Tag: Maryland

Surprise! A Dozen Amazing Things to Do in Baltimore MD

Surprise! A Dozen Amazing Things to Do in Baltimore MD

Things to Do in Baltimore MD

For decades, Baltimore has been seen as the ugly stepsister to Washington DC’s Cinderella. Many people consider it less attractive, less popular, and less interesting, with less to offer tourists. In the mid-1970s, then Mayor William Donald Schaefer wanted to come up with a catchy name or slogan to help improve the city’s image. Advertising executives met to discuss the idea and one of them came up with the following statement:

Baltimore has more history and unspoiled charm tucked away in quiet corners than most American cities out in the spotlight.

From there, the city’s nickname – Charm City – was born. The advertising campaign fizzled out not long after it was started, but the name stuck. Today you will still hear people refer to Baltimore as Charm City. While it might seem like a misnomer, there are dozens of great things to do in Baltimore MD. Here are a few of my favorites.

Catch an Orioles Game (April-September)

Fans of the Baltimore Orioles are a die hard bunch. The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1983, but hope springs eternal in Charm City. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the stadium (Oriole Park at Camden Yards) is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Built about 25 years ago, Camden Yards was the first “retro” design stadium. Before that, major league stadiums were symmetrical multi-purpose stadiums used for both baseball and football. Now, roughly two thirds of the major league baseball teams have followed suit, and built retro parks. The great thing about watching a baseball game at Camden Yards is that there really aren’t any bad seats. You’ll have a great view of the action no matter where you are.

Visit Not One, but TWO Free Art Museums

There are two top-notch art museums in Baltimore, and both have free admission.  The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is home to an internationally renowned collection of art that ranges from ancient Antioch mosaics to cutting-edge contemporary art. The BMA has over 95,000 works of art, including the largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse.

Things to do in Baltimore MD - The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum both have outstanding collections and offer free admission.
The Baltimore Museum of Art features the work of many famous artists, like Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. The Walters has a priceless collection of art from many countries and time periods, including this beautiful Faberge egg.

The collection of works at the Walters Art Museum includes masterworks of ancient Egypt, Greek sculpture and Roman sarcophagi, medieval ivories, illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance bronzes, Old Master European and 19th-century paintings, Chinese ceramics and bronzes, Art Deco jewelry (including Tiffany & Lalique), and ancient Near East, Mesopotamian, or ancient Middle East items.

Mt Vernon Neighborhood

While at the Walters, spend some time exploring the neighborhood outside, which is known as Mt Vernon. Designated a National Historic Landmark District and a city Cultural District, it is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and originally was home to Baltimore’s most wealthy and fashionable families.

Architecture enthusiasts in particular will enjoy strolling through the area. It’s not uncommon to find houses that date back a century or even two. Mount Vernon boasts examples of many different types of period architecture: Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Romanesque, Chateau, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts and Classical Revival.

The Washington Monument – Yes, in Baltimore!

While you’re walking around Mt Vernon, check out the original Washington Monument, which is the first U.S. heroic and civic monument dedicated to George Washington. It predates the one in Washington DC by over 30 years.

Things to do in Baltimore MD - visit the original Washington Monument, built 30+ years before the one in DC

You can climb the Monument’s 227 marble steps for a great view of the city. Open Wed.-Sun. The Monument’s gallery with interactive exhibits is free; the climb to the top $6 for adults, $4 for children.

Peabody Library

Also in the Mt Vernon area, the George Peabody Library is a must see for bibliophiles. The library’s collection dates from the founding of the Peabody Institute in 1857. In that year, George Peabody, a Massachusetts-born philanthropist, dedicated the Peabody Institute to the citizens of Baltimore in appreciation of their “kindness and hospitality.”

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - the gorgeous George Peabody Library.

The library contains five floors of ornamental cast-iron balconies, which rise dramatically to the skylight 61 feet above the floor. It houses 300,000 volumes, mainly from the 19th century, with strengths in religion, British art, architecture, topography and history; American history, biography, and literature; Romance languages and literature; history of science; and geography, exploration, and travel.

It’s such a beautiful building that it also serves as a venue for weddings and private events.

