Keeping to a tight student budget does not have to mean passing the weekend by in a void of boredom. Thanks to the wealth of free activities offered by Hopkins and the city of Baltimore, it is possible to have a meaningful day without spending a dime — it just requires some creativity. This suggested itinerary outlines a few of those opportunities to inspire your next “no-spend Saturday.”
Start your morning with a trip to the 32nd Street Farmers Market, which runs every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the neighboring Waverly. The walk from Barnes & Noble to the market takes only 10 minutes and brings you to a lively collection of local vendors selling food, drink, jewelry, books and more. If you’re lucky, you might find some free samples, and there’s almost always live music for patrons to enjoy too. The products on sale here tend to be worth the splurge, but I find it just as fun to simply appreciate the colorful produce on display at the farm stands and browse the artisan goods crafted by sellers themselves.
While you’re in Waverly, I recommend stopping by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The single-story glass building situates itself right across from the market’s entrance and opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Apply for a free (!) library card with your student ID, set up your card and gain access to books galore. Borrowing books from the library rather than buying new or even used ones is an easy way to save money, and reading is always a great free activity.
Now, hopefully with a book in tow, head back toward campus and take a seat outside Barnes & Noble on the St. Paul Street side. Wait for the next Homewood-Peabody-JHMI Shuttle (JHMI), a free bus service that circulates between Homewood and the medical campus. Ride the bus for three stops, alighting at the Peabody stop in Mount Vernon, and find your way to the Walters Art Museum.
The Walters Art Museum is one of several museums in Baltimore that offers free admission (others include the Baltimore Museum of Art and the American Visionary Art Museum). The Walters boasts a collection of over 36,000 art objects — from as early as 5,000 BCE — that represent various ancient and modern cultures. In addition to its extensive permanent collection, the Walters Art Museum also curates temporary exhibitions for visitors. The museum currently houses a special selection of art from the ancient Americas and the watercolors of Léon Bonvin, a 19th-century French painter. While you will inevitably favor certain works over others, a visit to the Walters will expose you to the incredible diversity of the art world and prompt reflection on art’s ever-changing role in history.
A few steps from the Walters Art Museum is the second library on our agenda. I encourage you to visit The George Peabody Library, not for a book this time but to witness its stunning design. Named among the world’s most beautiful, the Peabody Library is nicknamed the “Cathedral of Books” for the impressive sky light that illuminates its grand reading room and the tiered floors of books that surround it.
Take a few moments to study the Beaux-Arts style of the space, marked by black-and-white marble floors and stacked columns. When you feel that you have sufficiently absorbed its stately grandeur, the JHMI will pick you up a few steps from the library’s entrance and drop you off in front of the Scott-Bates Commons to bring your “no-spend Saturday” to a close.
Throughout the day, you will have interacted with local producers, acquired a book or two and engaged with art, both formally at the Walters Art Museum and informally through the architecture of the George Peabody Library. I hope this convinces you that it is feasible to experience a day of enrichment without breaking the bank — or tapping into it all. That said, please note that I hardly scratched the surface on all the free things to do in Baltimore. One-off pop-up markets, cultural events and performances take place every weekend, and you can stay up-to-date with those right here in the Leisure Section of The News-Letter.