Lost Girls’ Guide to Baltimore: The ‘Charm City’

Baltimore, City Travel — By on October 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Kristen Putch
LG North American Travel Editor

Baltimore is called the ‘Charm City’ for a reason… anyone who visits is easily charmed by the city’s small-town feel wrapped up with big city energy. The city’s reputation has earned it the nickname ‘Smalltimore’

In most of the city’s neighborhoods, you won’t find chain restaurants or stores. Instead, each restaurant, bar, and shop has a unique vibe, making you feel like a local who has discovered a hole-in-the-wall that no one else knows about.

Inner Harbor

‘Top of the World’

Top of the World is the perfect starting point for any visit to Baltimore. Located on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center, the world’s tallest pentagonal building, you can get a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of Baltimore’s skyline, harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

Power Plant Live!

Power Plant Live! located just one block from downtown Inner Harbor is a one-stop shop for your night out on the town. Restaurants and bars include Havana Club, Luckie’s Tavern, Mex Tequila Bar, and TATU. There are also a number of nightclubs available, such as Angels Rock Bar, Howl At The Moon, Mosaic Nightclub & Lounge, PBR BaltimoreBaltimore Comedy Factory, Maryland Art Place and Rams Head Live!. A free live music series takes place weekly on the Plaza stage from May to October featuring regional acts as well as national recording artists such as Papa Roach, The Violent Femmes and Finger Eleven.

Pratt Street Ale House

Sitting in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, one of the most commercial areas of the city, is the Pratt Street Ale House. The restaurant/bar offers up Oliver Ales, which are local brews made right in the establishment’s cellar. You can sit in the bar or the restaurant, but there is also a nice outdoor seating area, perfect for an afternoon of hanging out. They also offer a full menu of regular pub fare.


Fells Point

Bad Decisions

Don’t let the outside fool you… it’s not a dive bar on the corner,  the simple red awning is there to keep the people who don’t enjoy a good time away. Bad Decisions, on the corner of Fleet and Washington streets in Historic Fells Point, is known for it’s unique concoctions which include S’mores martinis with marshmallow-infused vodka, Godiva Liqueur and graham cracker crumbs around the rim. Every month the bar hosts a “Beer & Bacon Happy Hour.” On this night everything is bacon, from the drinks, bacon-infused liquor, and a bottomless bowl of hot, greasy bacon. Also, don’t forget to try the flaming shot. You’ll be glad you did.

The Sound Garden

Located at 1616 Thames St., The Sound Garden offers a wide selection of new and used CDs and DVDs at a fraction of the cost (Sex & The City box sets can be scored for about $50!) . Be careful not to get carried away though, or you won’t be able to fit your purchases in your suitcase! But the great prices are far too good to pass up.

Broadway Pier

For a little bit of silly fun, if you find yourself in Fells Point, head down to the Pier. You may recognize it as the Pier where Meg Ryan stands in the classic romantic chick-flick, “Sleepless in Seattle.”



Where to Eat

Nacho Mama’s

If you’re looking for great Mexican, head over to Canton where you will stumble upon Nacho Mama’s. Located at 2907 O’Donnell St., they offer an extensive menu of Mexican favorites, all of which will fill you to capacity. “Nacho’s” Macho Nachos was enough to serve 3 people as an entree. You definitely get your money’s worth.

Koco’s Pub

If you only know one thing about Baltimore, chances are you know it’s famous for crab, or crab cakes. And, just so you are aware, Baltimore crab cakes are probably not like the impostor crab cakes you’ve eaten up to this point. It’s known amongst the locals that there are only a handful of places that serve the REAL crab cakes, one of them being Koco’s Pub at 4301 Harford Road. It’s sort of a hidden place that has a hometown feel. Nothing fancy, but great food.


Where to Stay

Pier 5 Hotel

The Hilton Garden Inn and The Marriott Waterfront are both great hotels in terms of locations. Steps from Little Italy, and right off of the Inner Harbor, the hotels are in the heart of Baltimore’s newest neighborhood, Harbor East, which has puts loads of shopping and dining choices right outside your door.

Pier 5 is nestled on its own pier directly on the water next to the National Aquarium and behind the Power Plant entertainment complex, which includes a 5-floor Barnes & Noble and Hard Rock Cafe, the Pier 5 is the heart of  Inner Harbor.


How to Get Around

If you are coming in from a surrounding suburb, the Light Rail is the way to go. The train will bring you right through the heart of the city, making it easy to access The Convention Center, Camden Yards (home to the Baltimore Orioles), The Geppi Entertainment Museum, M&T Stadium (home to the Baltimore Ravens) and puts you just a few blocks away from Inner Harbor. The train runs all the way from Hunt Valley, MD to BWI Airport. One-way fare is $1.60. For a route map and operating hours, click here.

The Charm City Circulator, part of the “Greener, Cleaner Baltimore” vision by former mayor Sheila Dixon, is a fleet of 21 free shuttles that travel three routes in Baltimore City. The Green Route runs from City Hall to Fells Point to Johns Hopkins, the Purple Route runs from Penn Station to Federal Hill,  and the Orange Route runs from Hollins Market to Harbor East. A shuttle arrives every 15 minutes at the designated stops on each route.


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