If you only have a day in Baltimore and want to spend it doing things that are characteristically Baltimore, there are a few stops you’ll have to make to get the full uniquely Baltimore experience. Your day trip will take you from Hampden, through the Inner Harbor and to the west side of Baltimore. Your journey will expose you to some of the best seafood this side of the Mid-Atlantic, the origins of America’s national anthem, and distinct Baltimorean sub cultures represented in cult classic movies and television.
Although Baltimore seafood restaurants have more to offer than just steamed crabs and crab cakes, the city is well-known for its crab culture. Old Bay is the signature markings of a true crab dish and the debate for the best cake in the city carries on year after year.
Lexington Market — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
For a quick bite from a Baltimore seafood landmark, the counter at Faidley’s Seafood in downtown Lexington Market is where you want to start. A sit-down option for a more comprehensive (and sophisticated) seafood meal can easily be found at Thames Street Oyster House in Fell’s Point. This would make a great choice for dinner and present another side to Baltimore’s seafood culture.
Baltimore’s sub cultures have made their way into the lenses of cable television shows and big-screen movies, earmarking the city’s contribution to American pop culture. Movies like Pecker and Hair Spray were set and filmed in the small community of Hampden in northwestern Baltimore, depicting the bee hive “Hon” culture of the neighborhood. The row homes that you’ll find in the neighborhood are signature of early Baltimore housing architecture.
Homicide Show plaque — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
East of downtown Baltimore, in Fell’s Point, you’ll see the iconic building of NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street. The building's external facade remains the same as it appeared in the television show, complete with a plaque, marking the show's history in the city.
Homicide TV Show Building — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Venture to the West side of Baltimore into predominantly African American neighborhoods and you’ll see the familiar row homes and streets from The Wire and The Corner, two HBO shows that solidified Baltimore's presence on the entertainment map. These shows depicted the impoverished and marginalized communities of the city and showcased yet another distinct Baltimore sub culture. There's even a formal driving tour that you can take to get a front row view of all the streets where shows like The Wire were filmed.
Rounding off your day trip, take a journey back in time to the origins of the Star Spangled Banner. Fort McHenry, just minutes away from the Inner Harbor, marks the birthplace of America's national anthem under the pen of Francis Scott Key. Fort McHenry is the site of the War of 1812, where the British relentlessly bombed the city.
Baltimore history is rich and deep. To experience more of it, amongst the other activities in your Uniquely Baltimore itinerary, you'll need more than just a day. However, if a day is all you can spare, this trip will give you a comprehensive look at those characteristics that make Baltimore what it's known for.