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There are a lot of “-cation” terms floating around the travel world, including one that was new to me until recently – the nearcation. It’s similar to the staycation but, instead of staying at or very close to home, the traveler journeys a short distance to enjoy a quick getaway. It’s actually a style of travel I have embraced for years, an effort to better know the region in which I live as well as a good way to enjoy some time off in between longer trips. My latest nearcation took me to a city I have lived close to for almost 20 years and yet have never really visited – Baltimore.
As it turns out, there’s a lot to love about Baltimore, but I only had a couple of days and knew I wanted to experience the best the city has to offer. Today I want to share how I maximized a short visit and how I set myself up for success before even leaving home.
Where to stay
There are many great options in Baltimore when it comes to higher-end and luxury hotels, but I opted for a brand I always enjoy but don’t often have the opportunity to patronize – Kimpton. This quirky hotel brand is famous for their laid back vibes, leopard print bathrobes and special Raid the Mini-Bar perks, but I chose the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor for different reasons. Its location can’t be beat, especially since I planned on visiting both the Inner Harbor and attending a baseball game. Plus there’s the history of the period building itself, a quality that always wins me over. The former headquarters of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the stunning Beaux-Arts building was built in 1906 and remained one of the most important buildings in the city for decades. Restored to its former glory, staying here is going back in time to a more refined era. Add in the service and quality I’ve come to love with Kimpton, and it’s the ideal home base.
What to do
When I started planning my trip, I was surprised at just how much there is to see and do in Baltimore. Originally I thought a day or so would be enough, but I quickly realized that I was very much mistaken. I had to make some hard choices, but I knew that an Orioles game had to be at the center of the experience. Enjoying a perfect sunny spring day at Camden Yards was just as much fun as I had hoped, proving that the park really does offer the best fan experience in the country.
I also spent several hours exploring the B&O Railroad Museum, one of the best transportation museums I’ve ever visited. Detailing the history of one of the country’s most important companies, modern railroads started at this spot and the story of the country is told beautifully through the incredibly well restored train cars on display. Other not to miss spots include Fort McHenry National Monument and of course the Inner Harbor, home to shops, restaurants and attractions like the world famous National Aquarium.
Time of year and what to pack
One advantage of a nearcation is that weather isn’t a surprise. As a longtime Maryland resident, I know that summers in the region can be brutal. Intense heat and thick humidity doesn’t always make for a fun getaway. Spring is arguably our best time of year, and given how chilly it’s been so far it was the perfect season for my Baltimore nearcation. Especially nice was strolling the Inner Harbor, bursting in color thanks to the blossoming dogwood trees, creating a more pastoral feeling than I’d expected.
Packing can sometimes be a challenge during the spring months however, which is why I always make sure to layer and to bring key items like my Teva Hurricane XLT2 sandals from Zappos. Nearcation or not, footwear is an extremely important part of how I pack. Space is almost always limited, so I need footwear that can perform under different conditions. I can’t take a shoe or sandal that would only be appropriate for one type of activity; it would be a waste of space. That’s one of the many reasons why I love the Teva Hurricane XLT2 sandals. Made from water-ready materials, the three hook-and-loop closures make them easy to adjust and comfortable to wear. They truly are perfect for just about any activity I find myself enjoying, from kayaking and hiking to a short amble along the Inner Harbor. Check out the sandals for yourself by visiting Zappos.
Value of a short getaway
Short travel experiences can be powerful in all of the ways we don’t expect. Every trip, no matter where we go or how long it lasts has great inherent value. The trick isn’t the length or even the destination, it’s our own outlook on life. We have to be open to see these moments when they arise. We have to be willing to allow for a short trip to be meaningful. That’s one reason of many why I love exploring the region I call home, especially over a postcard-perfect spring weekend.