I recently visited Baltimore for five days that coincided with the fantastic, free Artscape festival. My time was mostly spent observing and working with the inspiring BSO Orchkids program, but I did manage to explore the city and eat a few crabcakes along the way too. We used a magnificent AirBnb property in Mount Vernon as our base, a block away from the excellent Ceremony Coffee and Mount Vernon Marketplace. Beer lovers should check out Taps Fill Station in the market before making a beeline for renowned brewpub The Brewer’s Art and Wet City. Grab brunch, lunch or dinner at Korean-inspired Dooby’s or try authentic Afghan cuisine at The Helmand, a stone’s throw from Charm City’s own Washington Monument. For a bit of culture, head to the Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Basilica, and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
Further north you’ll find the colourful neighbourhood of Hampden, a must for antiques and vintage clothing fans. Take a walk down West 36th Street to find Millbrook Antiques and Milk & Ice Vintage, and reward yourself with an ice cream from The Charmery, a sandwich from Luigi’s Italian Deli or a pizza from NYC import Paulie Gee. Head west for ten minutes or so to reach Woodberry, home to Blue Pit BBQ, Union Craft Brewing, Artifact Coffee and the award-winning Woodberry Kitchen. Druid Hill Park, one of the oldest landscaped parks in the United States, is just around the corner. There’s also a good looking new Sicilian restaurant called Cosima in an old mill, and a brilliant 3500-seat food hall in the old Anderson Body Shop called R House.
Spare some time for a clamber up Federal Hill. There are great views of the Inner Harbor to the north, the Patapsco River to the east, and the M&T Bank Stadium (home of NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) to the west. MLB’s Baltimore Orioles play their baseball at nearby Camden Yards. Whilst you are in Federal Hill, pay a visit to the quirky American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) and snap a few selfies in front of the sculptures outside.
What else? Well, there’s Little Italy that’s full of restaurants and unsurprisingly, Italians! It’s one of the safest areas in Baltimore. And then there are the waterfront neighbourhoods of Canton (where beer geeks can find Stillwater Artisanal’s pub Of Love And Regret), and historic Fells Point (established around 1793). Here you’ll find a host of Irish pubs (with live music galore), and a load of seafood joints claiming to have the best blue crabs in Baltimore. Book ahead for Thames Street Oyster House, or try your luck walking in to Captain James Crab House. Wash it all down with a few beers at Max’s Taphouse (boasting 100+ taps and 1000+ bottles), or some serious cocktails at Rye.
That should be enough to keep you busy! Baltimore is a friendly, lively, and beautiful city full of history and potential, and the food and drink scene is really kicking off. That said, you don’t have to go far out of the centre to find poverty and inequality, and it’s quite shocking how suddenly the scenery changes. I sincerely hope that programs such as OrchKids that focus on social change in the neglected neighbourhoods continue to be funded, and that life improves on the outskirts of Charm City.
I thoroughly enjoyed my five days in town, and it marked the start of a great American road trip up the East Coast, to be the subject of more posts soon. The first stop was a flying visit to Washington DC (a two hour drive away) which is up on the site here. If you are looking for more tips on Baltimore, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out Map The List : Washington DC & Baltimore to plan your own adventure.