Friday, November 23, 2007

Baltimore in January - Yes, It's a Great Time to Visit!

Okay, it's not Palm Beach or LA so you can't expect balmy weather. Baltimore is in the mid-Atlantic and that means we get chilly in January. But it's still a good time to visit, and I'm glad to have a chance to point out some of my favorite things about this city. Thanks to Margaret Harrington for asking!

There's no season for history, and Baltimore has plenty. Oh say can you see? Of course you can at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. In September 1814, the star-shaped fort was the site of the Baltimore of Baltimore. On a ship some eight miles away, Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment and, when the smoke cleared, saw that the flag still waved. We still sing about it today.

Fell's Point combines history and the pleasures of eating and shopping. This historic area dates to the 1700's and you'll find the oldest house in Baltimore here. The cobblestone streets add to the charm, just be sure to wear good walking shoes! There are many restaurants in the area, and the Broadway market is a sight, sound, and scent experience. It's open every day but Sunday, and right there in Fell's Point. Closer to the Inner Harbor you'll find floating history on the U.S.S. Constellation and the other ships of the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

When you've had your fill of history – and are perhaps ready for some indoors time - we have plenty of arts and entertainment. The world-class Walters Art Museum has works from Egyptian to American art, and is know especially for its collection of Asian art and rare books. A bit further north, near the Johns Hopkins University campus, is the Baltimore Museum of Art. In January the museum has special exhibitions works by Matisse and Rodin. For something a bit less classic, try the American Visionary Art Museum just down Key Highway from the Inner Harbor. This unique collection showcases works by self-taught artists. If you like something out of the ordinary, this is your museum. Not far away is another quirky collection in the Baltimore Museum of Industry. This one celebrates Baltimore's history as a working-man's town with thousands of tools, machines, and pieces of Baltimore's historic firsts.

After all that cultural enrichment, how about some food for the body? There are as many cuisines as there are nationalities, so you're sure to find something to suit your taste. Just be sure to try a local crab cake or crab imperial before you leave town. If you're feeling adventurous, try the steamed hard crabs experience – you'll quickly learn how to swing that mallet and extract the sweet lump of crabmeat so prized by aficionados. My favorite restaurants are Tio Pepe for just wonderful food and service, Sabatino's in Little Italy, Kali's Court in Fell's Point, Suburban House in Pikesville for the ultimate Jewish deli experience, G&M for great crab cakes (Margaret, this one is in Linthicum Heights!) And, of course, Lexington Market for grazing.

Now that you're full of history and culture and good food, how about a bit of entertainment? Depending on when you visit, you can hear the excellent Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. (It happens that during Margaret's visit, the concert is "SciFi Spectacular" with the BSO Pops playing selections for Star Wars, ET, and Superman, with George Takei as narrator, and a laser light show!) Unfortunately, those January dates don't correspond to performances by the Baltimore Opera or Center Stage, but there are other entertainment options depending on your tastes.

Which brings us to what might actually be the start of your visit to Baltimore – the Visitors Center. Located at the Inner Harbor on Light Street (1-877-BALTIMORE), it's open every day to provide visitors with information about current happenings and services like ticket purchases.

Welcome to my town!

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