit Baltimore without having some Maryland style seafood! See (here) why this is one of my favorite places to dine. Speaking of favorites, the LUSH Cosmetics store which was also walking distance from our hotel,  has natural skin care and bath & body products great for the entire family. Our room at the Hyatt Place Baltimore Inner Harbor East had a bathtub, so my daughter and I made it a point to go on a little Bath Bombs shopping spree at the LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics store, Harbor East location. Manager Mandee and her staff were very knowledgeable of the products and made it a very pleasant shopping experience. If you have any questions, like/follow them and ask via Facebook page . They are very responsive and provided great customer service both on and offline.
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The Light City Baltimore Festival each night started at 7pm. It was a unique event featuring art, music, and culture -combined to showcase the city of Baltimore via light! On the first night it rained a bit but we were able to enjoy some of it Friday/Saturday. This free, family-friendly event was the nation’s first large-scale, light, music and innovation festival. Be sure to mark your calendars for Light City round two in March 2017! Check out this Visit Baltimore video clip of what to expect : https://youtu.be/K66hToPGvVI

Here are a few pics of what we saw during the evening:
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Another attraction we enjoyed during our stay was the National Aquarium . You can arrange for tickets prior to going with the hotel concierge. Skip the line and just redeem voucher at Will Call…how convenient! If you are looking for family fun during your Baltimore stay, this is a must see place. Check out this video of their stunning jelly fish exhibit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BDtKlqkCXJl/

We ended our short but sweet weekend on a high note by dining at Wit & Wisdom for their Sunday Brunch. It is located in Harbor East as well at the Four Seasons Hotel. We had a wonderful view of the water and it was a delicious experience ! Read our full brunch review here and see why you should treat your tastebuds to a visit to this restaurant your next visit to Baltimore!

All in all, great family memories made during our Spring Break to the Charm City!

Explore the Romantic Side of #Baltimore ! @BaltimoreMd @hyattplacebalt #Hyattplace @FlowersFancies @artBMA~Recap SobeSavvy .com

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This past Valentine’s day weekend, my husband and I decided to drive up to the quintessentially American city of Orioles and Ravens..Baltimore. We have traveled here before with our daughter to enjoy the charm of charm city by visiting many of its attractions. This time we wanted to explore the romantic side of Baltimore!

The city has many special neighborhoods to enjoy. Folks kept advising us that we HAVE to explore Harbor East. Apparently this is a newer built up area east of downtown proper. Trendy shops and restaurants abound. The buzz in the air is palpable. The problem with trendy is that style often trumps substance. I wanted to take no chances with my lodging choice for the weekend. I wanted a spot with all the amenities. That spot was the Hyatt Place Inner Harbor.

