Baltimore, Maryland is a fantastic city filled with great restaurants, hotels, and easily accessible transportation. What’s even more great is Baltimore’s National Aquarium that offers it’s visitors a great experience with its beautiful design and educational exhibits.
We decided to take a trip to Baltimore, Maryland to celebrate my birthday and Valentine’s Day. We are beginning to get into the habit that, for every year around this time, we try to visit a new aquarium around the country. Since the Baltimore National Aquarium was only about two and half hours away from us in New Jersey, we thought it’d be the perfect destination for our mini vacation!
1. The Hotels
Baltimore has so many beautiful hotels for you to choose from, even if you’re on a tight budget. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco located near the Inner Harbor in Maryland. For the night, it was about $150. We stayed in the Monte Carlo Suite with a beautiful city view.
If you sign up for the Kimpton Karma/IHG Rewards Club, they’ll give you a discount on your booking. They also have a tendency to give you an upgrade upon arrival!
Have you ever dreamed what it would be like to have a giant adult bubble bath? Or are you more of a romantic? We have been looking for a hotel with a large bath for quite some time now. And, being as we’re both in our 20s, why not try to have two kinds of bath times…romantic and then fun?
For Valentine’s Day, I decided to surprise David with chocolate covered strawberries, his favorite package of team and pretzels, and his favorite drink, Faderade (a combination of vodka and Gatorade). We then decorated the bathroom with rose petals and both scented and unscented candles to give the bathroom a real romantic appeal.
Later that night was when we really turned into 5 year olds. A few days before our trip, we made the impulsive purchases of children’s finger paint and foam, all of which were made for SAFE bathroom use. We definitely indulged in this a bit too much…
2. The Eats
If you’re anything like us, we LOVE food. We love food to the point where if we don’t get enough of it, both of us get cranky (…or should I say hangry). For dinner, we decided we wanted to just enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful hotel room. We got delivery from a Turkish restaurant called Cazbar. David had the lamb Shish Kabap and I had the lamb sandwich.
Later that night, we ventured to RA Sushi. They offered a happy hour 10pm-close, so we did our best to order off that menu.
On our way back from the aquarium on Sunday, we decided to hit up a local place around the Inner Harbor for our dinner. It’s basically a Chipotle, but with pizza, called Blaze Pizza. Whoever thought of this idea must’ve been a genius because it was delicious! We both got our own customizable pies.
3. The Transportation
Baltimore was a super easy place to navigate around with the help of Uber/Lyft. Most rides were between $4-$6, making it a super cost effective way to travel, especially if you were traveling with friends around the city.
If you haven’t used Lyft before, use my promo code, shelby32179, to get Lyft credit!
One mistake we did make was the parking. We wound up paying over $40 for parking, which was not necessarily in our budget. I’m not too sure if there are other parking garages in the area that offered cheaper overnight parking, but if you are planning a trip to Baltimore, I’d highly suggest looking into that before your arrival!
4. The Quietness
We are from the New York City area, so we’re used to a lot of hustle and bustle. In other words, NYC is very loud and busy, all of the time. Sometimes, I forget that there are so many other cities out there that are the complete opposite of the “city that never sleeps”. Baltimore was still very much like a city, but not as busy. You didn’t feel like you had to watch where you walking like you’d constantly have to do in NYC. I also loved the older architecture!
5. The Experience
I have been to a number of aquariums and so far the National Aquarium is my favorite in the area. I loved how much of an experience they created for their guests. The building was very well designed, as well. For example, they started you above a large aquarium, where you looked down on the animals. Then, it led you into rooms with many different exhibits. If you choose to go upstairs, there’s a tropical forest with various amounts of endangered birds, plants, and a sloth if you can spot him. If you go back downstairs, you eventually come to the infamous Shark Alley. The beautiful design combined with their unique use of elevators and music.
6. The Exhibits
The National Aquarium includes a variety of exhibits, including Amazon River Forest, Atlantic Coral Reef, Australia: Wild Extremes, Blacktip Reef, Dolphin Discovery, Jellies Invasion, Living Seashore, Maryland: Mountains to Sea, North Atlantic to the Pacific, Shark Alley, Surviving Through Adaptation, and Upland Tropical Rain Forest. My personal favorites was the Blacktip Reef and Jellies Invasion. Below are a few shots that I took during the trip!
7. The Education
I loved how the National Aquarium offered a lot of opportunities to educate the public, especially children, about the world’s oceans and creatures that live in them. For example, they had a table set up that gave you clues and had you search for specific items spread across the table, all with a touch screen. They then gave you facts about the clues. It was so engaging that we spent almost 15 minutes there! Another exhibit showed it’s viewers the electrical distribution of a freshwater eel as it swam pass the aquarium glass. They even have an app that gives you information about the animals, exhibits, parking, prices, etc.