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Baltimore Basics

Baltimore

Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

There’s a reason Baltimore is called “Charm City.” No matter which neighborhood you choose to explore, it’s hard not to get swept up in the curious mix of old-world elegance, eclectic architecture, historic allure and unabashed celebration of kitsch that makes up the city’s eccentric personality.

Since its founding in 1729, Baltimore boasts the largest U.S. seaport in the mid-Atlantic, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Its lively Inner Harbor serves as a centerpiece for many of the city’s restaurants, shopping areas, businesses and other attractions. If the award-winning fresh-caught seafood doesn’t draw you in, it might be a walk through one of the world’s largest aquariums or a water taxi ride across the harbor, complete with a tour of historic ships along the docks.

For history buffs, there’s never a dull moment. The cobblestone streets of historic Mount Vernon lead to remnants of the city’s nearly 300-year history, including the original Washington Monument. Across the harbor in Locust Point is Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key penned the poem that became America’s national anthem. And the Fell’s Point waterfront is where a young Frederick Douglass, the American social reformer, came of age in the 1830s.

Head to the Northern District and it’s impossible to miss the colorful row houses of Hampden, where boutique shopping is a gleefully tacky experience. This famous neighborhood that embraces the term “hon” (an abbreviation for “honey”) provided the setting for director John Waters’ modern classics Hairspray and Pink Flamingos.

It’s a city of many facets—with a little something for every type of traveler. After all, where else can you find so well-rounded a place that it’s served as a hangout spot for Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, the dark muse of Edgar Allen Poe and the inspiration for some of the best ragtime, jazz and blues the United States has to offer?

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