With a stylish and discreet business center in the lobby, it can be assumed that this Hyatt brand is geared toward extended stay business travelers. While that may be the case on the surface, it’s also a great place for leisure travelers and romantics alike. Check in was very friendly and efficient. When I entered our guest room, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Baltimore’s premier florist, Flowers & Fancies
Per their website,”Since 1971 Flowers & Fancies has strived to serve its clients with a higher standard of high quality florals, inspired designs, and world class customer service”. Just take one look at these beautiful flowers and I am sure you will agree with their statement. They also provide same day delivery. Romantic flowers for a romantic weekend. Make sure you use them on your next visit to Baltimore.
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After being mesmorized by the floral arrangement, I could finally take in the oversized guest room. With a very strategically place partition, it made the space seem even bigger. The design was perfect for our romantic weekend. Ceiling to Floor windows! Modern furniture that was very comfortable. Even the wall art was tasteful and stylish. We loved it!
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They have a cocktail and coffee bar in the lobby that also serves a wide variety of desserts. Although we had a dinner reservation at one of the many nearby restaurants , we wanted to do something a little intimate with a group of friends. The hotel reserved a special space in their gallery where we hosted an after dinner dessert extravaganza for our party. Coffee to Cocktails is open till 12:00AM and it was the perfect place for me and our guests. Dessert choices are but not limited too – Cheesecake, Cupcakes, Cookies and Chocolate “Lava” Cake which was fabulous.
The Key Lime pie slice was my favorite. Our friends had a great time ending the evening with us.
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Some of the other perks of Hyatt Place include:
* 24 hour a day food menu . That's right. If you really want a Bacon & Cheddar burger at 3:30am, they make it happen !
* Quiet Rest. This is a urban location so the floor to ceiling windows are double paned.
* Modern business center is also at your disposal 24 hrs a day.
* Meeting spaces are also available for corporate or casual meetings. State of the Art Audio /Visual equipment is present in the meeting rooms.
*Indoor heated pool? Check . Modern workout fitness room ? check.
* An awesome free A.M Skillet breakfast. Eggs done two ways, waffles and various juices. They even offered almond milk.
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That delicious full breakfast provided us the energy to explore more of the Romantic side of Baltimore as we prepared to leave the Harbor East area and visit the Baltimore Museum of Art. It was a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day by visiting one of the romantic art museums in the city. A great date is satisfying to the mind and heart which made this a perfect outing because I love art. The BMA houses the world’s largest Matisse collection, an array of African and Asian art and a wild contemporary wing.
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Overall, it was a great stay in Baltimore. Due to inclement weather we ended up extending our visit one extra day. Hyatt Place offers free WiFi, so I was able to work remotely in the comfort of our room!
If you are planning a visit to Baltimore, MD and looking for a place to relax, work or have a romantic rendezvous consider Hyatt Place Inner Harbor. #TheresAPlaceForYou

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#VisitBaltimore & #GetARoom @HI_InnerHarbor @BaltimoreMd & Dine at #EdenWest #DottiesCafe

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I recently shared with you all the family fun things to do in Baltimore but did not mention where we stayed.This was not an oversight. I intentionally wanted to dedicate a post specifically to accommodations and let you know when looking for a budget friendly place to stay that is within walking distance to all Inner Harbor attractions, choose Holiday Inn Inner Harbor-Baltimore!

It has 365 rooms, including 12 suites and a pillow menu option. The Holiday Inn Inner Harbor makes comfort and hospitality their priority. At the front desk, lollipops and smiles await from the friendly and helpful staff. It was lunchtime, so we were advised to dine at the hotel’s restaurant, Eden West.

Featuring classic Maryland Cuisine, Eden West Restaurant pleasantly surprised and satisfied our appetites! Delicious, fresh and innovative, this place is a hidden treasure to tastebuds everywhere! Oh and kids eat free! An extra plus for budget friendly family travelers.

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Mac & cheese, fruit and milk includes a sweet treat at the end! Crayons and coloring sheet provided by the restaurant kept my Li’l one entertained.

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Our waiter advised us of some recently new items on the menu. For starters I tried the Sweet & Tangy St Louis styled Applewood smoked BBQ Ribs. They are made with homemade lemonade BBQ sauce. So good, tender and I really enjoyed the flavors. It was the first time my 4 yr old tried BBQ ribs because she normally doesn’t like sauce on anything. She is now a fan!

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Next I had the signature Eden’s Salad: mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, cucmbers, mushrooms topped with salmon. As you can see in the picture it’s a big portion so you get alot for a reasonable price! You also get the option of chicken or beef to top your salad if you like. It was super fresh and fulfilling!

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No visit to Baltimore is complete without trying a crab cake sandwich, so I was happy to see this option on the menu. A nice mix of broiled lump crab meat and old bay. Served on a pretzel roll with lettuce and tomato. It came with a side of fries. This was good to the last bite! We ended our meal with a dessert at the recommendation of our waiter. His favorite was the hot apple crisp and it’s now my favorite too!

