48 hours in: Baltimore
Forget The Wire these days Baltimore is known as Charm City, voted by Forbes Magazine as one of the U.S.’s top 10 coolest, says Anna Selby
Day 1: Head for the Harbour
Morning: Baltimore is built around its vast say which was once a major shipbuilding centre and port exporting sugar, fish and tobacco.
Now it’s full of shops, restaurants, luxury flats and museums. The museums include four historic ships (well, one is a submarine) that you can visit and I recommend the USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war built in 1854 that stages a daily live cannon exercise.
A short walk around the bay and you’ll come to a great Science Museum, A a little further on still you’ll find the unique American Visionary Art Museum. This is full of the work of self-taught artists including a film on the murmurations of starlings, works focused on mysteries (the moon, the human heart, near-death experiences) and a life-size sculpture of local author Edgar Allan Poe made of Peeps marshmallow candies. Go in sceptical, come out entranced!
Afternoon: Take a water taxi to Fort McHenry. This was where the locals held out against the dastardly Brits’ bombardment of their base in 1812. Seeing the flag still waving in the next day’s dawn above the devastation,
Francis Scott Key was inspired to write The Star Spangled Banner.
Evening: Take the water taxi back to the cobbled streets of Fell’s Point, once home to Billie Holiday and now to the city’s best designer shops, bars and restaurants. Try Bar Vasquez on Aliceanna Street, a vast warehouse space with live music, perfect Argentine beef and local softshell crabs.
Day 2: High Culture, Low Culture
Morning: Take the Charm City Circulator – Baltimore’s free bus system – to Mount Vernon. This is Baltimore’s cultural heart, packed with palatial 19th century houses, parks, galleries and museums. It was once home to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Wallis Simpson. Must-sees include the Washington Monument (built before DC’s), Walters Art Museum and the awe-inspiring Peabody Library.
Afternoon: Local brewing is big in Baltimore. Head for Brewers Hill and visit the many micro-breweries across town. The Brewer’s Art is in a grand Mount Vernon townhouse. Alternatively try Heavy Seas and its pirate-themed beers. Evening: Baltimore loves sport. At M&T Stadium you can cheer for the only NFL team named after a poem (the Ravens by Edgar Allen Poe). The Orioles play at Camden Yards, renowned as the U.S.’s most beautiful ballpark stadium. And don’t forget to see the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum on Emory Street, a shrine to baseball’s greatest star.
“Fort Henry, birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, sits at the mouth of Baltimore's Inner Harbour”
Top picture: Mount Vernon, Baltimore's cultural heart; above: great food and drink by the harbour