What to do in Baltimore (Inner Harbor) in late September?
August 16, 2011 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for things to do that are unique to Baltimore, preferably walking distance (or public transportation accessible) from the Inner Harbor area. I like weird, kitschy, gothic, silly stuff. I enjoy the works of Edgar Allan Poe and John Waters. I have no dietary restrictions so bring on the food recommendations. I already plan to visit the American Visionary Art Museum and grab food at Cafe Hon and Helmands. Anything else off-the beaten path?

I will be staying in the Inner Harbor for a week at the end of September (9/16-9/21) for work. I will have some down time Friday night - Saturday evening and mid-day Sunday.
posted by jacindahb to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (17 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Take one of the ferry boats over to Fell's Point, lots of weird, kitschy stuff there.

Enjoy a meal at Paper Moon Diner too, the entire restaurant is kitsch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:09 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd say skip Cafe Hon and go to The Dizz instead!
posted by capnsue at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go duckpin bowling at Patterson's. Pick some crabs; Bo Brooks was still good when I lived there.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2011

Seconding Fell's Point. I haven't been out there in years, but I loved going there as a (weird, weird) kid.
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2011

I've always wanted to visit the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Apparently they are on the third floor of the Maryland Medical Examiners office in Baltimore. Only did a quick review, but couldn't find anything about whether they are accessible to the general public.
posted by kaybdc at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Should have checked before posting, but one Baltimore blog states that the Nutshell studies can be viewed by appointment. Here's the info:

State of Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office
111 Penn Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
posted by kaybdc at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stop in and have a drink at Ale Mary's
Take a ride on the Dragon Boats in the harbor.
Visit the Baltimore Museum of Industry
Also be sure to visit the American Visionary Arts Museum, and be sure to check out the gift shop while you're there.

A bit further away, but one of John Waters's favorite bars is Club Charles.
I've personally seen him hanging out at Club Phoenix, though I know he summers in Provincetown, so you're unlikely to see him.
And, if you're in that area, stop by the basement bar at Brewer's Art, but only on a weekday. It's packed on the weekend.
posted by jaksemas at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2011

And I'd second the advice to skip Cafe Hon. Denise Whiting, the owner, is not well-liked by Baltimoreans these days. But the Dizz is great, and across the street from Charm City Cakes if you want to take a peek inside there.
posted by jaksemas at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're a woman, drop into the lobby of the Tremont Plaza on St. Paul Place and check out the ladies' room there. It is seriously incredible and worth a look. And someplace beautiful, interesting, free, and open to the public is the library at the Peabody Institute, if that maybe counts as slightly quirky.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:42 PM on August 16, 2011

Geppie's Entertainment Museum has exhibits on comics and toys. I'm sure there's some campy greatness in there.
posted by davextreme at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: You might want to stop by the Bromo Seltzer Tower, which MeFi's own sonascope has sung the praises of on several occasions.

Last time I checked, Charm City Cakes didn't allow visitors or tours, but the Dizz and Paper Moon are good places to go, and there's plenty to do otherwise in Hampden (I recommend Atomic Books and The True Vine, in particular, and if you're up there, you must at least take a good long look at Razzo's display window), which is just north up Remington Avenue.

I also agree with skipping Cafe Hon - there are plenty of other places in Hampden, like Holy Frijoles or Rocket to Venus or Frazier's, that have their own kitschy sort of thing going, better food (or, in Frazier's case, maybe not so much better as not overpriced), and haven't managed to piss off a bunch of people by trademarking "hon".

The contemporary Baltimore "hon" experience (as opposed to the tarted-up commercialized version) is much more likely to be found at one of the lunch counters at Broadway Market in Fells Point. As a bonus, you can stop by Killer Trash while you're there.

Unless they've redecorated recently, the 13th Floor has this crazy kitschy velour-and-leopard-print decor, and a lovely view of the city. I really liked to go around sunset, when it was still pretty quiet. It can be a bit of a mess late at night. The Owl Bar downstairs is a neat place to get a drink and some food, but the neighborhood standout is the Brewer's Art. I'll also second jaksemas on Club Charles, and suggest that you see what's going on at the Windup Space if you're up that way.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:29 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's a bit away, but stop by One World over by Hopkins if you can manage to get over there. It's pretty fantastic -- when I lived in Frederick, I actually drove down to Baltimore a couple of times just to eat there (okay, there may have been a girl involved, but still).
posted by Alterscape at 4:56 PM on August 16, 2011

It's not exactly unknown, but Obrycki's is pretty great for crabs. I was drunk on protein by the time I finished.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:31 PM on August 16, 2011

Skip Cafe Hon and go to Frazier's or Golden West. Heck, if you go to Frazier's on a weeknight around 7, I'd be more than happy to meet up for some bar Jeopardy. And they have good food and the best wings.
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:14 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The food at Cafe Hon is just awful, and the atmosphere is too fakey-fakey to make up for it. I second Golden West, across the street and down a block, for getting a glimpse of local hipster kitsch. The food almost always comes served by an artist or art student with a weird haircut and an attitude, and there's just so much to look at on the walls and ceiling. For a less hipster, more real Baltimore vibe, I second The Dizz (formerly known as Dizzy Issie's).

And if it's a true Baltimore crab house experience you seek, you can't go wrong with LP Steamers, which is in a rowhouse in Locust Point. They have a roof deck that seats about 8-10 people and has views of the harbor skyline. If you can't get the roof, eat on the first floor; the second floor is largely devoid of personality, except, as always, from the true blue south Baltimore staff. I vastly prefer it to the big places that draw all the tourists, such as Obrycki's or Bo Brooks. If you have room for dessert, eat the coconut cake made daily by the owner's elderly mother. LP Steamers is just about a mile from AVAM.

Club Charles, noted above, is across the street from Baltimore's quasi arthouse cinema, the Charles. (Which is all just one block north of Penn Station.) In addition to being a John Waters hangout, it's also known for its impressive jukebox. And don't be surprised if you're sitting there at the bar around 10 on a Saturday night and you're asked to move so the cute bartender girl can do her trapeze act, swinging over the space you were just sitting in. Where else can you be eating pretty good nachos, drinking a cheap manhattan, listening to Tom Waits, possibly sitting next to John Waters, and get to see a free trapeze show?
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:04 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

You must - must! - have a crab cake at Faidley's. It's inside Lexington Market. It's closed Sunday. It is authentic and delicious and certainly not pretentious.

The Alewife has the best burger I've eaten in my life, and a wonderful beer list. Oh god, just look at this burger: An 11oz House Ground Ribeye, Brisket, Skirt and Filet of Beef Burger, Smoked Gouda, Gruyere Cheese, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Cipollini Onion, Chipotle Aioli, Brioche Bun, Duck Fat Fries.

Red Emma's is a socialist-type bookstore and cafe with a ton of interesting books and zines.

Be sure to walk around the Cafe Hon area if you do go; that's an artsy neighborhood and there's some cute shops.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:29 AM on August 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all for the excellent recommendations! I am looking forward to my visit more than ever :)
posted by jacindahb at 7:52 AM on August 17, 2011

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