Choosing the best neighborhood in Baltimore
June 25, 2013 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I am moving from San Francisco to Baltimore. I've been living in the Haight Ashbury, and I like Inner Sunset, Hayes Valley, Duboce Triangle/Castro, Mission, and SoMa. Can I get a similar environment there?

What parts of Baltimore might I like best? I'll have a cat and a car, and I'm outdoorsy/bike-y. I'm an experienced city resident who particularly likes having everything - hardware, dry cleaners, groceries, bike shop - in easy walking distance. I'll be living by myself, and I am a woman, for what it's worth. (I get called "Sir" a fair bit, though.)

I've done a couple dozen miles of walking in town (guided in part by previous AskMe threads about moving to Baltimore) but need some help figuring out where I should be focusing. Thanks!
posted by caitlinb to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in Baltimore for a few years back at the turn of the millennium. In terms of a central location that has a nice quirky vibe try Hamden. 36th street runs right through the heart of the neighborhood and is lined with restaurants, coffee shops, and little curio shops. Its a short bike ride from Johns Hopkins University, the Jones Falls (fun for poking around the falls), Charles Village, and Mount Vernon. I wouldn't consider Federal Hill, Camden, Canton, to necessarily have the "San Francisco" vibe so much.
posted by Captain Chesapeake at 4:12 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fell's Point, maybe if you drink enough beers.

I'm so sorry you have to leave SF:-(
posted by discopolo at 4:23 PM on June 25, 2013

I've only been in Baltimore about 10 months and I haven't explored a ton of neighborhoods, but I spend a lot of time in Hampden and think it'd be a good fit. The neighborhood is extremely quirky, which is usually endearing, but sometimes gets on my nerves. There's a large grocery store, pharmacy, good dry cleaners, bike shops, small hardware stores and good bars and restaurants. The neighborhood is pretty run down in some blocks, but there are a lot of nice places too, and it's not too pricey. It definitely has character.

When I moved to Baltimore last year, I asked a similar question. My criteria were a bit different than yours, but I got a lot of good insight into different neighborhoods in that thread, and it's worth a read.
posted by JannaK at 4:26 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd also recommend either Hampden or Mt. Vernon. Hampden's quirky, compact, and right next to the Jones Falls trail. It's also pretty cheap, especially if you live with roommates. For what it's worth, I spend more time in Mt. Vernon though. Though it's partly because it's closer to where I live, a lot of it has to do with: accessibility via free circulator; proximity to the Walters Art Museum, beautiful architecture and Beaux Art parks; the Enoch Pratt Central Library; and because it's where a lot of my favorite restaurants and coffee shops are located. Plus, if you hop on the circulator (or just do a tiny bit of biking, but I get lazy in summer heat) it'll take you to Station North, where more cool things are.
posted by bluelight at 5:09 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hampden for quirky and walkable. You also might like Hamilton/Lauraville. More single family homes, but lots of great local businesses and great people.
posted by goggie at 5:35 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm originally from Baltimore, and I now live in San Francisco (ten years going). If I needed to move back, I'd go into it knowing that there aren't really any neighborhoods in Baltimore to parallel what you have in San Francisco. That said, I would explore Locust Point, Hampden, Charles Village, and Waverly. Hampden sounds like a really good fit for you based on your criteria. Waverly has a great farmer's market and is not too far from Hampden if you don't want to live "in" the quirky. I mention Locust Point because of it's proximity to Fort McHenry, which was one of my favorite outdoor spaces when I lived in the city, and that area is served by the water taxi, which makes getting across the harbor fun. It's also pretty easy to bike around that part of town.

Although I loved it dearly when I lived in Federal Hill, I went there recently for a visit to find a lot of the things that made it feel "neighborhoody" had gone away and my impression was that it had taken a turn for the gross/lame. I wouldn't go back.

Tip o' the cap to Captain Chesapeake for the excellent MeFi handle! There must be a Monie around here somewhere...
posted by missmobtown at 5:44 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

If this is useful at all: I currently live in Baltimore city (Bolton Hill just north of Mt. Vernon) and I'm considering buying a place in Waverly, because I'm looking for a lot of the same things for which you seem to be looking.

I visited sf last summer and fell in love with Haight Ashbury, if it helps any.
posted by irishcoffee at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Lauraville and while I don't live there anymore, I am really happy to see how it's developed a great sense of local community. It's also been a very gay-friendly neighborhood since I was a kid (over 30 years ago) and there are some gorgeous victorian-style homes with character that you can rent for CHEAP.

And while you're there you have to check out the Hamilton Tavern. It's actually been described as a Seattle-style bar and I totally agree.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:08 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, joan_holloway! I grew up in Seattle, funnily enough!

Thanks for all the input, folks! I am interested in more, too!
posted by caitlinb at 6:35 PM on June 25, 2013

To add to the chorus, my cousin (30, female) just left Hampden after living there for a year. She was carless, and had no problem with just a bike. She really loved the area, and was sad to leave.
posted by kimdog at 6:46 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

36th st in Hampen definitely has a little bit of a Haight-Ashbury feel if you're talking about quirky/crusty/hippie/hipster-ness.

Federal Hill is all about bars and has a great drinking and dining scene, though it can kind of seem like everyone just graduated college 6 months ago and is still in frat mode.

Canton has a more laid back "young professionals" vibe and awesome little bars/pubs, and close to the water and all the action at Fells Point (but not as loud/crazy). Canton can still seem sort of fratty, like the Federal Hill kids finally graduated into yuppie adulthood. Wouldn't stop me from living there though.

Mt. Vernon is gorgeous with some trees and huge old Park Slope-looking rowhouses, a gay population, and some great restaurants/indie theater a quick walk up in the "Station North" area. The best bar in Baltimore (in my opinion) - Brewers Art - is in this neighborhood.

I always thought you could film a movie set in SF in two neighborhoods in Baltimore: A few streets in Bolton Hill, near MICA, where there are some big beautiful old rowhouses with bay windows; and Charles Village, which has it's own version of "painted ladies"on Guilford ave.

I seriously have no clue why people are recommending Waverly. Wavery? Really? No thanks. Ugly housing stock and not a whole ton going on in the immediate walkable area.
posted by windbox at 7:14 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are mostly going to be biking, Hampden is your place. However, if you think you might ever need to take the bus, then it is not. Hampden is weirdly cut off from the rest of the city in terms of bus service and only one line runs there. The bus is also known as one of the most unreliable lines in the city.

If you think that you might need to use the bus at times, Mount Vernon may be more your style. The "gayborhood" is there along with anything you might need in walking distance. It is also directly north of downtown and has access to tons of bus lines.
posted by josher71 at 6:30 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
I used the suggestions in the thread to guide some walkthroughs on a long visit, and I settled on near-Hampden. After some time in an apartment (and settling into a job), I bought a house a mile away, even more convenient to 36th. This has been a good move for me!
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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