I was born in Baltimore, and my Italian family heritage is deeply embedded into the city’s Little Italy neighborhood. Charm City, as Baltimore is known, is rich in culture and offers visitors the opportunity to immerse in the arts, MidAtlantic cuisine and Early American history. I want to show you why Baltimore is not only great, it’s a revelation!
What to do? Why there’s so so much! History buffs should discover the well preserved Fort McHenry. This National Monument and Historic Shrine offers tours with knowledgeable rangers who describe Fort McHenry’s significance in the War of 1812. It’s where the “Star Spangled Banner” was born.
Baltimore is home to world class collection of art galleries and musical venues. Almost any time of day, visitors can board the free Charm City Circulator shuttle bus to the Inner Harbor and other neighborhoods from Penn Station. Hop on to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art aka The BMA, with its stellar collection of famous works of art and imaginative installations, mostly from the 20th century.
The American Visionary Art Museum is another must-see. Some art museums are a bit stuffy, but the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore transcends high culture. The curators have scoured the country to exhibit contemporary American artists who’ve created art that’s whimsical, joyous and even wacky. The main building houses exhibitions of multi-media pieces, folk art depictions of American history and surprising metal sculptures.
The Visionary Arts Museum is located in historic Federal Hill where charming brick row houses face the Inner Harbor. You’ll see Civil War era cannons aimed at the city to discourage Baltimore residents from sympathizing with the Confederates during the Civil War. While you’re here, grab A Bite at Cross Street Market. Newly renovated, the market offers a coffee shop, the new brewery called Cans Filling Station and Gangster Vegan.
For nightlife, head over to lively Fells Point, with its waterfront bars, old time docks and beloved Chesapeake Bay seafood. Stay at the Sagamore Pendry Hotel where you can enjoy By the Glass/By the Shell at the Pool Bar and Lounge. Guests are served freshly shucked oysters paired with signature sauces and Dom Perignon Vintage by the Glass. It doesn’t get much classier that that, folks.
Another favorite is the Emerson Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. Once the tallest building in Baltimore from 1911 until 1923, the Tower offers a tour of the workings of the old clock and the opportunity to see a collection of artists creating fine art in multiple mediums.
Where you should you stay? I recommend the luxurious Baltimore Ivy Hotel, a Forbes Five Star boutique hotel in the heart of historic Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon has a cosmopolitan allure and is notable for its impressive architecture. From the Ivy you can walk to the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Historical Society. Hip boutiques, international restaurants and coffee shops add character to the neighborhood. Another iconic experience here is climbing the 227-steps to the top of Baltimore’s Washington Monument—it pre-dates the one in Washington D.C.—for a panoramic view of the city.
Shoppers are enchanted by the colorful neighborhood called Hampden. Begin your exploration on 36th Street, known as The Avenue, and peruse the locally-owned shops and restaurants such as Ma Petite Shoe, The Food Market, Trohv, The Charmery, Bluebird Cocktail Room, and Zissimos Bar. Baltimore designers are a growing community of creatives who embody Baltimore’s entrepreneurial spirit.
There’s so much more to see, but that’ll get you started. Write to me for more Baltimore tips. You can have the best weekend getaway ever at this charming and welcoming city. firstname.lastname@example.org
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.