Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: December 2018
Nestled between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. lies the historic city of Baltimore. Founded in 1729, the city has been an important shipping port throughout the country’s history and was re-branded Mad Men style in the 1970s as “The Charm City.”
Baltimore is where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner after seeing the flag still standing at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. It’s also the setting to HBO’s gritty cop show “The Wire.” Whether history, pop culture or a craving for blue crabs brought you here, Baltimore has a storied past and present and there is much to learn and enjoy when traveling to the city!
Here are a few of the things to do that charmed us in Baltimore.
Things to See and Do
Fells Point is a cobble stoned, riverfront neighborhood dotted with shops, bars and restaurants, just east of inner harbor . Like a true sailor’s paradise, it has the largest concentration of bars in the city so you are bound to find a watering hole you’ll enjoy. The locales range from place to watch the big game to fancy waterfront seafood cafes.
Established by the Italian migrants who banded together when they came to America in the late 1800s, this neighborhood is centered around the Church of St. Leo the Great. It’s also home to some authentic family owned and operated Italian restaurants.
Stop at Cafe Gia for a scrumptuous Italian meal with great service in an eclectic and warm setting. We had the burrata and grilled octopus and washed it down with some house white wine.
George Peabody Library
Known as Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books,” the George Peabody Library is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It was dedicated to the people of Baltimore for their kindness and hospitality and opened in 1878. The library was designed by Edmund G. Lind and has a massive skylight overseeing over 300,000 books ranging from all disciplines.
It is an absolute delight to see this library however they do not offer guided tours and the hours aren’t accommodating for weekend visits. The library is only open from 10am- 1pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday. However, if there is a private event, the library can often be closed to the public all weekend. So cross your fingers before you visit.
Edgar Allen Poe Grave at Westminster Burial Ground
Located on West Fayette and North Green Streets lies the remains of Edgar Allen Poe, the renowned poet and writer who thrilled readers with stories of mystery and macabre. He died in the city of Baltimore on October 7th 1849. While he lived and worked at a few cities in the US, Baltimore has claimed him as a favorite son of the city and erected an impressive monument in his honor (his original place of burial is still marked a the back of the church yard).
You can pay your respects to the author of “The Raven” and a few other notable figures of the Revolutionary War, including Sam Smith, for free. Be careful walking around the uneven grounds!
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
Babe Ruth is considered to be the greatest baseball player in the history of the sport. You can tour his childhood home and enjoy the thousands of artifacts belonging to the Great Bambino. Even an amateur baseball fan would be thrilled by all of the artifacts and history contained in this tiny two-story house.
The on site theater had a short film on Babe Ruth’s involvement in the first time the National Anthem was played at a sporting event. Babe was pitching a shut out during the first game of the 1918 world series when President Woodrow Wilson had the Navy Band play the anthem during the 7th inning stretch.
It’s $10 per adult ticket and it’s just a block away from the Orioles baseball stadium, so I highly recommend spending the 30 minutes touring the site before going to a game!
Along the Patapsco River is Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor. This area is incredibly popular with tourists and is a delightful place to walk around. There are quite a few familiar restaurants, cafes, museums and shops to explore. There are also a few decommissioned ships your can tour, paddle boats to play around the harbor and water taxis to get you to your next point of interest in the city.
If you are looking for skyline views, head to the World Trade Center, “Top of the World” Observation Level on the 27th floor or across the harbor to the park at Federal Hill.
The National Aquarium comes with a steep entrance fee of $40, so it’s a good idea to maximize your time here. They have several main attractions including an award-winning Blacktip Reef Shark environment, a large dolphin exhibit, shark alley and a jellyfish immersion exhibit. There were so many exhibits that I really enjoyed and could’ve watched for hours including the puffins and the napping sloth in the rain forest habitat.
I highly recommend going on a weekday when you aren’t jostling for space at the windows against a bunch of toddlers. The people who work at the aquarium are CLEARLY passionate about what they do so don’t be shy about asking questions. One of the employees spent 10 minutes with us telling us all about the rays and green sea turtles in the Blacktip reef shark exhibit.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House
This is a massive operation as it’s the only Guinness Brewery in the United States. It feels like it’s a Guinness village! Just a short drive southwest of Baltimore, you’ll find the authentic beer of Ireland in their tasting room and massive bar. It’s not just beer though, the is a restaurant, grassy outdoor space, heated balconies and a tour to learn about the brewing process. It feels like a museum with so many different artifacts throughout the establishment. If you visit, I highly recommend the churros for a sweet snack!