A moody tavern. An extraordinary cocktail. The easy lapping of bay water against the banks of the Inner Harbor. Duckpin lanes. Old Bay. Art in an otherwise empty storefront. For all of these things, and for so many more, people love Baltimore. People feel how they feel about this place for their own reasons. It's personal and not necessarily explainable. Something between them and the city. But in the spirit of sharing the love, we asked some of the city's best-known personalities to reveal something that makes them fall for Baltimore. Take this list as personal suggestions, from one neighbor to another.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Cal Ripken Jr., former Oriole star and Hall of Fame shortstop
"The field has aged so well. It set a standard for new ballparks everywhere, and it is still one of the best places in the world to watch a game. The idea of preserving the warehouse and incorporating it into the ballpark really gave it character, the sight lines are terrific, and there aren't many better places around to spend a summer day." 333 W. Camden St. | 410-685-9800 | baltimore.orioles.mlb.com
The Downtown Farmers Market
Jayne Miller, WBAL-TV investigative reporter
"You know you live in a good city when someone asks, 'What's your favorite thing?' and you have to pick from multiple choices that pop in your head. One of mine is the Downtown Farmers Market. It's a treasure of diversity, and only Baltimore could turn the underside of a highway into a Sunday-morning gem. If only we could take the dog!" Open Sundays April through November | Saratoga Street between Holliday and Gay streets
Walking the Fells Point waterfront
Andres Alonso, city schools CEO
"I like to walk the stretch of the harbor walk from Shuckers to the Douglass Museum in Fells Point very early in the morning most days. … I have always loved to be next to water. Maybe because I was born on an island. And for some reason, I love it especially if I'm in a city. It awakens the impulse to dream. And it reminds of how the city once looked outward rather than inward, as it seems to do now."
One-stop beer-and-shop on Eastern Avenue
John Waters, filmmaker, performer and man of letters
"A great extreme bar enthusiast told me about the place that became my new favorite watering hole in Baltimore - the amazingly eccentric bar on Eastern Avenue that is in the woman's house. Not only does she serve drinks, it is also a hardware store! You can buy tools, nails, household cleaning products right along with your beer. A dream set that could have come from one of my old movies. But the exact address has to remain a secret to not muddy its defiantly uncommercial appeal. (Hint hint - it's located somewhere between South Broadway and South Patterson Park Avenue.)"
Domonique Foxworth, Baltimore Ravens cornerback
"Harbor East is the Inner Harbor for Baltimoreans. It takes the fun and excitement of our Inner Harbor and runs it through a car wash, rinsing away the commotion of tourists and the attractions that locals frankly consider cheesy. You can choose to dress up or down and grab and delicious meal before hitting the shops or catching a movie at the Landmark Theatres. Don't forget to cap the night with two scoops of Haagen-Dazs."
Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum
"A combination of glass and asphalt used on the surface of some streets around Charles Center - it twinkles in the street lights, patches seamlessly and uses recycled glass. What could be better? Sadly, currently discontinued. Red brick looks great against it."
Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour
"It's hard to beat the sights, sounds and raw emotions of a Ravens Sunday. Football is part of our DNA, and the team is a true reflection of our community's resilience and work ethic. I look forward to sharing those Sunday experiences - and navigating the highs and lows of each season - with the same familiar faces, week after week, year after year." M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell St. | 410-244-8154 | baltimoreravens.com
David Simon, television writer and producer and creator of 'The Wire' and 'Treme'
"It's dying and we need a local Marshall Plan to save the remaining alleys, but never take for granted that we had duckpin when the rest of the world only knew from tenpin. My New York cousins only wanted to duckpin bowl when they came south; they thought it primitive cool, even exotic."
Jennifer Gilbert, anchorwoman at WBFF-TV, Channel 45
"Sherwood Gardens holds a special place in my heart. Everyone knows the gardens for the tulips in the spring. But it's just as beautiful, in its own way, in the dead of winter when life appears to be dormant. When I first found out I was pregnant with my son, I would go there and reflect about the amazing creation of life about to bloom. My son is almost 4 now, and we enjoy Sherwood Gardens all year long, with picnics, bubbles and snow angels." Greenway and Stratford Road | 410-785-0444. | guilfordassociation.org/sherwood
The National Aquarium on Monday
Bryan Voltaggio, restaurateur and "Top Chef" finalist
"Here's a little secret, go on a Monday to avoid the lines. I like to take my 4-year-old there so we can both run around like kids." 501 E. Pratt St. | 410-576-3800 | aqua.org
E. Faye Butler, actress and frequent star of Center Stage productions
"I love the historic nature of the market. As an African-American, the rich history of that market means so much, as well as the fact you can get some of the best food in Baltimore, from produce to fish, fresh meats and oysters. You can also pick up a purse, some socks, vitamins, and, of course, peanuts and candies. It's one-stop shopping." 400 W. Lexington St. | 410-685-6169 | lexingtonmarket.com
Billy Cundiff, Baltimore Ravens kicker
"There are so many great Baltimore restaurants we love, but my go-to meal is at Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point. When we want a laid-back night, whether it's with our kids or out-of-town guests, Kooper's never disappoints. For me, the Billy's Kobe with sweet potato fries and a local beer can't be beat. The location is great and the servers are always friendly, which is impressive considering the mess our kids leave behind." 1702 Thames St. | 410-563-5423 | koopers.com
Dan Deacon, electronic musician
"Kumari is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. My friends and I go there very often for their wonderful buffet of Nepalese and Indian food. The food is awesome, but it's the Nepalese tea that puts it over the top from the other Indian places in the area." 911 N. Charles St. | 410-547-1600
Summer nights crabbing in the harbor
Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress and producer
"I always loved the Inner Harbor. I used to work at a place called Something Good, a candy store. But nothing ever beats warm summer nights in the harbor and being with my cousin and her grandparents on their boat. Crabbing and eating crabs on the boat is about as good as it gets."