Eat in Little Italy

Baltimore’s Little Italy is an old quaint Italian neighborhood in Baltimore City that has survived and thrived for several generations. Its original residents emigrated from Italy from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. By 1920 the neighborhood was 100% Italian. It boasts century-old row homes, family-run restaurants, bocce courts, cultural learning center, Sons of Italy lodge, and much more. Lovingly nicknamed ‘The Neighborhood,’ Little Italy is a tight-knit Italian community that today includes residents of other ethnic backgrounds as well. Have dinner at a great restaurant like Amicci’s, but don’t get too full.  You’ll want to be sure to stop by Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop for dessert!

Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry was the focus of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Over a 27 hour period, the British fired 1,500 to 1,800 cannonballs at the fort. What’s worse, they did so from just outside the range of the fort’s cannons, so they could not be bombarded in return.

On the morning of September 14, 1814, the regular flag at Fort McHenry was replaced with a larger flag, signaling American victory over the British. The sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Later, the poem was set to music and become known as the “Star Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem.

Every September, the City of Baltimore celebrates Defenders Day in honor of the Battle of Baltimore. It is the biggest celebration of the year at the Fort, with programs, events, and spectacular fireworks. But Fort McHenry is worth visiting at any time of year for its historical reenactments, exhibits about the War of 1812, and more.

The Inner Harbor

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a hub of activity. In just a few city blocks, you can unearth dinosaurs at the Maryland Science Center, get a history lesson at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, pay respects to pop culture at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, or submerge yourself in exotic sea life at the National Aquarium. Other attractions include the American Visionary Art Museum, the Babe Ruth Museum, and the Port Discovery Children’s Museum.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - The Inner Harbor is full of unique and interesting opportunities for visitors to Charm City.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has loads of restaurants, pubs, hotels and shops. The Water Taxi will take you from the harbor to surrounding neighborhoods, and the free Charm City Circulator provides daily bus service through several downtown routes.

Visit the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium was the crowning achievement in Baltimore’s urban renewal during the 1980s. Today, some thirty-five or so years later, it still is a favorite attraction for crowds of all ages. The National Aquarium houses several exhibits including the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, a multiple-story Atlantic Coral Reef, an open ocean shark tank, and Australia: Wild Extremes, which won the “Best Exhibit” award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2008.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - check out the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor for a full day of fun.

The aquarium also has a 4D Immersion Theater and a marine mammal pavilion, which holds seven Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

The National Aquarium has timed admission, so it’s wise to purchase your tickets in advance rather than at the door.

Maryland Science Center

Located not too far from the Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center was another establishment that brought tourism to the Inner Harbor area. It includes three levels of exhibits, a planetarium, an IMAX theater, and an observatory. Definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling with school aged children.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - the Maryland Science Center is a must-see for families with school age children.

The modernized hands-on exhibits include more than two dozen dinosaur skeletons, as well as physical science, space, Earth science, the human body, and blue crabs, which are native to the Chesapeake Bay.

And Speaking of Crabs…

No list of things to do in Baltimore (or most of Maryland, truth be told) would be complete without the mention of steamed blue crabs. Served with generous helpings of Old Bay seasoning, this crustacean is a tasty treat. Pick your own or, if you prefer to keep your hands clean, order a delicious crab cake. If you go to Baltimore and don’t eat crabs, that’s akin to visiting Chicago and not eating deep dish pizza, or going to Philadelphia and not getting a cheese steak. ‘Nuff said.

Things to Do in Baltimore MD - Local cuisine features steamed crabs with Old Bay seasoning

So, when traveling in the mid-Atlantic region, don’t overlook Charm City. It’s a great destination!

Things to Do in Baltimore MD on Travelasmuch.com
Crabs, Clams, and . . . Congressmen?

Crabs, Clams, and . . . Congressmen?

Seafood & Schmoozing

An annual event in the tiny town of Crisfield, Maryland (pop. 2630), draws hordes of both politicians and ordinary folks who just love seafood.  It’s the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, and it takes place every year, always on the third Wednesday of July.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

I’m not sure why exactly it’s such a big political event.  Perhaps because it bears the name of a Crisfield native and former Governor of Maryland, J. Millard Tawes. The event originated as a fundraiser for the J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum and other than the former Governor’s name, it had no political association. But today, and especially in election years, the grounds are littered with political signs.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

Politically, the Clam Bake is such a big deal that last year, the Maryland Governor Larry Hogan went to the Clambake instead of the Republican National Convention.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

Even this year, when there are very few elections, the politicians were out in force.

