Baltimore: Silly and Sophisticated
Story by Theta Pavis
Photos Courtesy of National Aquarium
Baltimore has everything a great tourist destination should have – good food, interesting history, and more museums than you can possibly see in a weekend – but it has something else that’s even harder to find: a sense of humor. It’s not just the kitschy hilarity of “Hon” culture, but a real appreciation for fun. This became immediately clear when we stepped through the doors of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum – a monument to pop culture adjacent to Camden Yards. Room after room was filled with rare comic books, vintage film posters and memorabilia spanning everything from Mickey Mouse to monster movies. Where else can you marvel at a collector’s classic like a box of “Mr. T” cereal, or shop for a Star Wars Chewbacca keychain (complete with sounds)?
From there we walked along the world-famous Inner Harbor to the Visionary Art Museum, an enormous and well curated collection of pieces made by self-taught artists. It’s like New York’s American Folk Art Museum, but less stuffy. We marveled at a replica of the Lusitania ocean liner made entirely of toothpicks and had a wonderful lunch at the museum’s restaurant, Mr. Rains Fun House. Yes, even a museum café can be extra fun in Baltimore; plus the food was tasty and fresh, and the restaurant had a serious wine list and craft cocktails.
We also visited the Maryland Science Center and the National Aquarium, with its stunning Blacktip Reef exhibit. It was all within easy walking distance of the recently renovated Brookshire Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor, where we stayed. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but this small hotel was cozy and convenient, with super friendly staff. (Remember: If you drive to Baltimore, it pays to research parking options because local lots may offer better prices than some hotels.)
The neighborhoods are where some of the city’s real personality can be found, including the up and coming Hampden community (about 15 minutes from downtown) which features the Ma Petite Shoe shop, a brilliant combination of designer shoes and – wait for it – gourmet chocolate. Leave it to Baltimore to come up with that one! ••