If you never step foot off of Homewood campus or leave the Hopkins bubble, then you will never really take advantage of all your opportunities here at Hopkins. All students should get to know the city that they’ll be calling home for the next four years, but it can be intimidating to know where to start in a new place. I have been living in Baltimore for exactly one year now. Because my summer job required me to travel all over the city, I have explored more than the average Hopkins student. As a newly-minted resident, I do not claim to be an expert, but I feel somewhat qualified to at least give recommendations on some of my favorite places to venture.
The area surrounding our Homewood campus has a lot to offer. A trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) by yourself or with some friends might just open your third eye. On top of that, the BMA has free admission, so you don’t have to worry about paying for the museum visit. The museum, conveniently located on campus, has the largest collection of Matisse paintings in the U.S. and has an excellent selection of both older and contemporary art. Recently they have been taking steps to feature more art from people of color, including an installation devoted to black creativity and imagination. They also feature interesting temporary installations; one of my favorites was the collection from film director John Waters, a Baltimore native.
Perhaps the most hyped neighborhood in the city, Hampden is arguably cool. With hipster and ‘50s vibes, the restaurants and stores lining “the Avenue” will entertain you for any period of time. If you’re into vintage or antique stores, boy, oh boy will Hampden deliver. Personally, I found a vintage Bulls jersey for $20 in one store and an ancient copy of Tolstoy in another. There are also tons of great restaurants, including Grano Pasta Bar (Guy Fieri approved), Golden West Cafe (super vegan friendly) and Souvlaki (great Greek food; I recommend the baked feta.)
Just south of Charles Village lies Station North, an artsy district with great entertainment and food options. Take the JHMI down to the historic Parkway Theatre to catch a flick in a gorgeous setting, or pop by Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) for free comedy shows every night of the week. There are also some excellent places to eat, including Joe Squared, which has the best pizza in the city, in my humble opinion.
The home of our very own Peabody Conservatory, Mount Vernon has more to offer than just the most beautiful library in the world (seriously check it out). The original Washington Monument dominates the skyline, and The Walters Art Museum has free admission and lots of cool exhibits to check out. I would also recommend walking around the neighborhood just to gaze at all the cool architecture. You can even see some burn marks from the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 on some of the brick, which might be cool for people who like history like me.
Baltimore is conveniently located right on the Chesapeake Bay, and the Inner Harbor is a great destination to check out. Arguably the most tourist-y part of Baltimore, it is home to the National Aquarium (you can pet jellyfish), the Maryland Science Center (IMAX theatre great for viewing Marvel movies), and impressive street performers. If you want to try Maryland crab, Phillips Seafood will teach you how to properly crack a crustacean and extract its well-protected meat. There are also some fancier dining options in the Inner Harbor, including Fogo de Chão and Capital Grille, if that’s what you’re going for when your parents offer to take you out for dinner.
Across the city near the med campus is Patterson Park, an expansive plot of land that was the first land gifted by a private individual to a city for public recreation. It features a landmark pagoda, finished in 1891, which was originally called the Observatory and is an architectural feat. The park is a great place to hang out on a nice day, or go skating in the winter. Right next to the grassy area is an excellent ice cream shop called Bmore Licks, which features over 100 flavors of soft serve and over 30 options for hard ice cream. Honestly, you have to try them all.
Full of historic streets and great eats, Fells Point is the last place Edgar Allan Poe was spotted before his enigmatic death. It’s worth a trip just to check out the old architecture and ancient cobblestone streets. When you crave amazing seafood, check out Thames Street Oyster House for an excellent raw bar, beautiful lobster roll and expertly prepared fish. This was the first restaurant I ever ate at in Baltimore, and it’s still my favorite, so make a reservation and head over.
Now that you have a full list of neighborhoods and places to explore, you have literally no excuse to stay on campus all year. I promise if you head out into the city, you will find some of your own personal favorites and Baltimore may even start to feel like home.