I’ve gone the past two years and I have to say that there’s nothing like it. Local businesses set up tents as makeshift hospitality suites; these tents cover the marina parking lot. Visitors pay $45 a ticket for all you can eat crabs, clams, corn, watermelon, fries, and all you care to drink soda, water, and beer.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

And by the way, when I say crabs, I am talking about Maryland blue crabs.  They are the best crabs you can get anywhere, better than Dungeness, King, Peekytoe, or Snow.  I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise! Blue Crabs have a subtle sweetness to their meat, and if you combine it with the fiery tang of some Old Bay seasoning, well, it’s nothing short of magnificent. (And by the way, if you enjoy Old Bay on your crabs, you should bring some to the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake – they don’t put it on their crabs.) You don’t need to bring any crab picking tools with you, though – they give all attendees a knife and mallet when they enter, along with a commemorative glass.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield Maryland

You’ll also want to bring a cardboard box.  You’ll use it to carry your crabs from the food stand back to your table.  The lids from copy paper boxes seem to be the favorite method because they are shallow but wide.

If you’re a guest in one of the sponsored tents, you can eat there without the hassle because “runners” will go get the food and bring it to you.  (Much better than having to wait in line, I can assure you.)

It always seems like the day of the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is one of the hottest days of the summer. If you go, be prepared to sweat a lot.  Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and be sure to visit the tents where local businesses have promotional items to give away. Many will have personal size fans, cooling cloths, and hand fans.

The Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is one of those unique events that makes Maryland a great place to visit. If you’re in Maryland mid-July, consider attending!

Tawes Crab and Clam Bake Crisfield MD
The Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art

Are There Any Free Things to do in Baltimore?

With the plethora of free museums in our nation’s capital, just an hour or so away from Baltimore, a lot of people might think that there aren’t any good museums in Charm City. And certainly not any free museums. Those people would probably be surprised to learn that the Baltimore Museum of Art offers free admission and has quite a lot to offer visitors.

The museum – which is one of the best free things to do in Baltimore – has an internationally renowned collection of over 90,000 items spanning centuries. That’s a far cry from its founding in 1914 when it had only one painting – Mischief by William-Sergeant Kendall. Part of its 90,000 items is the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world.

When I visited, I found the Antioch Mosaics stunning. In the 1930s, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) joined the Musées Nationaux de France, Worcester Art Museum, and Princeton University during the excavations of the ancient city of Antioch (now known as Antakya in southeastern Turkey). During these excavations, researchers found 300 mosaic pavements dating from the 2nd to 6th centuries.. The BMA received 34 of the finest mosaics from the excavation, most of which are on display.

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see ancient mosaics

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see ancient mosaics

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see ancient mosaics

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see ancient mosaics

But as I stated above, the museum’s collections span many centuries.  There was also Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, which I loved:

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see Little Dancer Aged 14 by Edgar Degas

And fans of modern art will enjoy the collection of works by Andy Warhol, including the massive Hearts:

Free things to do in Baltimore -- check out the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you can see Hearts by Andy Warhol.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is located at 10 Art Museum Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218. Telephone 443-573-1700.  Admission is free every day that the museum is open (Wednesday-Sunday). Hours vary by day, so check the website or call when planning your visit.

Pinterest image of the museum entrance via By Nrswanson (talk) at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Free things to do in Baltimore - the Baltimore Museum of Art
My Favorite Carousel

My Favorite Carousel

No trip to Ocean City Maryland is complete without a ride on Trimper’s Carousel. Since my childhood days I have loved that merry-go-round. No other carousel can compare, not even the one in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

The carousel is 50 feet in diameter and features more than just horses. There is a tiger, an ostrich, a sea serpent, a frog, a zebra, a tabby cat. And the horses have real hair tails. It also has three chariots, like this one:

carousel 1

Best of all, for little kids who are scared of moving up and down, some of the animals are stationary.

carousel 3

carousel 2

The animals are beautifully painted, and the brass poles gleam like gold.  It has been exceedingly well maintained and never fails to send me on a trip down memory lane.

