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An Insider's Look At Baltimore

Insider look at Baltimore

An Insider's Look At Baltimore

Welcome to Baltimore.

Or as the natives say, "Welcome to Bawlamer, 'hon." Just a quick 90 minutes from Philadelphia and less than an hour from D.C., Baltimore is known far and wide for the Orioles, the Ravens and its steamed crabs. But there's more to the city than that. Like Philly, Baltimore not only is rich in history, but is also a thriving metropolis with enough attractions to keep you busy for days at a time--or for a brief respite in between meetings. Whether you want to explore the Inner Harbor or venture farther afield to the surrounding counties, the Baltimore area has something for everyone.

To get your bearings, start your visit to Baltimore atop Federal Hill at Warren Avenue and Key Highway. From the top of the hill, you can see a dramatic view of Baltimore's cityscape. The area was named after the city-wide celebration that followed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and has been a public park since 1879. If heights don't frighten you, don't miss another view of the city from the Top of the World Observation Level and Museum at 401 E. Pratt Street (410-837-0845). Let the high speed elevators whisk you to the top of the World Trade Center for a five-sided panoramic view of the harbor and audio-visual presentations of the city's proud heritage.

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Don't overlook Fell's Point to see how Baltimore's past and present graciously coexist. Go east on Pratt Street to President Street to Aliceanna Street to Broadway Street and you'll arrive in one of the country's oldest surviving maritime communities. Now a national historic district, Fell's Point's cobblestone streets front charming shops, galleries, pubs, and restaurants. About 350 of the neighborhood's original residential structures, many dating to the early 1700s, have been renovated and are home to those who wish to take advantage of all that city life has to offer.

If you only have time for a quick overview of Maryland's fascinating heritage, don't miss the Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library of Maryland History at 201 W. Monument Street (410-685-3750). The museum is home to the original copy of the "Star-Spangled Banner," as well as one of the largest 19th century American silver collections in the world, the country's largest decorative arts collection, and the Radcliffe Maritime Museum. What would a visit to Baltimore be without shopping? For a break from business or to find that perfect gift, you're sure to find just what you're looking for in the city's many unique shopping districts.

Love antiques? Head over to Antique Row at the 800 block of N. Howard Street where many dealers sell items from the 18th century through the Art Deco period. From Howard Street, stroll up the city's main corridor, Charles Street, and view Baltimore's 19th and 20th century architecture while browsing in the many shops, galleries, and museums that line the street.

Developed by the Rouse Company, Harborplace and the Gallery are a shopper's paradise. Located at the water's edge, two glass-enclosed pavilions feature more than 100 shops, restaurants, and snack stands, while an above-ground walkway connects the Harborplace pavilion to the chic boutiques at the Gallery.

A must-visit for anyone coming to Baltimore is Fort McHenry (2400 E. Fort Ave., 410-962-4290), the birthplace of our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, first written as a poem by Francis Scott Key. Fort McHenry's military history is best known for its defense of Baltimore (and our country) during the War of 1812 and "The Battle of Baltimore", with it's victory over the British Navy, September 13-14, 1814.

You might not think of Baltimore as a mecca for the transportation industry, but that it is. The B&O Railroad Museum, for example, at 901 W. Pratt Street (410-752-2490 or 752-2388), is located at Mt. Clare Station. The oldest railroad station in the United States, and the birthplace of the B&O Railroad, the museum boasts the most extensive collection of railroad memorabilia in the country. Railroad collectibles, including prints, relics, dioramas, and a model train garden, are also on display.

Over at the Baltimore Maritime Museum at Pier 3 on Pratt Street (410-396-3453 or 396-5528), the city's seagoing heritage is on display. Here you can visit the submarine U.S.S. Torsk, which sank the last warship during World War II, and also see the Lightship Chesapeake, which served as a floating lighthouse.

Two of the country's most prestigious art museums can be found in Baltimore. The Baltimore Museum of Art on Art Museum Drive at Charles Street at 31st Street (410-396-7100 or 396-6320) is located just a short distance away from downtown Baltimore, adjacent to the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. The museum features a permanent collection of more than 120,000 works of art including the renowned Cone collection of 20th century art by such painters as Matisse, Picasso, and Cezanne. In addition to the American Wing, the museum spotlights the art of Africa, Asia, and Oceania, and the recently opened wing for modern art is drawing praise for its striking architecture.

At the Walters Art Gallery at 600 N. Charles Street (410- 547-9000), more than 30,000 masterpieces covering 5,000 years of history are on permanent display. The Hackerman House, the museum's Asian art wing, boasts more than 1,000 works. If you're in town over the weekend, take the museum's free tour on Saturday, 11 a.m.-noon.

Baltimore's ethnic diversity is one of its charms. From Little Italy to Corned Beef Row, the city not only teems with the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of its "melting pot" population, but has also put together fascinating and educational displays to help resident and visitors alike get to know one another better.

If life's a zoo, take a few hours off and visit the real thing at the Baltimore Zoo at Druid Hill Park (410-396-7102). Baltimore's zoo boasts 1,500 exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles that can be seen by walking through the grounds or riding the zoo tram. The zoo also features the largest colony of African black-footed penguins in the United States and a brand new Penguin exhibit that has become enormously popular. And if the family came along on this trip, everyone will had a wonderful time.

Haven't had your fill of animals yet. Then make your way to the National Aquarium in Baltimore at 501 E. Pratt Street (410-576-3800). The Aquarium is home to more thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks and dolphins. There are twelve major themed exhibits, including the Marine Mammal Pavilion.

And what would Baltimore be without baseball. The boys of summer may have cut their season short but you can still relive the game's glory days at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Baseball Center, 216 Emory Street (410-727-1539). Now home to the second largest baseball museum in the country, the Babe Ruth birthplace has films, highlights, and exhibits on Babe Ruth, the Orioles, and Maryland's baseball history. And for a glimpse at baseball as it's played today (well, as it was being played) take a tour of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 333 W. Camden Street (410-685-9800). Baltimore has been receiving kudos from baseball fans near and far ever since the 46,000-seat park opened. See for yourself what everyone's cheering about.

Out and About

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, you're in luck. Hop in a car and in no time at all you can find yourself outside the city boundaries, enjoying the fresh air and scenic charms of Baltimore's surrounding counties.

In Howard County, you're just about 30 minutes away from downtown Baltimore, but in a different world. Columbia, the population center of the county, is one of the country's most successful "new towns." Developed by the Rouse Company (of Harborplace fame), Columbia is a completely planned community with different "villages" that incorporate housing, schools, recreation, ands shopping.

Just five miles from the town center of Columbia (which, by the way, has its own shopping mall if you're in need of a quick fix), lies the town of Ellicott City, formerly Ellicott Mills. Craft shops, art galleries, and restaurants line the historic district of Main Street. The town's old stone buildings have seen their share of misfortune--from fires to floods--but it seems that nothing can destroy the city for long.

In nearby Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, MD (410-792-2820), a 19th century cotton mill has been renovated to showcase dozens specialty shops, antique dealers, and artists' studios. Browse the Mill’s unique specialty shops and fine art & craft galleries for one-of-a-kind gifts, including home decor, jewelry, books, games, pets & kids.

(Original article by Carol Sorgen, nearly 15 years ago)

June 16, 2019

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The Harbor Court is a good place to rekindle any romance.

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Visitors attending a conference will find convenient digs downtown.

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The crack of a bat--the putt-putt of a motorboat--the swish of wind through the sails -- Baltimore is heaven for leisure travelers.

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