Baltimore for the weekend with 8 adults and Paul McCartney
June 1, 2022 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Going to baltimore for the weekend of June 12 with 2 adults in their 40s and 6 adults in their 60s for a Paul McCartney Concert. Any suggestions?

SO excited for this trip with my parents and a squad of extended family pals, but 8 people is a kind of awkwardly sized group. Help please!

1. Looking for a quietish restaurant that takes reservations within walking distance to Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

2. American Visionary Art Museum is a frontrunner for Sunday afternoon activity before the concert, maybe after the Paper Moon Diner for breakfast, but is that crazy? it's hard to tell if paper moon gets too crowded to where taking 8 people there would be an unmitigated disaster

3. What else in and around Baltimore that you think would be fun for a bunch of recent retirees in good health and jubilant spirits? Everybody is pretty nerdy.

4. We all have about 3-4 days total in Baltimore

5. Half of the retirees are heading up towards Boston in a car after, so welcome suggestions in that direction too if you have thoughts on scenic routes or stops along the way.
posted by wowenthusiast to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Baltimore native here:
1. If you're looking for dinner on Friday/Saturday, a quietish place I can recommend is the QG's Clock Restoration Kitchen & Bar which is on the 6th floor of a department store/barber shop. (they are closed Sundays). The name will make sense as soon as you walk in.
A better option might be to walk to the ferry terminal and take the water taxi to Fells Point and have multiple better options (highly recommend Thames Street Oyster House. Most of the restaurants on the harbor are loud, mediocre and overpriced.
2. American Visionary Art Museum is a must. Paper Moon does not take reservations but I've never been there with a large group. I would get there as soon as they open around 8am. Other brunch spots I'd recommend -- Water for Chocolate & Cafe Fili which should be able to handle larger groups.
3. There's also a separate water taxi that goes to Fort McHenry from Fells Point that's worth it. Other museums worth checking out are Walters and the industry . Also check out the beautiful Peabody & Enoch Pratt Main libraries
posted by Lucubrator at 1:17 PM on June 1, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: It's perhaps a cliche but my family was captivated by the Baltimore Aquarium, especially the tanks with jellyfish. We're planning a return visit.
posted by citygirl at 2:32 PM on June 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I like Baltimore so much I moved back here after living somewhere else for a while. I agree with Lucubrator.

HonFest is that weekend and may scratch your itch, especially with a group of people which would make it more fun. It's a festival in the Hampden neighborhood, which itself is a great place to spend an afternoon and evening strolling around shops and eateries and bars--divey and less so. I won't lie to you: HonFest isn't us locals' most beloved festival celebrating Hampden (that'd be Hampdenfest, held each fall, complete with toilet races), but it IS fun for out of towners who like quirky street festivals.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:35 PM on June 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I've mostly been here in pandemic-times, but have a few favorite areas.

One of my favorite places to pass time is in Hampden on 36th street. At one end of the block, Atomic Books is small but has a well curated collection of art books and comics and is next to Nepenthe, a local brewery. Further up the street you have some pricier bars/restaurants like Bluebird and The Food Market as well as some good dive-y places like Holy Frijoles (with a room of pinball machines). The pandemic has done a number on the smaller eclectic shops around there, but I like the charm of Charlotte Elliott & The Book Store Next Door and there are a few others dotted along the way. You can finish off the day/evening/night with some ice cream from The Charmery.

(Oooo, looks like HonFest is on that weekend. May be a lil bit crowded. Hampden will probs still be great tho.)

If your group is interested, there's No Land Beyond which is a board game bar that serves pizza.

If y'all are left-leaning, I highly recommend Red Emma's, a worker owned bookstore/restaurant. It looks like maybe only the bookstore is operating right now at their old location, but it has a fantastic selection of lefty literature. And in other weird book ongoings, you'll be in town when The Book Thing is open. It's like a bookstore, but the books are free and are not to be resold. It's definitely not something I've seen in other cities.

I second the Visionary Art Museum. An additional option is The BMA. It has no admission cost, so perusing is low-risk.
posted by crossswords at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We took my visiting, retired in-laws to Honfest a few years back and it was a hit. It's a popular street festival with lots of great people-watching.
posted by champers at 2:46 PM on June 1, 2022

Best answer: Another Baltimore native (who has since left and merely visits regularly) confirming that your desire for "a quietish restaurant" within walking distance to Camden Yards is really not in the cards. There are lots of better options that are a relatively quick cab/uber ride away. Fell's Point/Canton is an option (though perhaps also not that quiet) - a little further afield is Greektown, which have a few good quietish restaurants that will be good for a group.

