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Blog — "travel"

How to Visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards Without Breaking the Bank

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" "travel"

Visiting Oriole Park on a Budget

Baseball season has officially arrived! We are huge baseball fans and take advantage of having a baseball team in our own city. Once the season begins, we find ourselves at Oriole Park quite a bit. However, going to baseball games can get expensive when you factor in tickets, food, transportation, and memorabilia. We wouldn't be able to go as often as we do if it weren't for a few tricks up our sleeves. So, I thought I'd throw together a quick guide for you locals (or those planning a visit!) on how to visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards without breaking the bank.

1 // Take advantage of season ticket discounts. I know this option isn't for everyone, so I'm going to put it on the table first before talking about other money saving options for tickets. However, if you go to a lot of games, it's worth looking into a season ticket package. We knew it was time to switch to season tickets when we realized we'd gone to 14 games in one season. This will be the fourth year that we have our season tickets. We have a 13 game package and didn't choose fancy seats. Because of the season ticket plan, we save between $3-15 per ticket depending on who the Orioles are playing that day. While we still save and budget for this package each year it's a huge savings per ticket. An additional perk to having season tickets is that you can also get the same discount on single game tickets, so if you want to invite friends you can share the love. Don't want to commit to 13 games? Split a package with friends or family to enjoy a discount.

Eutaw Street at Camden Yards

2 // Avoid Prime and Elite games. Prime and Elite games are the highly sought after match-ups. Rivalry games such as the Red Sox or Yankees will be more expensive, sometimes even double, in ticket price. If you don't care who the O's are playing, choose a Value or Classic game. You'll save quite a bit of money in doing so.

3 // Take advantage of ticket offers or snag your tickets on Stub Hub. For every home Friday game, you can get a $7 left field reserve ticket with a student ID. Student IDs for all ages are included, so while it's probably not what you're supposed to do, I'm not going to tell anyone if you pretend to be in grad school and use your old college ID. ;) For those of you that are younger, are still in college, or have kids you should definitely take advantage of this. Checking Stub Hub the day of is also a great way to snag cheap tickets. There are always season ticket holders that are trying to unload tickets they can't use, and you can often snag them at a fraction of the cost.

Adam Jones Orioles Centerfielder

4 // Pack a delicious picnic dinner and bring it with you. Stadium food isn't cheap. Luckily, Oriole Park is one of the few major league stadiums to allow fans to bring food into the stadium. A few good guidelines to follow to make stadium entry go more smoothly is to pack your food in clear, plastic containers or bags. You can also bring in non-alcoholic beverages as long as they're in a plastic bottle that is still sealed. While you can bring in food, leave the coolers at home or they won't let you in. Just to give you some ideas about how creative you can be, in the past, we've taken chips and guacamole, cake, pasta salad, and a plethora of other delicious summer eats with us to games. And we always remember to take a couple large bottles of water for those super hot and steamy Baltimore summer nights.

5 // Go to a game that offers a freebie. If you're hoping to grab a new O's shirt or hat, pick a game that offers one for free. Just a simple Orioles t-shirt from the team shop usually starts around $25. The last couple of years, the Orioles have stepped up their promotions game. On t-shirt giveaway nights, they offer both medium AND extra large sizes, so it's a little bit more true to the statement "one size fits all" than it used to be. Additionally, they do a jersey night and a sweatshirt night this year. Similar giveaways happened last season and the quality of the items were just as good as something you'd purchase in the team shop, and they weren't plastered with sponsor logos. Some of our favorite giveaways have included a super cozy, high quality stocking hat and Orioles reusable shopping bags (perfect to use to bring our picnic with us to games).

Baltimore Orioles Bullpen

6 // Ride your bike, take public transportation, or walk to save on parking. This is more easily said than done if you don't live in the city, but there are still plenty of options. We often ride our bikes to the stadium because there are plenty of bike racks to park and lock our bikes. The bike path along the Inner Harbor makes it a pretty easy ride for the most part. If we don't want to bike, we'll park near Little Italy where parking isn't metered or limited and then take a nice stroll along the harbor to the ballpark. This could be a feasible option for those of you that need to make the drive in.

