Travel and Dish

Why Baltimore is Great!

Some people are throwing shade at a city I love: Baltimore. I was born there, and my Italian family heritage is deeply embedded into Baltimore’s Little Italy. Charm City, Baltimore’s nickname for a reason, is a city 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!

Baltimore’s historic neighborhood Fells Point, a lively place to shop and dine.
The Ivy Hotel, a luxury hotel in Mount Vernon neighborhood.

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.

I love the Baltimore Museum of Art near Johns Hopkins University

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 Mount Vernon neighborhood is the site of art and culture, and Baltimore’s annual book festival

Another option is 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.

The Sagamore Hotel, in Fells Point, Baltimore’s historic neighborhood at night

What to do? 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.

Fort McHenry, Baltimore storied historical site, offers free tours.

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 Art Museum contains work of modern art and is located in a gorgeous historic building on Federal Hill.

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.

The view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from Federal Hill

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.

Check out the Bromo Seltzer Clock Tower in downtown Baltimore.
The Bromo Selter Arts Tower is a historic landmark and a destination where you can explore works by local artists.

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 ShoeThe Food MarketTrohvThe CharmeryBluebird Cocktail Room, and Zissimos Bar.  Baltimore designers are a growing community of creatives who embody Baltimore’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Hampden is a funky, fun and imaginative neighborhood with adorable independent shops.
Fun and funky shopping and dining in Hampden.

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. reneesklarew@gmail.com

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