Tuesday, September 28, 2010

48 Hours: Baltimore Edition

By: Finance Foodie

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending my 48 hour weekend in Baltimore, Maryland, home of the Terps, Ravens, and Orioles. Along with visiting the usual tourist packed spots (e.g. The Inner Harbor, M&T Bank Stadium), I also got to see a side of the Charm City that was more artistic in nature – the hidden gems, if I may say. Check out where I played, ate, and stayed during my short getaway!

Paul Gauguin's Woman with Mango
Who knew Baltimore housed the largest collection of Matisse paintings in the US? I certainly didn’t – until I took a tour of the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). Thanks to the Cone sisters, the wealthy Baltimore-based art collecting sisters of yore who donated almost their entire art collection to the BMA, the museum now houses over 40 painting by Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, and Van Gogh (including my personal favorite – Gauguin’s Woman with Mango). I also got a sneak preview of the new Andy Warhol, he of Campbell soup cans fame, exhibition opening October 17th!
Andy Warhol's Hearts
PS Did I mention the museum is free to visit year round (*special exhibits may require an additional cost)? Guess there is such a thing as a free lunch (for the eyes) after all!

Trash Robots @ the AVAM
Also don’t missThe American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), for its one-of-a-kind free-spirited pieces by untrained artists (think animatronic robots created by the guy who set the Guinness Book of World Records for most miles hitchhiked); Geppi’s Entertainment Museum for the ginormous comic book collection and pop culture toys of the past – including the original Mickey Mouse figurines with teeth and green shorts!

Mickey with Teeth, Green Shorts @ Geppi's 

Miss Shirley's Maryland Omelet
Driving Miss Daisy? No Ma’am, it should have been Driving Miss Shirley. Miss Shirley’s CafĂ© is the place to be for brunch in Baltimore. Bring your appetite and your stretchy pants – the portions are huge and you are going to want to (try) and clean your plate! My favorites was the (big as my head) Maryland Omelet – filled with jumbo lump crab, tomatoes, swiss cheese, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning, served with hash browns and a biscuit. Miss Shirley’s chocolate and pecan covered cinnamon Monkey Bread is also divine – ooey, gooey, fresh and chewy, this sweet and decedent carb plate is not for the faint of heart (or anyone on Weight Watchers). One caveat, be sure to get here early for weekend brunch – the place fills up fast (the line was out the door at 11:30am – and it was a rainy day!)

Mr. Rain's Not Your Typical Sangria 
Also don’t miss Mr. Rain’s Fun House for its not so typical cocktails and use of locally sourced ingredients and organic meats; Baltimore Magazine’s “Best Brunch” winner Gertrude’s, for its famous lump crab cakes and beautiful patio dining in the BMA’s sculpture garden

Gertrude's Lump Crab Cakes

The Hilton Garden Inn
I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn during my weekend visit, an uber conveniently located hotel in Balitmore’s Inner Harbor area. From the oh-so-refreshing real fruit infused water cooler (fruit selection changing daily) and chocolate chip cookies at the check in desk to the oh-so-plush beds (no crazy patterned polyester sheet covers here thankfully), the Hilton made my weekend stay oh-so-pleasant. I especially enjoyed my brief but relaxing swim at the adjacent Maryland Athletic Club (MAC)’s indoor pool (which is free to use for hotel guests). Skip the hotel’s breakfast buffet though, I found it pricey at $10.95/person – considering the limited selection – and go to the Whole Foods next door.

Cruising the Harbor - at 90 mph!
48 hours, 1 city, numerous memories. Thanks Charm City for a fabulous weekend – I definitely found my happy place!

[Full disclosure: I was invited to Baltimore by Visit Baltimore, who covered my costs for the trip. All opinions are honest and my own]

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