Arts and Culture Weekend Getaway in Baltimore
1Dive into the pleasures of the revitalized waterfront with a stop at Inner Harbor's eye-popping National Aquarium, which stays open late on Fridays. The 16,000 sea animals on view include bright coral reefs and a crew of menacing sharks, with a new 4-D "immersion" film available to learn about them while feeling like part of their world.
2Hop in a taxi to the Mount Vernon neighborhood for Red Maple, where small plates with global pizzazz—from crab dip to plantain chips—pair well with decadent, fruit-based cocktails. The romantic venue turns into a hopping club after the dinner hour, if you'd prefer to end your night of culture here.
3But you'd be remiss to miss the similarly world-spanning whizzes at the nearby Baltimore Theatre Project, where the programming ranges from rapid-fire comedy to lyrical reinterpretations of classic Japanese plays.
1Get a dose of modern art with your eggs Benedict at XS, a gallery-restaurant-lounge that will serve your stack of old-fashioned pancakes with toppings that include cinnamon apples, fresh blueberries, or coconut cream.
2Anyone who has had fun trying to digest the human history-long museum collections will thrill to the copious treasures at the Walters Art Museum. Masterworks stretch as far back as 10,000 B.C. and culminate in enticing Asian paintings from the 20th century.
3Baltimore's open-air markets offer a slice of local culture off the beaten path, much of it in the form of delicious staple foods from the Eastern European communities that settled in the city. Pay homage with a Polish sausage and cold drink for lunch from Broadway Market, near the waterfront.
4Of course, culture is not always high-class—as you'll learn firsthand at the Baltimore Museum of Industry a little further down along the water. There, visitors can operate early-20th century machines and learn about the city's history as the mechanization mecca that brought America its first traffic light. It's this blue-collar past that has actually created so many opportunities for today's artists.
5A detailed model of the doomed ship Lusitania, a psychedelic arrangement of 100,000 toothpicks, and a forlorn figure whittled by an anonymous sculptor from a tree trunk. All of these unlikely masterworks and more are on view at the American Visionary Art Museum, where the Sideshow Shop offers a taste of the whimsical vibe to take home.
6Critique the day's exhibits over house-made pasta at Cinghiale, where the two levels of prix fixe menus offer excellent value. You won't find the typical Bolognese-type standards here, but you will find incredible service and fresh fish that locals adore.
7Industrial culture is among the inspirations behind 2011-opened Rye, a Fells Point cocktail temple that requires reservations to watch its mixologists work their magic with whiskey and fresh juices. Take a seat, ask about the history of your cocktail, and be transported to the Prohibition era.
1Head over to a modern American hotspot in the artsy Hampden neighborhood. The Food Market is where you'll find sophisticated (and mouthwatering) comfort fare like pulled pork Benedicts, chili-rubbed steak & egg tacos, and fried chicken with biscuits.
2Stay ensconced in Hampden, known for its lack of big-box chains and its proliferation of artsy, indie shops. Shop for a piece of wearable art from Doubledutch Boutique or readable art from the renowned independent shop Atomic Books.
3End on a high note with (more than) 15 minutes of fame at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where one of the world's biggest Andy Warhol collections vies for space with immortal works from Matisse and Monet. Don't forget to check out the sculpture garden, where the Calder sculptures have inspired many a yoga pose.