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New Experiences and Slow Travel in Baltimore this Winter

November 20, 2018 Visit North America No Comments Email Email

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same, and in many ways the city of Baltimore encapsulates this adage. What is new in Baltimore continues to build off that which has always made the city what it is: its unapologetically resolute neighborhoods and communities. Architectural Digest recently named Baltimore one of “The Top 20 Places to Travel in 2019,” calling it a hot destination for design lovers, a true testament to the city’s passion for adaptive reuse and the creative class fueling the aesthetic. So, read on for what’s new and new-again in Charm City:

New Visitor Experiences

  • The Baltimore Public Market System is the oldest continuously operating public market system in the country – and continues to play a vital role in the city. Four of Baltimore’s six public markets are slated for overhauls, with two reopening in 2019. Fell’s Point’s Broadway Market, the city’s oldest existing market building at more than 230 years old, will unveil a $3 million redevelopment of its north shed in early 2019, with its south shed slated for a summer opening. The new north shed will house ten local vendors, including: Connie’s Chicken & Waffles, owned by brothers and Baltimore natives Khari and Shawn Parker; Thai Street, a permanent location for the Thai street food pop-up; The Verandah, serving Indian specialties; Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, and Old Boy, a new Korean restaurant by Phil Han, owner of popular Mount Vernon cafe Dooby’s. Han will also operate a yet-to-be-named bar serving pastries, coffee, American fare, beer, wine and cocktails from the center of the market.

o   The market’s commitment to Baltimore even extends to its communal wood tables, crafted by Baltimore-based furniture maker Sandtown Millworks, using reclaimed wood from a nearby building.

o   The south shed of the market will be converted into The Choptank, a Maryland crab house and seafood restaurant led by Atlas Restaurant Group, the parent company of Harbor East restaurants including Bygone, Azumi and Loch Bar, and Captain James Landing. The space, which will offer indoor and outdoor seating for 275 guests, an outdoor bar, live entertainment and a recreational area, is a nod to Broadway Market’s long history of serving local seafood.

  • Cross Street Market, serving the Federal Hill neighborhood since 1846, will welcome more than 25 independently owned and operated businesses into its new stalls, which are slated to open in June. A sampling of the tenants includes: Burger Bar, Ceremony Coffee, Fenwick’s Choice Meats, Phubs, Rice Crook, Smoke, Sobeachy, Steve’s Lunch  and The Sweet Shoppe.

In other culinary news:

  • Lane Harlan, the woman behind Remington hotspots WC Harlan and Clavel Mezcaleria, is opening Socle, a complex featuring a café (Larder), beer garden (Fadensonnen), coffee bar (Sophomore Coffee) and an artist residency in the Old Goucher neighborhood. The space features a shared outdoor courtyard for all three eateries: Larder brings farm-to-table concepts to lunchtime, offering salads, soups and comfort food; Fadensonnen is a 148-seat outdoor beer garden; and Sophomore Coffee offers 14 seats for coffee- and tea-drinkers and will add outdoor seating next year.
  • The Urban Oyster’s Jasmine Norton, the first female and black owner of an oyster bar in Maryland, will open her first brick-and-mortar on McHenry Row in February. The fast-casual restaurant and bar will feature a full-service raw bar and serve Norton’s signature chargrilled oysters; seasonal seafood dishes like Maryland crab cakes on homemade potato bread; and brunch items such as a shrimp BLT on a waffle bun, an oyster benedict and a lobster roll croissant.
  • Vegan and organic brasserie L’Eau de Vie celebrated its grand opening in Fell’s Point in early November. Menu highlights include frites with garlic aioli, grilled tofu over quinoa, a seitan sausage Rueben and cashew cheese gougères.
  • The new female-owned Little Fig Bake Shop, serving all-vegan chickun-and-waffles donuts, soy-free custom cakes, pop tarts and more, has opened at Stall 11 in the R. House food hall.
  • Baltimore native Tess Russell opened Prime Corner this fall in the Hampden neighborhood, after returning to her hometown after years in Silicon Valley. The specialty food shop stocks local tastemakers and worked with Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) students to design the space.