Donna's in Charles Village
Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore city councilwoman
"I practically live at Donna's at 31st Street and St. Paul Street. I just get a cup of coffee. Isn't that terrible? But I buy a lot of cups of coffee there, and they're very kind to me. I'm there all the time. It's my unofficial district office there in Charles Village." 3101 St. Paul St. | 410-889-3410 | donnas.com
Barry Glazer, plaintiffs' attorney
"I have always been intrigued by 'The Block,' aka Baltimore Street. I never understood why the city never attempted to promote the area; instead, they have done just the opposite. They should put a casino there. I have no doubt the convention business would have exploded had the city assisted the business owners there instead of trying to close them down. The characters, the buildings, the carnival-like atmosphere are all fascinating." 400 Block of Baltimore Street
John Shields, head chef at Gertrude's at the BMA
"Growing up in the 1960s, I learned to love Baltimore's unique circuit of perpetual novenas. To this day, one can still plot weekly trips to historic Catholic churches for novena prayers to the likes of the Miraculous Medal, St. Peregrine, St. Anthony, Padre Pio, and of course the one that puts Baltimore on the map, the St. Jude's (patron saint of hopeless causes) novena on Paca Street. If I need a cure for anything that ails me, a friend, or family member, I just pick the associated saint, make my way to the church, and can generally take care of any problem. Forget Rome, this can only happen in Baltimore." St. Jude Shrine, 512 W. Saratoga St. | 410-685-6026 | stjudeshrine.org
The Peabody Library at Mount Vernon Place
Josh Charles, actor in CBS drama "The Good Wife"
"From the time I started at the Baltimore School for the Arts, I was always impressed by the architecture, the beauty and history of the Peabody Library and the Mount Vernon space around it. The Peabody is such a tranquil, beautiful place. I just love this area of Baltimore near the library and in this park - it's so old and European and beautiful. You can really feel the peacefulness of it. These few square blocks here are from another time and place, and they have always been a place of retreat and calm for me. And only recently did I discover that the Peabody Library is open to the public. I have loved coming here for a long, long time." 17 E. Mount Vernon Place | 410-234-4943
The creekside path on Deepdene Road
Anne Tyler, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
"The below-street-level path that runs alongside the creek on Deepdene Road. If you walk it early enough in the morning you have to wave a little branch in front of you to break through the spider webs, and yet it's an actual sidewalk. I love feeling both rustic and civilized at the same time."
Suzi Cordish, chairwoman of Maryland Art Place
"I like the tradition of it, the rite of spring, smell of wet grass and hint of warmer weather. My husband, David, was a championship player for JHU many years ago, and it has become a family obsession. David played on three championship JHU lacrosse teams (1957-1960). We attend as many games during the season as possible, including some away games, and David plays in the alumni game every year (this year he nearly scored against some All-American players less than half his age)."
Rye Rye, rapper
"The music is on point - it's the best in Baltimore. Also at the Dox I can relate to the people more because they dance like me and they're into the whole club scene. A lot of the other clubs in Baltimore can be too uptight and sometimes people don't want to dance, but at the Dox we all understand one another. We just have fun." 1310 Russell St. | 410-837-9110 | thedox.com
Old neighborhoods and Old Bay
Barbara Mikulski, U.S. Senator
"What I like best in Baltimore is the people, the neighborhoods and what goes on in the neighborhoods. Each has its own stories, own diners and own quirks. It's about community. I also like everything Old Bay."
Laura Lippman, best-selling mystery writer
"I grew up in Dickeyville. And I'd move back there in a minute, if I could ever win an argument with my husband. It's Baltimore's Brigadoon, a place that even some diehard, bread-and-buttered Baltimoreans might not be able to locate on a map. It feels remote and secluded, yet it can't be more than 3 miles to the interstate. I learned to ice skate there. I also learned how to survive after plunging through thin ice and having to claw my way to the creek bank, my blades trying to find traction in the muddy bottom of the Gwynns Falls. What other life skills do you really need?"
The Star Spangled Banner
Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader
"There are hundreds of reasons to love Baltimore. One that I am proudest of is that Baltimore is the birthplace of the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' our national anthem."
