Baltimore/Eastern Shore/NYC on the cheap
March 14, 2016 10:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to Baltimore for a wedding in late April. Hoping to catch a little art and culture in Charm City, possible overnight side trip to Eastern Shore or St. Mary's City, followed by 3 nights on a friend's futon in Manhattan. Looking for suggestions re: public transit, museums, state & national parks. Difficulty level: frugal and carless (unless I rent one to go to the shore), traveling solo. (snowflakes and lots and lots of questions inside)

I'm flying into BWI and planning to stay at the hostel on Mulberry in Mt. Vernon.

I'd love to spend a day or two outside the city at either the Eastern Shore & Assateague Island or St. Mary's City/Marine Museum/Calvert Cliffs State Park

What suggestions or insights do you have possible places to see? And how long should I plan to spend at each place? (I tend to take a lot of time looking at everything and ask a lot of questions...)

Chesapeake Bay/Eastern Shore:

* Calvert Marine Museum

* Calvert Cliffs State Park

* St. Mary's City Outdoor Museum of History and Arch.

* Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

* Pickering Creek Audubon Center

* Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

* Assateague Island National Seashore

* any other gems you think I'd like?

couchsurfing, sleeping in rental car at campsite, cheap places to stay?


* American Visionary Art Museum

* Baltimore Museum of Industry

* Walters Art Museum

* Les Harris' Amaranthine Museum

* Baltimore Museum of Art

* Evergreen

* any favorite places you love to show off to visitors? (I'm not into the bar scene and have seen many aquaria, historic ships, colonial houses and forts, but I could be cajoled into checking out Camden Yard, traditional folk/Celtic/Cape Breton music, quilts and folk art, galleries, and poetry readings.)

are there any safety conditions which I, a single, female, definitely middle-aged, non-athletic "person of pale" needs to be aware of on the anniversary of Freddie Gray's death. I live in an integrated neighborhood in Los Angeles, and am comfortable in nearly all areas of this city, but have been cautioned by well-meaning friends to "be careful out there."

I'm already salivating at the thought of crab, crab cakes and clam strips (for some reason those are hard to find in California). Is there a place you'd recommend for scrapple? Any place that serves pepper pot soup? I know they're not Baltimore specialties, but hope springs eternal.

There's an interesting concert on April 19 of contemporary classical music honoring Freddie Gray and the civil rights movement. Wanna join me? See IRL.

The wedding is at 4 pm on Saturday, April 23, at Preson Hall. Would I be safe taking public transit from the hostel (on Mulberry) there? Back?

Sunday night or Monday morning I'm headed to Manhattan by

train? express train? bus? (if bus, which carrier?) which do you suggest? Weighing cost, speed, and safety.

also, what company/companies and locations would you recommend for renting a car for my Eastern Shore jaunt? BWI is some distance from where I'm staying, but it might have more convenient pick up/drop off hours. Are non-airport locations cheaper?

Thanks! It's going to be a great trip, I'm sure.
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco to Travel & Transportation around Maryland (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Definitely go to the Visionary Art Museum and the Walters. Even at a slow pace, they're small enough that they're a few hours' visit each.

Baltimore public transportation is not great from a frequency/reliability perspective. Depending on where you're staying on Mulberry, you might find it just as easy to walk to the wedding, but you won't be far from several of the more reliable bus lines (3 and 11) and/or the light rail. You'll be perfectly fine getting there and back unless it goes crazy late. You don't need to be more vigilant in the Mount Vernon area than you would be in most American cities, but practice good city smarts and be mindful that neighborhoods can change very quickly in Baltimore. Ask at the hostel about where they recommend walking or not, and when. They presumably would also know if there are planned protest actions affecting your plans, but that doesn't seem likely to be a major factor to me.

From Mt Vernon, the most convenient options for getting to New York are the train and Bolt bus. You'd need to take a city bus or taxi to the Greyhound station or Travel Plaza (for the Chinatown buses) and Megabus leaves from the suburbs.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:59 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree that the Visionary Art and Walters are great. For crab cakes, go to Faidley's at the Lexington Market.
posted by ldthomps at 8:50 AM on March 15, 2016

I'm a transplant from Philadelphia living in Maryland.

