Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know

Baltimore surprised me. With it’s proximity to Washington DC, Philadelphia and the Chesapeake Bay, (all areas I know very well) I thought I knew what to expect; but Baltimore is never what you expect. I saw elements of the coastal South that I now call home and vestiges of the industrial Pennsylvania town where I grew up. It’s a place where you’ll find fried green tomatoes and scrapple on the same menu. It’s a working class town where the real charm is in its neighborhoods, where you’re as likely to chat up a stranger over a can of Natty Boh as a craft cocktail.  Most visitors come to Baltimore to visit the Inner Harbor, catch a Ravens or Orioles game or dine on some of Maryland’s famous blue crabs. These are all fine reasons to visit but to discover the real Baltimore you need to check out a few of it’s distinct neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for centuries of history and cobblestone streets or something a little more modern and funky you’ll soon find out how charming Baltimore can be.

Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comThis post contains affiliate links, when you make a purchase or book a hotel through these links the Casual Travelist receives a small commission that helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I was graciously hosted by Visit Baltimore however all opinions remain my own.

Mt. Vernon

Since I was staying at the Hotel Indigo, a former YMCA that’s been renovated into a stylish boutique hotel, I first decided to check out nearby Mt. Vernon. With grand nineteenth century architecture, charming garden-filled parks and a gothic-style church Mt. Vernon is regarded as one of the most beautiful historic districts in the US and would not look out of place in Europe’s capital cities. The centerpiece of Mt. Vernon is the Washington Monument, built in 1815 as the first monument to honor George Washington (the Washington Monument on the National Mall in DC didn’t open until 1888). A climb of the monument’s 220 steps lead to one of the best views in Baltimore.

Mt. Vernon, one of Baltimore's most beautiful neighborhoods-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comMt. Vernon, one of Baltimore's most beautiful neighborhoods-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

The Walters Art Museum houses one of the most comprehensive art collections in the country with pieces spanning over 55 centuries. On the other side of North Charles Street the George Peabody Library, a research center for Johns Hopkins University, stands as a shrine to the written word. 300,000 books fill the six floors of the library; decorative cast-iron columns, touches of gold leaf and a soaring 61-foot ceiling make the Peabody a beautiful space for events.

The Walters Museum in Baltimore has one of the most comprehensive art collections in the US-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comThe George Peobody Library in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

Having worked up a hunger head to nearby Lexington Market, a must for any visit to Baltimore. This historic market has been in operation since 1782 and with over 100 vendors offers a true taste of Baltimore. Check out Faidley’s Seafood for some of the best crab cakes in the city then head to Berger’s Bakery for Baltimore’s iconic(and addicitve) fudge covered cookies.

Faidley's Seafood in the historic Lexington Market-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

Hampden

Portland and Austin may keep things weird but Baltimore is the capital of East Coast quirk. The epicenter of Baltimore’s eclectic charms is Hampden, a traditional blue collar community that is now home to artists, young professionals and a uniquely zany vibe that you won’t find anywhere else. Browse the shelves at Atomic Books, an independent bookstore with a bar in the back that stands as a shrine to pulp culture, you may even see native son John Waters when he picks up his fan mail here. A few blocks away a three story flamingo marks your arrival at Cafe Hon, a kitschy cafe serving up Maryland diner classics. Be sure to stop by the Charmery for a some of the best ice cream in the city, nothing says Baltimore like a scoop of the Charmery’s Old Bay Salted Caramel.

Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood keeps it quirky-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comAtomic Books in Baltimore's eclectic Hampden neighborhood-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comBaltimore's Hampden neighborhood keeps it quirky-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comThe Charmery serves up some of the best ice cream in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

A block away from Duff Goldman’s Charm City Cakes in nearby Remington R.House is a modern food hall that serves as a launch pad for some of Baltimore’s enterprising new chefs. Be.bim lets you create your own bebimbop from a buffet of veggies, grilled meat and their selection of signature kimchi while BRD focuses on irresistible crispy fried chicken sammies finished with topped with one of their housemade sauces. Local craft beer and scratch-made cocktails have made R.Bar one of Baltimore’s hottest happy hour spots.

R. House-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com R.House-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

Fell’s Point

Due east of the famous Inner Harbor lies Fell’s Point, a neighborhood older than Baltimore itself and the first neighborhood in Maryland to be included on the National Register of Historic Districts. Charming brick paved streets are home to some of Baltimore’s oldest businesses as well as a handful of independent boutiques, restaurants and pubs. Serving Fell’s Point since 1786, the Broadway Market serves up a taste of B’More ( the handmade pierogis at Sophia’s Place are not to be missed) while local boutique Hats in the Belfry offers a curated selection of hats that are both classic and on trend. Fell’s Point is also home to the Sagamore-Pendry, Baltimore’s hottest luxury hotel.

Historic Fell's Point in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com Historic Fell's Point in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

Nearby in Brewer’s Hill Gunther&Co served up one of the best meals I’ve had this year. A 16 foot living green wall softens the exposed brick interior of this renovated brewery and also provide fresh herbs for the restaurant. The menu changes frequently based on what’s in season locally but with a raw bar and the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean nearby seafood is always a good bet. Gently seared rockfish with tender fingerling potatoes and fava beans was complimented by a bold tomato-saffron broth spiked with paprika.

Gunther&Co, one of the best restaurants in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com Gunther&Co, one of the best restaurants in Baltimore-Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.com

Baltimore Tips

Find flights to Baltimore’s BWI airport

Baltimore is spread out, when travelling in between neighborhoods it’s best to go by car.