There's a garage on Gay St between Lombard and Baltimore that usually has parking under $10 since it's just far enough away from the stadium. There's also the Charm City Circulator as a free transportation option if you don't want to pay the steep parking prices. If you have a larger group with which you can split the cost, it's probably much more reasonable to take a Taxi or Uber. Finally, don't forget about the Light Rail! While I've never used it because it's not convenient to us, many people do. It can be much cheaper and easier to park at a suburb station and take the Light Rail, which drops you off right at the stadium. Essentially, there is little reason why you should have to pay a ton of money for parking unless you simply want the convenience. If you're on a budget, suck it up and use a different alternative than driving.

Crowd at Oriole Park

7 // Download and check in with the Ballpark App. If you're looking for special offers or deals, this app might for you. I've not ever used this app, but my husband used it to check in to every game we went to last season. Each time he checked in, he got a special offer or promo that he could use. It ranged from a percentage off at the team shop, discounts at certain food stands, and promos for seat upgrades. While it's not a surefire way of saving money, it could be of benefit if you're planning on purchasing food or merchandise.

Legends Sculpture Garden

8 // Don't go to a game, but visit anyway. Yeah, ok, I realize that this isn't the popular option, but for some people, they just really want to check out Oriole Park at Camden Yards because it is known to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the league. When the Orioles aren't playing, Eutaw Street, which runs between Oriole Park and Camden Yards, is open to the public. Spending some time on Eutaw Street can be a lot of fun. You can still sneak peeks at the field, find your favorite player's home run plaque, or bring a camera and pose with the sculptures in the Legends Sculpture Garden.

And that wraps up my guide to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a budget. Are you a baseball fan? What are you secrets to going to baseball games on the cheap? Have you ever been to Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

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Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park

Heidi Shenk "architecture" "travel"

Andrew is an architect, so naturally, when we travel we tend to make a lot of pit stops at various places of architectural interest. A couple springs ago, we spent a long weekend in Asheville and spent a day at The Biltmore Estate. Last September, when we were driving back to Baltimore after spending a week in Vermont, Andrew made it his mission to make a pit stop at another Vanderbilt home. We ended up making it a two for one and stopped at FDR's house as well, but I thought I'd share a few photos from the Vanderbilt Mansion today.

Sometimes, it's sort of fun to think back to a time when these immense houses were built, imagine strolling through their gardens as if they were your own, and wondering what lavish and elaborate parties had been hosted there. It's an entirely different time and lifestyle that makes one think of The Great Gatsby. And while the mansion in Hyde Park is only a fraction in size and scale to that of The Biltmore, it's still sort of fun to transport yourself to that era.

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Have you been to any of the Vanderbilt properties? I just imagined sitting in these gardens with a book or sketchbook all day.

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The Greatest American Road Trip

Heidi Shenk "travel"

Grand Prismatic Spring

This past weekend, while in Syracuse, my friend and I were talking about her upcoming travels to some National Parks out west as well as our mutual desire to visit Acadia National Park. I've always loved the National Parks, and they have long been a reason to travel to some parts of our country I may not have gone otherwise. The fact that we've protected pristine lands so that we can enjoy them for many years to come seems so incredibly important.

Badlands National Park

Unbeknownst to me, my friend informed me that this was the 100th anniversary of the National Parks. This gave me the itch to want to travel to a few more of them even more so. And then yesterday, I stumbled upon The Greatest American Road Trip. A couple, one a National Geographic photographer and the other a travel writer, decided to visit 59 National Parks in 52 weeks while on assignment for National Geographic Travel. Along the way, they are documenting their travels and adventures.

Grand Teton National Park

While I thought I had already visited a lot of the parks, I've only visited 12 of them in total, which is only about one fifth of the parks. Some of them, such as Yellowstone, Badlands, Grand Teton, Everglades, and Rocky Mountain, I have been lucky enough to visit multiple times. As a teenager, I felt as though I had more access to the parks, since the driving distance from the Midwest was within range for a decent road trip because many of the parks are in the western portion of the United States. Now, living in Baltimore, I feel more cut off from them than I used to. With some airline miles that need to be used before the end of the year, Andrew and I are hoping to make it out to California for Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia, and Yosemite, amongst other destinations. However, wouldn't it be fun to take a year off and attempt the same road trip to visit all 59 parks? One can definitely dream, and maybe one day we'll do just that.

