Spend a weekend in the charming city to our north, Baltimore, Maryland. Winter is the perfect season to discover the city’s cultural treasures, sample local Chesapeake Bay seafood, and learn how the city played a pivotal role in Early American history. And getting to and around Baltimore is easy. Take Amtrak to Baltimore’s Penn Station, then hop aboard the free Charm City Circulator shuttle bus that makes the rounds to key parts of the city.
Mount Vernon for Culture
Begin your visit in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon, named for the first American President, but strikingly different than his bucolic estate on the Potomac. While many East Coast cities have experienced modernization, the streets of Mount Vernon remain almost exactly as they did when women with petticoats boarded horse-drawn carriages. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the neighborhood was the most fashionable in Baltimore and remains its cultural heart.
A few blocks from Penn Station, stroll down Mount Vernon’s elegant streets to tour the impressive Walters Art Museum. The free museum has a collection of masterpieces from ancient Egypt, South American pottery, Italian Renaissance paintings, rare books, as well as modern photography. See a performance at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall or the Lyric Opera House. The neighborhood also features notable Beaux Arts and Queen Anne brownstones, along with ornate churches like the Baltimore Basilica and First Presbyterian Church. Another iconic attraction is climbing the 227-steps to the top of Baltimore’s Washington Monument—it pre-dates the one in Washington D.C.—and offers a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the city.
If you love the sound of all that, stay at the luxurious Baltimore Ivy Hotel, a Forbes Five Star boutique hotel in the heart of Mount Vernon. This elegant townhouse dates back to 1889, but was completely revitalized four years ago. Today it stands as the most elegant escape in town, with a hospitality team dedicated to making sure their guests are pampered. Every room is a uniquely-decorated suite with lavish bathroom and fireplace. There’s a billiard room and a complimentary bar. Make a spa appointment, or play Scrabble while the sun streams into the Conservatory decorated with an eclectic mix of African, Asian and European furnishings.
Fell’s Point for Fun
Located at Baltimore’s busy Inner Harbor is Fells Point, an 18th Century village with lively pubs and restaurants.
Wander the cobblestone streets, pop into a vintage record store, or listen to jazz at Bertha’s Mussels. Stop in the chic, new Sagamore Pendry Hotel to enjoy freshly shucked oysters paired with Dom Perignon Vintage by the Glass. Notice the sign on the Horse You Came In On Saloon; it was the last stop Edgar Allen Poe made before he was found dead in Baltimore. You can visit Poe’s grave at the University of Maryland’s cemetery on Fayette Street, or see his home and museum on Amity Street. Of course, Baltimore’s NFL team was named for Poe’s famous story “The Raven.”
Federal Hill for History
History buffs should explore Fort McHenry. This National Monument and Historic Shrine offers tours with knowledgeable rangers who describe the Fort’s significance to the country’s survival during in the War of 1812. This is where the “Star Spangled Banner” was born.
Another must see is the American Visionary Art Museum. Some art museums are a bit stuffy, but not the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore. The folk art here is whimsical, joyous and even wacky. The Visionary Arts Museum is located on 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. Federal Hill has the newly renovated Cross Street Market with a coffee shop, brewery and multiple eateries.
One Baltimore landmark that is like no other 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.
It’s Hampden Hon’
Shopping enthusiasts should make their way to the Hampden neighborhood. Begin your exploration on 36th Street, known as The Avenue, and peruse locally-owned shops and restaurants. Some favorites include Trohv, the Bazaar, and Hunting Ground. The local shopkeepers here are a growing community of creatives who embody Baltimore’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Here are some of the lesser known treasures waiting for weekend warriors seeking culture, great food, history and luxurious accommodations. Ceck out the VisitBaltimore.com website.
Where to Eat
The fine dining restaurant inside the Ivy Hotel is where award winning chef Mark Levy prepares dishes inspired by the lowlands of Africa and mountains of France, with inspiration from seasonal ingredients. For breakfast, don’t miss the lemon chiffon pancakes or Sunday’s traditional British Roast.
A rustic farm-to-table restaurant inside a historic flour mill near Hampden. Chef Spike Gjerde, a James Beard award winning chef, strictly adheres to a locavore code by sourcing all his meats, cheeses, beverages, and produce from MidAtlantic farms. Don’t miss the Cornmeal Fried Oysters or the Tilghman Island Crab Cake.
Bo Brooks Crab House
A waterfront restaurant and tiki bar on Lighthouse Point in Canton. Relish the spectacular views and pure Baltimore specialties, like steamed crabs, crab cake bites, Maryland Crab Soup and crab guacamole.
The Food Market
This former grocery store, turned-restaurant, is known for elevated comfort food and craft cocktails. Brunch is a specialty of Chef Chad Guass, especially the Smoky Bowl and Lazy French Toast.
Pictured at top: Hampden neighborhood