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After a long travel day, it was time to get comfortable in our ‘home’ away from home during our stay. This hotel has complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel and a 24 hr fitness center. There’s also an indoor pool with sauna but they also have suites complete with whirlpool baths! Here are some pictures of our contemporary stylish suite :

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Remember…Kids Stay Free, a Holiday Inn North America program expectation!

The next day before we set out to explore the Baltimore area   we stopped at Dottie’s Cafe. It’s a coffee shop located in the lobby and has plenty of nibble and nosh options! Souvenirs, newspapers and sundries are available too as well as local and regional goods.
“Dottie Kmoch opened our hotel in 1964 as a switchboard operator (when they actually used plug-in wires) and was most recently our Director of Human Resources until she passed away last year.  She was a feisty redhead and loved by all – this is her Holiday Inn legacy!”, says Judy Wilbur Director of Sales & Marketing at Holiday Inn Inner Harbor – Baltimore.

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Be sure to sign up for the IHG Rewards Club to earn points when you stay or make any purchases !

After a fun filled day, we had a sweet dreams treat waiting for us. Who doesn’t love tasty surprises?! Thanks Holiday Inn! We ❤  you and Baltimore too!

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Ready, Set, CRACK ! @PhillipsSeafood #phillipsseafood

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Ready Set ..CRACK..with those 3 words we commenced being the origin of the sweetest sound in the world. The cracking of the crabs. Not just any crabs, but the world famous Chesapeake Bay Blue crabs. Where was all this cracking taking place you ask? At the world famous Phillips Seafood restaurant at The Power Plant in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor http://www.phillipsseafood.com/locations-and-menus/baltimore

This venerable mainstay has been serving up the crustaceans at the Inner Harbor for over 30 years. First at the original Harborplace pavillion, now they are right on the other side of the Inner Harbor at 601 E.Pratt Street. It was a beautiful warm summer afternoon when we arrived. Diners can choose to sit inside for a full service restaurant experience or sit on their amazing outdoor section on a actual pier that juts out from the mainland. This section is for a unique steamed seafood al fresco experience. We also witnessed their curbside delivery service of large crab orders ! We chose to sit outside.

On the pier they actually have full size commercial steamers where your order is steamed fresh. I’m talking mussels, clams, shrimp and of course the star of the show..CRABS !! Our server Jeanette was affable and bevy of information. She has been with the Phillips family for a number of years. I say “family” because Phillips is still family owned. But more importantly I say family, because Jeanette advised that is how they treat their employees. In a world where employees feel neglected and treated as a simple commodity she said they not only recognize their employees for superior work but they also do annual events for the employees as well. Phillips knows that a company with happy employees is a company that succeeds.

We started with some cocktails. We tried their award winning Bloody Mary and also the Blue Margarita. Both we incredible. Now on to the food !

First up were the steamed mussels pot. Large and perfectly steamed. They came with farm fresh corn and potatoes. Next up was the crab mac and cheese and jumbo pure lump crab cakes. All jumbo lump, no filler. both were incredible. The cheese and crab combo was sublime. The crab cake was incredibly delicious!

All of a sudden a steaming hot paper bag showed up on our table. It could only mean one thing..CRAB TIME !! We unceremoniously dumped them out on the classic paper wrapped table tops. The unmistaken pungent goodness that “smells like Baltimore” filled the air. Heaven had arrived. Although I am a native Baltimorean I had Jeanette show us step by step how a blue crab is taken apart. It is second nature to those of us born here but to the novice it can be quite intimidating and confusing. She obliged nicely and the pics show each step! Dessert was offered but who I am kidding , there was room for none. We left Phillips smiling as if in love again for the first time. I may no longer live in Baltimore, but thanks to Phillips, Baltimore will always live in me.

Next time in Charm City, go to Phillips and tell em’ SOBESAVVY.COM sent ya !

Enjoy the pics of that great afternoon.

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Enjoy this photo slideshow from my delicious dining experience !