Are you a huge fan of the National Parks? Which have you visited? Which are your favorites?


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Back to the Simple Things

Heidi Shenk "travel" daily life

I was a little quiet around these parts last week, but I had two days off. TWO! That doesn't happen all that often. I took last Monday off since Andrew had the day off for Presidents' Day, and then we both took Friday off in order to take our annual three day weekend trip up to Syracuse. And now here we are, back to the grind on this fine Monday morning.

As many of you know, Andrew and I attended and met at Syracuse University. Every year, we go back to meet up with friends and go to a basketball game. We spent five years total in the Salt City because Andrew's architecture degree was a five year program. I spent that fifth year living there and working at a local coffee shop. As a result of my fifth year there, we spent a lot more time off campus and actually exploring the city. Each year when we go back, we have a plethora of watering holes and restaurants we want to check off our list both on campus and off.

Syracuse is not a city for the weak. It averages nearly 10 feet of snow per year and is known for its brutally cold winters and bitter winds. This past weekend, we were lucky to enjoy a pint at one of our favorite college bars on their patio, in the sun, without a coat. We had nearly 60 degree weather on Saturday, and we certainly weren't complaining. We've grown accustomed to mild Baltimore winters and don't usually look forward to the weather that we'll potentially encounter when we head back to Syracuse.

No matter the weather in Syracuse, a trip back always provides a break from our hectic schedules. We usually plan the trip for right after Valentine's Day, so it has become my light at the end of the tunnel during my busiest season. It's a chance to see friends that you don't often see and pick right back up where you left off. It's a reminder of the simple things in life sometimes as well.

While roaming campus after the basketball game was over, we made a last minute pit stop at Varsity, our favorite pizza joint. We grabbed a two dollar slice of pizza on a paper plate and walked across campus, back to our car, while eating the pizza. We laughed as we thought about how many times had we made that same trek back to our off campus apartments with a mouth full of pizza. It was such a simple thing, yet it was the most ridiculously fun way to pass the time ten years ago when we were students.

Despite all of the insanity that comes with being a sleep deprived, poor, and overworked college student, we made it fun. It made us wonder why so many people, and even admittedly ourselves at times, no longer seek joy is some of the silliest of things. We've let this notion of how our adult lives are supposed to be take over instead of savoring the smallest of things, like a silly old two dollar slice of pizza. As odd as it may seem, that trek across campus on Saturday was a reminder to take a moment to stop every now and again in our busy lives and just enjoy those simple things. It doesn't have to be as complicated as it seems.

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Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Heidi Shenk "travel" art

Sometimes life gets so busy that you need a break from, well, life. With the end of a deluge of commitments to craft fairs, neighborhood events, and other such city living happenings that had been on our calendar for several months, we desperately needed a reprieve before diving back into the next lineup. We happily used a gift certificate that I had won and booked a free night at a Hilton in Philadelphia for Sunday night, drove the less than two hours north, and enjoyed two days of whatever we wanted to do.

On Sunday afternoon, we spent some time on South Street at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. This visionary art environment is a the work of many years by mosaic mural artist Isaiah Zagar. The entire museum has been turned into incredible art and expands into a courtyard and garden space. Every nook and cranny is filled with tile, glass, bottles, mirrors, bicycle frames and wheels, knick-knacks, and even a toilet. His works expand beyond the gardens and into the community where public murals can be found in alleys, wrapping around buildings, and even protruding from fences.

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Taking in the mosaic murals and gardens was the perfect way to find some much needed inspiration and helped to clear my head from the hectic bustling of the months before. The Magic Gardens was one of several happy places for us in Philadelphia during our impromptu recharging weekend.

Have you ever visited Philadelphia or the Magic Gardens? Is your city home to a lot public art?

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