  • Holiday Happenings: The Inner Harbor’s traditional German Christmas Village (Nov. 22 – Dec. 24, 2018) and the Hampden neighborhood’s Miracle on 34thStreet (Nov. 24, 2018 – Jan. 1, 2019), a lights and decorations display that has drawn spectators for more than 70 years, are long-time favorite Baltimore holiday events. New to the scene this year is the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore ice skating rink on its Harbor Terrace (November 23 – December 31, 2018), serving hot cocoa, spiced apple cider, stove-roasted chestnuts and other festive treats. For those catching the John Waters: Indecent Exposure exhibit (through January 6, 2019), Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, located inside the museum, is offering a special Holiday Afternoon Tea beginning November 30. Its menu highlights sweet and savory delights like crab beignets, chocolate-peppermint profiterole and Gertrude’s homemade candy bar. For more holiday fun, visit
  • Black History Every Day: When covering Baltimore for The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018” column, writer Jada Yuan described Baltimore as “a place where it feels like Black History Month every day,” and Baltimore’s Legends and Legacies Pass allows families to visit three of the city’s most celebrated African-American attractions at a 20% discount. Through March 3, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum is exhibiting Romare Bearden: Visionary Artist, featuring more than 70 works in a variety of media by the African-American artist and writer recognized as one of the most important visual artists of the 20th century. In addition to the city’s cultural sites, visitors can meet and support black chefs, makers and creatives throughout the city at places like Harbor East’s Homegrown Baltimore, a collective of women-owned businesses led by black candle maker Letta Moore of Knits, Soy & Metal and also featuring Cedar & Cotton, a black women-owned furniture store;Treason Toting’s new Mount Vernon location; and a number of the city’s best restaurants (Essence recently shared a few of their favorites in “7 Black-Owned Restaurants in Baltimore That Are Definitely Worth a Visit”).

Slow Baltimore

With the ‘slow travel’ trend on the rise, travelers are in search of tactile experiences that encourage them to put their phones away and be present.  These Baltimore throwbacks allow visitors to step back in time and explore the local culture at a leisurely pace.

  • Created by Baltimore Video Collective, the new crowd-sourced, volunteer-run Beyond Video in Charles Village wants to provide public access to a world-class home-video collection of VHS tapes, DVDs and Blu-Rays. A prime example of Baltimoreans banding together to fuel the city’s creative community, patrons can reminisce on their favorite films as they stumble across them in the store.
  • The origin of duckpin bowling is debated – but one theory attributes its creation to Baltimore Orioles players who owned a bowling, billiards and pool hall in 1900. Whether or not that’s the case, Patterson Bowling Center opened in 1927 and is the oldest duckpin center in the country (possibly the world). The nostalgia created by a few rounds of duckpin is just the throwback slow travelers yearn for, and the bowling alley’s location adjacent to Patterson Park makes for easy nearby sightseeing after the game.
  • The Charles and Senator theaters continue to serve Baltimore residents and visitors with great films, just as they have since their openings in 1939. Visitors will feel transported when viewing a revival showing of vintage films, which both theaters host regularly. Other offerings include live showings of the Met Opera and Anime Night.
  • Literary tourism is a prime example of the power of slow travel and Baltimore is filled with independent bookshops and charming libraries run by passionate locals:

o   Atomic Books is a staple of the Hampden neighborhood and a haven of indie comics; not to mention where John Waters receives his fan mail. With the tagline “literary finds for mutated minds,” the store is a symbol of Baltimore’s creative identity, and also houses Eightbar, a lounge named after a Daniel Clowes’ comic book, serving beer and wine.

o   New to the Fell’s Point scene, Greedy Reads was opened by Julia Fleischaker, who moved back to Maryland following nearly 20 years in the publishing industry in New York. She brings her love and knowledge of books to the store, which also hosts book clubs, discussions and author events.

o   Bird in Hand, a collaboration between Spike’s Gjerde’s Artifact Coffee and The Ivy Bookshop in Mt. Washington, is a café and bookshop co-retail shop which invites visitors to lounge with great literature, food and coffee.

o   Reader’s Digest deemed Enoch Pratt Central Library one of its “Nicest Places in America,” calling it “the library that’s writing a new chapter for Baltimore.” A new chapter is also underway for the library, thanks to a $115 million renovation, which will restore many of the historic landmark’s original features, as well as provide significant technological and infrastructure modernizations. One of the George Peabody Library’s many claims to fame is that its sweeping ceilings and ornate balconies inspired the library in “Beauty and the Beast,” and continue to inspire visitors today.

  • Baltimore’s strong independent music scene breeds some excellent music shops, and the days of browsing vinyl are far from over in Charm City:

o   Sound Garden, celebrating its 25th year, has won more than 50 ‘Best Record Store’ awards, including 2nd best record store in the U.S. by Rolling Stone Magazine. The Fell’s Point store stocks 100,000+ new and used CDs, LPs, DVDs, video games and DJ equipment, while also serving as an impromptu concert space for notable performers like Ludacris, Aloe Blacc and the Goo Goo Dolls.

o   Hare’s Breath Records joined the Fell’s Point neighborhood in October, offering classic rock essentials along with a healthy dose of the unusual, based on personal favorites of owners Matt and Kat. The couple also runs a record label of the same name, featuring their own music as well as that of Baltimore, NY and UK artists.

o   Conversations about music over coffee and food are encouraged at Baby’s on Fire, a Mount Vernon café/record store, naturally, named after a song (Brian Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire”).

o   Hampden’s Celebrated Summer Records  specializes in punk, hardcore, jazz, soul and indie rock. Check out the local section for releases from Baltimore bands like co-ed feminist hardcore-punk band War on Women.

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