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City Guide: Baltimore
Level 1 - NGMI
Welcome to Baltimore! Considering this is a free post you can make the correct assumption that we would not recommend living here. This is for both men and women.
Exceptions include: 1) you work at T-Rowe Price, 2) Under Armour, 3) the Baltimore Ravens/Orioles or 4) any other forced living situation due to a high paying career. Even then, you know the rules, slowly claw your way out to be location agnostic long-term.
This post is a mix of a guest poster to remain anon and our own comments. The anon’s summary is Part 1, we add our own takes in Part 2.
Part 1: Baltimore Snapshot - Guest Overview
Overall message: "Yup - the reputation is pretty spot on. Wish it was better but we do the best we can to make the most of the experience here."
Stay around the harbor (i.e. water).
Be very aware of the "Squeegee kids" on main street corners. Don't even get me started on this. Don't do anything foolish
Smile, nod, and agree and stay focused and move on.
Need to be aware that Monday-Wednesday evenings are fairly "dead" from a nightlife perspective. In fact, many restaurants and bars are closed on Mondays. This has been marginally better recently.
he fast start for the Orioles has (thankfully) injected some energy into the city. Certainly it seems like people are getting into it. Would recommend all to attend a game. Pickles Pub is a great spot to enjoy the pregame atmosphere.
You'll notice prices are much cheaper than DC and New York. COL much lower.
Transportation: Amtrak Northeast regional stop (Baltimore Penn) makes it convenient to get to DC, Philly, and NYC. They also have MARC trains to DC Union for $9 each way. Camden line runs during the week and Penn line runs 7 days a week.
If you talk to locals, there's this sense that we know the city isn’t great and is somewhat beyond repair, but they still like it enough to stay. Stick to the spots around the Harbor and it can be a great time. If you are unsure about walking around at night, take an Uber. If you are walking, know your surroundings and stay around the water.
If someone asks you where you went to school, they are asking your high school, not college. It's a thing here. Especially if you go to some places in Federal Hill which is more of a young to mid 20s crowd.
Inner Harbor: most notable area for those who have visited Baltimore in the last 20-25 years. However, you should avoid it now. Basically all of the restaurants are now closed. Stores are shuttered. Most businesses have moved to Harbor East. Only worth doing if enjoying a walk around the harbor walkways during the day. That's about it. The National Aquarium is still there for the kiddos. But other than that, it's not worth your time.
Harbor East: this is the hot spot now. First thing you'll notice is there is security EVERYWHERE. More high end shops and restaurants. And they aren't fucking around with any shenanigans. This is where you'll find the higher class of the city spend their time.
Federal Hill: still a good spot. Many out of college to mid 20s reside here. Tons of bars and good nightlife. Crowd has changed "a little" but still pretty good on a Friday and Saturday night.
Fells Point: Probably the best area to head out on a night in the town. Great bars to grab a drink.
Canton: great area with more late 20s and 30s professional residents. Canton Square has the bar scene. But many more corner bars and chill spots relative to Federal Hill and Fells Point
Locust Point: more locals and local spots but worth checking out to get a feel for the city.
Accommodations - stay in Harbor East
Baltimore Marriott Waterfront in Harbor East: is a great hotel and I have work colleagues stay there all the time
Also in Harbor East is the Four Seasons which is also great but $$$
In Fells Point, there's Kevin Plank's Sagamore Pendry Hotel which is the best location
There are cheaper Courtyards and Hiltons in the area too.
Just my opinion but I would avoid hotels in Inner Harbor (Hilton and Renaissance) and also by Convention Center (Sheraton and Hyatt). They are still "fine" but best to avoid unless you are Ubering.
I think it's a fairly underrated restaurant scene
Tagliata is a great upscale Italian
Charleson - the best upscale restaurant in the city
Ouzo Bay - Mediterranean
Rec Pier Chop House in the Pendry is really neat
Little Italy - Several really good spots with more of an "old Baltimore" feel Please note - these won't come close to Italian restaurants in New York/New Jersey
La Scala is my favorite with a very cool vibe
For a crabcake - you won't find the best crabcakes in the city (just my opinion). But Rusty Scupper right on the harbor has been a staple for over 30 years and they probably have one of the better ones.
Day spots: lots of places in Fells Point
-Barcocina in Fells Point is hopping for brunch on the weekends. Tons of girl brunch gatherings. Definitely recommend
Thames Street Oyster House - Fells Point
Pickles Pub over by Camden Yards during an Orioles game. Friday nights are very crowded but a great crowd and can be fun
Watershed in Federal Hill. Relatively new and has a great rooftop bar. Good scene but menu is just ok. More expensive too
Little Havana - can be a good scene outside on the water in Federal Hill. Not as rowdy.
