Things to do in Baltimore

Things to do in Baltimore

David Durán

What do we know about Baltimore? Of course, we know the common misconceptions, often blamed on a television series that was filmed there, and that it’s also relatively close to New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, making it kind of the perfect getaway from any of the three cities, or from anywhere really. Charm City might have gotten a bad rap in the past, but the city is once again booming, and the over 200 micro neighbourhoods are transforming more and more into their own, individually unique and all full of prideful residents. Wondering what to do in Baltimore? Due to its close proximity to major cities, Baltimore (pronounced bottom-more), makes for a great weekend destination. Here’s why.

The best hotels in Baltimore

The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, inaugurated late March 2017, is part of a new luxury brand by Montage International. This is their second hotel in the new collection, and it’s a much-welcomed addition to Baltimore. What once was a dilapidated pier and community centre is now a beautifully restored masterpiece, and the hottest ticket in town, for both rooms and dinner reservations. The 128-room property is just stunning, and the finishing details and artwork will have you mesmerised. The handsome décor is paired with a well-trained, top-notch, 5-star staff, which are always all smiles and eager to ensure everyone has a great stay. The Rec Pier Chop House is the centrepiece of the hotel and offers a progressive, seasonally focused menu. Additionally, the hotel has The Cannon Room, an American whisky bar, featuring Sagamore Rye; a new locally crafted whisky from the spring house at Sagamore Farm. The hotel’s outdoor pool has cabanas, a restaurant/bar and is set right on the waterfront on the Inner Harbor, offering panoramic views of the harbour, marina and city skyline. The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore has truly upped the hotel game in town and is a sign of great things to come. Splurge on either one of the Governor’s Suites, as their terraces are on the pool deck with prime views.

R. House

R. House

Shopping in Baltimore

There’s a tote bag that you might see floating around all over the city, and that’s because everyone who lives there, wants one. It’s kind of the hottest bag in Baltimore, and it’s locally made. Aaron James and Jason Bass, who met at a bar in the Fells Point area and became fast friends and business partners, founded the Treason Toting Company in 2014. Inspired by their hometown of Baltimore and its surroundings, they sought out to create a product that could carry the goods of the travelling craftsman, made strong enough for delicate iPads to heavy hand tools. The Treason Toting Company has expanded beyond the tote bag and now has a storefront directly in front of Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, making it convenient to take a peek inside. The totes are awesome, but don’t disregard the backpacks, as they are just as sleek, definitely head turners, and probably the next big thing in Baltimore, so it might be best to get a head start.

Baltimore nightlife

The Horse You Came In On Saloon, known by locals as “The Horse”, was established in 1775 and has been an institution in the area ever since. The bar is located on the same street at the hotel and shop mentioned above (convenient, right?), and also happens to be the last sighting of E.A. Poe before the mysterious death of the great American writer. Not only is it Baltimore’s oldest saloon, but it’s also the only bar in the state of Maryland to exist before, during and after prohibition. It’s now a place for live music, food, drinks and dancing. The scene at night is crowded, so if you are more into it for the history or Poe connection, head on over while it’s still light out – also a great suggestion if ghosts scare you, as the saloon is also known to be haunted.

The QG

The QG

One stop shop

What’s a quick trip without some pampering? Opened in 2005 as a four-chair grooming shop, reimagined in 2015, and reopening as a one-stop destination for those who appreciate the finer things in life, the QG can easily fill up an afternoon. The 6-floor classic department store includes a barber shop, tailor, clothing retail for both men and women, a cigar shop, spa and even an unpublicised speakeasy on the top floor with a food menu to pair with the extensive bar list. This is the kind of place where you go and truly just indulge. Grab an old-fashioned while you wait for your barber and check out the retail threads before ending the experience at the spa or cigar lounge.

Where to eat in Baltimore

Not sure what you are in the mood for? Lucky for you, this once old auto body shop has been transformed into a 350-seat food hall, filled with out of this world chefs ready to launch their new restaurants – it’s like having all the best new restaurants in town, under one roof (actually, that’s exactly what it is). R. House houses ten restaurants and an incredible local bar in this massive space, roll-up garage doors and all. Their hopes are to make the space feel like your living room, kitchen, office, or hangout, and since opening has become a premier destination for pretty much everyone in the hip neighbourhood of Remington. And to keep things interesting, there are also pop-up stalls that feature rotating restaurants.

Photo: Visit Baltimore

Photo: Visit Baltimore

The John Waters connection

The Hampden district was a blue-collar mill town that has since risen as the epicentre of Baltimore hipsters. Made famous for its starring role in John Waters’ films and known as the place where everybody calls you “hon,” the centrepiece of Hampden is 36th Street, where you will find original shops, cafes and lots of randomness. Café Hon is a must and easy to spot, just look for the massive pink flamingo. For some really cool gift shopping, head to Brightside Boutique, it’s the kind of place where all the knickknacks sold will somehow speak to you, as they are all really kitsch, but it also boasts stylish on-trend clothing. And if you have ever written fan mail to John Waters, you know that all his fan mail goes directly to Atomic Books, a much-needed bookstore with a bar in the back.

What to see in Baltimore

It’s hard to explain the American Visionary Art Museum, but if one place could describe the quirkiness of Baltimore, this would be that place. The official description says, “the museum specialises in the preservation and display of outsider art,” with outsider being the key takeaway from that statement. It’s one of those places that one can get lost in while easily questioning what they are actually seeing. The gift shop will take time to sift through, so plan accordingly, and if you get hungry, head upstairs to Encantada, a gem of a restaurant that focuses heavy on healthy eating, so expect lots of veggies and vegan/vegetarian options (don’t worry, they have choices for everyone).

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