Ballin’ in Baltimore & Adulting in Aruba

Between Bleisuring in Baltimore in April (meaning my husband and two kids tagged along, despite my attempts to escape them for a weekend, and we expanded the trip!) and having an early summer vacation in the Caribbean in May, travel has been good to me this year. Here’s some good ol’ family travel tips and experiences I’d like to share–and I know, it has been a while, but I DID just publish a novella (check it out here on Amazon so yeah, I’ve been a little busy, but more on that later…)

I have fond memories of going to the Baltimore Harbor as a child, so returning with Ella and Luke was fun:

Suite to Book in B’more: If you are traveling with little ones, I highly recommend the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore , which is about a five-min walk to the Harbor. I picked this hotel because they have the Pullman Suite for families that include Bunk Beds in a SEPARATE ROOM. That meant Chris and I had privacy and could hang out in the bedroom/living area while the kids went down at 8 pm.  Their room also had a TV and video game console that I pretended was “broken” because I couldn’t deal with figuring it out (ha!). The restaurant B&O Brasserie was very family friendly and delicious so we had breakfast there every day and even dinner with the kids one night.

A Day at the Harbor: You really can spend an entire day at the Harbor and not get bored. In addition to the Aquarium (one of the largest in the country and picked by USA Today as a top 5), paddle in dragon themed boats; check out the maritime museum Historic Ships in Baltimore, which allows you to go inside multiple historic military ships docked, like the USS Constellation used from 1797 to 1853 (free audio tours come with ticket); watch a high-energy show at the Power Plant entertainment venue (I experienced smell-a-vision here when I was a child!); or simply relax on the grass and people watch.

Parent’s Night Out: I highly recommend getting a babysitter (the Hotel Monaco can help with that) and going to Azumi Restaurant across from The Four Seasons Hotel. It is hands down one of the best Japanese restaurants I have ever been to–they even have sparkling sake, something my client Michaela Guzy introduced to the world via her series Michaela’s Map: Vancouver. I am so glad she asked for it that night as it was delicious! The website does not do this place justice. Just trust me and GO (and leave the kids at home).

This time around our Aruba experience was a bit more relaxed and more adventurous! Ella and Luke were two years older than the last time, so we had multiple dinners out with and without them and even rented a car to explore the island. Here are my two gems to share with you:

Caving with Kids: Head to Arikok National Park where you are surrounded by desert, wildlife, caves and sweeping island views. It is best to rent an SUV to navigate the winding roads that have multiple deep dips to prevent speeding (we had a sedan and let’s just say we left with a few dents on the front bumper, oops!). We explored Conchi, a natural ocean pool sheltered by craggy rock formations, and walked around Fontein Cave with Caquetío Indian rock paintings on the wall. At first  I was—uh, I mean, the kids were scared to go inside such a dark cave, but then they enjoyed exploring. Past the cave is a small path that leads you to a little bridge across a pond where there are many little fish swimming around. The kids will love getting so close to them safely. There’s also Quadirikiri Cave with openings in the roof that let in natural light, but we didn’t make it to that area.

Beach Dining Date Night: The best thing about staying at The Costa Linda is that the kids club workers double as the babysitters in the evening, so you feel safe leaving them with your little ones. TWICE Chris and I went to Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino’s  seafood restaurant on the beach called Atardi. The photos on their site don’t do this place justice–aside from the really delicious food and top-notch, attentive service, the views of the calm Caribbean beach and sail boats floating by are so romantic! There’s a place to neatly place your shoes in cubbies before walking across the sand to a prime spot next to the ocean, and your server will make sure he/she takes photos of you in front of the sunset before you order. Then after having a booze-filled, world-class meal, head over to the casino and gamble a bit of your kids’ college funds, ha!




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