Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 27, 2021

It’s time to venture just a bit further off-campus

By ARIELLA SHUA | March 7, 2019


callison-burch/CC BY 2.0

The American Visionary Art Museum’s bird sculpture stands outside.

It’s time to talk about the Hopkins bubble again.

I know, we’re all sick of hearing about it. It’s mentioned constantly, sometimes as a joke, sometimes in a more serious manner. For students it’s both a punch line and a common refrain — it’s tough to escape the Hopkins bubble. For parents it’s said with a sigh of relief — it’s tough to escape the Hopkins bubble.

Last spring I decided that during my sophomore year I would make a conscious effort to venture further into the Baltimore community than I had previously done. When the fall semester began, I was heading out into the city to check out new eating venues and festivals. I loved all of my new discoveries. 

But just like the typical Hopkins student, I became overwhelmed with work and campus life. My Baltimore adventures were the first thing I dropped.

Now it’s spring again. I realize that it’s been awhile since I took myself on more than a brief walk off campus for some fun. If you’re a Hopkins student, it’s likely that you haven’t left in some time either. So let’s try out some new places. Don’t worry, they resemble old standbys while also being unique in their own way.

Campus favorite: Papermoon Diner

Off-campus endeavor: Lost City Diner

It’s impossible not to be enthralled with Papermoon. The mannequins, the toys, the Legos, the colors — it’s all fantastic to look at. The food is pretty great too. I’ve eaten there a bunch of times and have literally never been disappointed.

Eating at Papermoon is an experience that I don’t expect to find anywhere else. But a similar time may be had at Lost City Diner. Located in the Station North neighborhood, Lost City is sci-fi themed, from the wall decor to the meal titles. The website proudly boasts a menu that can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Particularly of interest are the burgers, which are named after different planets, and the ice cream fountain offerings, which take up an entire page of the menu.

Campus favorite: Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA)

Off-campus endeavor: American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)

Bless the BMA for existing. I’m not a frequent visitor, but I’ve learned about its collections and exhibits in several of my classes. Plus, I once had to visit a museum for an essay, and it was a convenient 10-minute walk away from my dorm. The art pieces on display were really cool too.

The American Visionary Art Museum is a place I’ve heard of many times but have never ventured to myself. Unlike the BMA, which features a more traditional collection of work (artists you’ve heard of, like Picasso and van Gogh), the AVAM specializes in a different style. Its artists received no formal training. Their pieces are known as “outsider art.” It will be a change from the BMA-like style of art museums that I’m used to. The unique, nearly-circular design of the building is intriguing too.

Campus favorite: George Peabody Library

Off-campus endeavor: H. Furlong Baldwin Library

The Peabody Library has a unique way of making me instantly happy. I can’t help it, to be surrounded by books in such a beautiful setting just gives me a great feeling, and I never want to leave. Seriously, I love the place.

The H. Furlong Baldwin Library doesn’t have the soaring architectural charm of the Peabody. But it does have tall roman columns and white walls, creating a homey study space. The library is part of the Maryland Historical Society, which means that it has millions of items related to Maryland history. Among the coolest is the original manuscript to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Unfortunately non-members need to pay $9 to access the library. At least the ticket also grants access to the Maryland Historical Society Museum.

Campus favorite: Sherwood Gardens

Off-campus endeavor: Cylburn Arboretum

For some reason, Sherwood Gardens isn’t the most well-known location. A tulip garden just a 15-minute walk north of campus, Sherwood is peaceful and serene in the spring. Locals bring their dogs and cute young children. The place is beautiful when the tulips are in bloom.

Cylburn Arboretum is a farther trek, as it’s a 10-minute drive away. Located between the neighborhoods of Cylburn and Roland Park, it appears to be another beautiful garden that flies under the radar. Cylburn has over 20 gardens to sit and relax in. If you’re more active, there are over three miles of trails for nature walks. Cylburn also has a historic mansion on site if the urge to step into the past strikes you. Best of all, of course, the gardens allow dogs (and, presumably, cute young children).

It’s definitely easy to stick to the comfort of Homewood and the surrounding Charles Village neighborhood. And favorite spaces close to campus become beloved for a reason — they’re great and deserve to be visited. But it’s also worth heading out and trying some new locations. This semester I’m going to pop the Hopkins bubble once again. I hope you will too.

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