Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 18, 2024

Getting more out of Baltimore

How to pop the "Hopkins bubble"

By EUNICE PARK | August 31, 2021



From harbor nightlife to neighborhood shopping and strolls, there are plenty of ways to get off campus and explore Baltimore.

It can be difficult to explore outside your college campus whilst managing a busy schedule. But it is possible to find time to spend with friends outside of the tight confinements of the Hopkins campus. Every year, at least one senior will tell you something along the lines of “don’t get stuck in the Hopkins bubble.” But what does this even mean?

Given that the campus is located in a cultural city with plenty of food vendors to visit and unique architecture to see, it would be a shame to not experience the city outside of campus during your undergraduate years. Grades tend to play a major role in a lot of our identities; it’s too easy to get sucked into work and school and, without realizing it, find that the time has flown by.

So, I’m here as an upperclassman to give YOU some simple tips on how to venture outside of this tabooed “bubble” and gain the most memorable — and yummy — experiences possible.

First and foremost, it’s helpful to take note of the areas surrounding Homewood as well as the totally accessible means of transportation that await at your fingertips. The University operates two major means of free transportation for all of its students — the Blue Jay Shuttle and the JHMI shuttle bus.

Upon downloading the Transloc app, you will be able to easily track both shuttles and their estimated times of arrival in accordance with where you are. The University has curated a system of JHMI shuttle buses that run on a 15 to 20-minute basis on weekdays and an hourly basis on weekends. All Hopkins affiliates and guests are encouraged to utilize this free transportation system. The nearest stops right on Homewood are located at Charles Commons, the Interfaith Center and Barnes & Noble. 

JHMI shuttles make several stops between North and South Baltimore and will take you directly to Penn Station, Peabody and surrounding areas in Mount Vernon. After going down to the medical campus, it will come all the way back up and until it reaches Homewood Campus again. But be careful, and don’t be late! Since they run on an endlessly tight schedule, they tend not to wait for any last-minute stragglers, and then you will have to wait for the next shuttle. The Transloc app also tends to glitch occasionally, so it’s best to arrive at your preferred bus stop earlier than the shuttle’s anticipated arrival time via the app.

In addition to this is the beloved Blue Jay Shuttle system; you may book a ride in the vans with your friends through the Transloc app. Though the wait time tends to be a bit longer, if you and your friends are in no particular rush, this is a great opportunity! Whether you are going to dinner, the grocery store, a friend’s apartment or drinks, the Blue Jay Shuttle will help as long as your destination is roughly within a one or two-mile radius. It runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night.

With these two free, safe, University-operated means of transportation, there really are a lot of places to visit. Baltimore is an extremely cultured food city, and Homewood happens to be right next to Hampden, a popular neighborhood for students who want to grab some delicious dishes. Don’t hesitate to go out to Hampden every weekend and hit up one of its restaurants! It’s worth all the hype that you’re bound to hear sooner or later. And, even better, it’s within range of the Blue Jay Shuttle!

If you’re taking the JHMI shuttle to Mount Vernon, do make sure to visit the Peabody Institute, home to the famously beautiful George Peabody Library. Peabody is ranked as one of the top 10 music conservatories in the U.S. and is located right next to Baltimore’s Washington Monument, as well as many more diverse food options. Loaded with cafes and providing a hint of a downtown Brooklyn vibe, Mount Vernon is certainly worth stopping by. The neighborhood also features the Walters Art Museum, which offers many kinds of artwork that the Baltimore Museum of Art — located right next to Homewood Campus — does not.

Some neighboring towns that are often frequented by students are Ellicott City and Towson. Those who have their cars on campus or are willing to order an Uber ride visit Ellicott City for its hot Korean barbecue joint Iron Age and the local H Mart grocery store. Otherwise, located within Towson is the Towson Town Center, Trader Joe’s and hotpot. Luckily, Baltimore has its own transportation system, including its Charm City Circulator routes and the Baltimore Collegetown Shuttle to help you get there.  

While you’re living in Baltimore, there are two places that every Hopkins student must visit: Inner Harbor/Fells Point and Washington, D.C.

With a beautiful and refreshing waterfront, the Inner Harbor is lined with restaurants and a picturesque backdrop. Perfect for going out to dinner with friends or your date, it also harbors (haha) ice skating during the winter and the National Aquarium, with a student discount on Fridays, too! And nearby, of course, is Fells Point, where those of age go out for its hot bar scene.

Lastly, Washington, D.C. You may be wondering how we went from Hopkins all the way to D.C., but it really has become a necessity on almost every Hopkins student’s college bucket list! With Baltimore Penn Station right there, you can get tickets to D.C. via the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train, and it’s only $9 one-way! So if you want a weekend getaway or a one-day trip, hop on any MARC train and spend the day in D.C. with your friends! And, if you’re lucky, you might just run into the president.

Don’t find yourself stuck in the “Hopkins bubble” until it’s too late; after all, grades and school aren’t the end-all-be-all. College is just the beginning, and there will always be so much to enjoy and experience.

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