The BMA also has a lovely sculpture garden as well, and can easily be paired with a visit to the Book Thing and/or Normal's, my favorite book store in Baltimore - reasonable prices + good curation. Also nearby is the Farmer's Market on the weekend, though the downtown market is bigger/better.
posted by coffeecat at 2:49 PM on June 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you so much this is all excellent. Before the olds arrive we are gonna get pit beef and avail ourselves of some self guided tour maps of filming and food locations from THE WIRE

Please holler if you have any pit beef reccomendations <3
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2022

Best answer: Papermoon does get pretty crowded on a Sunday! I think it's worth calling ahead and seeing if they can reserve a table for you—I feel like I've been able to make that work once in the past—but you are likely to have an indeterminate amount of wait time which will crunch the amount of time you can spend at AVAM (plus you'll have to travel from one to the other which is probably at least a 20 minute drive plus parking). That said these are two of my favorite things in Baltimore and both extremely worth doing!
posted by babelfish at 6:53 PM on June 1, 2022

Given your update, OP, I have a couple of suggestions.

Food: YES to Faidley's crabcakes, best in the world. Find them only at Lexington Market, which is itself a destination worth visiting. One of the oldest food markets in the US. Also yes to lake trout, steamed crabs, and pit beef. Sorry that I don't have specific recs on those. There are hyper-local favorites since they're ubiquitous. There is so much good food here.

The Wire tour in general: Please don't.

1) I'm not a crime alarmist, but that tour page is wrong about a slim chance of harm coming to you, especially if you're not familiar with your surroundings and don't know how to gauge the risk. I'm a realist, because I choose to live in this flawed city. I have been carjacked coming out of a movie theater a block from Penn Station. My husband was attacked and beaten at a midtown bus stop by children who didn't even ask for money. Both were years ago. In 2022, there have been ~200 carjackings in Baltimore, a 69% increase since just last year. Police are even being targeted.

2) There's an argument to be made that taking a photo tour of the very real, very impoverished, and very desolate residential areas featured in the Wire is exploitative of the beleaguered residents there who are largely trapped in their homes by the violent crimes that accompany the drug trade. Especially if you are visibly of a different racial/ethnic background from the residents. Recently a woman in her 80s was hit by a stray bullet as she lay reading in her bed. Tourists driving through to photograph homes like hers are.... I'm not sure what it is. Please just be very sensitive that these are real people who are suffering in a neglected city.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:13 AM on June 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @improviseordie i promise you that a photo tour is not what we are doing. See the area around the port, visit the park benches, try lake trout and get some pit beef sandwiches. Appreciate for the safety warnings and sorry if I gave the impression that we were looking to do something offensive.
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:15 AM on June 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Depending on how much you want to drive around, here are my suggestions:

Best pit beef - Chap's in Baltimore City and Jake's Grill in Baltimore County
Best crab cakes - Koco's Pub in Baltimore City and By the Dock's and Pappas in Parkville, Baltimore County or Pappas in Cockeysville, Baltimore County. Hard to believe but I have never had a Faidley's which is closer to the heart of the city.

If you do the BMA, Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen is the restaurant there overlooking the sculpture garden, and is very good. John Shields is the founder and he has written several cookbooks. This is not far from the Paper Moon Diner, so you could do breakfast there, tour the museum, then have a late lunch. The BMA is next to Johns Hopkins University which has a nice campus to stroll around. The American Visionary Art Museum is my favorite and their gift shop is lots of fun (sometimes we go just to shop).

I love Hampden, and enjoy The Food Market, Wicked Sisters, and Rocket to Venus, and Dylan's Oyster Cellar. Walking through the various shops is fun too. Finish with Baltimore inspired ice cream at The Charmery. The HONfest is lots of fun, can get crowded and hot but wonderful people watching and entertainment.

Near Hampden, towards Remington, there are several other restaurants, Clavel Mezcaleria, La Cuchara, and R. House kind of an upscale food court with alcohol so everyone can try a variety of foods,

Both Canton and Federal Hill are walkable neighborhoods as well, with restaurants and shops.

There are some places walking distance from Camden Yards but not necessarily quietish, like Pickles Pub. Pratt Street Ale House is quieter, good beer, and close enough. Both take reservations.

As far as safety, crime is up. It is best to stay in the neighborhoods mentioned, and just like any city be alert. I don't walk around on my phone texting or wearing tons of jewelry or carrying expensive purses, but I don't do that in any city. I think Baltimore is one of the best cities with a lot of diversity and uniqueness. Have a great time.
posted by maxg94 at 7:36 AM on June 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At the American Visionary Art Museum, be sure to follow the full tour, which extends outside and into an adjacent building.
posted by emelenjr at 9:07 AM on June 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

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