Forget everything you've ever heard about Baltimore. Done? OK, good.
Baltimore is a rapidly growing city with unique neighborhoods and a booming arts scene. Just a train ride away from D.C., it’s easy to reach and, perhaps most importantly, affordable.
Like D.C., many of the city’s museums and events are free. But unlike its neighbor to the south, you can snag a sandwich and a fancy latte for less than $10—total.
So, if you’re looking to spend a day exploring, devouring new art, and gaining inspiration from a legitimately cool city, there's plenty for you to do. Read on for our cheat sheet to a day in Baltimore (or “Bawlmer,” if you’re a local).
8:30am: Start your day off right with a good old breakfast lecture. Creative Mornings Baltimore holds an event every third Thursday; and with free doughnuts and coffee, there’s really no reason not to go.
10:00am: Head north to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Admission is free, and the exhibits are so vast and impressive (think Rembrandt, Matisse, Picasso, and Monet) that you could spend all day inside. Afterward, explore the three-acre sculpture garden and ponder your own shortcomings as an artist.
12:00pm: Travel south a bit to Station North. Located in close proximity to MICA and other art schools, this particular piece of city is not to be missed. If art is your thing, this neighborhood is your scene.
12:20pm: On North Ave, you'll find a personal favorite: Red Emma’s. It’s a café, vegetarian restaurant, and "radical" bookstore, which just sounds… fun, doesn’t it? Grab a sandwich, browse the eccentric book collection, and people-watch for a bit.
1:30pm: As a writer, I must insist that you see the breathtaking George Peabody Library. Located next to our Washington Monument (we had one first, D.C.) in historic Mt. Vernon, this library holds some of the oldest books you’re not allowed to touch, and is both a popular wedding venue and a shoe-in for Instagram likes. Unfortunately it's only open on weekdays, but it’s worth planning a day around.
2:00pm: Just across the street is the Walters Art Museum—which is (surprise!) free. It’s unpretentious, entertaining, and a little eccentric.
4:00pm: You can skip right over the Inner Harbor and head straight to Fells Point, where music fans will find Sound Garden, the second-best record store in the U.S. (as ranked by Rolling Stone). With over 10,000 square feet of new and used CDs, DVDs, and records, the shop basically guarantees that you won’t leave empty handed.
4:45pm: Take the Baltimore Water Taxi across the harbor to the American Visionary Art Museum. Ah, AVAM, how do I describe thee? I suppose it could be classified as a modern art museum, featuring non-traditional forms of artwork by self-taught individuals. It will make you laugh; it will make you confused; it will make you ask yourself, “What is art, anyway?” And isn’t that kind of the point?
8:30pm: It’s show time. And with Baltimore’s endless options, you’re sure to find something that interests you. In the mood for music? Check out Hippodrome Theater, The Lyric Opera House, or the BSO. Prefer something grungier? See who’s scheduled at the Ottobar or The 8x10. There are quality plays and performances all year long at Everyman Theatre, Center Stage, Single Carrot Theatre, and Creative Alliance. Just want to sit back with some popcorn and a Diet Coke? There’s the Charles Street Theatre in Station North, which features quality independent and foreign films.
Want more? Check out these HZ Baltimore–approved events!
Maryland Film Festival, May 4–8, 2016
Artscape, July 15–17, 2016
Drink & Draw at The Windup Space, every 1st Wednesday of the month
Charm City Fringe Fest, late fall
Bike Party, last Friday of every month
Bmore Into Comics, events throughout the year
Dr. Sketch’s Anti-Art School, 2nd Monday of the month
Make Tribe, workshops throughout the year