Baltimore, the largest city in the state of Maryland, lies on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay of the United States’ east coast. Also known as “Charm City”, Baltimore can be broken up into neighborhoods giving it a small town feel. History enthusiasts will find that Baltimore warrants more time than a quick day trip from Washington DC, with important events from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars having taken place in this city by the sea.
In addition, you can visit other historically significant locations, such as the B & O Railroad Museum, famous American author Edgar Allen Poe’s house and the birthplace of legendary baseball ball player, Babe Ruth.
While the above-mentioned features of Baltimore are interesting points for visitors, they are not what I personally love and miss about the city where I grew up and lived for over 20 years. Of course, much of what I miss is wrapped up in memories and Baltimore has changed since I left in 1999. Every time I return for a visit, however, I make sure to enjoy the following:
Beginning at Federal Hill and traveling north all the way to the beltway (Highway 695), Charles Street (Route 139) runs through some of my favorite parts of Baltimore. You can make a day of it, just walking up the street: perusing the latest exhibit at Walter’s Art Gallery; taking in a classical concert at the Peabody Conservatory; getting pictures of the Washington Monument; and eating dinner at my favorite restaurant in all of Baltimore, the Helmand, featuring authentic Afghan cuisine. After dinner, you can stroll across the cobblestone streets of Mt. Vernon and window shop the quaint independently-owned stores selling art and hand-made wares.
Charles Street also runs through the very small, but alive, gay scene just south of the historic Belvedere hotel. I have spent many nights at the Hippo (bar and dance club) as well as the bars and night clubs across the street that were constantly changing management.
The Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, just across from the famous John’s Hopkins University, saw me grow up and my mother and I used to frequent the Baltimore Museum of Art for their latest exhibitions, film festivals and classes. Any part of Charles Street feels like home and even now, writing about it insights pangs of homesickness.
Arguably one of the best baseball stadiums in the entire country, I always try to catch a Baltimore Orioles game whenever I am in town. There is something very special about walking out with a big salted pretzel in hand to see the bright, green turf.
The atmosphere at Camden Yards is friendly, often cheering for good plays no matter which team made it. All of this goes out the window, however, when playing against the Yankees so watch out if you are an obnoxious Yankees fan who comes to our ball park to loudly cheer for your Bronx Bombers.
The Abundance of Black People
This may seem like a strange thing to make my list, but it wasn’t until I left Baltimore that I realized how much I enjoy being in a city full of African Americans. Much of this is wrapped up in the language that, because I grew up in Baltimore, sounds so familiar and I dare say comforting to me. Once while on the subway in Berlin, for example, I overheard two African American women talking to each other and I immediately became homesick.
Since leaving Baltimore I have learned that the language so dear to my heart actually has the official name of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). I was surprised to meet people during my travels, who had just rented The Wire for example, who could not understand it. I feel like I know a secret language or something. So when back in Baltimore I make sure to soak up the music to my ears that is AAVE.
Additionally, the African American History Museum has very comprehensive, well laid out exhibitions, including a collection of slave ship artifacts, accounts of the Civil Rights Movement, stepping (a kind of dance) and so much more. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in Baltimore.
Many meals throughout my childhood and young adult life were spent in Baltimore’s Little Italy. Not far from the African American History Museum, Chiapparelli’s Restaurant hosted me often for numerous birthdays, graduation celebrations and even my prom night.
And everyone knows not to order dessert with their dinner and instead to head over to Vaccaro’s Bakery, only steps away from any restaurant in the neighborhood. A meal in Little Italy is the perfect way to begin an evening on the town.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is full of numerous, historically significant events, most notably being the battles against the British during the Revolutionary War. Francis Scott Key wrote the United States’ national anthem overlooking such a navy battle in the Inner Harbor. However, I never really cared for the violent history of our lovely harbor; instead I enjoyed the “life” of the place, with street performers, fireworks on New Year’s Eve and Independence Day, visiting the Visionary Art Museum or catching a water taxi to Fell’s Point to go dancing.
My favorite Inner Harbor spot, however, is Federal Hill. I have always enjoyed getting away from the hustle of the shoppers, to climb Federal Hill and swing on the swings there, overlooking the harbor, which is especially beautiful at night.
