Search up Hopkins on any map and it will take you to the grassy knoll in front of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library that we Blue Jays lovingly call the Beach. On a sunny day, troves of students will flock there for picnics, a game of frisbee or some quiet reading. Nearby is the Daily Grind of Brody Learning Commons where students can purchase food and refreshments. And, if you want something more substantial, St. Paul Street has a plethora of restaurants for those sick of dining hall fare.
It is a nice, self-contained space — a bubble for the busy Blue Jay. But for new students and old ones looking to reacquaint themselves with the community, the surrounding neighborhoods have lots more to offer.
Past the Baltimore Museum of Art and down W. 29th Street is a beige-colored warehouse building named R. House. This food hall has a wide variety of foods from tacos to bibimbap to soft-shell crab ramen with Old Bay Seasoning.
It’s an active (but not loud) establishment during the day, which makes it a great place to get some work done. There are comfortable benches by the tall, industrial windows and a walled, secluded section for those who prefer a bit more privacy. My favorite spot is the bar area, close to the coffee stall. Sitting next to professionals working on their laptops, as I work on mine, makes me feel extra productive.
For a more cozy, coffee experience, I recommend Charmington’s. The yellow tarp over its doors is hard to miss. Inside, cushioned chairs and the friendly staff greet the guests. While this place doesn’t have shelves of books like the Bird in Hand closer to home, it is a greener, quieter and less crowded place for those looking to study or have a relaxing chat with friends. Only a 15-minute walk from the Beach, their menu features interesting combinations like a honey cardamom latte.
Before reaching these areas, you will likely pass by Wyman Park Dell. The park itself is slightly hidden behind looming trees, but it is a vast space for picnics and outdoor games. On the southernmost side is a playground for anyone wishing to relive childhood memories on the swing sets. During the warmer months, there are also various events within Wyman Park Dell.
Directly west of the Homewood Campus is the Hampden neighborhood. It’s a 20-minute walk from campus or a few minutes ride using the Hampden Circulator or Avenue Night Ride shuttle services.
Hampden is an old and diverse neighborhood. Among the antique stores and unique shops, like the one that sells shoes and chocolate, are iconic restaurants. Ekiben is a Baltimore Asian fusion place selling buns and rice bowls. It sounds like simple fare, but I implore you to try them. You’ll be hard-pressed to find their combination of flavors outside of Baltimore.
Another local icon is The Charmery. They love experimenting with flavors, so if you’re up for some ice cream with Old Bay Seasoning or interesting combos of watermelon, rose water, cinnamon and pistachio, then this is the place for you.
Mona’s Super Noodle is another favorite around campus. It’s where you can find your closest bowl of pho and other Vietnamese dishes. My personal favorite in the neighborhood, however, is Bodhi Corner where I go for some hot curry and Thai iced tea.
While technically still part of the Hampden area, The Rotunda has a different atmosphere from the streets south of it. Many upperclassmen and grad students live in ICON Residences at The Rotunda nearby, which may contribute to the more mainstream and modern vibes.
Rent aside, staying next to The Rotunda is a great convenience when it comes to food and shopping. You’ll find MOD Pizza, Cinnaholic and Starbucks here. There is also a grocery store called MOM’s Organic Market for a different shopping experience than what you’ll find in Giant Food or Safeway. Anyone with a passion for cooking can purchase high-quality herbs and produce, albeit the prices can go higher than other grocery stores.
The Rotunda also has my favorite noodle restaurant in all of Baltimore, Mi and Yu Noodle Bar. You can customize a bowl, picking different types of noodles, soup bases and toppings. It’s my go-to place to wow Baltimore newcomers with some good food.
These are just a sample of the places around the Homewood Campus. Whether you’re an academic looking for a quiet place to study, a foodie looking for a night out with friends or an adventurer looking for new places to uncover, Baltimore has a place for you. Hopkins is only the starting point for you to launch yourself into the world.