This past weekend we went to Baltimore for a weekend with my extended family. My Dad had sent my sisters and I a request to host some sort of birthday celebration for he and my mom since they were both turning 70. As I am sure many families can attest, coordinating the logistics between five families (total of 18 kids and adults) who live in four different cities (Raleigh, North Virginia (x2), Milwaukee, and San Diego) is a bit of a challenge.
Where to go? When? Fly? Drive? We thought about the beach, the mountains, skiing, a C&O Canal trip, and many other ideas. We quickly realized that between school for the kids (some on traditional schedule, some on year round), work for the adults, other obligations, there just weren’t many weekends to choose from so we ended up choosing the period between Christmas and New Years. With that period falling on a weekend this year, it worked out well. All the kids were out of school and work is for the most part, pretty quiet.
Once we settled on a weekend, we still needed to decide where to go. We eliminated a lot of choices by picking a winter time slot. We had thought a trip to Great Wolf Lodge would be fun and it would be but it is pretty pricey and if you aren’t into water parks, there isn’t a lot else to do unless you leave the resort. Leaving the resort doesn’t make a lot of sense since that is what you pay for so we ruled that out. Skiing? Could be pricey and would divide up the family between skiers – good and fair, and non-skiers which defeated the purpose of getting together. So we ruled that out too. My parents live in the DC area and there are ton of things to do there but over the years we have done most of them and we wanted to do something else. Baltimore is close and the Inner Harbor has lots to do so after checking out a few options, we settled on Baltimore.
We ended up making a game out of the weekend and divided the family up into five teams. We had a series of contests or Clues as we called them, with a winner for each event. This made the weekend a lot of fun and mixed the families up into groups they normally wouldn’t be in. Having a series of activities on the agenda also kept us from looking at each other and trying to decide what to do next.
We had activities which could be done at the hotel and some which were done at various attractions, We had a scavenger hunt at the National Aquarium and another at the B&O Railroad Museum. We had another around the Inner Harbor itself which involved going all over the place to track down information. We had a Family Feud inspired trivia contest and a “snack association” game where some sort of snack food was associated with each family member and teams had to figure out who went with which snack. My sister from Milwaukee lives near the Jelly Belly factory and brought 18 different types of jellybeans to be identified by color and taste. After you have a couple, they all start to taste the same, except of course, the jalapeno ones which taste terrible!
We stayed at the Residence Inn on Light Street which is about 5 blocks from the Inner Harbor. I love Residence Inns – they work really well for my family of six. Breakfast is nice, the extra room is really nice to have, and having a refrigerator to keep food and drinks help us from having to eat out for every meal. The Light Street Residence Inn is one of the nicer ones I have stayed at – I highly recommend it. I have added it to my list of list of Hotels that Don’t Suck.
All in all, we had a great weekend, my parents were thrilled and everything came off without a hitch. About the only thing that was bad was the drive home. DC traffic is bad. Really bad. I simply cannot fathom commuting up and down the I-95 corridor every day like some people do. I would be insane. They really need to figure out how to bring the Metro down into Prince William county. Probably never happen but it would help a lot.