20 thoughts on “What I Miss About Baltimore”
I miss that amazing little coffee shop in Fells Point that no longer exists, “The Daily Grind”. Remember that, Ligeia, during our UMBC days? They had the best hot chocolate on the planet and the most perfect ambiance. Comfy couches, lazy lounge chairs, vintage coffee tables and other decor… all perfectly littered with fun board games and countless decks of cards. Those were the days… no smart phones, no laptops, just people hanging out, relaxing, socializing, while sipping some fine brew. *sigh* 🙂
Mindy & Ligeia
So much of what I miss about Baltimore no longer exists, like the opera company, like so many little restaurants. I enjoyed a coffee shop called the One World on S. Charles Street. I wonder if it’s still there. Remembering so much from that time in my life caused me some nostalgia and homesickness. 🙁
Lovely piece Ligeia! (What I Love about Toronto: “Having a normal Mayor, one not known in Baltimore or Thailand”, A short story by Michael Bakker, coming soon… xo
Mindy & Ligeia
Thanks Michael. The folks in DC can certainly understand your pain. They went through a whole decade with Marion Barry, an embarrassment throughout the nation. Really looks like we left Toronto in good time. But not to worry, no matter who becomes mayor next…s/he will look amazing compared to Rob Ford. 🙂
That should be ‘what I miss’ of course.
Oh goodness! This post made me long for my college days driving into Baltimore to catch shows, explore and shop! I’m goin’ down the ocean ‘hon.
Mindy & Ligeia
Goin’ down the ocean!!! And it’s Bal’mer, not Baltimore – tee hee hee Oh Baltimore, gotta luv it!
By the way, two people recently (one from Australia and one from somewhere in Europe) burst out singing “Good morning Baltimore” when I told them where I was from. Guess we’re finally famous for more than just “The Wire”. 🙂
Great post! Baltimore is on our list for this year. Bookmarked this for future reference.
Giselle and cody
Wow, perhaps we should add Baltimore to our list of places to visit on our tour of the USA? AAVE sounds interesting too! It’s amazing how many different variations of the English language there is.
Nice article and nice website. My complements to you both. I have always appreciated the work you put into sharing your travels with all us who have grown roots. While it was always good, there is a new level of professionalism to the site now that you both should be proud of.
A bit of background for you, the Helmand is owned by Quayum Karzai, the brother of the president of Afghanistan. It is speculated that he will run for president this year:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quayum_Karzai I ate there once and It was amazing. I highly recommend the food.
Mindy & Ligeia
Thanks so much for the compliments on our blog! 🙂 Wow, I had no idea that the owner of the Helmand is related to the current president of Afghanistan. I hope if he becomes president that he won’t shut down the restaurant because I absolutely love it there too! 🙂
Hi ‘Geia! Yep, you’ve made me miss my B’more days. Of course, I miss the folks the most… you, Coop (I see you up there!), Chris, etc. etc. etc. I really miss my friend, former boss, and Dreamland owner, Timm Potee, who passed away a couple of years back. I miss our old apartment with the awesome acoustics and spiral staircase. Also, in Federal Hill, the Cross Street market with their dirt cheap flower bouquets and ridiculous cinnamon buns DRIPPING with cream cheese frosting. I miss Baltimore’s unapologetic smorgasbord of calories (just wrap it in bacon, hon). While SF’s cuisine is the best I’ve had from a culinary perspective, there is always seems to be a generous portion of “guilty” to go along with its pleasures (you’d never find a Vaccaro’s-sized eclair here… the portion being more akin to just the frosting on one from Vaccaro’s). One World was my favorite cafe (exp. hitting the pool balls down the stairs, and eating tiramisu), but Funk’s was fly in its own right. And the “green machine”… where did that thing go anyhow? If you’ve seen it, could you let me know? Debuted in B’more, hon, but that mountain top lake in France will never be the same!!! 😛
What I miss about Baltimore just so many things to list but a few, the history not only in Baltimore but in Woodlawn, the food, dynamite, the cemeteries, the seasons, the water. I could keep on going
Awwww what a sweet post for your hometown. I haven’t been to Baltimore since I was a kid. (I lived in Virgina until I was 11.) You’ve convinced me to figure out a way back!