Mario, R&B singer
"My favorite bar in the city is Fins over in Canton, owned by a good friend of mine, Jimmy. The drinks are phenomenal, and Jimmy wouldn't have it any other way. The apple martinis are good with a plate of calamari. Fins is one of the hottest spots in Canton, winter or summer, and these are some of the loudest Raven fans in the city - my kind of people." 2903 O'Donnell St.| 410-675-1880 | finsonthesquare.com
The Manhattintinnabulation Cocktail at Annabel Lee Tavern
Mary Alice Yeskey of Charm City Cakes
"Being an English major and Poe fan, I would adore this drink on principle even if I'd never had it. But the combination of Maker's Mark, Madeira, grenadine and orange is almost as brilliant as the drink's name. Annabel Lee Tavern is my go-to for out of town visitors and date night with my husband. It's perfect in nearly every way - the ambiance is spooky-cozy, the food is thoughtful and delicious, and their cocktails are extraordinary." 601 S. Clinton St. | 410-522-2929 | annabelleetavern.com
American Visionary Art Museum
Kimmie Meissner, Olympian and former world and U.S. champion figure skater
"The moment you walk to the front door, the sparkling trees covered in broken pieces of glass greet you. Being an artist myself, looking at all the unique pieces of art makes me feel at home. There is such a great selection of exhibits - from robots made of household appliances to beautiful paintings and poetry. You can feel the creativity in the air." 800 Key Highway | 410-244-1900 | avam.org
Crab cakes at Faidley's
Denise Whiting, owner Cafe Hon and organizer of Honfest
"Sometimes I'm driving by Lexington Market, and I have to stop and get a little Faidley's crab-cake fix. You go in there and Nancy, one of the owners, is always there, and you know she's made your crab cake. I've been going to Lexington Market my whole life. Back when we used to go with my mom and dad and sister, we'd stand in line and get a little crab cake on a cracker. That was a little treat. A good lump crab cake is $15 now, but it's worth every penny." 203 N. Paca St. | 410-727-4898 | faidleyscrabcakes.com
Matt Wieters, Orioles catcher
"I love just walking around Canton Square, with all the restaurants. I've always lived down there, and there is always cool stuff to walk to. I just like the feeling of it. It's like a small town, but it feels like a cool place to hang out. I didn't used to get recognized down there, but more and more in recent years, people do say hello."
The mural at North Avenue and Harford Road
Vic Carter, anchorman at WJZ-TV, Channel 13
"I love the wonder of driving through a neighborhood and suddenly being greeted by a large mural that is pleasing to the eye and sometimes stimulates thinking. Among my favorites is the mural in the Oliver Neighborhood at Harford Road and North Avenue - a work by the late Tom Miller that he completed in only a month. … The vibrant colors capture your eye first and then if you stay for just a moment, you decipher the images of everyday life in Baltimore. They are scenes we often take for granted as being 'regular.' However, there is nothing regular about this and other murals that adorn our city."
A drive up Falls Road
Cindy Wolf, restaurateur and head chef at Charleston
"Absolutely one of my favorite things to do is take a drive up Falls Road. The best part of the drive is between Shawan Road and Mount Carmel. It's newly paved, smooth, curvy and fast. In the summer time the views through the valleys, the gorgeous horse farms, the fields golden with hay, the sunny afternoons, that's what I love to see. There are some places you could stop for a picnic along the way, or you could stop and taste some wine with Burt Basignani."
Geppi's Entertainment Museum
Dr. Ben Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center
"This is an absolutely fascinating place that has a lot of American history depicted in cartoon and comic fashion. There are also incredible things like a $1 million marble collection. This provides many hours of absolutely fascinating material that will thrill the youngest and the oldest." 301 W. Camden St. | 410-625-7060 | geppismuseum.com
Backyard crab feasts
Keibler, actress and model
"I've been to so many different places here to eat crabs. We've gone to Costa's a lot. Just recently I went down to Canton Dockside, which was amazing. My parents and I will pick up a bushel from a little stand on the side of the road and steam our own. Eating crabs is something that I do every single time I come home. Even if it's in and out in a day, I literally will go straight from the airport to get crabs."
We're not afraid to be quirky
Laurie DeYoung, WPOC morning show host
"What I love about Baltimore is its glorious lack of pretense. The city's quirky charm allows for everyone to feel that they belong somewhere here. I just feel like Baltimore's not trying to be something it's not. It's very accepting of all kinds of people. That's one of the reasons I love it."
The Merry-Go-Round by the Science Center
Debbie Phelps, mother and biggest fan of Olympian Michael Phelps
"Tucked away at the base of Federal Hill and right beside the Maryland Science Center sits a merry-go-round. The nostalgic piece takes me back to the days when my grown children were kids and is now a place where I enjoy time with my grandchildren, watching them ride around and around with happy smiles spread across their faces".
Veal Saltimbocca at Da Mimmo's
Jim Palmer, former Orioles star and Hall of Fame pitcher
"I used to love Memorial Stadium before they tore it down. But if I had to pick something still around, it would be the veal saltimbocca at Da Mimmo. I've been going there since 1984. I've eaten all over the world, and it's the best." 217 S. High St. | 410-727-6876 | damimmo.com
The short country commute
Molly Shattuck, former Ravens Cheerleader and fitness guru
"I love that Baltimore is a city built of neighborhoods offering the best of urban life, as well as nearby country charm 20 minutes away. In a single day, my children and I can visit our favorite downtown attractions. And then in a short time, we can be riding bikes together and enjoying the serenity of the NCR Trail in northern Baltimore County."
