When your parents announce that they’re visiting, it’s possible you’ll feel both excited and nervous. You’ve been living without them since you arrived at Hopkins. What if they try to dictate their visit?
Remember, though: When your family visits Baltimore, you’re the one in charge. You know the land, and they’re excited to see what it has to offer. So what can you show them?
During two Baltimore staycations with my parents, I learned how to entertain adults in Charm City. Here’s a helpful guide if you find yourself with the same task.
Show off the school.
This is the most obvious entry on the list. If your parents visit Baltimore, they want to see you at Hopkins. If anything, they want to see where their money is going.
Show off your dorm, but clean it before they get there! My parents were thrilled with my sophomore year dorm. They marvelled at the kitchen, bathroom, carpeted floors, everything. And I lived in McCoy, so if you’re in Homewood, parents will think you hit the jackpot.
Parents are also interested in the campus. A walk across Homewood is a great way to spend an hour, especially on a sunny day. Check out Brody and the Gilman atrium.
If your family is into history, see if the Homewood Museum is running a tour that day, or look at the Archaeological Museum’s display in Gilman.
If they’re into sports, bring them to a game. Chances are, our football and lacrosse teams do better than the major league teams you’re invested in.
Keep everyone’s ages and preferences in mind.
When my 13-year-old brother visited, I had to plan around the fact that he’s got different tastes than my parents and I do. His main love is construction vehicles, so he was happiest when we were around campus, where there’s always a project in development. But he would have loved the Baltimore Museum of Industry or the B&O Railroad Museum as well.
If there are food restrictions in your family, make sure to check menus ahead of time. My family eats vegetarian in restaurants, so One World Cafe was a big hit with their faux cheesesteaks. Honeygrow has faster options that are just as impressive.
Be a tourist…
You’ve checked out the Inner Harbor a few times. But this is your chance to see it as a tourist.
The Spirit of Baltimore is a perfect way to spend an hour. The sightseeing cruise costs about $20 per person and takes you on a scenic ride past the most historic sites in Baltimore. A voiceover provides commentary, so you can nod along as though you’re an expert on the information. My family and I went in the summer, but the Spirit sails year-round.
Finally, bring everyone to a professional sports game. The Orioles play baseball from March through September, while the Ravens play football from September through December. Both Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium are less than a 15-minute walk from several Inner Harbor hotels.
Plus, depending on the team’s talent each season, tickets may run cheap. At least the Orioles are dependable in that regard.
...but stray off the beaten path.
It’s great to tour, but you actually live here. As a result, your relatives will want to know your favorite spots that can’t be found in a guide book.
When my family visited over the summer, I was finishing up an internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, located in the Jonestown neighborhood. Ten weeks of walking from the Museum to my bus stop in the Inner Harbor ensured that I learned the ins and outs of Jonestown.
I brought my family to the Jewish Museum, complete with a tour of the two historic synagogues by its side. The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where the flag that inspired the National Anthem was sewn, is also just a few streets away.
The quaint neighborhoods of Little Italy and Fells Point are good choices for lunch or souvenir shopping. If your parents are into music, bring them to The Sound Garden — they can pick up used records and reminisce about the time before Spotify.
This is also the time to check out new restaurants! I fell in love with Supano’s, an Italian restaurant in the Inner Harbor. Its walls are covered with depictions of old Hollywood, a guaranteed parent-pleaser.
Remember why they came in the first place.
You! Your parents aren’t in Baltimore for the museums, the food or the Harbor. They’re there because they miss you and want to see the place you call home.
Make sure that your visit fits your family’s style, whatever it is. They just want to reassure themselves that you’re thriving down here.