Baltimore Hotels

It’s fun to stay at the Hotel Indigo Baltimore, a renovated YMCA turned boutique hotel near Mt. Vernon and the Inner Harbor

The Ivy Hotel offers timeless luxury in the heart of Mt. Vernon

Spoil yourself at the Sagamore Pendry in Fell’s Point

Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know www.casualtravelist.comDo you have any tips for experiencing the best of Baltimore? Please share in the comments!

52 Comments on “Discovering Baltimore: Three Charm City Neighborhoods You Need To Know

  1. I lived in Baltimore in the early to mid 90s. I’ve visited once or twice since then. It’s definitely a city with a lot of character. I’d love to visit again to see all of the changes done to the Inner Harbor.

    • There has been a ton of changes since my visit in the 90s, the creative scene in Baltimore today is fantastic.

  2. Years ago, we lived in NoVA. By chance, we discovered off-the-beaten-path Baltimore and it became our customary weekend destination. It looked and felt to refreshingly different from any other place around. I wonder if some of my favorite hangouts still exist there – Bertha’s Mussels in Fell’s Point used to be outstanding and Ostrowski’s Polish Sausages on Bank street were fantastic.

    • Bertha’s is still offering mussels and live music. While the Ostrowski family is not making the sausage, the new owners are keeping the tradition!

  3. A few other not to be missed places, the Baltimore Museum of Industry on the west side of the harbor and the B & O Railroad Museum (both have their own dedicated parking lots) and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore! The Industry museum shows you the industries that made Baltimore and the railroad museum has one of the world’s best train collection. The Maryland Zoo has great animals, great food and is in an amazing park in the middle of the city, not too far from Hampden!

  4. I had no idea there was so much to do, see and eat in Baltimore. That library is amazing! Blue crab, great cocktails we’ll have to get there!

  5. When I saw your photo of Mt. Vernon, I couldn’t believe that was shot in Baltimore. I can see why it is regareded as one of the most beautiful historic districts. Also that library shot of George Peabody is spectacular! Would definitely love to try that fudge covered cookie at Berger’s Bakery 🙂

  6. I have to agree here, Mt. Vermon has a European feel to it, the centerpiece, the cobblestone roads give it all the way for a wonderful getaway weekend.

  7. I lived in Baltimore for 4 years during law school, you should go back for HonFest in the summer! I endorse all three of these neighborhoods haha 🙂

  8. I have fond memories of the city since I had an internship in the area many years ago. It was fun to hang around during the weekend. But, I have not been in a long time and I can see the city has changed. Need to go back. We have so many great cities in the United States.

  9. There’s really so much to see in Baltimore. I’ve only ever just driven through the city, but next time I want to stay a while. I love that mural and and the art museum looks wonderful! Plus, if the Chamery has some of the best ice cream, I’m there!

  10. You’re so right! This is such a surprising read about Baltimore and had I not seen which city this was, I would have never guessed Baltimore. The Peabody library is stunning. And, I love the historic Fell’s Point. You can see the colonial past of the port and the local meal sourced from the Chesapeake Bay looks delish! I’ll totally need to spend some time exploring Baltimore.

  11. Artisan ice cream, a killer library, a massive flamingo AND street art galore? Who knew Baltimore was my kind of town?!?

  12. Wow! Baltimore seems very quaint and interesting basing on your photos. It has a homey but modern feel to it. Fantastic art too.

    PS. That brick road photo is beautiful with the dark skies.

  13. I’ve loved what I’ve seen of Baltimore! I have had two short visits there, and it was just enough to let me know that I needed more time! I am still longing for one of the best pretzels that I ever had from there! I can still remember how amazing it was!

    Thanks for all the tips and recommendations, I’ll be back soon!

  14. Baltimore is looking very hip these days! I have a bit of family in the DC area so next time I visit I am going to have to pop up and check out the scene – and get some of that famous Maryland crab at the Lexington market.

    Really digging your photos on this posts – the street art, the giant pink Elvis flamingo over Cafe Hon, and that incredible shot of the George Peabody Library. Who knew Baltimore was so photogenic! I always just kind of think of “The Wire” when I think of Baltimore (heh, woops!)

    • You’re not the only one to think of the Wire, that Baltimore does exist but there are some charming areas as well.

  15. I mostly knew Baltimore from The Wire (thanks, mass media and my ignorance!). But then a coworker traveled there for work, raved about it, quit, and moved there, so I had to take a second look. I guess it’s got the same kind of (re)developed/gentrified areas as any other large American city. I’d be all over the breweries!

  16. I’ve been to Baltimore only a couple of times, but I’ve never explored it like this. The library is amazing…quite impressive. Love the little sign at Lexington Market “only good food eaten here.”
    I think another trip is due and this time hitting some of the highlights you’ve noted. Great article!

  17. These three neighbourhoods are really fascinating and have their individual characters. Mt. Vernon does really look as if it has been literally transported from Europe. It possesses the same old world charm so typical of European towns and cities.Hampden fascinates with its quirkiness and Fell’s Point charms with its waterfront.

  18. I live in Maryland (close to DC) but never seem to find myself in Baltimore. This needs to change though and your post has inspired a future Baltimore trip. I’ll be sure to reference these neighborhoods on my trip, especially Hampden! I’ve been meaning to check out George Peabody Library, what a beautiful building.

  19. I knew nothing much about Baltimore before reading this but now I have to add that gorgeous library to my must-see list. Looks like there is plenty to do to keep me busy for a few days.

  20. Love these photos, Brianna! My dad lived near Baltimore for a while, and I visited but just briefly. That was back in the late 90s. I would love to visit the east coast again with my kids–so much history and many wonderful museums to explore!

  21. Such a nice post! Baltimore is indeed a small but a very nice place. Lovin’ all the pictures! So much to do in Baltimore plus the delicious foods that are waiting after visiting those nice places in Baltimore.

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