Pond hockey on Lake Roland
Spike Gjerde, head chef and owner of Woodberry Kitchen
"The fact that it doesn't happen every year makes the opportunity to skate on Lake Roland even more special for me. Last winter was the first in a few years that was cold enough, and I wasted no time introducing my kids to the pure joy of pond hockey. We spent every afternoon we could on the ice until the light failed, and we'd head home for hot chocolate by the fire."
Conquering Oregon Ridge
Patrice Harris, anchorwoman at WBFF, Channel 45
"I have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with Oregon Ridge. Standing near the amphitheater and looking around at the massive, rising hill is really a beautiful picture. But most of the time I'm at Oregon Ridge to work out, and that hill is demanding. Up and down we go, exercise after exercise to the point of exhaustion. But for as much as it takes from you, the hill also gives back. Surrounded by the beauty of lush green in summer and the changing leaves of fall, exhaustion never felt so good!" 13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville | 410-887-1818
The Baltimore School for the Arts
Tracie Thoms, TV and film actress
"I love to walk down the halls and see kids who are just like I was when I was studying here in the early 1990s, kids who are perfectionists and always have to be the best at everything. When I was a student and Jada Pinkett would visit, we'd scream and run after her. Now, when I'm at the school, I'll hear the same screams, and I'll look over my shoulder to see who they're shouting about. Ten years from now, it will be someone else. It always comes full circle." 712 Cathedral St. | 443-642-5167 | bsfa.org
Christmas Mass at the Basilica
Kirby Fowler, president of Downtown Partnership
"I love going with my family to the Basilica for Christmas Eve Mass. The church is always beautifully decorated, and the pews are overflowing with parishioners, all dressed in their holiday best. Before and after the Mass, the parishioners spill out onto Cathedral and Charles streets, adding a level of activity that we don't often see outside in the cold winter months. There is a cheerful buzz in the air, which is 100 percent contagious." 409 Cathedral St. | 410-727-3565 | baltimorebasilica.org
Qing Li, principal second violin for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
"I became a naturalized citizen in Baltimore a decade ago, and one of my favorite places to visit is Fort McHenry for its ties to the national anthem, the serenity of the peninsula, and its beautiful views to the water. When you get to the top of the ravelin wall, which is outside of the fort walls ... it's a clear view out to the water without all the cannons." 2400 E. Fort Ave. | 410-962-4290 | nps.gov/fomc
Jesse Sandlin, chef and former "Top Chef" contestant
"I love saying its name out loud in a bar, and I love the holding the can with the red-and-white label and Mr. Boh. I love how someone is always showing up at a house party with a case of Boh, and I love how no one ever calls it by its proper name, National Bohemian. Most of all I love that everyone knows Natty Boh's not really brewed here anymore and that nobody minds because we have all agreed to agree that it's our hometown beer."
Ravens gameday montage
Jason Winer, TV and film director, executive producer of ABC's "Modern Family"
"The awesome video presentation that introduces the Ravens at every home game. I'm a sucker for a good montage, and what could be better than one that mixes artsy Edgar Allan Poe references with determined slow-motion football heroes? An unlikely pairing? Not in Baltimore. Every year I fly in and go to at least one game with my family, and every time - I admit it - that montage gives me chills. Granted, living in Los Angeles has made me a wimp, and those shivers could be the cold, but I choose to think it's the montage."
Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles pitcher
"I go on the water taxis almost every day. It's just fun to be on a boat and go across the harbor. I'll take it to Fells Point or to Canton. My kids really enjoy it. I love being on the water with the wind in my hair, and the smell of the fresh air."
Sundays at New Shiloh Baptist Church
Larry Young, talk show host at WOLB-AM
"For me, working a five- to six-day schedule, I find my best time is to get up on Sunday morning, and head toward the New Shiloh Baptist Church to hear Pastors Harold Carter Jr. and Sr. give the word that usually allows me to feed upon it for the rest of the week. It's a place where a member or a visitor will hear the gospel music, 6 a.m. prayer, Bible studies, and two of the finest pulpiteers in the nation." 2100 N. Monroe St. | 410-523-5306 | newshilohbaptist.org
One World Cafe
John Astin, actor and Johns Hopkins theater professor
"The One World Cafe, just off campus, is dedicated to hearty veggie meals that would satisfy even the most vicious carnivore. They also serve tuna and salmon for those who insist on devouring something that used to have a central nervous system." 100 W. University Parkway | 410-235-5777 | one-world-cafe.com
The Walters Art Museum
Marin Alsop, music director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
"As a family we enjoy the Walters Art Museum. Our 7-year-old likes it as much as we do. Family-friendly and fun! We especially love our volunteer guide there, Brenda Johnson, who makes the exhibits informative, insightful and fun for us and our 7-year-old." 600 N. Charles St. | 410-547-9000 | thewalters.org
Macaroons at Roland Park Deli
Mark Fetting, CEO of Legg Mason
"Anita Ward owns and runs the deli, recently relocated to Chestnut Avenue in Hampden. She bakes every day at 4 a.m. or so, and her cookies are the bomb: macaroons, coconut-chocolate chip, chocolate turtles. Best-ever, hands-down." 3500 Chestnut Ave. | 410-235-4422
Pimlico Race Course
Frank Deford, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio commentator
"When I was a student at Gilman, I was editor of the school paper, and our printer was located right across the street from the racetrack. I would leave school to take stories to the printer, then skip over to Pimlico and bet the last couple of races, even thought I wasn't 21. Those are fond memories, so that's where I go when I'm in Baltimore." 5201 Park Heights Ave. | 410-542-9400 | pimlico.com
Joyce J. Scott, visual artist
"As a born and reared, dyed-in-the-wool Baltimoron, I bask in the mundane delights of my hometown Arabber. They pass by my block with a medley of their eatables and of course the lingering aroma of horse manure. ... Man, those sweet hazy days."