For those with an interest in the supernatural, they say that the carousel is even haunted. Joanne Trimper, wife of the wife of the owner, also loved the carousel and had a favorite horse — a white horse with a turquoise sash. That horse has been named in her honor “Forever Joanne.”

Employees and visitors have said that they can often smell her perfume when no one else is nearby.

Trimpers Amusements is located on the boardwalk at South First Street near the Ocean City inlet. Telephone:  410-289-8617. Hours are seasonal.

 

Trail of the Whispering Giants

Trail of the Whispering Giants

As I’ve explained, I live pretty close to the Atlantic Ocean, lucky girl that I am. I lived slightly farther away when I was growing up, but still close enough to go several times each summer. Every year, we would come over the bridge that spans Assawoman Bay (yes, that really is its name) and enter Ocean City, Maryland. Then we would follow the twists and turns in the road to head to the big inlet parking lot. Almost immediately after our last turn, we would see a huge carving of an Indian head:

rsz_maryland_toth_indian

Not once did I question why it was there, or what significance it had. For me, it was just a part of Ocean City in the same way that the boardwalk was. Then about five years ago, when I was taking my Girl Scouts on a scavenger hunt, I learned more. One of the things we had to find was information about the Indian. We walked over to it and read the plaque.

As it turns out, the “Inlet Indian” has a story – and several cousins.

Between 1972 and 1988, Hungarian-born artist Peter Toth carved a number of Native Americans from large wood logs, at least one for each state in the US.  He called his art project the Trail of the Whispering Giants. All told, there are 74 Whispering Giants ranging from 15 to 40 feet in height, and all resemble natives of the region in which they are located.  The Maryland Whispering Giant is an Assateague Indian, and it is carved from a 100-year-old oak log.

Learning that, coupled with my intense love of list-keeping, sparked a desire in me to see all of the Whispering Giants. So far, in addition to Maryland, I have also seen the Vermont Whispering Giant, Chief Grey Lock in Battery Park, Burlington:

vermont toth indian

and the Delaware Whispering Giant, Chief Little Owl, in Bethany Beach:

delaware toth indian

Many of the sculptures have suffered damage from over three decades of being exposed to the elements. Some, such as the Delaware Giant, have been replaced. Others, like those in Maryland and Vermont, are in desperate need of restoration and repair or they will disappear as well.

Do you know where your state’s Whispering Giant is? You can find a complete list here.

National Aquarium in Baltimore

National Aquarium in Baltimore

When you walk into the National Aquarium in Baltimore, you are almost immediately feel as if you’ve gone underwater too. It is a dark environment, save for the blur of excited kids who are seeing a shark for the first time. Huge pillars of floating bubbles greet you at the entrance, and just beyond that, there is a tank full of rays that are gliding effortlessly through the water.

Ray Tank at National Aquarium Baltimore

The big draw at the Aquarium used to be the dolphin show. I’ve seen it several times and always enjoyed it. However, the Aquarium discontinued the shows in 2012.  Here are a few photos from the last one I saw.

Dolphin Show at National Aquarium Baltimore

Dolphin Show B at National Aquarium Baltimore

The Aquarium announced just yesterday that they will be moving their dolphins to an oceanside sanctuary by the end of 2020. What does that mean for you? Well, you can still watch the dolphins and get a glimpse into the daily life of a dolphin — how they learn, play and interact with each other.

There is even a free mobile app for Apple or Android devices that will let you know when the Keeper Talk times are scheduled to take place. The keepers will help you discover what it’s like to care for, teach and build relationships with these incredible animals.

But just because the dolphins are leaving, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see and do at the Aquarium. The upper level of the main building has a simulated rain forest. (Fair warning, it will absolutely wreck your ‘do if your hair is sensitive to humidity!)

A special exhibit on Australian wildlife has everything from snakes to birds to this menacing-looking freshwater crocodile:

rsz_croceye

There are is also a puffin display (they are so cute!) and many tanks of tropical fish. You might be able to guess who the two most popular ones are:

Clownfish at National Aquarium Baltimore

and

Blue Tang at National Aquarium Baltimore

As you can see from the above, taking pictures in an aquarium is not without its challenges. However, jellyfish are amazingly easy to photograph, and visually striking. Here’s a Pacific Sea Nettle from the Jellies Invasion Exhibit.

