We arrived at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in the late afternoon, after a quick 90-minute drive from our homes in busy Northern Virginia to the decidedly unhurried Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Our girlfriend getaway has evolved from a one-time desperate escape from kids and spouses (we love you, kids and spouses!) to a semi-annual retreat with dear friends, all brought together by a single cooperative preschool nearly 16 years ago.
We checked in just in time for our facial and massage appointments at the Sago Spa at the resort. We all enjoyed the indulgence, a great kickoff to our retreat, followed by several rounds of steam room, shower, and sauna. The spa offered much more than we expected, and two of our group booked further services while we were there.
Evenings at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, are kind of magical: fires on the beach with beverages, or s’mores over the massive outdoor fireplace, or family movie night at the indoor pool.
For us, the indoor/outdoor hot tub was calling our names, but we were so sleepy from our spa treatments we just couldn’t rally. We were all asleep by 9:30pm, an absolute anomaly for us.
After a sunrise walk along the waterfront and around the golf course on Saturday morning, we made for the huge breakfast buffet.
Two of us went back to the spa for mani/pedis while the others went to check out the newly renovated rooms in one wing of the resort. Though the old rooms were fine, the new rooms have an updated blue and white color palette and more natural wood, reflecting the waterfront location of the resort.
Warm weather offers tons and tons of activities for all ages, particularly water activities. There are canoes, kayaks and paddleboards available, jet skis, fishing, and several pools. We were there in cold weather, so we stuck to the indoor activities, and nearby parks we could explore by car.
We packed up and headed a few miles south to drive through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, home to thousands of migrating birds. The manicurist had told us that “The swans are in!” We marveled at large flocks of white birds we later learned were snow geese, not swans, and saw some unfamiliar birds in the marshy waters. At last we saw a pair of swans, majestically oblivious to our presence.
We stopped for lunch on the way home at T at the General Store, a lovely bright teahouse in a former general store in Easton, Maryland. The aroma of the teas filled the space, and the farm to table menu offered lots of great options. For the coffee drinkers, a stop for coffee at the wonderful Rise Up roasters in town is a must. I may have to plan another trip to pick up more of the delicious dark roasted coffee I bought there.
It’s a quick trip from DC or Baltimore, but a world away from the hustle and burnout of both cities.
Ask for a Bay view!
Higher floors offer a quieter experience, especially in summer when pools are busy.
Pet-friendly (with deposit).
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina is a four-diamond resort of the Chesapeake Bay. The property is nestled on 342 magnificent acres along the Choptank River, and features 400 rooms and suites. There a six dining options; an award-winning, 18-hole championship golf course; the 150-slip River Marsh Marina; the Sago Salon & Spa; multi-level indoor and outdoor swimming pools; a fitness facility, and a children’s recreation center.
For more information on the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, please call (800) 633-7313 or visit www.chesapeakebay.regency.hyatt.com.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor is a classic but fun hotel in a renovated bank building with a soaring lobby entrance just steps to Baltimore’s most popular attractions. Great family suites available with special perks for kids.
(Photo credit: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)
The standard rooms are lovely, with a choice of king, double double, or double queen rooms. The best choice for a family is the Pullman Suite, which has a double double main room and a kids’ annex with two bunk beds (and an Xbox). There’s a large flat screen tv in each room.
The sheets and blankets are high quality, with washable comforter covers so that everything is clean for each guest. The minibar has kid-friendly options, but per usual, they are quite expensive. There are plenty of convenience stores nearby to stock up on snacks if needed.
The bathrooms are large and nicely laid out, and offer Atelier Bloem products. Some rooms have deep spa tubs available.
Standard rooms suitable for up to 4; Pullman suite suitable for up to 6.
Wifi – Members of the Kimpton Karma program, which is free, get free wifi access, which is fast and reliable throughout most of the building.
Plugs – iPod charging docks on the nightstands are a little outdated, but there are plenty of plugs and USB charging in convenient spots.