The smells of Little Italy
Joe Tomarchio, Mr. Tire
"I've always loved Little Italy. Going way back to when I was a young boy and my grandfather would take me down there, the smells still register in my head when I think about those fresh Italian breads, the prosciutto, the other fine smells, walking by the delis and the bakeries. As a kid, my eyes probably got as big as saucers, wanting to taste everything - especially from Vaccaro's."
Baltimore's underground art scene
Doreen Bolger, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art
"There is so much youthful energy and creativity bursting out all over this gritty town in unexpected places. I love the exhibitions that pop up in lofts and bars or behind auto body shops; the music performed in bookshops like Cyclops and Normal's; and performances on improvised stages and in empty store windows. Get in on the fun in Station North Arts & Entertainment District or the H&H Building on West Franklin Street, the nation's only vertical arts district."
The Painted Ladies of Charles Village
Deborah Hazlett, resident artist with Everyman Theatre
"We are lucky to live in a beautiful old building in the heart of Charles Village, surrounded by trees and flowers and graceful old homes. I learned from a longtime Baltimore resident and neighbor that these lovely homes are called the Painted Ladies. I love hanging out in my courtyard with my family and my friends and my Boston terrier. It's rare to live in a city and have this kind of generous space right out our front door."
Mickey Cucchiella, stand-up comic and 98 Rock DJ
"I think my favorite thing about Baltimore is its accent and dialect. Although sometimes ridiculed for having it, I would never try and lose it. I know that many will say it sounds ignorant or even foreign, but it is ours and ours only. Being from Baltimore gives me great pride, and I would never want to lose the one thing that identifies me so clearly with the city I love."
Pat Moran, casting director
"Hoehn's Bakery is the hidden gem of Highlandtown and a true Baltimore bakery. They still use the same massive brick hearth oven from 1927 and the same recipes that came over from Germany with Sharon Hoehn Hooper's grandfather. Honey, they have fresh peach cakes, hot cross buns for Lent and traditional stollen at Christmas; not to mention all that deliciousness is tied with a red string by the cheery bakery ladies." 400 S. Conkling St. | 410-675-2884 | hoehnsbakery.com
The crab cakes at G&M Restaurant & Lounge
Jenn Wasner, lead singer of the indie rock duo Wye Oak
"For my money, this is the best thing you can eat in Baltimore. Yes, I realize everybody says this. I was born and raised here, and this is the only food item that I truly miss, to which I know I cannot find an equal anywhere else in the world. It tastes like lumpy heaven and reminds me of my grandparents." 804 Hammonds Ferry Road, Linthicum | 410-636-1777 | gandmrestaurant.com
The benches at the top of Federal Hill
Sharan Nixon, head of Baltimore Fashion Week
"It's my favorite place away from it all. It allows me a sense of serenity and peace. I can look at as much of the city as my eyes can see. It's very beautiful and tranquil. When I go there, I zone out. It is like an out-of-body experience. I meditate. I become one with the space. It is a meditation place for me. I love to go when it rains because there is no one there but me. I'm so at peace."
Darker Than Blue Cafe
LaDawn Black, 92Q radio personality
"I love this place! Great food and entertainment in an intimate setting. The owners take the time to get to know you and have often stayed late to discuss the community. What a joy to patronize an establishment that is looking to better Greenmount as a whole and is not just focused on its personal growth. Plus, you never know when you are going to walk in and catch live music downstairs or a great exhibit or event upstairs in the private party area. One cannot help but feel the city vibe here." 3034 Greenmount Ave. | 443-872-4468 | darkerthanbluecafe.com
Science Center secrets
Joshua Sharfstein, state health secretary
"Deep inside the Maryland Science Center, past 'Our Place in Space' and 'Your Body: The Inside Story' lies the hidden treasure of the wet lab. Enthusiastic staff and volunteers help fit kids with goggles and lab coats before the experiments begin. Huddled, excited children and adults isolate DNA, identify unknown powders, and test what it takes to kill bacteria. It's science and learning and family all rolled into one." 601 Light St. | 410-685-5225 | mdsci.org
Marc Steiner, WEAA radio host
"Leakin Park is the largest deciduous forest in urban America. That's what they say. And I spent 25 years walking, running and biking through that park before they made it pretty for civilization. I liked it better that way. And it was a very safe place. All you found was dead bodies, but they didn't kill them there. I found a body there, or my dog did. And it was before cell phones and I had to knock on somebody's door and say, 'Call the police.'"
