Boston, Philadelphia, and DC feel like destinations, but when was the last time you thought: Let’s take a trip to Baltimore! Maybe it’s a hot take, but we think it’s time to give this city another look.
Baltimore is full of delightful dichotomies: cheap Natty Boh and craft-cocktail bars, fine arts and John Waters-esque modern museums, tattoo parlors, and chic boutiques. Add that it’s small enough to explore on a weekend, generally less expensive than its urban neighbors, and home to the reigning top hotel in the country according to Condé Nast Traveler, and there’s never been better time to visit.
photo courtesy of American Visionary Art Museum
Check out the Baltimore Museum of Art (it’s free!) to see European masters and modernists, including the world’s largest collection of works by Henri Matisse. The highlight is the Cone Collection, which along with Matisse, includes Cézanne, Picasso, van Gogh, Miró, and Chagall. (While you’re there, take a stroll through the three-acre sculpture garden, too.)
If the eccentric and odd — think spinning drag queens and a human-sized bird’s nest — are more your speed, there’s the American Visionary Art Museum, with installations spread across multiple buildings. And don’t miss the National Aquarium, which draws 1.3 million annual visitors with more than 700 species of dolphins, jellies, turtles, fish, sharks, and more.
Pasta at Orto in the Station North neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Orzo
Get away from the Inner Harbor, and it’s possible to go the entire weekend without eating a crab cake. Start at Clavel, a trendy mezcaleria on an industrial-meets-residential block in Remington that serves stunningly good tacos, including a perfect, tangy cochinita pibil. (Prepare for lines, but it’s worth it.)
In Fells Point, Broadway Market, which reopened earlier this year, puts a modern spin on Baltimore’s traditional food halls, with crispy pork katsu at Old Boy, craft cocktails at Fat Tiger, and can’t-miss ice cream at Taharka Brothers. (Get the Mintflix and Chillz, with homemade peppermint patties and cookie-crumble swirl.) Or, grab dinner in artsy Station North at Orto, where the order is silky pastas and lots of shareable seasonal plates.
Broadway Market, which reopened earlier this year in Fells Point.
photo courtesy of broadway market
String together a shopping spree along The Avenue (Hampden’s West 36th St), a former working-class neighborhood that’s now home to affordable, stylish boutiques. (Okay, you’ll still find some tattoo parlors and the odd store selling crystals and cauldrons.)
Start at In Watermelon Sugar to pick up stylish home goods, like colorful throws, printed dinnerware, and vintage tea towels. Then, browse the affordable day dresses, earrings, and other accessories at Brightside Boutique. Finally, find some treasure at Trohv, where owner Carmen Brock curates an ultra-covetable mix of gifts, furniture, décor, and pieces from local artists.
One of the 136 guest rooms at Sagamore Pendry.
photos courtesy of Pendry hotels & resorts
Baltimore has always had a handful of destination-worthy hotels. With the 2017 opening of Sagamore Pendry (from $350/night; www.pendryhotels.com/baltimore) in cute-and-cobblestoned Fells Point, the cat’s out of the bag. Last year, Condé Nast Traveler named the hotel, which occupies a 1914 storage pier on the waterfront, the No. 1 Hotel in the U.S., and it’s easy to see why. All 136 rooms are spacious, with intricately tiled spa bathrooms, Sagamore whiskey and Utz potato chips in the minibar, and views overlooking the open-air, verdant courtyard or the harbor and Baltimore skyline.
The high-ceilinged great room, with big, high-back armchairs, leads into the Rec Pier Chop House, a new opening from famed chef Andrew Carmellini. And the infinity pool — so chic, it’s worth praying for Indian summer — almost fades into the harbor, showcasing views of the city’s iconic Domino Sugar plant, reminding you that Old Baltimore is still very much a part of its present.