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Good Morning Baltimore

December 14, 2008

A fierce, anything goes city whose residents have included the iconic and unforgettable John Waters, Oprah, Frank Zappa, Billie Holiday, David Simon, and Parker Posey, to name a few. From green markets promoting family farms, to some of the best seafood in the US, to sugar and spice and everything nice (Charm City houses Domino sugar and McCormick spice HQ)…this week, I’m on the Chesapeake Bay with the pop on Baltimore.

Baltimore’s history combines mercantile, shipping, and railroad industries. The Inner Harbor exists because of its shipping background, but it’s now just one of the hippest places to go in the city. Check into The Admiral Fell Inn
(pun intended) if you want to be in the heart of the action in Fell’s Point – a great shopping, dining and entertainment district right on the water. For a different take, Abacrombie Fine Food and Accommodations fits the bill – for a cozy, one-of-a-kind stay. Also worth a mention, the luxe 4 East Madison Inn centrally located in the historic Mt. Vernon cultural district.

Old Bay Seasoning wouldn’t exist without Maryland’s legendary blue crabs. So, with that, it’s not a trip to Baltimore without tucking into the best crab cakes the city has to offer. Now, eating a crab cake in general on the coast is kinda like eating pizza in NY – you’ll probably not have a horrible experience anywhere you go, but two are truly worth a taste. Head to the hole-in-the-wall Koco’s Pub
for 11oz.- softball size ones made with jumbo lump crab, or savor the J.W. Faidley award-winning crab cakes served up by the fourth generation of owners at the Lexington Market.

If you need a break from all the seafood, grab a pretzel dog at the Cross Street Market or stop by Atwater’s for soups, salads, and sandwiches made mostly from local, organic ingredients with several locations to choose from.

For a little something sweet, take home Bergers cookies as a souvenir…these goodies are so rich, you’ll need to share. Dangerously Delicious Pies bakes homemade desserts just like grandma used to make in traditional favorite varieties.

To drink like a local, chug-a-lug National Bohemian
(order up a “Natty Boh” and you’ll blend in with the regulars), Baltimore’s answer to Budweiser. For something with a little more hop, head to The Brewer’s Art for fine house microbrews. If wine is more your speed, sip at Grand Cru, a great space serving from an extensive list. 

Baltimore is a park-centric city. Patapsco Valley and Gunpowder Falls state parks will both boost your heart rate and treat your eyes to spectacular scenery. For in-city views, the top of Federal Hill offers a great harbor panoramic sights or climb the 228 steps inside the original George Washington Monument (not to be mistaken to the one in D.C.) and see the city from 178 feet above it all. For a seasonal experience like no other, enjoy holiday lights on 34th Street in Hampden.

If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, go inside these fantastic galleries and museums. The American Visionary Art Museum (extraordinary work by self-taught artists), Baltimore Clayworks (amazing exhibits and world-class ceramic goods), and The Baltimore Museum of Industry will surely fill your artistic void and offer inspiration.  

And what’s traveling without a little shopping? The best shopping districts are in Hampden and Federal Hill. For only-in-Baltimore shops, The Zone has great vintage clothing and Cloud 9 is a fun, local clothing boutique with several locations.

Images: Courtesy of Brian P. Miller Photography