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June 23, 2024

My favorite places to people watch in Baltimore

By RENEE SCAVONE | October 5, 2017


MO1229/CC BY 2.0 Federal Hill is just one of many great places to people watch in Baltimore.

Despite the fact that temperatures are once again approaching the mid-80s, fall has come to Baltimore, date-wise. That means your Instagram feed will soon be totally flooded with photos of acquaintances enjoying the weather in warm color palettes.

If you want to experience the FOMO from seeing that girl from your calculus class playing with a puppy in a pile of crunchy leaves first hand, Baltimore provides plenty of spots for people watching in the fall.

First and foremost, the hill in Federal Hill. While the neighborhood as a whole may be taken over by yuppies and people who can afford waterfront condos, the hill remains largely unchanged: a public space for couples to picnic, for pet owners to walk and for children to tumble, much to the dismay of their parents and, or nannies.

The viewpoint is also one of the best in the city; You can stare out at the water and the bustling streets of the Inner Harbor.

Federal Hill is the perfect place to lay on the grass and watch the leaves change while also spying on people doing yoga (and 100 percent not stealing tips from their personal yogis — that’s illegal and could not technically be endorsed by this column).

Owing to the aforementioned population of affluent twenty-something-year-olds, Federal Hill is also a great place to eavesdrop.

Will the girl on the bench next to you get her boyfriend to commit to visiting her parents for Thanksgiving? Unclear, but you’re sure to be totally invested in their relationship by the end of her very private phone call.

On a less scandalous note, the trees and the abundance of excited children make Federal Hill a wonderful place to spend a fall afternoon (and to snag the perfect panorama pic).

If you’re looking for somewhere to people watch that’s a little more gritty, I suggest literally any bench in Fell’s Point. While I believe that Fell’s is the best people watching spot in Baltimore at any time of the year, there’s something about the cobblestone streets that make it particularly well-suited for autumn.

Because I’m the most extra person in the world, I prefer going in the morning. Grab a coffee and a donut from Diablo Donuts and spend a few hours wandering those picturesque streets watching the city wake up.

Alternatively go there in the evening for some truly wild people watching. The sheer number of establishments making full use of their liquor license in the main square alone means that there’s always something (or rather, someone) to gawk at.

Lookinag for something a little more wholesome? Fell’s Point’s annual Fun Festival is this weekend. Similar to Federal Hill, this provides a great chance to watch families interact and for you to truly embrace the crippling loneliness of not having your parents visit you for Parents’ Weekend.

Or, you know, watch someone’s dad scold them for spilling oysters outside the Thames Street Oyster House and be ever so grateful that you told your parents the Weekend was for freshmen only.

Perhaps you want something seasonally spooky. Baltimore is one of the most haunted cities in America, and that comes into full force during October.

As one of multiple U.S. cities that claims ties to Edgar Allen Poe, Baltimore can provide you with tons of opportunities to people watch folks that you might only otherwise see at very genre-specific English literature conferences.

In particular, I suggest checking out the crowd celebrating the 168th anniversary of Poe’s death this Saturday. There will be wreath laying, performances and readings, and surely at least a few period-accurate cosplays.

Not only do you get to people watch, you may actually learn something — or at the very least have what I am sure will be a wildly surreal experience.

Wherever you go, Baltimore is a wonderful place to be in the fall. People watching can be a calming activity, and I find that it also makes me feel more like an actual resident of this city.

Whether it’s for 30 minutes or for a whole day, I encourage you to grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte, choose a sturdy bench and watch the world go by.

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