Jellyfish at National Aquarium Baltimore

Also, they are absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Very soothing.

Before or after your visit to the Aquarium, be sure to enjoy a stroll around the Inner Harbor. It’s one of the prettiest places in Baltimore, and there is a lot to see and do, drink and eat there.

national_aquarium_baltimore

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at 501 E Pratt Street.  Telephone 410-576-3800. Hours vary by day and season, so please check ahead when planning your visit. Admission is by timed entry, so purchasing tickets in advance is my recommendation. (If you wait until you get there to purchase tickets, you may not be able to get entry right away.)

Cliffs & Fossils on Maryland Shores

Cliffs & Fossils on Maryland Shores

Confession time again: I secretly love going on my kids’ field trips. I have seen a bunch of places that way that I would not normally have even considered visiting, and I’ve been able to see things in a different way as a field trip chaperone instead of a tourist.

We went to Calvert County MD a while back. It’s not that far from us as the crow flies, but to drive there takes a lot longer because it’s across the Chesapeake Bay. We visited two places there. The first was the beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park:

rsz_calvert_cliffs_2

It is a sandy quarter mile stretch located on the Chesapeake Bay, and a 1.8 mile trail will lead you directly to it. The kids were encouraged to look for fossils, which are frequently found there. We combed the beach for a while and failed to find a fossil, but some of the children on the trip did.

After our beachcombing expedition, we visited the Calvert Marine Museum, about a ten minute drive away. This was part science center, part museum, and part zoo – a little bit of everything! In the foyer as you enter the building, there is a large tank of skates and rays swimming around. Most of them were zipping through the water kind of fast but I did manage to get a picture of this Atlantic Ray.

rsz_atlantic_ray (1).jpg

Supervised touching of the skates and rays was permitted, which the kids thought was really cool.

The other big animal exhibit there was a collection of river otters. If you’ve ever seen otters in person, you know they are a joy to watch. They always look like they’re having fun, and you can’t help but smile as you watch them glide through the water. We could barely tear ourselves away from the otter area when it was time to move on.

A Marsh Walk area outside teaches about the local ecosystem and the animals that live in the tidal marshes.

Inside the building, there are some engaging displays about other animals that live in the area, and a sizable paleontology exhibit. The highlight of the fossil area was the replica megalodon skeleton:

rsz_megalodon_2.jpg

If he were alive today, he would make a great white shark look like a minnow. Several fossilized megalodon teeth have been found in the area of the museum.

The museum is also the home of the Drum Point Lighthouse, one of only three surviving Chesapeake Bay screw-pile lighthouses. Admission to the lighthouse is included in your museum admission.

rsz_lighthouse_5

Decommissioned in 1962, the lighthouse fell victim to vandals until it was moved to its present site in 1975. Beautifully restored, complete with furnishings of the early twentieth century, it has become the waterfront’s main attraction and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The employees at the Calvert Marine Museum were exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly, and the site itself is lovely. I would highly recommend a visit there if you’re in the area!

Calvert Cliffs State Park is located at 10540 H. G. Trueman Road in Lusby, Maryland. Telephone 301-743-7613.  The park is open from sunrise to sunset.  Pets are permitted. Daily use service charge is $5 per vehicle and must be paid in cash.

The Calvert Marine Museum is located at 14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, MD 20688. Telephone 410-326-2042.  It is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Prepare Thyself for Merriment

Prepare Thyself for Merriment

I have been regularly attending the Maryland Renaissance Festival since 1987.  I have, at various stages in my life, danced in Revel Grove, cheered at the joust, peeked under a Scotsman’s kilt (yes, really), wished I could travel back in time,  sang bawdy songs, sampled the mead, and renewed my wedding vows.

ren3

I’ve seen it grow from a small festival then into one of the biggest in the country now.  And I have consistently enjoyed myself every time I have gone.  Well, not so much that year that my daughter was a baby and I had to deal with stroller and diaper changes and feeding.  So… except for that one year, it’s been awesome every time.