There are so many family-friendly amenities with Kimpton it is hard to know where to start. In the lobby, there are hula hoops available to distract your children as you check in, and staff members who will not only help distract children, but if you are there during the nightly “wine hour” from 5 to 6 pm, they may bring you a glass of wine while you wait. There are bicycles available to borrow to explore the area.
One of our favorite things: you can request a goldfish to keep you company during your stay. It will be delivered to your room.
The hotel offers animal-print robes in each room for lounging, and you can request matching kid-sized robes for your littles.
The on-site B & O Brasserie offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, (and room service) with kid-friendly flatbreads and sandwiches availble at lunch and dinner (and reasonable requests for other options accommodated). The hotel is just a block or two from the Inner Harbor with a wide range of restaurants available. A Shake Shack and a Chik-fil-a were favorites of our kids on a recent visit.
Deals and activities nearby
We were there for a concert at the outdoor Pier 6 Pavilion, and added a visit to the National Aquarium the next morning. There are ships and shops to explore in the Inner Harbor. Or take in a baseball game at Camden Yards. Check the Kimpton website for seasonal deals and offers.
On-site valet parking is available for $40 per night, or you can find garages nearby for a little less.
All Over the Map’s opinion
We already love the Kimpton brand, and the Hotel Monaco Baltimore lived up to our high expectations and then some. The great location by the Inner Harbor means you can walk to just about anything you want to see with kids in the city (though you might want to get a cab or a water taxi to our favorite attraction, the American Visionary Art Museum if your kids are younger or are not big on walking).
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-3754
Find more hotels in Baltimore on TripAdvisor
Need a taste of salt air and the feel of sand between your toes but you can’t bear the thought of 4+ hours in Bay Bridge traffic? We’ll be featuring some of our favorite beaches near Washington, DC this summer. If you have a favorite, please let us know in the comments below.
Just an hour’s drive from DC, you can find several Chesapeake Bay beaches that may not offer the surf or the boardwalks of the Atlantic beaches, but they might tide you over until your next seaside adventure. Yes, I said tide you over. Sorry.
Not all the sharks teeth at Flag Ponds Nature Park are as tiny as this one.
Flag Ponds Nature Park offers a sandy beach and salt-water swimming, with the added bonus of sharks teeth and other fossils to be found along the shore. The surf is gentle, and the water is shallow for about 100 yards from the shoreline with a sandy bay floor – perfect for swimming with young kids.
Public beach toys for sharing at Flag Ponds Nature Park.
The Ponds for which the park is named can be found along two inland trails. Be sure to bring insect repellent, because though the trails are easy and well-marked, the mosquitos can make the walk less-than-pleasant. When we visited, we found one pond absolutely still and covered with green vegetation, with bullfrogs, turtles, sea birds, and something mysterious swimming just under the surface for company.
Can you spot the two turtles?
- The parking lots are about a half mile from the beach, so you may want to bring a beach cart. There is a handicap parking lot adjacent to the beach access path.
- There is a restroom about 50 yards from the beach with outdoor shower.
- There are no concessions in the park.
- You can bring a picnic, but no alcohol.
- Pets are allowed on leash only.
- There is an entrance fee per vehicle: $4 for Calvert County residents, $6 for non-residents in summer. (Off season, $3 per vehicle.)
- The park opens daily at 9am in summer and closes at 6pm during the week, 8pm on weekends.
- Bring shovels and sifters to look for sharks teeth, fossils and shells. There are some shared beach toys available by the beach access path.
- You must have a Maryland fishing license (tidal/saltwater) to fish.
Dragonfly at Flag Ponds Nature Park
Flag Ponds Nature Park
As usual, fall has been hectic for our family. Jeremy started kindergarten, Julian middle school, and Jacques is finding himself at a bit of a loss with his big brother in a different school. Add after-school activities, work travel for John, my usual juggling act and budding existential crisis—not to mention a crippling case of writer’s block—and it was clear a getaway was in order.
A few weeks ago, a flyer for the second annual Belgian Beer Festival in Cambridge, MD caught my eye. As a Belgian-American (yes, there is such a thing), I couldn’t resist the call of the froth.