Ambassador Dining Room
Donna Hamilton, anchorwoman at WBAL, Channel 11
"One thing that always puts me in a good mood is strolling through the doors of the Ambassador Restaurant in Canterbury. Doesn't matter what kind of day I've had, the scents of coriander and cumin, the trickling fountain that beckons out beyond the patio, and the gentle sitar music playing in the background are enough to transport me far, far away. I sit down, order a big Taj beer and my usual, Bhindi Pyaaz, dry-cooked okra with onions and spices. An amazing dish in an amazing setting, in winter with the fireplaces blazing, or in summer with the patio doors open. Sigh." 3811 Canterbury Road | 410-366-1484 | ambassadordining.com
Kings Point Bowling Alley
Lisa Gladden, state senator and public defender
"I love Baltimore because I can talk about my bowling average and people won't laugh at me. I haven't bowled in three or four years because I've been so darn busy, but I have a solid 170, 180 average. I threw out the first ball for some bowling fundraiser, and the first two balls went into the gutter. That was because I was using a house ball and house shoes. But the third ball was a strike. Because I'm a bowler, and proud of it." 4111 Deer Park Road, Randallstown | 410-521-5300 | amf.com/kingspointlanes
Cardamom ice cream at the Helmand
Ralph Moore, director of the community center at St. Frances Academy
"It's got all kinds of particles inside that are fun to eat. It's a textured ice cream. I enjoy textures in food. I'm the kind of person who crushes up potato chips and pretzels and puts them on top of ice cream. Some people think that's weird, but I'm enjoying myself. I have a friend who eats bacon sandwiches with honey-dipped doughnuts. There's no accounting for taste." 806 N. Charles St. | 410-752-0311 | helmand.com
The Caesar salad at Peter's Inn
Patrick Sutton, interior designer
"One of my favorite treats is the garlic bread and Caesar salad at Peter's Inn. While we love all the food on the menu, it's fair to say this is what we get the most excited about. We know enough to head over either early or late, as getting a seat is next to impossible during regular dinner hours, but we like to sit at the bar. … The thick, plate-sized slice of bread comes out topped in a sizzling green concoction that tastes of garlic, blue cheese, herbs and olive oil and is perfect with the crisp chopped romaine salad accompaniment. OK, now I'm hungry." 504 S. Ann St. | 410-675-7313 | petersinn.com
Pick-up soccer games in Patterson Park
Bryan Burkert, owner of Sound Garden
"Every night there's like four or five soccer games, all pickup. You just show up with your cleats and play. I played in college, and I don't think I'm good anymore, but I used to be good. It's fun because there's always a game, and you can jump in. People drop down bags for goal markers. If there gets to be too many people, another game will start. It's all age groups. The level of play varies, but there are always games. It's a little intimidating if you've never been there before, but you can stop in and start playing."
The Waverly Farmers Market
Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum
"Especially in the spring, there's the odd chance that someone at the market will have 'fresh' garlic. And by that I mean those scallion-like things, though with a rose hue, that usually are let to grow into big heads of garlic. But they are a form of that magical aromatic plant unto themselves. A handful minced, cooked until brown in that great olive oil that the Greek guy sells, with fresh parsley and parmesan grated over fresh pasta. Add a glass of rosé. To die for." 400 E. 32nd St. | 410-889-6388
Druid Hill Park
Bob Hieronimus, muralist, author, radio host
"Ever since I was little, I've known this was a special place. Its name alone acted as a magnet for me, and I've spent many an hour deep in philosophical discussion with fellow travelers theorizing on the source for it. Before air conditioning, we sought refuge here with long walks, learning from the statues, visiting the zoo and communicating with the eagles."
Pepperoni and pineapple pizza at Matthew's Pizza
James Clack, Baltimore City fire chief
"It was one of the first places recommended to me when I got into town, and we've been back there probably two dozen times in two years. I love getting pepperoni and pineapple. It probably is supposed to be ham and pineapple. But I love the pizza at Matthew's. It's good, fresh ingredients and it tastes good. My youngest daughter shares that preference." 3131 Eastern Ave. | 410-276-8755 | matthewspizza.com
Katie O'Malley, District Court judge and first lady of Maryland
"I often reminisce about our former neighborhood and our home on Walther Boulevard. I loved taking walks with the family and the dogs around Lake Montebello. I often ran around the lake when I was training for marathons. One thing that I remember, and it is such a Baltimore tradition, is the snowball stand a few blocks north of the house where we often took the kids on summer evenings. They had the best snowballs and very special marshmallow sauce."
Trixie Little, burlesque performer
"When the river is flowing, I like to take a bunch of beer and head up 83 towards Monkton to go tubing. It's so amazing to look up at the sky and let the river take you along at its own pace. There's also a section of small rapids, a fairly deep swimming hole and lots of big rocks, some of which have been so deeply rounded by the river that they look like dinosaur bones."
