Welcome to MarieClaire.com's series on weekend travel—a smart girl's guide to making the most of those glorious two days off.
If your weekend travel requirements include a sunny pier, the country's best record store, succulent Chesapeake blue crabs, and a cozy fire + unlimited free minibar, look no further than Baltimore. Maryland's biggest city isn't the most obvious place for a vacation, but that's what makes it the best spot to take one—it's not swarming with crowds, locals are crazy-friendly and even more crazy down to give you advice, and there's a distinct lack of tourists with selfie sticks. In short, it's the perfect place for a girls' trip—and did we mention that the food is insanely good? Here, where to eat, sleep, and hang in Charm City—the most aptly nicknamed town ever.
Where to Stay
It's easy to keep things cheap in Baltimore, so throwing down a few extra $$ for an indulgent hotel experience is well worth it. And if you really want to get the most for your money, check out The Ivy, a historic renovated mansion that was first built in 1889 and sits on a charming leafy corner of the Mount Vernon neighborhood. The building should honestly be in the dictionary definition for "Cozy," and you can easily spend the entire weekend there without getting bored. There's a warm fireplace around every corner, an open bar is available to guests in one of the many plush lounge rooms, and guys—there's high tea served in the afternoon and it's included in your stay. What more could one possibly need other than free sandwiches and petit fours stacked sky high on a cake tray?
Even if you don't stay at The Ivy, stopping by for a meal at Magdelena Restaurant is a must (the included breakfast was basically a five course meal)—and if historical tours are your thing, this building needs to be high on your list.
What to Do
If you're a fan of shopping, Baltimore actually has a lot to offer. Stop off at White Fox, Hunting Ground, or Brightside Boutique for clothes that have major Brooklyn vibes, and hit up Trohv for what might be the coolest and best-stocked gift shop ever (I spent way too much money there).
But Baltimore is also a great city to walk around and explore. Fell's Point has a gorgeous pier, a convenient water taxi that doubles as a boat ride, seafood restaurants at every corner (more on that in a minute), as well as my very favorite place: The Sound Garden, which Rolling Stone counted among the best records stores in the USA and will remind you of a time when you actually, ya know, bought CDs.
The ride from Fell's Point to my other favorite—very cheerful— neighborhood Hampden is less than 15 minutes, and once there you'll find row-upon-row of colorful buildings, filled with vintage shops, delicious food, and major retro/kitschy vibes. I myself spent most of my time eating way too many tacos from Golden West Cafe (this is what happens when there's a taco takeout window in my vicinity).
Oh and if you are someone who prefers to spend your weekend trips hopping around museums, Baltimore has a few good ones—the Walters Art Museum and the American Visionary Art Museum among them. But obviously I myself visited the Edgar Allen Poe house.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are so many places—too many, really—to eat and drink way too much in Baltimore, so I'm just going to start listing things at you. For crabs, you're going to want to head straight to L.P. Steamers. No question. Just go. If for some reason you have energy after stuffing yourself with said crabs, and you want to visit a speakeasy, head to The Elk Room. If you're more in the mood for delicious cocktails in an elegant and historical setting, go to Owl Bar. More of a beer person? Union Brewery is here for you.
But the most popular spot in the world of Baltimore dining has to be Woodberry Kitchen, a farm-to-table favorite that's well worth visiting for the restored space alone. Words do not suffice when it comes to the gorgeous ambiance, so here is a picture:
Having a car is a definite bonus in Baltimore—and this is a small city, so driving is a breeze. That said, parking in Mount Vernon is impossible, so take an Uber if you’re going to one of the theaters in that area. Oh, and in warm weather, head to "Sandlot"—a secluded beach-y venue between Fells Point and Harbor East.