Charm City, Monument City and Crab Cake Capital of the World – these are just a few nicknames given to Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore has also been dubbed “a city of neighborhoods,” each with different personalities and distinct offerings from world-class museums, craft breweries, historical sites and more. Similar to New York City, Baltimore has a lot to offer for people who are visiting, in terms of nightlife, food, hotels, and more that can delight any type of person for the summertime and beyond.
That being said, we here at Manhattan Digest have found the best of the best when it comes to what makes Baltimore so special and great. With the warm weather in full swing for the next couple of months, now is the perfect time to get out of the concrete jungle in Manhattan and head south for some fun in the sun, delicious crab cakes, comfortable settings, and more. Take a look at each neighborhood and what to do when in town.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has many stories to tell, from its heyday in the 18th century as the nation’s leading shipbuilding site, to a major site for oyster canning, steel working, railroad building, immigration port and military supply center.
What to do: If you’re traveling with kids, the Inner Harbor is a must – you can learn about more than 20,000 aquatic animals at the National Aquarium, explore hands-on exhibits plus a planetarium at the Maryland Science Center and visit Port Discovery Children’s Museum, ranked among the top Children’s Museums in the U.S. by Parents Magazine in 2015.
Where to stay: Originally built in 1928, the historic Lord Baltimore Hotel is a recently renovated historic hotel in the heart of Baltimore’s business district, connected to the Inner Harbor via a skywalk, and with a newly opened rooftop bar & lounge.
Where to eat: B&O American Brassiere in Hotel Monaco features an approachable American brasserie menu by Chef E. Michael Reidt and a bustling happy hour at the bar. Get some Southern hospitality at Miss Shirley’s Café, an award winning, family-friendly restaurant that features eclectic Southern inspired dishes with a Maryland twist.
Named for the Englishmen who founded a ship-building company here in 1726 that would go on to produce the famous “Baltimore Schooners,” Fell’s Point is a spirited waterfront community in perpetual celebration of Baltimore’s British nautical roots.
What to do: Have an adventure with Urban Pirates aboard Baltimore’s only pirate ship, Fearless. The interactive voyage includes all things pirate for young and the young at heart, including searching for treasure and blasting enemies with water cannons.
Where to stay: Located in a historic building that used to be a tobacco factory, The Inn at Henderson’s Wharf is situated on the city’s waterfront with access to the Inner Harbor attractions by water taxi. You’ll feel like royalty having a personalized butler service – an unparalleled hotel amenity.
What to eat: Delight in sangria and sharable plates at Mezze, a traditional Mediterranean tapas restaurant in the heart of Historic Fell’s Point.
Today, Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood is the city’s cultural center with trendy boutiques, art galleries and cutting-edge restaurants. The Mount Vernon marketplace features hand-selected artisans in their area including Taps Fill Station, the first of its kind hybrid bar and filling station selling reusable containers for filling and refilling craft products such as beer, wine, coffee and artisanal oils – all on draft.
What to do: Soar above the city at the top of the Washington Monument. For a panoramic view of the Baltimore skyline, you can climb up the 227 marble steps stairs of this monument, which dates back to 1815. Visit the renowned Walters Art Museum and travel through 55 centuries by way of art – the museum showcases Egyptian mummies, Roman sculpture, medieval armors and holds the largest collection of Matisse works in the world.
Where to stay: Baltimore’s crown jewel is The Ivy Hotel, an 1889 historic mansion which re-opened in June 2015 as a luxury boutique hotel with a luxury spa and a fine-dining bistro, Magdalena.
What to eat: A local favorite, you won’t want to miss the rosemary garlic fries and the in-house craft brews at The Brewer’s Art – selected among America’s 100 best beer bars in 2015 by Draft Magazine.
This quaint neighborhood is picturesque with brick homes and cobblestone streets. With locally owned shops, galleries and the Cross Street farmer’s market, visitors are heartened by the charm of Federal Hill.
What to do: Experience American history at Fort McHenry National Monument, the site of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. This battle when American troops stopped a British invasion inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.
Where to stay: Built in 1801, Scarborough Fair is a cozy bed and breakfast just two blocks from the Inner Harbor. For book enthusiasts, reserve the “Edgar Allan Poe Suite” – the literary legend was a resident of Baltimore and you can even see his former home at the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.
What to eat: The Tasting Bar at The Rowhouse Grille offers a six-course tasting from an ever-evolving menu designed by chef Tess Mosely. You’re in for a pleasant surprise as seasonal ingredients and items don’t appear on the Grille’s regular menu, but expect local craft beer and the house specialty mussels, prepared in French bistro fashion, all year round.
This once blue-collar mill town is now rated number eight of Redfin’s Hottest Neighborhoods of 2016. Hampden’s main street, “The Avenue,” is known for its quirky shops and art galleries while the neighborhood also touts new craft breweries like Union Craft and Waverly Brewing Company.
What to do: The place where everybody affectionately calls you “hon,” Hampden is home to Honfest – the June festival that honors the city’s historic working-women. This local tradition has become a nationally recognized event covering four city blocks in Hampden.
What to eat: La Cuchara (one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants of 2016) offers wood-fire cuisine inspired by the Basque region of France and Spain in an industrial-chic setting. Or try Woodberry Kitchen, a farm to table restaurant from James Beard Winner Spike Gjerde, features the best seasonal ingredients from local growers of the Chesapeake. Another not to miss restaurant is Cosima, a beautiful restaurant located inside the old boiler room of the Mill No.1, a building that has been nationally recognized for its renovation. The cuisine focuses on Sicilian and Southern Italian cooking.
Charles Street Scenic Byway
There’s almost no better way to get to know all of Baltimore than a trip up Charles Street. A designated National Scenic Byway, Charles Street is a 12-mile trek that tells the story of the city. On foot or by car, you’ll encounter great shops and restaurants, along with some major attractions such as Station North Arts & Entertainment District and America’s First Cathedral.
What to do: Maryland’s largest art museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, showcases ancient mosaics, contemporary art, sculpture gardens plus world-class traveling exhibitions.
What to eat: Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art presents a sophisticated menu of regional foods and traditions in an elegant setting at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Its widely lauded Chesapeake Bay cuisine features local, organic ingredients according to season.
Westside is full of entertainment, from nightclubs to the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center. The area is also the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, buried at Westminster Hall Burying Ground.
What to do: Catching a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, soaking in the all-American atmosphere. The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens play at nearby M&T Bank Stadium.
What to eat: For a real taste of Baltimore, explore Lexington Market – since 1782, the market has provided meats, seafood and produce from local vendors, making it the oldest market in America.