Welcome to Charm City!
Baltimore, like all cities, has many sides. More recently a less than ideal side of Baltimore has been the focus in media and pop culture. Admittedly, this too IS Baltimore but only a piece of who we are as a community. Like many cities in the U.S. and around the world we are working towards understanding one another and creating unity. It is safe. We’re nice and we do have some of THE best crab cakes in the state. Let us prove it to you.
One of the first things I emphasize about Baltimore is the very strong ‘come as you are’ vibe. Spend a few hours here and you’ll most likely hear or see the term ‘HON’. Short for ‘honey’, it’s a term of endearment for any and all. This three letter word sums up a lot of the true attitude exuded by the residents of this city. So, put aside your preconceived notions and favorite scenes from ‘The Wire’, open your mind and let us charm you Hon! Welcome to Baltimore!
It was a great series, but we really do have a lot more to offer than what was shown on ‘The Wire’ (side note: some of VEEP and House of Cards were filmed here too!). In this blog series for ARVO 2017 I’ll be covering Culture and Nightlife. I decided to stay true to Baltimore as a city of neighborhoods while exploring this topic. Every week I hope to highlight things to do and see in each of the major areas of Baltimore. There is literally SO much to do here and you’re never more than a 15 minute trek from something to satisfy any interest you may have…yes, even seeing locations shot on The Wire. Haha! First area to profile: The Inner Harbor- home base to ARVO 2017!
After a day of jumping in and out of various modes of transportation, carrying bags, precious electronic devices and awkward poster tubes, you’re likely to feel a little on edge by the time you arrive. The last thing you want to do after traveling all day is scroll through reviews about local attractions on Yelp or Trip Advisor. Instead, I suggest you simply step out from under the fluorescent lights and take a walk. There are a plethora of options on your literal doorstep! The waterfront promenade has over 6 total miles of scenic walk way (stroller and wheelchair friendly) that move through 6 neighborhoods full of attractions. Taking a self-guided walking tour of the immediate harbor is a great way to decompress after a long day of travel, meetings and taking in hours of information at ARVO 2017. All of the attractions listed below are within a short walk of the convention center and surrounding hotels.
Did you arrive to find that Mother Nature decided to do the exact OPPOSITE of what you packed? At an ophthalmology and vision conference and forgot your contact lens solution and can’t find any freebies!? You’re saved. All within a ½ mile of the convention center and surrounding hotels there are PLENTY of solutions.
Family friendly attractions in a city can be hard to suss out. You’re in luck because the inner harbor has you covered…sensing a theme here? I would highly recommend you take time to check out The Maryland Science Center . This place has really well thought out exhibits for kids of all ages for some hands on learning fun…and give parents a beak. There is an entrance fee but after hours being on a plane, in a hotel room and glued to an iPad screen, it's worth it!
American Visionary Arts Museum- This is a unique museum that exhibits self-taught artists with little or no formal training. Past exhibits include instillations from long time patients of a local mental health facility, incarcerated prisoners and vision impaired individuals. If you arrive the Saturday before ARVO 2017 begins, check out the infamous Kinetic Sculpture Race.
The mascot is a giant mobile pink poodle, Fifi the Poodlecorn Unicorn. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Reginald F Lewis Museum- can’t get tickets to the Smithsonian African American History museum in Washington, DC? Check out ours!
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
The National Aquarium Baltimore
Port Discovery Venue geared towards children with lots of hands on activities!
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
Power Plant LIVE! a cluster of venues in one spot for drinking, dancing, pub games and live music. A no-brainer for a group activity after the meeting day has ended.
Federal Hill A quaint neighborhood chock full of nightlife options (lots and lots of pubs) for those that may want to go the Airbnb route. Also for those wanting something a little less touristy within walking distance of the Meeting.
Fitness and fresh air
One of my personal points of pride in Baltimore is the abundance of green space, the Inner Harbor being no exception. Sprinkled throughout the harbor are plenty of benches and small bits of lush grass to sit and people-watch, continue that spirited debate about presented findings or to simply stretch your legs between programs.
The waterfront promenade A high traffic area with a solo runner/wogger/walker area. This is a great way to get in some exercise and explore the city. If you have the time, try to extend your trek or catch a water taxi to Fort McHenry, the inspiration for our national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key.
November Project On Wednesdays, enjoy an early morning free group workout at Rash Field located in the harbor.
Federal Hill Park Take a walk to the top of this old military outpost and soak in the quintessential view of the harbor and Baltimore skyline. For those attending the Meeting with kids there’s a playground on park grounds!