Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Guide to the Charm City, Part Two: Staying and Eating Here

So you've saved up your pennies, clipped those coupons, skipped out on your last three mortgage payments, and are coming to Baltimore for The National. Great. Now that you know how to get here, where are you going to stay? Fortunately, Baltimore is a city with plenty of bridges, overpasses, and park benches; but for those of you who want a proper bed, you're also in luck.

Where to Stay

Most of the Convention action is centered around the Inner Harbor, and not surprisingly there are a large number of hotel rooms within walking distance. Unfortunately, most charge $200 a night with an extra $25 a night to park your car. The organizers of The National have negotiated a discounted group rate for most of these hotels, but you have to book your room through them.

For those of you who can't write it off on an expense report, there are more affordable lodging options in and around the airport district and a cluster of hotels in Hunt Valley, north of town. Check the website of your favorite hotels for info.

For those who really, really, want to save a buck, Aberdeen is about 30-miles northeast of Baltimore, conveniently located right off I-95 and the Northeast Corridor. It home to an Army base, a minor league baseball team (owned in part by Cal Ripken) and plenty of national chain motels.

Where to Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

Like I mentioned before, the Inner Harbor caters to tourists and out-of-towners, and as such, many of your favorite national chain restaurants have locations here. Yes, there are The Rusty Scupper, Phillips, and Obrycki's for seafood; but you can get crabs just about anywhere in Baltimore. (No pun intended) There was an ESPN Zone in the Power Plant building, right next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, but it recently closed.

Fells Point, which is due east of the Inner Harbor is home to some of Baltimore's oldest watering holes and is a must see. The Horse You Came In On Saloon has been in business since 1775 and, according to legend, Edgar Allan Poe had a drink here on the night of his death. Slainte is a "soccer bar" where, if you ask the barkeep very nicely, they might let you watch the out-of-town baseball game. There are (literally) dozens of other bars and restaurants in Fells Point that are just a stone's throw from each other. Best of all, there's a free bus called The Charm City Circulator you can pick up right in front of the Convention Center.

Federal Hill is the neighborhood immediately south of the Inner Harbor, and like Fells Point, is within walking distance of the Convention Center. There are tons of bars lining Cross Street and the Cross Street Market is a 19th Century urban marketplace (think the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, or D.C.'s Eastern Market) with food vendors galore.

In part three of my series, things to do in Baltimore that don't involve baseball cards.


beardy said...

Damn. I'm glad someone took up the torch and decided to post about about what there is do in Baltimore. You caught me slacking on that one.

Don't forget to mention the new Harbor East area, which is in between Fells & the Inner Harbor. There's a lot of decent restaurants there as well, and you can walk all the way from The National to Fells along the water.

Grand Cards said...

As for hotels, there is a really nice new Fairfield Inn on President street just east of the inner harbor, that should be more affordable than some of the convention center area guys. Also, there is a Holiday Inn Express at the foot of I-83 that is a great renovation of an old bank, although the surrounding area leaves nothing to be desired.

The first is on the CCC route, the second is a couple blocks from the metro.

Fell's Point and Harbor East are both great areas. Don't forget Little Italy, which is right there too. For people staying downtown, I recommend checking out Federal Hill--a quick, easy walk south down Light St.--full of tons of Bars & Restaurants. If you have a car, it is worth checking out Canton as well, for Mama's on the Half Shell if nothing else.

My one and only recommendation for visitors: if all you see during your trip is the Convention Center, Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor, you're missing out big time. I'm sure either beardy or I (or any number of Baltimore bloggers) would be happy to point you in the right direction, and kudos to Chris for doing a nice job.

sruchris said...

No mention of Faidley's? It's a Baltimore institution!