While the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC) will probably be the place you go to most often for food, and the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) the place you go to most often when you need to feel like you’re doing something cultured, there are plenty of hidden treasures in Baltimore — if one only dares to pop the bubble.
I know it can be more than tempting to just find your comfort spots within a 10-mile radius of campus and stick to them, but I can promise you that you’ll be rewarded if and when you choose to venture off the beaten path. Although I strongly encourage you to find your own favorite hidden spots in Baltimore (please don’t steal my go-to off-campus study spots), here are just a few of mine to get you started...
I stumbled across Trohv by accident, and it really is a trove (short for treasure trove), which is defined as a “store of valuable or delightful things.” To be honest, I don’t think this store could have a more fitting name. I could truly spend hours wandering around this shop and probably not see everything that they have to offer. Everywhere you look there’s something different and quirky but not in a way that’s overwhelming. Pop in when you’re in Hampden; I’ve found that the ideal time is before or after your relatives take you for a meal at The Food Market or Golden West Cafe...
If you happen to find yourself one of roughly a dozen people that end up staying on campus over spring break, you will realize that you’re essentially forced to explore life outside the Hopkins campus (mainly because there will be no life on the Hopkins campus). Discovering HandleBar Cafe was possibly one of the highlights of my freshman break — trust me, I realize how sad that sounds. But this restaurant/bar/café/bike shop is one of the most eccentric and unique places that I’ve found in Baltimore so far.
Opened in 2017, HandleBar Cafe is Baltimore’s first “Bicycle Cafe” and, located in a renovated warehouse in Fell’s Point, it describes itself as a “magical combo of food, drink, bikes & fun.” Although I can’t vouch for their handmade wood fired pizzas (which looked incredible), their live music was fun and different, and the atmosphere was just great. I’m a sucker for a quirky restaurant, and HandleBar Cafe definitely fits that bill. Make sure to try the fries. #notspon
Pitango Gelato Fells Point
Pitango Gelato offers 24 flavors of gelato and 23 flavors of dairy-free sorbet (though, obviously, not all of them are available every day). That’s 47 flavors in total! Maybe I’m easily impressed because I can’t have dairy, and my sorbet options normally consist of lemon, strawberry and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, mango (!), but 23 options is pretty exciting for me. While I can’t speak for the ice cream, every flavor of sorbet that I’ve tried — and the employees are more than happy to let you try different flavors before you buy — has been delicious. It definitely isn’t as cheap as buying a tub of Ben and Jerry’s from CVS, but I guarantee it’s worth the occasional splurge when you decide to venture out to Fell’s Point.
I only found out about Sherwood Gardens during my last month of freshman year, and I wish I had found out sooner. Just a six-minute drive (or 25-minute walk) from campus, Sherwood Gardens covers six acres of North Baltimore and is bursting with beautiful flowers throughout the spring and summer. Despite being free of charge, the gardens are almost unknown to tourists, which makes it a great spot to go to when the Beach doesn’t fulfill your need for flowers and greenery.
Baltimore Center Stage
If you’re interested in theater and in getting the best seats (or, in fact, any seats) in the house for just $15, take a look at Baltimore Center Stage in Mount Vernon. I saw two plays there last year — Shakespeare in Love and Animal Farm; they were both fantastic. They have some really interesting shows, and each only runs for about a month, so chances are you’ll find something you like. Coming up next is Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.