Activities and arts

Best annual event: Maryland Film Festival

There’s tough competition from Artscape and Light City. But since 1999, filmmakers and film fans have been flocking to Baltimore for this cinematic bacchanal, filled with movies you won’t see anywhere else. The atmosphere is loose (no prizes, little competition), the crowds congenial and the movies...

  • Best attraction: Fort McHenry

    Best attraction: Fort McHenry

    Sure, AVAM and Oriole Park get plenty of attention — but hundreds of thousands of people didn’t flock to Baltimore to celebrate what happened there two centuries ago. Plus, Fort McHenry’s been guarding Baltimore Harbor for more than 200 years, and doing a fine job. Even without Francis Scott Key,...

  • Best Baltimore boost beyond the Beltway: The BMA goes to the Venice Biennale

    Best Baltimore boost beyond the Beltway: The BMA goes to the Venice Biennale

    The oh-so-tony Venice Biennale will take on a distinctly Bawlamer flair this year. For just the second time in its 102-year history, the Baltimore Museum of Art is charged with putting together the U.S. entry into the so-called “Olympics of the Art World.” In addition, John Waters was a surprise...

  • Best book: ‘Moonglow’ by Michael Chabon

    Best book: ‘Moonglow’ by Michael Chabon

    Many memoirs are partly invented: Authors will imagine others’ thoughts or re-create conversations that occurred before they were born. Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize winner who grew up in Columbia, makes no bones about the hybrid nature of “Moonglow,” his acclaimed 2016 book that’s partly...

  • Best classical performance: BSO, Mahler Symphony No. 6

    Best classical performance: BSO, Mahler Symphony No. 6

    Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 offers a riveting reflection on life, love and the inevitability of loss. Although containing some of the composer’s most radiant music, the overall mood of the piece is dark, which can make it quite a challenge for performers and listeners alike. For the first time...

  • Best creative space: Open Works Baltimore

    Best creative space: Open Works Baltimore

    For just $25, you can spend a day at Open Works Baltimore learning how to operate a 3-D printer. Or you can build a wooden end table as a Mother’s Day present, or weld together an arbor that will support your climbing roses. Open Works in Greenmount West is a new maker space where artists, dreamers...

  • Best dance party: Kahlon — The Cut-Up Series

    Best dance party: Kahlon — The Cut-Up Series

    Abdu Ali, Lawrence Burney, Chanel Cruz and DJ Genie launched Kahlon as a showcase for artists of varying backgrounds (women, people of color and the LGBTQI community), often held at the Crown in Station North. In the past two years, the inclusive event has featured party-starting artists like Princess...

  • Best dog park: Matapeake Park Dog Beach

    Best dog park: Matapeake Park Dog Beach

    For dogs that like to take a dip, Matapeake Dog Beach provides a place to romp in the sand and swim in shallow waters on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay. With views overlooking the Bay Bridge, the dog beach sits on Kent Island less than 50 miles from Baltimore. The waterfront dog park is part...

  • Best free classical: Peabody Institute

    Best free classical: Peabody Institute

    The beauty and surprise of the free admission policy for performances at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, announced in the fall, is that it extends to everything. Given the range of genres on the calendar (orchestra, chamber, opera, etc.) and the variety of repertoire offered...

  • Best fundraiser: Black and White Party

    Best fundraiser: Black and White Party

    Perhaps the success of the Pratt Contemporaries’ Black and White Party lies in the Pratt Contemporaries themselves, Enoch Pratt Free Library supporters whose ages range from the 20s to the 40s. “There’s this amazing cross-section of Baltimore’s young professionals; a racial diversity, [diversity...

  • Best gallery: Galerie Myrtis

    Best gallery: Galerie Myrtis

    Along with such gems as C. Grimaldis Gallery and Goya Contemporary, Galerie Myrtis enriches Baltimore’s commercial art scene. Founded by Myrtis Bedolla and relocated from Washington nearly a decade ago, this establishment has given that scene extra jolts — particularly from events that showcase...

  • Best-kept secret: Graffiti Alley behind The Motor House

    Best-kept secret: Graffiti Alley behind The Motor House

    The L-shaped alley behind the Motor House isn’t visible from the street, so even many lifelong Baltimoreans don’t know it’s there. But turn the corner at 19 1/2 Street from Howard Street, and you’ll find yourself immersed in an outdoor art gallery that changes every day, and where the vibrant colors...

