Get to Know the Charms of Baltimore, Maryland

Experience the renaissance of Charm City — a nickname that Baltimore has no trouble living up to.

Baltimore, Maryland, Inner Harbor, skyline, night, USA, Capital Region
Inner Harbor and the Baltimore, Maryland skyline
Baltimore, Maryland, dining, chef, restaurant, kitchen, food, seafood
Baltimore's culinary scene features fresh crab and seafood
Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, national monument, historic shrine, American flag, flag, USA
Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine
Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore, Maryland, brewery, beer, USA
Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland
Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, museum, African American history, USA
African American history is on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum
Washington Monument, Baltimore, Maryland, Mount Vernon neighborhood, USA
Baltimore's Washington Monument in the historic Mount Vernon neighbourhood
Baltimore, Maryland, Inner Harbor, skyline, night, USA, Capital Region
Baltimore, Maryland, dining, chef, restaurant, kitchen, food, seafood
Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, national monument, historic shrine, American flag, flag, USA
Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore, Maryland, brewery, beer, USA
Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, museum, African American history, USA
Washington Monument, Baltimore, Maryland, Mount Vernon neighborhood, USA

Located on the storied shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, the city of Baltimore has been a backdrop for pivotal moments in American history, including battles with the British at Fort McHenry. Though the past is certainly a part of Baltimore’s story, the city has been showing off a more contemporary side lately — all whilst earning a reputation as one of the coolest destinations on the East Coast. From waterfront fun to cultural gems and hip neighbourhoods to a hot culinary scene, Baltimore offers countless unique charms to discover. Here are 10 of our current favorites.

Below the Surface

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is an attraction in itself, but it’s also the site of the National Aquarium. More than 20,000 aquatic animals in award-winning habitats call it home, including giant sea turtles, green moray eels, sandbar sharks and hundreds of jellyfish. Immersive exhibits give visitors an up-close look at these creatures that roam beyond the depths — like the Living Seashore’s hands-on touchpools and the encompassing design of Atlantic Coral Reef.

Celebrate “Poe-tober”

For two days in October, Poe-themed live performances, poetry, booksellers and other vendors commemorate the death day of beloved macabre poet Edgar Allan Poe, as part of the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards. It was in Baltimore where Poe met his wife, launched his literary career in 1829 and ultimately found his final resting place at Westminster Hall. In addition to the festivities taking place across from the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum from 6–7 Oct. 2018, a two-hour Death Weekend Bus Tour visits the Poe House, his grave and the sites where he was found and passed away, as well as a reenactment of his 1849 funeral.

Retrospective of a Renegade

One of Baltimore’s most famous residents, filmmaker and visual artist John Waters, has made an indelible mark on the contemporary art world utilising renegade humor, commentary on pop culture and the transgressive power of images. To wit, the Baltimore Museum of Art is presenting John Waters: Indecent Exposure (7 Oct. 2018–6 Jan. 2019), a retrospective of his visual-arts career showcasing more than 160 provocative photographs, sculptures, videos and sound works.

Fresh Fare

With its coastal location, Baltimore is naturally known for fresh seafood — particularly steamed blue crabs. Though you certainly won’t want to miss getting your hands on this tasty specialty, the city’s culinary scene boasts plenty of other riches. Flavours from Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond are part of the well-rounded dining landscape, not to mention high-end and inventive eateries. A collection of farmers’ markets with a focus on local produce, cheese and crafts draw both residents and visitors throughout the year at locations like Pratt Street Market and the Fell’s Point Farmers Market. Indoor public markets and food halls are another way to sample the robust fare of Charm City, with dozens of options under a single roof. Lexington Market’s 130 merchant stalls have provided fresh produce, international cuisine and in-market dining since 1782, including Faidley’s Seafood — the ultimate stop for a delectable crab cake. You also won’t want to miss perusing the selection at Broadway Market, Mount Vernon Marketplace or Hollins Market, amongst others.

Star-Spangled History

Step back in time at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, a must-see historical site in Baltimore. During the War of 1812, this is where a battle took place that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which would become the US national anthem. Given this connection, it’s only fitting that when a new flag is designed for use by the US, it’s first flown over the pentagon-shaped brick fort. Roam the grounds, stop by the onsite museum and plan to witness one of the twice-daily flag-change programmes.

Historic Meets Modern

At first glance, Fell’s Point has all the markers of a historic neighbourhood — cobblestone streets, Colonial-style houses and quaint storefronts — but the waterfront enclave has boomed recently with of-the-moment hot spots, leaving behind 18th-century businesses for upscale restaurants and trendy cocktail bars. Stroll the area and you’ll come across favourites like Bond Street Social, Barcocina and Ampersea, which puts a modern spin on Maryland classics.

Baltimore Is for Beer Lovers

Sip your way across the city, where the craft brewing scene is alive and well. There is plenty of craft beer flowing from breweries big and small, tap houses and sports bars. Drop into popular spots on your own time like Union Craft Brewing, Pratt Street Ale House and The Brewer’s Art, known for its hearty beers produced in an old mansion on Charles Street. And just a short distance outside of downtown Baltimore, Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House is the Irish favourite’s first brewery on American soil in more than 60 years, offering some special experimental beers. Or enlist the pros on a tour with City Brew Tours, who will ensure you get an extensive, behind-the-scenes look at four different stops — and plenty of tastings to boot. Beer even takes centrestage during Baltimore Beer Week in October, a citywide fest honouring sudsy culture.

Hipsters & Hons

Like Fell’s Point, change has also come to the Hampden neighbourhood on the north side of the city. Previously a 19th-century, blue-collar mill town, it’s evolved into the epicentre for hipster Baltimore kitsch. The main corridor, West 36th Street — simply called The Avenue by locals — is where you’ll find a collection of indie shops and eclectic cafes intermingled with barber shops and pharmacies. The Food Market is a standout for its serious comfort food served during dinner and weekend brunch. And the quirky vibe of the district extends to the annual HONfest, dedicated to the working women of the city who have played a pivotal role in the city’s industrious, blue-collar past. 

Multicultural Baltimore

Given the city’s nearly three centuries of people from all over the world planting roots here, it’s no wonder there’s a diverse tapestry of multicultural gems. Dive into Maryland’s African American history at events like the African American Festival in August, or catch exhibitions such as Black Women: Image & Perception in Popular Culture at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which counts an original, autographed photograph of prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass amongst its permanent collection. The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum interprets Baltimore’s maritime history as it relates to African Americans, whilst the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum also pays tribute to visionaries like jazz singer Billie Holiday and Harriet Tubman, who helped establish the Underground Railroad to free slaves.

More Neighbourhoods to Know

With more than 200 neighbourhoods in total, you could spend a vast amount of time exploring the ins and outs of each unique and quirky area, whether through historic sites, attractions, special events, architecture, shopping or dining. Visit the lively village square rimmed with restaurants and pubs at the heart of Canton; take in the best views of Inner Harbor and the downtown skyline from Federal Hill; or soak up art, music and theatre in Mount Vernon — Baltimore’s cultural centre where you’ll find the Walters Art Museum, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. And that’s just the beginning; there truly is no limit to the number of charms you’ll uncover throughout the city.

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