Crossbar in Federal Hill - cool chill spot; more German biergarten type atmosphere
For Ravens game - Federal Hill is the spot for drinks before/after. Walkable from the stadium.
Bygone is on the top of the Four Seasons in Harbor East - really neat upscale vibe and has great views of the city
Elk Room - speakeasy bar within the courtyard of Tagliata. Really cool chill spot after dinner
Great bars for a night out:
Harbor East: James Joyce Irish Pub just re-opened and has a cool patio now.
Fells Point: Waterfront Hotel, Max's Taphouse, any bar on the main Thames Street drag
Federal Hill: Ropewalk Tavern (used to go here a lot 5-7 years ago, after 10 PM crowd, used to be a "Baltimore private school" meetup spot) Riverside Taphouse, Don't Know Tavern
Canton: All the places around Canton Square are great
In regards to PowerPlant Live - I personally think it's overhyped. Not a great crowd either. Best to avoid and go to Fed, Fells, or Canton
Part 2: Baltimore - BTB Guide
You arrive in Baltimore with your typical attitude: Hope for the best - be pepared for the worst.
As you drive towards your hotel, you’ve already given up on hoping for the best.
Luckily, the hotel is great and there appears to be life around water. You head out and inevitably the first idea/invite you get is for dinner. Italian of course since that is the go to option to avoid offending anyone. It’s no different than suggesting a sushi and drinks meet up for a girl in California. High probability you get a yes.
Anyway. You have 45 minutes to burn so you exit your hotel and begin walking around. Practically everything around the water is nice and you hear about the National Aquarium. May as well check that out on Day 2 since the goal is to figure out if there are decent places to go out.
You head out to dinner and 9/10 times it will be in Little Italy. It ends up being Sotto Sopra. Apparently they have an Opera Night but that’s right up there with Polo in terms of “fitting in” so luckily it’s just a standard night out. Food rating 9/10.
Downside? When you eat Italian you feel unhealthy for the next 48 hours due to the massive calorie intake no matter what you do. (No one is ordering Ravioli since we all know every restaurant gives you 5-6 pieces and you’re starved the rest of the night).
Big Mistake Time: You go out and try to explore the nightlife and you get suggestions. At first you’ll get a few night clubs and before you even order the uber black, be sure to look it up since a ton of them shut down after shootings/robberies and all kinds of crime.
Either way it seems that reputations for night clubs change faster than practically every city in the country. Who knows though, could just be due to bad luck and “wrong place, wrong time”
Try to go to the most expensive and highest rated place (supposedly now it is called Euphoria). We’re skeptical even on this since “fancy names” typically mean terrible quality. No different than Vegas where you hear of a new apartment complex called the “DIAMOND COMPLEX” = low quality and dangerous.
Why no reason for names? Simple. You enter into the nightclub and within 30-45 seconds flat you recognize you don’t fit in. You may be dangerous enough to take one drink or shot before leaving but that’s it. Charge the cost to the game of city research and go back to your hotel.
Surprisingly, the hotel has a top rated bar at the top of the Four Seasons. You see a high mix of attractive people and decide to stay there. Your first conversation is a complete and utter Air Ball, someone asks “where did you go to school” and when you say a University they know instantly you’re not from the area.
Either way, eventually you’ll be accepted into one of the groups of 4 or so (for some reason groups seem to be in sets of about 4-5 or so) and you’re pretty much good to go.
Viola! On day 2 you figure out that Tagliata has a nice area to drink as well. Lo and behold! It is 3 blocks away. After checking out the aquarium for the day and going out a second night, you have solved the city. It is a 3 block radius in which you should stay. If you feel the need to do more, just stay by the water and stick with Little Italy and Fells Point.
Now that you’re up to date on the general spots, the take here is simple. Just go to the Four Seasons hotel and post up there. While it is “pricier”, it makes way more sense from a time and value set up for a few days.
You won’t have to burn time walking/in uber black/jumping from place to place. You simply go up stairs and that is that. The chances are high that it’s pretty packed and you have a natural filter for the “well to do” people from the city.
If you really have to go out further than that, check out the map below. As mentioned by the guest poster, staying by the water and you’re good to go. For reference Tagalita is about three blocks walking North East on this map relative to the Four Seasons.
Exception to the Rule Guys
A NFL person and likes the Ravens, go for it
An MLB person and likes the Orioles, go for it
You are planning a vacation around italian food, aquariums and a high-end hotel. Perfect!
You watch something called “the wire”. Still don’t know what that is and refuse to look it up (yep getting old) but apparently it is related to Baltimore
Reiterate - you work for T-Rowe, Under Armour or some other major firm in Baltimore and need to live there
On that note, back to the tent.
In this case, ain’t no one surviving the tent life for more than a week out there on dem streets.
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