City paper has given Federal Hill plenty of guff for being the playground of drunken frat boys. And while that reputation is not entirely untrue, the neighborhood does have its fair share of restaurants and stores that we enjoy. Just at the neighborhood’s edge, the Science Store at the Maryland Science Center (601 Light St.,  545-5924, mdsci.org) offers great gifts with a bit of an educational bent. Swing by after checking out the most recent exhibits on cells and paleontology or watching the latest IMAX feature.
Then, head south to the Book Escape (805 Light St.,  504-1902, thebookescape.com), a quaint little shop for new and used titles. I
f you’re more into superheroes and fantasy, go a block farther south to Alliance Comics (904 Light St.,  685-0021, alliancecomicsonline.com). Alliance Comics closed in 2014. City Paper regrets the error.
By now, a pint of beer is needed after all the intellectual heavy lifting that comes with reading. Pop down to Cross Street to Abbey Burger Bistro (1041 Marshall St.,  453-9698, abbeyburgerbistro.com) for a Belgian beer and, if you're a bit peckish, one of the restaurant's custom-built burgers. If it's local beer you're after, go a little farther down Cross to the Pub Dog (20 E. Cross St.,  727-6077, pubdog.com) and order a pair of mugs of its dozen beers.
Head back to Light and go south to Light Street Cycles (1124 Light St.,  685-2234, lightstcycles.com), where you can pick up a new bike or the latest accessories for the cyclist friend in your life. They rent velocipedes too, making a nice ride to Locust Point and Fort McHenry an easy excursion to take your mind off the stresses of holiday shopping. (Brandon Weigel)
Electronic Snap Circuits ($75), Maryland Science Center Science Store, 601 Light St., (410) 545-5924, mdsci.org
National Geographic Laser Pegs Dinosaur Building Kit ($70), Maryland Science Center Science Store, 601 Light St., (410) 545-5924, mdsci.org