Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 6, 2023

Baltimore: the offbeat and underrated

By LAURA WADSTEN | September 1, 2022



Wadsten gives her take on some of the most underrated places in Baltimore.

I knew next to nothing about Baltimore before I moved here four years ago, but it’s become a place I fondly call home. From a community research job at the hospital, working as a dog walker and sitter, learning about the city in classes, writing and editing for The News-Letter and exploring Baltimore on my own, I’ve gotten to know the city, and I hope you get the chance to burst the Hopkins bubble over your time here too. 

Baltimore is an underrated place, with much of the charm of Charm City known only to locals. Luckily for you, you’ve got the next four years to experience all of the character this city has to offer. With over 200 unique neighborhoods, it can be overwhelming to try and come up with where to explore first, but I promise this city has something for everyone.

I’ll spare you some of the more obvious attractions, like the original Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards. Those places are great — you just don’t need me to tell you that. This list is a collection of places slightly off the beaten path (though I don’t claim it to be profound), so you can get a taste of Baltimore.


Baltimore is home to many great museums — far too many to include on this list. Although the Baltimore Museum of Art is frequented by Hopkins students, it’s too close (and free) to leave out. A few great spots for history enthusiasts are the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, while the American Visionary Art Museum is a wonderful place to lose yourself in inspiring art. 

Baltimore Museum of Art 
Neighborhood: Charles Village
Cost: FREE
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Neighborhood: Oliver 
Cost: $14 for college students 
American Visionary Art Museum
Neighborhood: Federal Hill 
Cost: $9.95 for students 
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture
Neighborhood: Inner Harbor 
Cost: $9 for college students

Patterson Park (only underrated by undergrads) 

Neighborhood: Patterson Park
Cost: FREE (ice cream $5-10)
Okay, okay. Patterson Park is a very well-known and well-loved attraction of Baltimore. However I’m including it on this list, because it is underrated by undergrads (and undergrads alone) who tend not to venture so far away from the Blue Jay Shuttle range. This park is huge and gorgeous with a cute duck pond, lots of dogs and an iconic pagoda. Plus, BMORE LICKS is right next to the park on Eastern Avenue so you can try one of their countless flavors of soft serve or hard ice cream. Especially great for warm afternoons with friends or a date!


Everyone’s Place Bookstore and African Cultural Center 

Neighborhood: Druid Heights 
Cost: varies 
This Black-owned bookstore in West Baltimore does more than sell books. The store also offers skincare, clothing, incense and other products from the African diaspora, but, perhaps more notably, the bookstore and cultural center is rooted deeply in the value of community. 


If you want to catch a flick with some friends, skip the trip to Towson and choose a closer theater with more character. Two of my favorite choices are The Senator Theatre and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway.
The Senator
Neighborhood: Govans 
Cost: $9 for students, $7 (before 11 a.m. and Mondays)
The Senator on York Road is a historic movie theater and my personal favorite place to watch any type of scary movie. Plan a Monday movie night here for only $7, and you can even grab a pre-film dinner at Clark Burger next door. 
The Parkway
Neighborhood: Station North 
Cost: $10 (matinee), $11.50 
Conveniently located on the JHMI bus line and within Blue Jay Shuttle distance, the Parkway is home to the Maryland Film Festival and also screens a broad selection of mass-market and smaller films. 

Fort McHenry 

Neighborhood: Locust Point 
Cost: $15 entrance fee
If you’re a bit of an American history buff, Fort McHenry is a great place to spend a day. The national monument and historic site is best known for the role it played in the War of 1812 as well as serving as the inspiration for the words of our national anthem during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. 

Wyman Park and Wyman Park Dell

Neighborhood: Charles Village/Hampden
Cost: FREE
If you’re a bit more outdoorsy, we’re fortunate enough to have a few wonderful parks right next to campus. Wyman Park is a tree-filled strip wedged between Hampden and Homewood Campus, home to trails, a rocky stream and a large open field. Nestled between Charles Street and Art Museum Drive just south of campus, Wyman Park Dell is a quiet green space, perfect for reading a book under a tree or having a picnic. Both are great places to reconnect with nature or spot some dogs out having fun, and they are essentially in our backyard.

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