Known as Charm City, Baltimore has quietly shaken off its image as a gritty working-class port town and emerged as an exciting and modern city with a range of top cultural offerings. A burgeoning art scene, healthy dose of museums, a slew of trendy boutiques and chic hotels, and an impressive range of restaurants are all fast cementing this thriving east coast city firmly on the American tourist map. But should we be so surprised that Baltimore is becoming oh-so-cultured? This place is, after all, the birthplace of the original Star-Spangled Banner.
A Baltimore break should include the best of what this city has to offer, including the aquarium, the famed Baltimore World Trade Center and Station North. Considered one of the best in the country, the National Aquarium is home to an abundance of marine life that takes up residence over multiple floors. An impressive rooftop rainforest housed within a glass pyramid presides over this fascinating aquarium.
Baltimore’s Station North is fast becoming known for its colourful street art murals, making it the arts and entertainment hub of the city. Set aside a few hours to wander the streets on a self-guided walking tour and then relax at a coffee house and mingle with the ultra trendy local actors, writers and artists who favour this eclectic part of the city.
To get a unique perspective on Baltimore’s neighbourhoods and attractions, ride the elevator to the Top of the World observation deck at Baltimore World Trade Center. When on the 27th floor, discover spectacular 360-degree views of the city, harbour and beyond with the supplied binoculars and information guides.
Eat and Drink
Whether it’s crab cakes, crab bisque or soft crab sandwiches, it’s all about the blue crab in Baltimore. And yes, it’s that good. In fact, Oprah Winfrey, a former Baltimore resident, has Pappas famous crab cakes delivered to her wherever she is in the world. Go to Pappas yourself, or choose from any number of excellent seafood restaurants that line the streets between Harborplace and Fell’s Point.
If meat is more your thing, the local specialty is the ever-popular pit beef sandwich. Served at food stands around the city, this Kaiser roll stuffed with thinly sliced barbecued meat, horseradish and onion is a must-try.
Homemade Italian pastas, sauces, produce and gelato can be found in Little Italy, while a diverse range of international cheap eats can be found in Canton Square. Harbor East is a hotspot of premium dining, cool-kid hangouts and glitzy bars and clubs.
Where to Stay
One of the most popular places to stay in Baltimore is the Inner Harbor district. This area is the hub of the city’s excitement with restaurants, pubs and attractions all on your doorstep. If you prefer something quieter and further away from the tourist hustle and bustle, check out the quaint bed and breakfasts and trendy rental apartments in the downtown boroughs of Canton, Fell’s Point and Federal Hill.
You’re likely to put a serious dent in your budget at the prestigious shopping area of Harbor East, where edgy boutiques mix with high-end stores and luxury day spas. For quirky gifts and premium art head north of downtown to Mount Vernon, the cultural hub of Baltimore, where grand 19th century mansions have been converted into trendy museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
A picture-perfect shopping experience awaits at Federal Hill, where quaint stores line the cobblestone streets and views of the harbour add a touch of glamour to the occasion. While you’re in the area be sure to visit the Cross Street Market, Baltimore’s ultra cool public market, which operates Monday to Saturday.
Baltimore Like a Local
Baltimoreans love their baseball, and the city’s beloved Orioles call Camden Yards their home ground. If you’re in town during baseball season it’s definitely worthwhile taking in a game – if for nothing else than the electric atmosphere. Sports fans and historians alike will get a kick out of the Babe Ruth Museum. Located just two blocks from Camden Yards, a visit to the museum is the perfect pre- or post-game activity.