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I first read the article, and a very good read it was! Didn’t comment at the time, because I needed time to think about it. See I’m still here, a lifelong Baltimoron! Yes I’ve traveled some, nothing like Ligeia, but in the USA, and there’s still no place like home. Baltimore is a homey kind of place, city, yet that quirky small town atmosphere, especially in the ‘hoods. I’m old so I remember old Baltimore, pre-inner harbour. I remember Baltimore as a working harbour, rather than a tourist attraction, my dad was a merchant seaman. Fells Point was gritty back then, most wouldn’t venture there, unless you were a badass. We rode the streetcars, not those obnoxious stinking buses. There wasn’t but three shopping malls, Mondawmin, Eastpoint, and Westview. The main shopping district was downtown Howard, Fayette, Lexington, Saratoga, Charles streets. Better than ANY mall! You could find anything there! I especially remember the old 5&10 (Dime) stores, GC Murphys, McCorys. SS Kresge (Kmart), Woolworths, a kids paradise. Shermans book store, run by old Abe Sherman, a WW I vet, and as feisty and ornery old cuss as you’d ever meet. Teds music store, instruments you couldn’t even name. Thank goodness the markets still survive, Lexington, Cross st, Hollins, Broadway, with all their quirks and wonderful ethnic foods. One of the best things growing up in Baltimore was right in our own hood, Gwynn Oak Amusement Park! What kid wouldn’t love to grow up with a amusement park a block away? So much of “my” Baltimore is gone that at times I barely recognise the place, but much good has managed to survive, enough that I’m still glad to call Baltimore “Home”!
can’t say i’ve ever even thought about going to baltimore before, but after reading this i’ll keep it in mind for when i eventually do a road trip across the states !
Mindy & Ligeia
Baltimore is not one of the flashier cities in the States like New York or Las Vegas, but it is indeed a great place to include on a road trip of the States. 🙂
Well, born in 1947 in Baltimore and raised in a great little neighborhood so many blocks long and so many blocks wide was incredible. Our neighborhood was blocked in one side by a Catholic High School, the next side was blocked by a railroad track, one side blocked by an old
cemetery (later cleared for a Two Guys store and the other end opened to Belair Road. We had in that neighborhood 2 small grocery stores, 2
taverns, 3 miscellaneous stores and dry cleaners and well pretty much everything you could want. Would go to Mr. Mac’s and get chocolate snowballs with marshmallo and a scoop of ice cream on top ! Or a pickled onion ! If we felt the need to leave our neighborhood we would
go down Belair Road to the Vilma Theatre where I could sit all day and watch Vincent Price movies (Pit and the Pendulam or 13 Ghosts or
the Peppermint Twist over and over again without leaving until my Dad would pick me up. A few door up was the Five and Dime store, Reads
Drugstore or oh gosh so many things. I graduated from Mervo (Secretarial and Stenography) in 1965 and wow going to Mervo was great. But
I miss my family getting together for steamed crabs too. My Dad was a Baltimore Fireman but still managed to find time to take me to the stables
outside of Baltimore so I can horseback ride, drive me to USO downtown and pretty much was a spectacular Dad ! Wow, I had a great childhood in a great City ! Thanks Baltimore for sooooo many incredible memories! Wouldn’t change a moment of it !!!!
Oh Yes forgot !! Miss the Oriole and the REAL COLTS…. the Baltimore Colts !!!!!! Go Johnny U !!!!!
Baltimore has been my home now for over 30 years and I love it. I am excited about the redevelopment along North Avenue, now know as the Arts District because of its proximity to MICA. There are two new theater companies, Iron Crow and Single Carrot, that has very quirky, fun, edgy performances that mix media for a theatrical collage. The Creative Alliance has put Baltimore on the map as a hip and artsy town with their amazingly diverse art form performances, classes, and workshops. Hamden is so alive with tons of fun places to dine, from vegan to Northern Italian. And of course there are the Ravens and Orioles. Go O’s!!!
If you two ever come back for a visit, you can always stay with me. Since Eli and Juliana moved out, we have two extra bedrooms.