Tickets range from $19-24 for individuals age 16-61 (less if you are 7-15 or 62+), and there is free parking included. Children under 6 are free. With all of the great entertainment included in the price of admission, I think it’s a real bargain.  In addition to the joust, there is plenty of court drama unfolding several times throughout the day.  The festival is set in the royal court of King Henry VIII, so there is no lack of scheming individuals with ulterior motives.

ren4

The story line is a continuous one — each royal appearance builds upon the events in the previous one.  I like to catch the first appearance and then follow along throughout the day.  There are a couple of acts that I like to see every time we go.  They are fairly predictable, but absolutely brilliant every time.  The first is Johnny Fox, sword swallower:

ren2

The other is Puke & Snot:

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Now, in addition to all the fine entertainment at the Festival, there is plenty of great food and drink for sale.  My favorites include the Fried Cheese with Marinara Sauce, raspberry mead (available only at the winegarten), and on a rainy or chilly day, soup in a bread bowl.

And there is shopping too!  Tasty things you can take home, like honey from The Bee Folks, and beautiful handcrafted items like blown glass from The Art of Fire.  If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see the glassblowers at work:

ren1

So I highly encourage you to check out the Maryland Renaissance Festival if you haven’t before.  Here are some extra tips to make the most of your visit.

  • Go early, and get there before the gates open if possible.  There are a couple of different reasons for this.  One is that it is less crowded when the festival first opens. Another is that there is a brief opening ceremony just before the gates open that will set the stage for the story line as it progresses throughout the day.  Finally, there will be costumed characters mingling among the crowd before the gates open, and this may be your best chance for an encounter with one of them.
  • Scan the program as soon as you arrive.  Determine what shows you want to see and at least loosely plan your day around that.  There is nothing worse than being excited to see an act, only to realize that there is just one performance that day and you have already missed it.
  • Consider going when the weather is at its worst.  I have always enjoyed the Festival more when it is cold or rainy, because it is less crowded and the actors interact more with the people.
  • Do not expect to see everything in one day.  When I first started going to the Festival, it was possible to do this, but not any more.  It is just too big.  Make sure you hit the must-see attractions, or buy a two-day pass and spend the whole weekend visiting.
  • Do not bring any beverages with you into the Festival.  They will make you dump them out.
  • If you wear garb (Renaissance era costumes), leave the weapons at home.  If you want to wear garb but don’t have any, you can rent a costume on site (or buy your own from one of the many fine vendors there).
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  You will be doing a lot of walking, and quite a bit of it is up/down hill.
  • Bring some hand sanitizer.  The port-a-johns usually have some for patrons to use, but you don’t really want to run the risk of getting there after it’s run out and the container hasn’t been refilled yet, do you?
  • Stay until the end and attend the final Pub Sing at the White Hart Tavern.  I know this makes for a really long day if you got there before gate opening time, but the pub sign is a tradition and it has always been my favorite part.  There is just something special about standing in a tavern, singing with a group of strangers, and watching the sun go down after a day of fun.  It’s the perfect way to end your RenFest adventure.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival typically runs from late August through mid-October, 10:00 to 7:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday.  The festival grounds are located at 1821 Crownsville Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401.  Telephone  1-800-296-7304

 

Hidden Gem: The Salisbury Zoo

Hidden Gem: The Salisbury Zoo

Most people in the US have visited a zoo at some point in their life – as a child, a parent, or grandparent. And with good reason – there is at least one zoo in every state in this country plus the District of Columbia. Yet when you eliminate from that lengthy list all of the zoos that charge admission, you are left with fewer than 15.

One of the rare zoos that is free to visit, I’m happy to say, is in my hometown, Salisbury MD. The Salisbury Zoo is not very big, and it does not include any big game animals, but it is free, well-maintained, and supported by the community. As an added bonus, there is a fantastic playground and the city park at one end of the zoo.

If you’re driving through Salisbury on your way to Ocean City this summer, why not stop by and take a quick tour of our zoo? You’ll be glad you did. Here are some photos I took on one of my recent visits there.

bear

flamingo.jpg

otter

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The Salisbury Zoo is located at 755 S Park Dr, Salisbury, MD 21802.  Telephone 410.548.3188. Open every day, year-round, from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm except Christmas Day and Thanksgiving.