Affordable fun in Charm City.
Charm City has always been synonymous with the camp culture made famous by native son John Waters—and while you can still find “hons” with beehive hairdos waitressing in Hampden, there are plenty of new and affordable ways for food- and culture-loving families to have fun.
Baltimore Museum of Art
The museum’s updated Contemporary Wing reopened in November 2012, just the first phase of a $24.5 million renovation to be completed in 2014. A new family audio tour (narrated by Matisse’s schnauzer Raoudi) highlights 20 works of art. Don’t miss kid-friendly workshops, sketching tours, and more, Sundays at 2 p.m. The best part? It’s all free.
American Visionary Art Museum
This energetic space dedicated to visionary art (which is, simply put, created by self-taught artists who play by their own rules) is more fun house than museum. Vollis Simpson’s giant WhirliGig—a 55-foot-tall, wind-powered sculpture made of found objects—welcomes visitors outside. Inside, you’ll find works made from toothpicks and a figure carved from an applewood tree.
McCormick World of Flavors
One of the newest additions to the Inner Harbor’s waterfront Harborplace, this 3,800-square-foot shop from the Maryland-based company is about more than spices. It offers interactive and educational exhibits, including one that takes your palate profile (called a “Flavorprint”) and a “guess that spice” game.
Hampden, home of the aforementioned “hons,” is coming up in the culinary world. The team behind Woodberry Kitchen has opened this new coffee-driven spot, where nothing on the locally sourced, made-to-order menu costs more than $15. Adults can nosh on everything from a croque monsieur to a tofu mushroom burger, while kids will love the PB&J and macaroni and cheese.
You’ll want to get a sitter for a meal at this modern Japanese izakaya from chef Michael Mina, part of the Four Seasons Hotel. The food gives a nod toward its Chesapeake Bay area, serving dishes such as Maryland crab okonomiyaki (with fried egg, pork belly, and mustard mayo) and “Happy Spoon” oyster (with uni, ikura, and ponzu crème fraîche).
Pitango Gelato, Baltimore
This Fells Point classic, located right near a water taxi stop, is the go-to spot for gelato made with organic eggs, grass-fed milk, and high-quality ingredients. Dairy flavors include everything from hazelnut to black tea and cardamom, while apricot and (virgin) mojito are the standout sorbets.
The latest restaurant from homegrown chef Chad Gauss whips up American comfort dishes in an industrial-chic dining room in the Hampden neighborhood.
Fork & Wrench
At Canton's Fork & Wrench, English staples such as chicken liver mousse are served in a dark-wood space and beer flows from a custom-made tap.