Scrapple isn't really big down here, that is to say I couldn't really recommend one place's Scrapple over another place's Scrapple. Scrapple is more of a SE PA thing. So anywhere in MD where you find Scrapple will be as good as any other.

If you find Pepper Pot soup, please tell me. Again, (Phladelphia) Pepper Pot soup is not something native to Maryland. I've resorted to buying Campbell's Pepper Pot soup years ago when it was sold on Amazon.

You'll have much better luck finding crabs and crab cakes in Maryland, because crabs are what Maryland is all about. I recommend Timbuktu Restaurant in Hanover, MD for crab cakes. I recommend Casey's Crab Company in Laurel, MD for crabs, crab cakes, and crab cheesesteaks.

Sorry I don't have food recommendations closer to Baltimore.

As for your side trip I would take St. Mary's City over an Eastern Shore side trip, but that's just me. SMC is a lot closer and you don't have to drive on the Eastern Shore.

One hidden gem I would suggest would be the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Beltsville, MD.
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:28 AM on March 15, 2016

There are about 40 public gardens and arboretums in a 40 mile radius of Philadelphia. If you into gardens, there is plenty of choice. Probably the best known is Longwood Gardens. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

The best bet for scrapple would be any diner between Wilimington, DE and Philly. The most famous food from Philly is, of course the eponymous Cheese Steak Sandwich. I had a friend who also considered the She-Crab soup a Philly delicacy, but Google seems to the think that South Carolina is the center of excellence for that.

You probably don't want to do this, but I can't help pointing out that you can get from Delaware to NYC by commuter train, probably for much less money but much more time than Amtrak. Catch SEPTA at Newark or Wilimington DE, take it to Trenton, NJ. (This may require a change in central Philly.) From Trenton, take NJ transit to Hoboken (or maybe even into Penn Station, not sure), and catch PATH into Manhattan. The trip is not long enough to worry about catching an Axcela rather than the regular Amtrak trains.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:01 AM on March 15, 2016

Response by poster: Great suggestions and advice, Mefites! Thanks. Please keep 'em coming.

@Rob Rockets, the wildlife center *is* a great find and real gem. Out of curiosity, why do you find driving on the Eastern Shore so unappealing? Are the roads bad? Tourists annoying? Horses too wild?

@SemiSalt, not sure if I I'll make it as far as Pennsylvania, Delaware or New Jersey -- by car, at least -- this trip as the wedding is in Baltimore. Useful info for future trips, though.
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 12:06 AM on March 16, 2016

Best answer: The bus line you probably want for getting around the areas you've described in Baltimore is not MTA, but rather the charm city circulator purple route, which runs N/S on charles and saint paul, is free, and runs about once every 15 minutes until reasonably late. This is also the right bus to get to the AVAM, or to the BMA, in different directions. You could also easily walk from the hostel to the wedding venue if it's compatible with your clothing, that area is completely fine and it's under a mile. (In general, the stretch from north of mt vernon down to the harbor is very safe.) If you leave the reception super late it's very easy to get a cab on charles/saint paul.

If I had to pick two museums off your list, it'd be the Walters and the AVAM, with the BMA a close third. Evergreen will be a pain for you to get to.

For scrapple, we're close enough to PA that I see it around occasionally but I don't know of any place that has it consistently on their menu. You could try parts and labor, maybe (they might at least have it in the butcher's shop, call & ask). Parts & Labor will at least have related things on their charcuterie menu which is always excellent. I've also randomly had it at Gertrude's, the BMA restaurant, but again it's only an occasional thing there.
posted by advil at 2:33 PM on March 16, 2016

Best answer: It's been pointed out to me that Miss Shirley's (which has an inner harbor location pretty close to the purple line route) has scrapple as a normal menu item. Breakfast/lunch only.
posted by advil at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2016

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