As if we needed further incentive to hit the road, we got the opportunity to spend the night at the nearby Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay.
Belgian Beer Festival, Cambridge, MD
Sponsored by local gastropub The High Spot, the festival was well underway when we arrived around 4:00. The band was kicking and the beer flowing. Several breweries, including Flying Dog, Resurrection, New Belgium, and Dogfish Head served their own Belgian-style beers. John and I tasted a couple but mostly, we hung out in the children’s area, where a very talented fire juggler entertained us—I mean the kids—for over an hour with tricks that amazed even our somewhat jaded 12-year-old.
My little Belgian heart was warmed when I saw stoemp, a Belgian potato and vegetable dish, and oysters on the half-shell. This last one really brought me back to Belgium, specifically the Place Sainte-Catherine in Brussels, where oysters are served at an outside bar during happy hour, attracting everyone from office workers to backpackers. True to form, Julian loved the oysters, Jacques refused to taste one, and Jeremy grabbed one, spat it out, and spent 10 minutes complaining that his mouth had been poisoned. He is fine.
The Chesapeake Hyatt Regency
Let me start by saying that checking into a hotel with three boys can be a daunting experience. Even when everyone’s on their best behavior, hotel lobbies, like airports, seem to bring out the loud and active in our boys. I worry that the person behind the desk will look up from their screen, see the mayhem the boys are causing, and assign us the worst room in the building, the one usually reserved for heavy-smoking traveling puppy-farm operators or escaped convicts.
Of late, Jeremy has added to the fun by impersonating the doorman/valet, welcoming guests, opening doors, and sometimes even trying to “help” them with their luggage. I know it’s not cute. But there you have it. And Julian seems to think there’s no better place to practice parkour than in large indoor spaces, say, hotel lobbies.
So when we pulled into the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, I did what any good mother would do. I put on large sunglasses, mumbled “see you in there” to my husband, dashed out of the car, and raced to the check-in counter. Then, as usual, I planned to pretend I didn’t know them until I had the keys in my hand.
But this time, no one seemed to blink an eye. The doorman played along with Jeremy, and let him help open doors. And the clerk didn’t roll her eyes at Julian and Jacques’ antics. She smiled. She smiled! A few clicks later, I got three keys to our room. Clearly, this was one family-friendly resort.
The room, a Family Petite Suite, fit us perfectly. It was large, held a king-sized bed and a bunk bed, and there was still plenty of room for the extra rollaway bed. But really, we barely spent any time in the room at all.
- played tennis,
- went on a nature walk through the Blue Heron Rookery, the resorts own wildlife preserve,
- swam in the beautiful indoor pool,
- soaked in the giant indoor-outdoor hot tub,
- played miniature golf on the onsite course,
- played chess on the giant outdoor set,
- played air hockey and ping-pong in the game room,
- watched The Lion King on floats at the dive-in movie, roasted marshmallows in the outdoor fireplace, and
- hit golf balls at the driving range. (This was the only activity we had to pay extra for).
We decided to have breakfast at the hotel so we could enjoy some more activities before hitting the road. As a fascist, I mean health-conscious mom, I was impressed with the children’s menu. No chicken nuggets here.
The kid’s menu is part of a new chain-wide effort to have healthy, organic options such as organic yoghurt fruit smoothies, to create-you-own pasta where children choose their pasta, protein, sauce, and vegetable, and even a three-course kid’s gourmet meal created by Alice Waters. They still have some of the old standbys, like grilled cheese sandwiches, but with whole wheat bread and unprocessed cheese. I loved knowing that anything they chose from the menu would be healthy. And I would imagine this would be a great relief if you were staying for, say, a week.
The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay is a resort with kids and parents in mind. We really felt that they did more than just pay lip-service to the words family-friendly. The staff was genuinely friendly, the children’s menu was well thought out, and the activities kept us busy.
Sometimes one night can make all the difference. One afternoon of Belgian family debauchery and a night in Cambridge at the Chesapeake Hyatt left us refreshed and ready to tackle our lives again. At least until Thanksgiving.