Maryland is Open for Travel
There isn’t much in life I enjoy more than travel. A getaway to some Caribbean resort, exploring Europe’s “Olde World” charm or a weekend excursion somewhere closer to home. Nothing compares to getting away and discovering what this world has to offer. And in the era of COVID-19, a Maryland excursion is what the doctor ordered (pun intended). It was our eighth wedding anniversary. Yes! Eight beautiful years with a woman that loves travel as much as I do. And because we fell in love with St. Michaels, MD. on our second anniversary, we thought it’d be a great time to revisit its rich history and warm hospitality.
But to begin our much-needed staycation, we started in the beautiful and historic port city of Baltimore, MD. And what better way to start a staycation than with Friday night happy hour in Fells Point. Since 1763, folks have been attracted to Fells Point’s merchant shops, amazing eateries and cultural festivals. You can always find the streets filled with tourists and locals alike. One thing we notice right away was how folks here are serious about protecting against COVID-19, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the virus, this was a welcomed observation. On this night, we decided to try The Choptank, a new venture for the Atlas Restaurant Group empire. Opened in the newly renovated, 230-year-old Broadway Market, The Choptank is a classic fish & crab house, serving Maryland’s famous cuisine, highlighted by steamed hard-shell blue crabs. Featuring craft cocktails, such as the Shipwreck Punch, with light & dark rum, passion fruit, hibiscus, pineapple, orange juice and lime. Or the Dancing Banana, with rum, coconut, banana and pineapple. The space itself is really cool, with indoor and outdoor seating. We had a seat at the outdoor bar, socially distanced from others. The staff was very friendly and maintained COVID-19 precautions, so we felt safe and ready to enjoy our visit. I was amazed with the spirit of hospitality that was evident, even if the face of this pandemic. I witnessed great service from a team appreciative of customers, and customers showing appreciation for their dedication. And I thought, this is how we take care of each other when times get tough.
We stayed home that evening but got back at it early Saturday morning with breakfast at Jimmy’s of Fells Point. Now there are tons of great breakfast establishments in Baltimore, but when my wife and I go out for breakfast, it’s Jimmy’s, because she loves their grits and won’t take chances with anybody else’s, and that’s that! Owner, Rudy Keskin, greeted us as usual, and sat us at an outdoor table, again, socially distanced from others. And just as we experienced the night before, the eagerness to serve was evident, while taking proper measures to keep folks safe. Not that it’s not always that way at Jimmy’s, but it was different now, in a good way.
Afterwards, we took a log walk along the Inner Harbor, taking in the views of this beautiful, historic seaport where once, the rocket's red glare and bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Although this small part of our excursion was simple, it made for a memorable experience
Then, it was time to head over to the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, where our room awaited. We were so excited about this part of our getaway because we love the pool there, and the plethora of amazing restaurants. And of course, the thought of receiving that legendary Four Seasons service also contributed to our anticipation. We were also a little nervous because we hadn’t stayed in a hotel since the pandemic began. Upon our arrival, those concerns were put to rest. There were measures in place at every turn to keep guests safe. Temperature checks, complimentary face masks, not to mention, hand sanitizer was ubiquitous. When we arrived at our room, we had just a moment to enjoy the luxury and comfort of the space, including its great views. Then it was time to get changed and head to the pool for lunch
and fun in the sun. Again, socially distanced, we sat in our chaise, enjoying some amazing crab deviled eggs and calamari, while sipping on a frosé and taking in sweeping views of the Inner Harbor. What a lovely day. We had dinner reservations later at Loch Bar. Unfortunately, that last frosé, coupled with the extreme comfort of the Four Seasons bed, caused me to oversleep my after-pool nap, so we ended up ordering room service. Absolutely amazing and well worth the service charge. Click here to take a virtual tour of our guestroom. Be sure to step over to the window to check out the great view.
After a great night sleep, we checked out and hit the road to “The Town That Fooled the British”, St. Michaels, MD. It was given that distinction because of a story that residents hung lanterns in trees and dimmed the lights in their homes and shipyards to trick a British fleet, led by Admiral George Cockburn, into overshooting the town, thereby leaving it with little damage. Named as one of the Top 10 Best Small Coastal Towns in America by USA Today, St. Michaels is a picturesque harbor town with homes that date back to the mid-1600’s and is home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. There are a myriad of outdoor activities, including Skipjack sailing, golfing, kayaking…, but our primary goal was getting crabs at The Crab Claw Restaurant, directly on the harbor. However, we arrived early and decided to take a site-seeing cruise with Patriot Cruises. And WOW! What an experience. If you are as fascinated as I am with history and natural beauty, this is a must-do activity. The captain went over their COVID-19 precautions and instructions, then it was off to see and hear about this wonderful piece of American history. From the Battle of 1812, to a 200-year-old mansion, rumored to be currently considered for purchase by none other than Michelle Obama, this cruise was everything advertised.
After the cruise, it was time for CRAAAAAABS!!! Yes. If you’re from Maryland and you have an allergy to shellfish, I consider this a tragedy. It’s probably my favorite of all seafood. And The Crab Claw Restaurant gets it right. We, again sat outside, socially distanced from others, as this was required by the restaurant. Our table was on the dock, about 4 feet from the water.
We enjoyed steamed crabs and jumbo shrimp as we watched boats, from large yachts to smaller sailboats move in and out of the harbor, almost as if they were taking a Sunday cruise and the harbor was a turnabout where they get to show off their vessels. Amazing. And again, the service was outstanding.
After crabs, it was time for shopping, ice cream and slow walking on N. Talbot Street. You can spend hours exploring the merchant shops and historical buildings there, some date back centuries.
On the way home from St. Michaels, we stopped at Tony’s Produce for some fresh peaches, a little mobile setup on the side of the road, billing itself as the last fresh produce stop before leaving the eastern shore. And even here, customers and owners were hospitable with each other and cautious with interactions.
So, we get home, but remember that dinner we fell asleep on at Loch Bar? We had to make that up, so a little closer to home, we booked outdoor seating at one of my favs, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville. With stylish and socially distanced outdoor seating, they did not disappoint. Amazing service and a steak that makes you mouth water just thinking about it, will keep me coming back.
At the end of our amazing anniversary weekend, I’ve concluded, travel in Maryland in alive and well, and done right. So, get out, see parts of Maryland you may not have seen yet, because Maryland is open for travel.