  • Best musical: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

    Best musical: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

    Many a musical today exceeds past versions of the genre in terms of loudness or glitz, but rarely in substance. The Tony-winning “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, is one of the few, matching a droll yarn about an heir-apparent committing serial relative-cide...

  • Best musical act: Future Islands

    Best musical act: Future Islands

    Baltimore’s biggest band is back. After a breakthrough album (2014’s “Singles”) and a live performance that made David Letterman’s head spin, the synthpop act toured the world and took a break. This month, Future Islands returned with “The Far Field,” a record that expands the trio’s parameters...

  • Baltimore's next big movie moment: 'Step'

    Baltimore's next big movie moment: 'Step'

    Amanda Lipitz’s “Step” follows three Baltimore teens, seniors at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, as they prepare to compete in a local step competition, and as they get ready to be the first members of their families to attend college. The film was a hit and an award winner at...

  • Best one-day summer vacation: Beaver Dam Swim Club

    Best one-day summer vacation: Beaver Dam Swim Club

    This former quarry attracts a laid-back, multi-race crowd that also is multi-body shape and multi-age, with floating wooden rafts for senior citizen paddlers, a rope swing for kids and teens, diving boards and a wading pool for toddlers. You’ll find a sand court for beach volleyball and basketball,...

  • Best ongoing surprise: Stoop Storytelling

    Best ongoing surprise: Stoop Storytelling

    While Stoop Storytelling isn’t the first series nationwide to feature quirky, real-life tales told by ordinary folk, founders Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin have turned the Baltimore version into a cottage industry, with workshops, radio shows, open-mic nights and a podcast. Come early, sip a...

  • Best radio broadcast: Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City

    Best radio broadcast: Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City

    Freelance writer Stacia Brown was a newcomer to radio when she started her podcast “The Rise of Charm City,” which aired on WEAA 88.9 FM starting last year. But her fresh take on historical sites made it an easy listen. Varying narratives and memories from locals enlightened segments such as a...

  • Best park: Patapsco Valley State Park

    Best park: Patapsco Valley State Park

    Spanning four counties, Patapsco Valley State Park encompasses more than 16,000 acres and stretches along 32 miles of the Patapsco River. The park has more than 170 miles of trails, of which 70 are maintained. Some trails are only open to hikers, while others are available to mountain bikers and...

  • Best place to run: Northern Central Railroad Trail

    Best place to run: Northern Central Railroad Trail

    Attracting runners, hikers, bikers and horseback riders, the “NCR” Trail — AKA the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail — stretches about 20 miles through Baltimore County, from Ashland Road in Cockeysville to the Pennsylvania line. (It continues another 20 miles as the York County Heritage Rail Trail.)...

  • Best place to take an out-of-towner: American Visionary Art Museum

    Best place to take an out-of-towner: American Visionary Art Museum

    It’s hard to imagine spending even 10 minutes at the American Visionary Art Museum and not being enchanted by something, whether it’s one of Johnny Eck’s painted screens, Nancy Josephson's mirrored Gallery-A-Go-Go Bus or Emily Duffy’s giant ball made from more than 18,000 bras. There’s something...

  • Best play: 'Dot'

    Best play: 'Dot'

    Playwright Colman Domingo’s flair for capturing what makes us human, with all the pleasure, disappointment and fear that entails, is beautifully realized in “Dot,” a study of an African-American matriarch slipping into Alzheimer’s. Without pushing too hard or laying on the sentimentality, Domingo...

  • Best wedding venue: Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

    Best wedding venue: Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

    The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore continues to be a favorite venue for couples and vendors alike. There are countless places to shoot photos in the luxury hotel — making it ideal for weddings. Having a top-rated restaurant — Wit & Wisdom — on site doesn’t hurt. And neither do the breathtaking views...

  • Best of Baltimore readers' choice winners: Arts and activities

    Best of Baltimore readers' choice winners: Arts and activities

    We asked, you voted. Here are the winners of the Best of Baltimore readers' choice awards in the arts and activities category. For staff picks, click here. (For the other categories: People and media | Lifestyle and shopping | Dining and nightlife | Services)

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