With ties to many great moments in African American history, Baltimore is an ideal place to celebrate Black History Month. Learn about the lives of those who made a difference at a museum devoted to African American history and culture. Then stop by a bookstore filled with the writings of Frederick Douglass, and end the evening by evoking the soul of jazz in a hip club.
Play Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture: Pay a visit to the East Coast's largest African American museum of its kind, located near Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Within its permanent exhibitions, you'll learn about the effects of 200 years of slavery in Maryland, as well as the history of African American labor, native crafts, dance, art, literature, and music. Admission costs $8.
Shop Frederick Douglass Bookstore: Located in the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site visitor's center, this bookstore dedicated to African American history offers a range of books covering topics such as the underground railroad, slavery, and emancipation. You'll also find cookbooks, childrens books, and books written by the man himself, Frederick Douglass. You can buy a copy of the first book Douglas ever wrote, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, for $1.
Drink Club 347: Come listen to musicians playing in the footsteps of jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and Count Basie, who once jammed on stages all over the city. At Club 347, Baltimore's premier jazz club, you can pull up a chair and get blown away by live performances for free on Mondays and Tuesdays. You might run into a $7 or $8 cover charge other nights, depending on who's performing. Cocktails typically cost about $6 or $7, but the bar offers a happy hour special between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Located at the point where southeastern Pennsylvania meets northern Delaware, the Brandywine Valley overflows with history and culture. Within a single day, you can dine in a Civil War meeting place for Union soldiers, tour one of the Du Pont mansions, and sleep in an antique bed. When you travel through the Brandywine Valley, you travel back through time.
Play Winterthur: At Winterthur, the Du Pont's country estate, you don't simply tour the impressive collections of antiques, you also get to experience them hands-on. In the Touch-It room, school children learn to appreciate handcrafted goods, with activities based on lighting, kitchenware, and crafts. Outside, take a self-guided stroll through the 60-acre gardens featuring plants from around the world hand-picked by the founder, Henry Francis du Pont, or learn more on a narrated tram ride. Admission costs $20 per adult for two consecutive days, and includes entrance to the gardens, galleries, and house. Your ticket also entitles you to an introductory tour, rides on the garden tram, special exhibitions, the Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens, and the Enchanted Woods.
Stay Cornerstone Inn: Built in 1704, the Cornerstone Inn showcases its long history with period decorations, including 18th-century furniture and antique canopy beds, and a stone facade originally fashioned by Quaker masons. Guests are welcomed by candles in the windows, traditionally used to beckon weary travelers. Visitors can relax in the perennial and herb gardens or sit next to a blazing fire on a cold day. Weekend rates start at $130 per night, and include a hearty country breakfast.
Eat Arsenal at Old New Castle: When it comes to history, the Arsenal at Old New Castle is one for the books. Since its completion in 1811, the building has housed civil war troops, cholera patients, high school and elementary students, and most recently hungry patrons. Today, guests can eat in the Eagle and Cannon Tavern, where Union Soldiers once gathered, or dine in the elegant 1812 Dining Room. Dinner entrees start at $18 and include duck breast with mushroom risotto and braised pork loin.
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Imagine yourself in Baltimore, that grand old seafaring city, ready to sit down to a plate of Maryland's trademark dish—crab. You must be excited! After all, you've traveled all this way, right? Well guess what—so has your crab.
Well, maybe. I'm sure plenty of crab served in Maryland does, in fact, come from Maryland and its environs, and that crab is likely to be clearly labeled on your menu. But the fact is that some crab served in Maryland comes from Texas. And it flies Southwest.
This fascinating (not, I hope, only to geeks like me) video chronicles the journey of a crab shipment from Houston to Baltimore aboard a Southwest flight. Along the way we meet the folks who make Southwest's cargo business run, and get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on. Check it out:
If you're like me, you're asking yourself a few questions right now. These questions could be: How do the crabs not perish/stink up the cargo hold? Personally, I'm flummoxed by this. Second, cardboard boxes? Really? Third, what was that random shot of water around 1:22? Or was it ice?
Anyway, thank you, Southwest, for this enlightening insight into the worlds of cargo shipping and traditional Maryland cuisine.
Who says eco-travel has to mean wearing mosquito netting while avoiding quicksand in a Central American rainforest? Certainly not Hilton Hotels, which is about to have a pair of properties with greener roofs—and last time I checked, neither Asheville nor Baltimore is anywhere near Costa Rica.
What's most interesting about these two projects is that they achieve eco-positive status in two completely different ways. According to Green Lodging News, Asheville's new Hilton Hotel in Biltmore Park Town Square is focused on cutting emissions and fuel costs by installing a "large-scale solar water heating system" on its roof. The new system is expected to supply the 165-room hotel with over 2,000 gallons of hot water per day, and save an estimated $10,000 per year in energy costs, all while giving the hotel a much smaller carbon footprint. In doing so, the Hilton Asheville is set to become one of the first major hotel s in the country to use the sun's energy to heat its water. Combined with "an energy optimization program, the use of recycled, nontoxic and local materials, and the installation of Low-E materials throughout the entire hotel," the fancy solar roof may make this one of the greenest big hotels in the U.S.
The new $300 million, 757-room Hilton Baltimore is also going green, but instead of solar panels, the roofs on its east and west buildings will be home to a 32,000-square-foot garden. With six species and tens of thousands of plantsthis won't look like Grandma's backyard. As The Green Meeting notes, such roofs "are used to provide urban habitat to wildlife, reduce storm runoff, improve air and water quality, lower temperatures and boost aesthetics." So while you may not be able to take an environmentally friendly shower at the Hilton Baltimore, at least all those plants are a lot nicer to look at than a roof full of solar panels. Either way, it's nice to see Hilton blazing an eco-travel trail—without all the bugs.