The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. Lights are everywhere, the days are getting shorter and colder, and the end of the semester is approaching.
With finals right around the corner, I recommend taking a day off from studying. During reading period, get out into Baltimore and enjoy the many holiday and winter activities the city has to offer. Taking a break will help your focus, and getting outside is good for you in many different ways. The city has loads to offer at this time of year, from markets to light shows to everything in between.
My first recommendation lies less than a 15-minute walk from campus. Perfect for a short study break, the Miracle on 34th Street Christmas light show is always impressive. The houses are decked out to the extremes, and even the most Grinch-like people will be able to find a decoration display that makes them happy. There are also many houses that veer away from traditional holiday themes and instead celebrate Baltimore classics like Natty Boh. The 34th Street light display is just two blocks away from the Avenue in Hampden. It’s really easy to stop by and get cocoa or have dinner with a friend or significant other on your way back to campus. I highly recommend Dangerously Delicious Pies, a restaurant where there’s an option for every sweet tooth, sugar-hater and all those in between.
If you have the time to venture farther away from campus, the Inner Harbor is the way to go. There’s a German Christmas market, known as the Christmas Village, which offers traditional foods and gifts that your parents will love. For the over-21 crowd there is an amazing selection of German beers that, in my opinion, are better than anything the U.S. has to offer.
The Village has a food selection that is more authentic than anything I’ve found outside my Omama’s kitchen. Options range from wiener schnitzel to so many different varieties of bratwursts that it’s frankly overwhelming. There is also a stall dedicated to Lebkuchen, a special kind of German Christmas cookie that is often coated in chocolate. As they are my favorite German Christmas treat, the stall felt like heaven to visit.
If you’re German, the market will remind you of Christmases with your family and feel like home. If you’re not, it’s an amazing cultural experience that you don’t want to miss.
The Inner Harbor is also home to the Pandora Ice Rink, where beginners and experts alike can have fun skating around and enjoying Baltimore’s mild winters. Tickets and skate rentals are relatively cheap. There’s also a College Night coming up on Dec. 22 with even more deals — a night of free skate rentals!
Best of all, skating is also a great form of exercise. We all know that it’s important to get moving to stay healthy, even during finals, because self-care is important.
The last event I recommend going to is free, which is always good for students during the holidays. The Washington Monument near the Peabody campus will be lit up with Christmas lights on Thursday, Dec. 6.
You can take the Charm City Circulator or the JHMI from campus to Mount Vernon Place for free. There will be lots of food vendors at the Monument Lighting (including my favorite, Ekiben). There will also be performances by college and youth choirs from all around Baltimore. As a prelude to Lighting of the Quads, there are also going to be fireworks at 8 p.m.
I know finals are coming up, and it’s really easy to get lost in your textbooks when professors assign midterms and papers right up to the last minute. But make sure that you take time to get out of the library and get some fresh air.
Baltimore is an amazing city to explore. These events are easy to get to and will provide a nice pick-me-up with friends before it’s time to, if you’re like me, become an antisocial hermit as you try to cram for finals.