Baltimore Attractions

The 2014 AOTA Annual Conference is fast approaching! Here are a few tips regarding attractions from my lived experience in Bawlmoor- your mileage may vary, but hopefully this will be helpful.

There are numerous neighborhoods in Baltimore, which is confusing and you may wish people would just tell you in relation to your current location. this is a nice map you may want to refer to. Also, if you get directions from a non-GPS source, you're likely to get either numbers or names for roads, which can be a little confusing since they all have numbers and names (e.g. 83 is Jones Falls Expressway AKA JFX).

Baltimore is equipped with multiple public transportation options. The light rail runs North and South, from Hunt Valley (which has an outdoor mall and indoor movie theater) to the airport. The Metro runs NorthWest and SouthEast, connecting Owings Mills (another mall) and inner city Baltimore, with the ultimate stop at the Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger buildings. The metro is low cost and pretty safe, however the time between trains increases drastically after 5pm. The standard bus runs all over the city, but I did not use this and can't comment on it. The special Charm City Circulator bus runs through downtown and is free. Keep in mind that it only runs in one direction, and wait times between buses can be longer than expected.

Things to See:
Harborplace is home to an indoor/outdoor shopping plaza and multiple chain restaurants (California Pizza, Cheesecake Factory, etc). It is a nice place to walk around and there are a few unique places such as the little fudge shop. If you're up for a longer walk, the other side of the harbor has Federal Hill and I believe several walking trails are lined up there. Fort McHenry is farther South so you may want to get a ride down there but I've heard it is nice to walk around.

Thursday and Friday the Orioles are playing the Red Sox at Camden Yards. Let me just say- I have been to the inner harbor area once when the Red Sox were in town, and had I known that their visit would overlap with the conference... I might have thought twice about coming. I still would have come, I just would have been very grudging about it. I'm not anti-Sox, but it will be absolutely PACKED downtown those days due to the games. It is cheaper for a Bostonian to come to Baltimore and see the game than to try to get tickets at Fenway Park. And so they do. In droves. If you plan on eating anywhere within 2 miles of the park (excluding the AOTA expo on opening night), plan on waiting about 2 hours. If you are able to go to a tour of Camden Yards sometime it is really cool to see the behind the scenes action and appreciate how it was built from an architectural standpoint. 

The National Aquarium is a great collection of marine life. Great for kids, cool if you haven't seen it. Bear in mind, when you buy tickets, you are buying to enter at a time in the future, not that precise moment. You may be walking around outside for a considerable time before you are allowed in. Say hi to the 3 legged sea turtle in the main entryspace for me, I have been there a few too many times.

The Baltimore Comedy Factory has DL Hughley in town. I don't believe Rams Head or PowerPlant Live have any major events planned. I've seen ads for Geppi's entertainment museum (across from the ballpark) and heard nice things about it, but never been there. And if you've never been to IKEA, there's one in White Marsh and one in College Park, just don't buy anything too big to take home. I recommend the Pear Cider and Cinnamon Rolls.

The number one inanimate thing that I miss about Baltimore is the food. I dream about eating in Baltimore sometimes. It's sad.

Lexington Market- is a hopping place for lunch. This is a block or two North of the Convention Center. It will be crawling with Hopkins employees in their signature scrubs, and super busy, but people like it.

Little Italy- you absolutely cannot pick a bad restaurant in Little Italy. The competition there is so fierce, nothing lousy can make it. If I could have lived here, I would have gained hundreds of pounds by walking to awesome food every night. the only bad thing about the timing of the conference is that it is not during the time when they show outdoor movies for free. If you are driving, they have a garage that is relatively cheap not far from the restaurants.
.     Sabatino's is a good red sauce place, and everything is very quick. Chiapparelli's serves their iconic salad and a variety of pasta and non-pasta dishes. Amicci's might be my favorite place, with salads that are simultaneously sweet and savory and unique dishes such as Peppi's Lasagna which are all delicious. Germano's features live entertainment. Nobody gets dessert outside of Vaccaro's, home of delightful gelato and pastries galore. 

Pazo- If you have a group that likes Mediterranean tapas, this is a nice place to go. A little pricey, and I believe it has a dress code.

Nacho Mamas- has sentimental value to me as a fun (little) Mexican place in the Canton/Fells Point area.

Don't Know Tavern- Now we're talking real sentimental, this is the little WVU version of Cheers that exists in the Federal Hill area. If WVU basketball hadn't completely tanked this year, this would be the place to catch a game. You'll probably never go there, but I love them.

Chap's Pit Beef- If you watch Man vs Food, this dive was on an episode. My husband thinks this place is awesome. Know that you can't eat inside and that you probably shouldn't go at night.

Also- apparently Baltimore is a great place for seafood, particularly crabs. Hate it, don't eat it, you'll have to look elsewhere for that info.

I have to leave off my favorite food place, because they don't take reservations and always have a wait beyond compare. But I must eat there this trip... even if I have to go alone, even if it takes 4 hours. And if even one person reads this and got in line ahead of me, it could be ugly. sorry, but I have my priorities.

Hope this is a helpful organization of a few attractions in the area! I never end up going anywhere at conference because I'm either preoccupied at conference events (AOTPAC night what what!) or exhausted from conference sessions. But maybe someone else will have some fun. See you all in Baltimore!