Home for the holidays and pandemic weary? Take a vacation sans jet lag in Baltimore. The idea has never been better thanks to a proliferation of snazzy hotels putting reality on hold, world-class restaurants and a fresh flurry of imaginative social-distancing holiday events taking place throughout the region. Nourish all your senses and live the fantasy life if only for a few nights. There’s no place like home, especially during this creative holiday season in Charm City.
Hotel Indigo Baltimore, 24 W. Franklin St., Baltimore | baltimoreindigohotel.com
Just say “aaahh.” Take a dreamy spa break when you book an in-room spa service at Hotel Indigo. A hot stone or aroma journey massage brought to the comfort and privacy of your room sounds awfully good right about now. Once you arrive at the Hotel Indigo, you won’t need a car—fine dining and plenty of sights to see are steps away from this pet-friendly oasis. Explore The Baltimore Basilica (Basilica of the Assumption), the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States; The Walters Art Museum; Enoch Pratt Free Library, the first free library in Maryland; and the bustling Inner Harbor.
Hotel Revival, 101 W. Monument St., Baltimore | jdvhotels.com/hotels/maryland/baltimore/hotel-revival-baltimore
Once a private mansion owned by an art enthusiast, and formerly the site of the Baltimore Museum of Art’s 1923 inaugural exhibition, Hotel Revival boasts a rich past rooted in art. Works from emerging and established artists embellish guest rooms and public spaces in this Mount Vernon treasure. Unique defines the look—hundreds of digital photographs have been merged to create a large-scale wallpaper collage in the open stairwell. Check out Topside, the year-round rooftop restaurant to tempt you with awesome views of holiday lights twinkling throughout the city.
Sagamore Pendry, 1715 Thames St., Baltimore | pendry.com/baltimore
History meets the 21st century at this historic showstopper located in the heart of the vibrant Fells Point waterfront community. Overlooking the Inner Harbor, this stunning 1914 Beaux Arts building was originally built to store port cargo and once served as the landing point for thousands of immigrants. Today, the building has been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel on Recreation Pier, as it’s known to locals—rooted in tradition but reimagined into a contemporary masterpiece.
The Ivy Hotel, 205 E. Biddle St., Baltimore | theivybaltimore.com
Close your eyes. Dream of days and nights spent in a gilded Mount Vernon mansion reminiscent of a European countryside chateau filled with curated treasures collected from all over the world. Each of the 18 exquisitely designed rooms and suites is a completely different work of art. Complimentary libations—both self-serve and upon request—afternoon tea with sweet and savory treats, made-to-order breakfast whenever you fancy, a chauffeured car service, gratuity and more are all included in the room rate. It’s no wonder why The Ivy Hotel is Maryland’s only Relais & Chateaux property.
Charleston, 1000 Lancaster St., Baltimore | charlestonrestaurant.com
When making a list of special-occasion restaurants, Charleston rises to the top. Chef Cindy Wolf, a nine-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, blends imaginative French cuisine with the low-country cooking of South Carolina in a stunning oasis that’s hard to ever forget.
Magdalena, 205 E. Biddle St., Baltimore | theivybaltimore.com/dine/restaurant
Envision the classic dishes of France merged with the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay region and, voila, Magdalena! Located at The Ivy Hotel, Magdalena sources its ingredients close to home. Food from local farmers is at the heart of the culinary philosophy.
Restaurante Tio Pepe, 10 E. Franklin St., Baltimore | tiopepe.us
In this world of change, there’s something comforting about dining at a place that’s been here seemingly forever. Since 1968, this classic Spanish restaurant featuring authentic Spanish and Mediterranean fare has been serving its celebrated sangria and memorable paella to generations in the same location.
Sotto Sopra, 405 N. Charles St., Baltimore | sottosoprainc.com
Have a yen for perfect pasta, risotto, roasted meats and seafood in a glorious 19th-century building? Head to Sotto Sopra, an Italian restaurant that raises the bar whenever anything leaves the kitchen. Treat yourself to the real-deal pizza or other creative Italian fare.
The Bygone, 400 International Drive, 29th Floor, Baltimore | thebygonerestaurant.com
Sometimes you simply have to pull out all the stops. This place is one of them. Perched atop The Four Seasons Hotel
Baltimore in Harbor East, the views (and the décor) are knockouts. Its menu satisfies every taste, from focaccia to lobster, with no detail left undone. You deserve the splurge!
Things to Do in the Baltimore Area
Dazzling Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1 Safari Place, Baltimore | marylandzoo.org/zoolights
There’s no place like the Maryland Zoo, especially when it lights up the town with a colorful evening display of Zoo lights in the shape of everyone’s favorite Zoo animals. More than 50 light displays with 100,000 environmentally friendly LED lights will transform the Zoo into a sparkling winter wonderland from Nov. 20 through Jan. 3, 2021.
Holiday Train Garden
Fire Museum of Maryland, 1301 York Road, Lutherville | firemuseummd.org
Take part in a Baltimore tradition: a visit to the Fire Museum of Maryland, one of the largest fire museums in the world. Santa will still make his stop on Nov. 28 during the Holiday Train Garden with social distancing for kids (he’ll be sitting across from kids at a big, old-fashioned desk). See dozens of O-scale trains travel through 20th-century scenes. The train garden opens Nov. 28 and will be open every Saturday in December and during the holiday week from Dec. 28 to 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.
Rooftop Ice Skating
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 200 International Drive, Baltimore | fourseasons.com/baltimore
Talk about creative social distancing ideas. The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East has transformed its fifth-floor Harbor Terrace into a 1,800-square-foot synthetic skating rink offering expansive views of the city skyline. From Nov. 13 to January 2021, 45-minute sessions will be available from 2 to 4 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Afterward, warm up with decadent European-style hot chocolate topped with house-made marshmallows, hot toddies and s’mores. Tickets are $30 per person and are available via Tock and Eventbrite. Children younger than 5 receive complimentary tickets.
A Short Drive from Baltimore
Holiday Lights Walk to the North Pole
Take a walk through the lighted gardens at Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm in Severn. Journey through lighted gardens as you travel to the North Pole. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed. Tickets are available on Eventbrite (search for North Pole Lights Walk).
Christmas Around the World
Willet Family Farm, 2610 Baumgardner Road, Westminster | willetfamilyfarm.com
Welcome the holiday season by helping others less fortunate. The Willet Family Farm in Westminster is hosting a Global Gift Giving Educational Experience Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Explore interactive games for children, international exhibits, a Christmas photo booth and a live animal petting zoo. Have fun as you learn about the needs of children growing up in poverty and consider making a tax-deductible donation. Free coffee and hot cocoa will be provided.
Lights on the Bay
Take a 2-mile drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay through Sandy Point State Park in the warmth and comfort of your car and experience this annual holiday light show featuring more than 70 animated and stationary holiday displays. This year’s displays range from holiday-inspired designs to lights that take their cues from the Annapolis setting. Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day. Admission: $20 per car; $30 large passenger vans, mini buses and trolleys.
Sailing into the Winter Solstice
Lovely Frederick will glitter with the holiday spirit from November through February with one-of-a-kind lighted sailboats lining Carroll Creek Park. The sailboats will be available for viewing anytime, but the lights go on at sunset.