Sandra Long, owner of Charm City Cupcakes
"I've lived in New York and Chicago, and when you go to Charleston, the food is like you are in those cities. It is the best of Baltimore. People need to know that they can come to Baltimore and get the top-of-the-line food. It is magnificent. It's elegant. I normally sit at the bar. (I have a little seat at the corner.) Whether I'm eating an appetizer or an entree, that is where I will sit and have my drink. It is just comfortable, it is just wonderful." 1000 Lancaster St. | 410-332-7373 | charlestonrestaurant.com
Ed Schrader, comedian/musician
"It's beautiful. Sometimes I'll get a cup of coffee and do my work there. All the noises - it's a cacophony of white noise, with the announcements and trains and people walking by. It has this zen quality to it. I focus more when I'm around chaos. It's like meditation. I love Penn Station; it's so underrated as an awesome place just to chill. And to catch a train, if you need to." 1500 N. Charles St.| amtrak.com
Henry Wong, owner of An die Musik
"I have taken a lot of musicians to Zhongshan Restaurant on Park Avenue, like [former Baltimore Symphony music director] Yuri Temirkanov, [pianists] Lang Lang and Yundi Li, because the food is authentic Chinese and the price is right. I really enjoy the Szechuan-style hot pot there. It's one of the best hot pot meals I've ever had. It's very spicy, but I love it. I like to torture myself eating something that hot. Park Avenue may not be much of a location, but in a lot of towns good ethnic restaurants are located in places like that." 323 Park Ave. | 410-223-1881 | zhongshanrestaurant.com
The Abell Open Space
Laura Wexler, co-founder of The Stoop Storytelling Series.
"This pocket playground near the 32nd Street Farmer's Market isn't the best playground in the area. This park has just four swings and a motley assortment of plastic toys and big wheels. … But it's the heart of toddler Charles Village, so there's always other kids and - thank God - other adults there. And there's always some action or gossip brewing, whether it's a mama bird and her babies nesting in one of the spindly trees or the discovery of a loaded gun in the backyard of a nearby apartment building." 300 block of E. 32nd St., between Guilford and Abell streets
Nick's Fish House
Heidi Klotzman, nightclub promoter
"I like Nick's because what's not to like? You're on the water, the shrimp salad is dangerously delicious and it feels like a mini-vacation." 2600 Insulator Drive | 410-347-4123 | nicksfishhouse.com
Frederick H. Bealefeld III, Baltimore police commissioner
"It puts Baltimore on an incredibly big stage. Now that my kids are older, they really love it. My wife goes with her girlfriend pack. She's into the hats - now she has a whole collection of hats. She brought a new friend in this year, and this friend didn't have a hat, so she let the lady, her friend, borrow one. Train was performing … and he goes over and takes this hat from the lady. I was out on the back stretch, and I really wanted to hear them play but I couldn't get there in time, but I see on the screen they're jumping around with this white hat. I think, boy, that's odd. That looks strangely familiar." 5201 Park Heights Ave | 410-542-9400 | pimlico.com
The thinnest house in America
Kim Hammond, veterinarian and international wildlife advocate
"Late at night, after midnight driving by Poe's grave, heading to Montgomery Street to see the thinnest house in America. It's labeled 'Little House' in stained glass over the door. It's all about the hidden treasure found in Baltimore. It's all around you, often camouflaged. Discovery of these by the light of a dark night stimulates conversations that blend history and imagination."
Country music at 1919 in Fells Point
Caleb Stine, Americana singer/songwriter
"That's Baltimore's honky-tonk. They're great folks. I love sneaking in there and playing. There's so much memorabilia on the walls, it's oozing out of the place. The memories abound. I've shown up sometimes and started jamming. [Country musician] Arty Hill plays there. They pretty much have country or country-ish music." 1919 Fleet St.| 410-276-9484
Being called hon, hon
Mitchell Wohlberg, rabbi, Beth Tfiloh Congregation
"I love being called 'Hon.' It makes you feel that you're part of a community and that we're all in this together trying to make this a better place in which to live."
Impromptu lacrosse in Roland Park
Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment
"I love the reliable serendipity of taking a walk from my sister's house in Roland Park on any spring or summer late afternoon, almost certain to come upon a lacrosse game of some ilk in progress on one of the many surrounding fields of my youth. ... The sounds, the smells, the worn grass around the crease, and in an instant, I am not gone and living far away in L.A. with grown children of my own; I am young again, in my true home."
Breakfast Tacos in Fells Point
Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the Maryland SPCA
Tortilleria Sinaloa on Eastern Avenue is easy to miss, being so small, but it serves amazing food starting at 7 a.m. I'm an early bird. My husband and I buy our breakfast tacos and quesadillas and head to the water to have a leisurely weekend morning. 1716 Eastern Ave. | 410-276-3741 | tortilleria-sinaloa.com
Little Italy's Bocce Rollers
Robert McClintock, visual artist
"When we first moved here in 1995 and money was tight, my wife Sue and I had to be creative for our date nights. Back then and even now, one of our favorite cheap nights out is to go to Little Italy's Vaccaro's and pick up a huge pistachio gelato and go and sit and watch the Bocce Rollers at the Sons of Italy Bocce court. Yes, dinner in Little Italy is great, but a nice summer night under the lights in Little Italy watching the local talent is classic Baltimore."
Southern and Northern charms
Ethel Ennis, jazz singer
"As the first big Southern city with Northern sensibilities, Baltimore has always had the right pace for me to grow and learn how to lead a balanced life. I never liked the hectic, fast rhythms of some cities. Here in Baltimore, I can find peace, be inspired and continue to bloom where I was planted. Like many Baltimoreans, my favorite place is home, where I can relax with my husband, cook, play and listen to music. I guess I'm just an old-fashioned homesteader."
