School is almost out! Vacations are about to start, fantasies of sun-kissed beaches and Caribbean R&R are coasting through my mind. How to get some summer fun without leaving town?
Here’s my quick & dirty guide for Summer Fun for the busy person, whether parent, adult (that can’t take off 3 months from work!) or graduate.
Sadly, since I don’t own a plane, the bulk of my travels will be tied to savoring the local treats of the region and Baltimore is increasingly ranking as a top city to visit because of our food! Starting with these yummy festivals, consider partaking in the Baltimore Wine Fest on June 16, the Chesapeake Crab and Beer Fest on August 18, and the Vegan Soulfest on August 25.
You can also give yourself a mini-staycation, and explore one new restaurant per week, exposing your palate to new exotic flavors. Try Akbar on Charles Street, or Alma Cucina in Canton, or enjoy any of themasterpieces created by the chefs in R. House, the cool new restaurant concept in the neighborhood of Remington. R. House houses ten chefs that unified their concepts to offer their dishes in a communal space of cool couches, family style tables and neighborhood bar at the center. This is your new hangout spot, to have your friends and co-workers over for deep philosophical conversations; like the Orioles, World Cup, or who makes the best crab soup.
One of the tried & true recommendations to enhance cultural competence is exploring other cultures- especially learning about the music, arts and of course, food from other cultures- so, slip on your flip-flops, grab the kids and check out these unique experiences:
- Saint Nicholas Greek Folk Festival, June 7-10, celebrating Greek culture, food and music – hosted in Highlandtown.
- The Baltimore Caribbean Carnival, July 14-15 at Clifton Park, highlighting the dances, music and foodof the Caribbean.
- We lay claim to the largest art festival in the country: Artscape celebrated July 20-22 and by the way, it is totally FREE!
- Explore the richness of the Afro-American culture during the AFRAM festival held from August 11-12.
And then there’s LatinoFest, on its 38th year, held June 23rd and 24th in Patterson Park- the largest celebration of Latino music, art, and (you guessed it) food in Baltimore! Put on your dancing shoes, come hungry and explore the culture of over 20 countries and meet the influencers of the local Hispanic community. Here’s the scoop:
- Two stages with the jamming sounds of merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaetón, mariachi, plena and bomba. I will admit to not knowing what the last two dances are… so join me in learning!
- Tons of family entertainment is available, including rock-wall climbing, face painting and clowns.
As for uniquely Baltimore experiences, I’m exploring HONFest, June 9-10, to learn about the hairdo’s, and most importantly, the influence of the “Hon” Girls – the women who developed Baltimore with theirlabor and efforts. Also, consider the Little Italy Film Festival from June to August, which highlights Italian movies with outdoor screenings in the Little Italy neighborhood- and grab a gelato or cannoli! And I’m penciling in the Baltimore Improv Festival, from July 30 to August 5- they feature local and regional improv talent that should provide a great laugh!
TOURIST FOR THE DAY-MUSEUMS AND HISTORY
Another great tactic for enjoying the summer is being a tourist in our own back yard. I grab the kids and take mini-day trips. Heading off to Gettysburg, PA and participate in the reenactments or ghost tours. Go to Annapolis and sign up for sailing lessons, learn to navigate by the stars and wind or even the temperature of the water. Go au ‘natural (lol!) and enjoy the sights and sounds of our State Parks, like the waterfalls at Cunningham Falls State Park. Enact your own scavenger hunt and sample every ice cream, taco, crab soup or BBQ spot to identify the “best of the best.” Check out Art with a Heart and develop your creative side; or visit the Visionary Art Museum and be wow ’ed by the masterpieces of these self-taught artists- my favorites are the kinetic sculptures!
Although we are not like the Italians that close shop for the entire month of August, we can certainly carve some time to slow the pace of our hectic lives and enjoy the treasures of our own corner of the world.
Amigos- go forth and enjoy and do let me what your favorite summertime experience is.