Best Nightlife in Baltimore

Fun Things to Do in Baltimore for All Tastes

Baltimore and its surrounding area has a vibrant nightlife for all ages and speeds. Whether it's sports, dancing, comedy clubs, live music, gaming, avant garde theater, after-hours restaurants or outdoor events, the various neighborhoods have unique flavors. Fells Point has been a hot spot for nearly 250 years, catering to the sailors of yore and today's fun seekers. It reputedly has more bars per square foot than anywhere else in the world.

Nightlife means different things to different people. For some, it's a relaxing place to grab a casual dinner with family and listen to music outdoors. Others may enjoy a later poetry slam while sipping on a local microbrew. Some night-owls want a place to go after the majority of bars close at 2 am. Baltimore's got it all!

In the early evening, the Charm City Circulator can get you to many of the centrally located venues for free, though one of its routes was recently terminated by the city's government. Baltimore does have Uber, the ride request app that's popular all over the world.

Baltimore is a fairly casual city. So, ladies, you won't see a lot of big makeup/hair/heels here. Be prepared to walk to neighboring venues during a night on the town.


Red Emma's
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

If memorable places have their own distinct vibe, Red Emma's is chock full of personality. They are a "radical" (they changed the description from "anarchy") cafe/bookstore/meeting space/coffee roaster. Red Emma's moved from a more residential neighborhood to North Avenue for more room to do what they want to do: their space is open, yet calm and inviting. Need a place to sip a fresh basil iced mocha while blogging about your world? Even more conservative types will find the vegetarian food tasty and at least some of the books sold required reading for thinkers across the political spectrum. Red Emma's is a great come-as-you-really-are place that's open until 11 pm on weekends. They host interesting speakers, as well. Their location offered a place to meet for the peaceful original protestors in the Baltimore Uprising.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: They don't just support one type of group or another; it's more about high tides raising all boats in a fun atmosphere.

Tamar's expert tip: Though they have a beer/wine license, selling local and fair-trade brews, they're not sold on Tuesdays. That's to offer those in recovery a safe, non-tempting place to go.

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Slow Burns Cigar Shoppe & Smoking Lounge

Its front door is on an unassuming stretch of Frederick Road . . . almost like a speakeasy. With a minimum purchase of $6 a person (and they do have a few snacks, soft drinks), you can hang out in one of two comfy rooms, chock full of leather recliners. It's BYOB. Some people rent humidor lockers or the glass cabinets to store fancy liqueurs, cigars, whatever they like. Sometimes they have specials where they give away drinks with purchase. There are televisions to watch the game, etc. Upscale cigars being tended to in perfectly climate controlled conditions are for sale. A night with your own booze at Slow Burns costs a lot less than it would to head to an upscale hotel bar – the closest comparable type of destination, luxury-wise – with your group of friends. There is street and lot parking.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Many cigar lounges think it's sufficient to stick a recliner in and let you smoke. This lounge has 2 rooms completely shielded from public viewing.

Tamar's expert tip: Open every night and until 2 am on weekends, it's a place where you can make your own party for a minimum purchase of $6 a person.

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Jong Kak
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

This is a brightly lit, no-frills Korean BBQ restaurant in Baltimore's Lower Charles Village-Little Korea neighborhood. Open until 4 am, there's the opportunity for some serious people watching. Your first decision will be informing the hostess whether you want to sit at a table with the "regular" menu or BBQ (for 2 or more). BBQ is the pricier option, but it's a multi-course meal unto itself. Little banchan – appetizers – include kimchi, pickled sprouts, quick-cooked broccoli. A server lights a built-in charcoal grill that they occasionally boost with a hairdryer. Depending on the BBQ bundle you pick, there can be tender beef, pork belly, chicken and other meats. They're served with Romaine lettuce leaves, scallions, sliced raw garlic and bean paste – great for carb watchers! The meal is also accompanied by bowls of fresh soft scrambled eggs and hot, spicy soup with kimchi and tofu.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Whether you've just left a late-night concert, Ravens game or you're otherwise pulling an all-nighter, the food and atmosphere will perk you up.

Tamar's expert tip: Hot and spicy food late at night seems to ward away hangovers!

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Boordy Vineyard
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

So many of us work so hard with swing shifts, second jobs, tasks on weekends. For some, late nights and day trips are a thing of the past. Thursdays have long been a going out night in Baltimore: Some of the graduate schools have few Friday morning classes, it's our hump day, etc. Boordy is a well-recognized vineyard in Maryland that makes several styles of wine, including fun fruit flavors. On Thursdays from 3 pm - 7 pm, they welcome people for wine tasting, a farmers market, prepared food stands, local bands. While you feel like you've gone on a bucolic road trip, they're only 30 minutes from downtown Baltimore.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This even feels like several rolled into one: Happy Hour, Sunday drives, Saturday live music, weekday farmers market. All the vendors and musicians are local.

