24 hours in Baltimore ft. Light City

Baltimore hosted a Light City event the last week of March and I love lights so why not take a 2 hour drive to check it out! There were also light shows and performances but because of the bad weather, we didn't stick around for too much. I had originally planned on coming down all week thinking it would take a couple nights to see everything but I’m glad it didn’t work out.

Trixie, my brother and I went down Friday night and saw all the major displays minus the ones taken down because of strong winds. My favorite one was the circles on the floor. Having some interactive definitely makes a huge difference. The other ones were nice to look at but you move on afterwards.

Since we drove two hours and it was the weekend, Trixie and I decided to stay the night and spend Saturday in the city. Here is our playback of what we ate and did. Enjoy!

Parking Panda

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We knew we were getting close to the event when traffic slowed down and we started seeing traffic cops. We originally planned to look for street parking and work out way out of the festival to slowly find parking but then we got impatient.

All the parking garages had signs outside about “special event parking” which usually meant double the price for parking. The garage we saw across from one of the light display had a sign outside with parking for $20.

I checked my Parking Panda app for cheaper parking and found the same place for $10. I couldn’t find in the restrictions or FAQ about whether an event price would trump the app price so I called Parking Panda. They are available 8 AM - 9 PM EST everyday. I had 7 minutes to call. A customer service representative, Cindy, picked up. I explained the situation and she kindly told me that the price on the app is set by the garage owners week-to-week or day-by-day so they have to honor the price. She also told me to call back if I ran into any trouble redeeming the voucher.

We circled around, found a spot in the garage and headed down to talk to the parking attendants before leaving. They told us they would honor the voucher and to be back by midnight to redeem it. That is the time the parking attendants leave.

We save $20! $10 per car because we came in separate cars.

Verity of Food Choices

DIY Bibimbap

For dinner the first night, I Yelped somewhere between our house and Inner Harbor for “food”. Brown Rice Korean Cuisine immediately caught my attention because I was craving Korean food. What made us choose this spot was that it wasn’t only bibimbap but it was build-your-own bibimbap! We’ve never seen that before. People on Yelp described it as the “Chipotle of bibimbap.”

How it’s done:

  1. Choose your bowl: be bowl (medium $8), super bowl (large $10), hot stone bowl (large-hot-stone-yes! $13)
  2. Choose your rice: brown, white, multigrain, Jasmin, Barley or a non-rice - kale salad
  3. Choose your protein: beef bulgogi, chicken bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy beef, fish, stir fried squid
  4. Choose your veggies: a whole lot of choices! (Refer to picture.)
  5. Choose your sauce: gochujang (red pepper paste - the one you get at most places), bulgogi (soy sauce like), sesame soy sauce (also has vinegar and sugar), sesame oil, deonjang, citron, spicy mayo, mango

The three of us chose the hot stone bowl. This came with 2 scoops of protein and 7 choices of veggies. We all chose multi grain rice and gochijang sauce. The hot stone bowl is for dine-in only. After ordering, take a seat and they will bring it to your table. When given too many choices, I usually feel weird having the person stand there waiting for me to pick so I ended up picking some random things - not a fan of black beans in my bibimbap. Otherwise, it was a fun concept.

Nationally Famous Miss Shirley's Cafe

For breakfast the next morning, Hung and I found Miss Shirley’s Cafe pretty close to Inner Harbor. The cafe looks as if it was in a small town strip. The two or three block strip mostly had other restaurants and was surrounded by residential houses.

There is free parking at small lot half a block from the cafe with an orange umbrella and a parking attendant at the entrance. There is a sign stating it was reserved parking for Miss Shirley’s customers only.

When we approached the cafe, there were three other groups waiting outside so we thought, ‘okay not bad.’ But as soon as we opened the door, there was a bunch of people by the door and a whole waiting room full of people. Surprisingly, we did not have to wait long - maybe 20 minutes. We also didn’t realize how big the cafe was. There are the booths you see when you walk in, a couple of tables and an upstairs in the waiting area and a whole other room to the right. I also didn’t know that this place has been on lots of publications and Diner, Dive-Ins and Dives. I use to watch that show and have noted down places to eat.

