As for many Brits, The Wire is what we consider made Baltimore famous. Never mind that the USA’s most famous ball player, Babe Ruth, and gothic genius Edgar Allen Poe were both born here, it was the gritty crime drama that brought this small East Coast city to our attention.
We arrived here via a slightly circuitous route, having taken the ferry across what must have been the Delaware Bay (another case of the “avoid highways” setting biting us in the bum) so we didn’t have as much time as we would’ve liked. In any case to really appreciate this ballsy, honest and fun city you need more than the one night we had allowed.
We arrived at dusk and headed straight from our hotel (the reasonably priced and friendly Mount Vernon Hotel, about a 15 minute walk from the harbour) to the water’s edge and found a lively and family friendly area. We decided to walk from here another 10 minutes or so to the historic neighbourhood of Fell’s Point. It combines cobbled roads with rowdy bars and as we found, at least one very tasty restaurant.
We went to Bertha’s where we devoured a delicious shrimp, bacon and cheese starter followed by mussels and chowder. All washed down with a pint of Blue Moon. Perfect.
The next morning we went back to the Inner Harbour area and beat the crowds to get into the National Aquarium of Baltimore nice and early. This massive seven storey structure, complete with glass pyramid and 35 foot waterfall is home to thousands of species. Its a really fun and engaging stop.
Then we made our way around to the American Visionary Art Museum which houses an impressive collection of outsider art. Not always beautiful or impressive, it is a funny, un-pretentious, weird and wonderful art gallery. And it has a great gift shop. Some of the art was genuinely extraordinary, think a scale model of the Titanic made out of match sticks, or a stegosaurus made out of junk, and you begin to get an idea of this place.
One half of this couple was a little wary of Baltimore, or “Bodymore” as it is sometimes known, thanks to its reputation as a murder hotspot. And although it didn’t feel like the safest of locations, that wariness is almost certainly not justified if you keep out of the dodgy areas (guidebooks suggest not going west of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd).
There are a lot of things we would’ve like to do given more time. Catching a ball game at Camden Yards, the Great Blacks in Wax Museum or don a beehive and rhinestones to join Honfest. We would love to go back to Baltimore one day.
Rate the State
Good for: Culture, food, drinking.
Bad for: Some neighbourhoods need a bit of TLC.