Tamar's expert tip: Good Life Thursdays has changed their hours to be a little earlier this year: 3 pm - 7 pm. Bring your own blanket and chairs, as the picnic tables fill up quickly.

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Sounds of Summer at Belvedere Square
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

You no longer have an excuse to stay in on Friday nights in the summer. Sounds of Summer at Belvedere Square – the food market and shopping destination in North Baltimore – has a live band playing every Friday night from 6 - pm until the end of August. The bands range from pop to classic rock. No car? No problem: they're on the bus line. No cash? It's free. No babysitter or pet sitter? The event is kid and dog-friendly. Food and local beers are available for sale out in the lot. You can also go inside the market (without Fido, of course) and purchase all kinds of gourmet delights like smoked fish, house-made Italian foods, healthy smoothies and artisan vegan chocolates.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This well-heeled part of Baltimore has contributed to the city's summer fun with a family friendly, dog-friendly, free concert every Friday night.

Tamar's expert tip: You can borrow some lawn chairs by leaving your license as a deposit or just bring your own. The earlier you get there, the easier it will be to find a parking space.

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Charm City Roller Girls
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Charm City Roller Girls is made up of four intramural teams and two intermural teams that have played all over the world. They're the best of the best! Roller Derby has changed since the films of the 1950's-1970's: more athletic than shtick/pro-wrestling. Still, the players dream up risque stage names for themselves and their teams. Fun hairdos and lots of ink are the norm. The teams are skater-owned and managed. The food sold at bouts is often made by skaters' loved ones. Their posters are created by local artists and look fabulous framed. Charm City Roller Girls recently lost their skate venue in Canton – which they had really outgrown, anyway – and are playing for now at the Ice Gardens in suburban Laurel.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: You know you're in a great part of the world when such a Grrl Power event draws serious support from both men and women.

Tamar's expert tip: Don't wait until the day of the bout to get tickets; they do sell out.

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Pop's Tavern
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Pop's Tavern got the second Baltimore County liquor license after the end of Prohibition in 1933 and they're the oldest tavern still running continuously. Its popularity no doubt rose when nearby Bethlehem Steel - now closed - was operating at full blast 24/7. Llive bands still play on Saturday nights to a packed, older crowd. Back in the day, bands such as Danny and the Juniors, as well as The Platters played there. Today, dance bands playing country music, Southern rock and classic rock get people to their feet. This is a place to have casual fun, opposed to being on display.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: When did we stop going out to dance? At Pop's Tavern, they never stopped. They have the oldest continuous liquor license in Baltimore County.

Tamar's expert tip: Saturday's the best night at Pop's. If you want a table, best come early.

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Pier Six Pavilion
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Baltimore's Pier Six Pavilion is located right in the Inner Harbor, unlike many city's outdoor concert venues which are out of town. It's steps from restaurants, hotels, parking. Nearby hotel guests on their balconies and boaters in the harbor can certainly catch strains of whatever show that's playing. Pier Six does a good job of hosting a wide variety of musical acts, to appeal to a cross-section of concert goers. The season generally includes a solid schedule of classic rock, Southern rock, metal, R & B, country music. The audience can see landmarks of the Inner Harbor from their seats. Beer and snacks are available for purchase.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Nothing says the start of summer in Baltimore like the opening of Pier Six Pavillions season.

Tamar's expert tip: Aisle seats for the first few rows give you more leg room and feel like front row, though column blocks some views. Also, be prepared for Baltimore's "cougars" to slip down and try to dance in your spot. Security's pretty good, though.

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North Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Upstairs has pool tables, a sofa, a small performance space, a bar and an altogether intimate, relaxed atmosphere. You can actually have a conversation! Downstairs tends to feature local bands, up-and-coming touring bands and bands living their golden years. Because of the configuration – with a comfortable seated balcony and back bar with tables – it makes for intimate viewing of the bands. Some of the bands that have appeared at the newer location include Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Drive-By Truckers, Dinosaur Jr, TV On the Radio, The Breeders, Maroon 5, Supersuckers, Quiet Riot, KRS-ONE, Jonathan Richman, David Cross, Michael Ian Black, At the Drive-in, Atmosphere, The Melvins, Coheed and Cambria, Bouncing Souls and Animal Collective.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This venue, a few miles from the Inner Harbor, doesn't feel touristy . . . because it isn't.

Tamar's expert tip: Upstairs is a good place to start a date, converse, etc. Ottobar features bars upstairs and downstairs, but doesn't serve food. It's not a tragedy, as a meat-centric gastropub has opened across the street and they're also a block away from Korea Town, with several options open until 4 a.m.

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