The servers were constantly moving quickly, taking orders, checking on customers and clearing the tables. Hung and I already knew what we wanted when we sat down. We tried the sweet potato totes (no), chicken and waffles (yes!) and mac crabby (okay). I wish the chicken and waffles near my house was this good. This is my second time ever having chicken and waffles together. I did not like it the first time but as we walked by a couple of tables here, a lot of people ordered that and it looked really good so I had to try. I’m glad I did! It’s a huge portion and kept me full for the whole day. Not kidding .. we only got some seafood after because Hung was on a mission to get oysters.

Oysters, Sushi, Beer in Takeout Containers

So for a light dinner and to accomplish Hung’s missions, we stopped by Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood a half mile from Inner Harbor to get oysters and sushi. The area reminded me of South Street in Philadelphia and the building was like Reading Terminal. The Cross Street Market closes at 7 PM but Nick’s Seafood has it’s own entrance at one end of the building. The atmosphere is one of a sports bar and very loud. There is sports on all the TVs and the beer comes in a take out container. You can either wait for a booth or try to find a stool and bar space if you want to get food. 

If you are walking in from Nick’s main entrance, on your right will be Nick’s Sushi Bar. Locate the menus and pens by the sushi chef in a take out container by the register on the wall. Fill you what you would like and don’t forget to put your name at the top. Hand it to the chef when his hands are free and wait to hear your name called. I was still extremely full from brunch but after looking around, the rice around the sushi roll was a good thin size so I decided it was okay to get a roll. A lot of other places put a lot of rice around the roll so you will be fuller.

For the oysters, follow along the sushi bar until you see the signs for different types of oysters and the prices. Place your order here. They will give you an approximate time to come back.

3 Beans Coffee

Our final stop for the day was a little coffee shop with a view of Inner Harbor. When you first walk in you will see a wall full of decorated coffee sleeves. Some are very cute and creative. Peeking into the sitting area, it looks like many people come here with their laptop to send the day. I would too. A relaxed atmosphere right by the harbor. Grab a coffee and take a walk when you get tired of being on your laptop.

The Breakdown


Location: 1415 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10 AM - 4 PM
Price: Adult $12
Parking: Free in their private lot
Favorite Part: The old TVs!

Museum of Industry

When looking for something to do in Baltimore on a rainy day that did not involve the aquarium, only cause we have already been there and Hung isn’t amused by fishes as much as I am, we ended up at the Museum of Industry.

The museum is on a couple of “must see” lists but not every one. This makes it more unique to me and I like old things.

When you first enter, you can purchase your tickets or redeem your Groupon at the desk on your left. As soon as we got our stickers and I turned around to see the souvenirs, I reached down, picked up the cute crab, turned around and told them “I want this.” $5 not very well spent but I am happy with the purchase.

The front desk will provide you with a map of the exhibits and explain it to you. Everything is on one floor and goes in almost a square. It’s very easy to follow without missing anything. There are also free group tours with a guide who explains the history of each exhibit if you are interested.

In certain exhibits, there will be someone who is demonstrating how to use the tools. There was a blacksmith making a napkin holder and someone demonstrating the printing press. During our time of visit, there was a special interactive exhibit teaching the very basics of how video games are made.

If you are finished with everything inside, go outside and enjoy the fresh air sitting by the harbor.

The Breakdown


Location: 800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 AM - 6 PM
Price: Adults $15.95
Parking: Paid street parking
Note: No backpacks, food, drink or photos allowed in the museum.

Visual Art Museum

While I was looking for things to do in Baltimore, a lot of people were posting pictures from the outside of the Visual Art Museum. What caught our attention when we drove by was the shiny building but the tree was what got us to get out of the car to take pictures.

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Helpful Links

What to do and eat with a day in Baltimore after the Light City event!

What to do and eat with a day in Baltimore after the Light City event!

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