Baltimore Untapped: For the Tourist and Anti-Tourist Alike
By Michelle DeVona
While Baltimore may be famous for its crab houses, the city itself has a lot more to offer than its popular food staple. Baltimore boasts a variety of interesting neighborhoods, many of which embody a character all their own. If you are looking to venture deeper into the heart of this beautiful historic city, you definitely should take some time to explore Baltimore outside the typical tourist parameter. Here are four recommended destinations:
1. Lexington Market
First off, if you are seeking the ultimate crab cakes in Baltimore, look no further than Lexington Market. Providing an alternative to the tourist-oriented markets one would find around Inner Harbor, Lexington Market is a historic indoor market that has been running for over 200 years. Step inside the venue and you will find an old-fashioned market with an array of vendors selling fresh seafood, meat, baked goods, and produce. Faidely’s Seafood has been hailed as the best vendor to try the coveted crab cakes that most visitors crave. On Fridays and Saturdays, the market also hosts free live music from noon until 2:00 PM. The market is closed on Sundays. A great place to spend a leisurely afternoon and absorb local life, Lexington Market is the place to go if you want to experience classic Baltimore within an inner city market.
2. Fells Point
Noted for its charming cobblestoned streets and quaint architecture, this inviting waterfront community is one of Baltimore’s most beautiful quarters. A 250-year-old neighborhood, Fells Point retains much of its historical demeanor, as the area has not changed much since its founding. Most of the homes and storefronts you see today used to be boarding houses, brothels, or bars during the days of privateers. Nowadays, Fells Point is home to a variety of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. Whether you enjoy perusing antique stores on Fleet Street, or stopping for a drink at Max’s Taphouse, which hosts a selection of Maryland’s finest beers, Fells Point has something for everyone. Since Fells Point is renowned for its haunted landmarks, visitors can take a Ghost Tour led by costumed guides, and learn more about the haunted bars, shops, and houses. Alternatively, there is a Haunted Pubwalk, where you can buy a drink, and listen to ghost stories about the very pub you are sitting in. Abundant in bars and live music, Fells Point has a great nightlife scene, and offers the perfect nightcap to a day filled of sightseeing.
3. Station North
Street art and indie culture thrive in Station North, Baltimore’s arts and entertainment district. The area consists of three neighborhoods: Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. If you are looking to indulge your hipster hankerings, then this is the spot for you. While embracing the gritty ambiance that attracts artists and creative types, Station North also houses trendy restaurants and cafes that cater to hipsters and artists alike. While you’re there, head over to Graffiti Alley and step into the kaleidoscope of colors painted by local artists. Hidden away in an alley between North Avenue and Howard Street, this ever changing artist retreat is a great place for photographs. In addition, you should also check out the Open Walls murals, a project which has welcomed national and international mural artists to showcase their work.
4. Pagoda at Patterson Park
Need a break from the flurry of city streets? Patterson Park offers a relaxing respite if you are looking to spend an idle afternoon. With plenty of open space, this public park has sports fields, walking and jogging paths, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, a swimming pool, and an ice rink, which is open during winter. If you are there on a Sunday during the spring and summer months, you can visit the Patterson Park Pagoda, a free observatory that offers the best views of Baltimore.
5. The Avenue in Hampden
For the curious wanderer who enjoys going off the beaten path, a stop in Baltimore’s unique Hampden neighborhood is a must. Located in northern Baltimore, Hampden is a short Light Rail trip from the downtown area, so it is easily accessible. You can find most of the commercial activity on West 36th Street, otherwise known as the Avenue. Along the Avenue, you will be delighted to find an array of eclectic eateries, thrift shops, art galleries and bookstores, to name a few. An open and friendly neighborhood, it is home to hipsters and artists, and exudes a quirky, yet non-pretentious vibe. The locale has also retained many of its long-term residents, which has helped keep the neighborhood authentic and quintessentially Baltimore.
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