The Wine Source
Jed Dietz, director of the Maryland Film Festival
"One of the best beer and wine stores in America, with advice from Ian and Paul, who know growers and brewers, and actually travel with Robert Parker to taste first growth Bordeaux before bottling. In Baltimore? Yup." 3601 Elm Ave. | 410-467-7777 | the-wine-source.com
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine
"For me, music is a rare retreat from my hectic life as a medical school dean. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has provided me with a wonderful outlet for this passion. I try to make an escape to the symphony a regular part of my leisure time. The BSO is a critical piece of the cultural fabric of Baltimore, and we're fortunate to have it." 1212 Cathedral St. | 410-783-8000 | bsomusic.org
The Windup Space
Lafayette Gilchrist, jazz pianist
"Windup Space is really important for me. It looks and feels hip, and it's totally my vibe. I recorded a live thing there a few months ago with my group, the New Volcanoes. That's the club for us. It has the flavor, the ambience, the location that makes the most ideal fit for our music. I also see a lot of improvised music there we wouldn't have otherwise in our town. And there's a diverse audience - young, old, a decent racial mix. It's got everything going for it." 12 W. North Ave. | 410-244-8855 | thewindupspace.com
Turf Valley Golf Course
Paul Blair, former Oriole outfielder and eight-time Gold Glove winner
"How often do I golf there? How often does the sun come up? I can go there and just be me. I've been playing at Turf Valley for 33 years, sometimes 36 holes a day. Got a 6 handicap, too, which isn't bad for an old guy of 67." 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City | 410-465-1500 | turfvalley.com
1st Thursday concerts in the park
Victoria Vox, musician
"One of the coolest things about Baltimore is its hip music scene. One of my favorite (and free) music events is the 1st Thursday Concerts in the Park. The Towson University radio station, WTMD, is a huge supporter of live music and is instrumental in the concerts, which are held at the Washington Monument at Charles Street, from May through October. In addition to the great music (both local and nationally touring acts), I savor the Brewer's Art brew and some nosh, while enjoying a pretty sweet backdrop of Mount Vernon.
Patterson Park Pagoda
Oxiris Barbot, Baltimore health commissioner
"Urban living is best when balanced with tranquil oases of green. Patterson Park does that for me. After a vigorous walk around the park, I particularly enjoy sitting by the Pagoda. A special treat is when the Pagoda is open and I get to climb to the top for a 360-degree view of the city."
Rodney "Pie Man" Henry of Dangerously Delicious Pies
"Mum's is a great dive bar with excellent music. It's a great place to get away from everyone you're trying to stay away from and hang with some folks that truly don't care who you are, or what you do. The beer is cold, jukebox rocks, they occasionally have live music. But above all, they don't put up with any BS." 1132 S. Hanover St. | 410-547-7415
Mac-in-cheese meets Mount Vernon
Sarah Bloom Raskin, a governor with the Federal Reserve system
Nothing matches the enjoyment of eating macaroni-and-cheese-in-a-cup on a bench near the nymph-filled fountain in Mount Vernon Square. You can get the macaroni-and cheese at Home Town Deli - with a side order of advice on the economy from the cashier. 311 N. Calvert St. | 410-244-0672
The half-cow barbeque at Joung Kak
Joe Edwardsen, owner of Joe Squared
"It's not on the menu, but you can order it, though. They just bring out a bunch of beef guts. If you're drunk on North Avenue at 3 a.m., which I often am, it's delicious. It feeds four people, no problem. It's fan-freaking-tastic. It's $50 or $60, but I always end up drinking so much, my tab is like $160. 18 W. 20th St. | 410-837-5231
Jim Lucio, Visual Arts Coordinator for Artscape
"The Club Charles isn't just a cool place to hang out because it's endorsed by ghosts and the occasional celebrity, it really is the best drinking spot in Baltimore. Joy Martin, who in my opinion, is just as much an art director as she is owner, creates tons of atmosphere and gives back to her customers before they even have a chance to order a drink. Great seasonal décor, interesting people and friends can always be found here. Just don't call it the Club Chuck!"
Real Food Farm
Holly Freishtat, Baltimore food czar
"One of my favorite places is Real Food Farm, an urban farm-nestled into Clifton Park, with hoop houses galore. In the height of the season there are an abundance of vegetables and the flurry of students, and in the winter, the hoop houses are a place of warmth where vegetables are growing as the snow is piling up around us." Real Food Farm | 2801 St. Lo Drive | realfoodfarm.org
Art Donovan, former Baltimore Colt and Pro Football Hall of Famer
"Padonia Station has an 'Artie Donovan Burger,' but it weighs 24 ounces and I can't eat it all anymore. So I get a cheeseburger with french-fried potatoes, smothered in gravy. Oh yeah, the hospitality there is good, too." 63 E. Padonia Road, Timonium | 410-252-8181 | padoniastation.com
Lainy LeBow-Sachs, executive vice president at Kennedy Krieger Institute
"For years, one of my favorite things to do on the weekend was jump on my bike and set off exploring Baltimore's diverse, eclectic and historic neighborhoods. I'd cruise through the spacious, tree-lined avenues of Roland Park and Guilford or dodge taxis and tourists around the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. It reminded me how lucky I am to call Baltimore home."
Station North Arts and Entertainment District
Fred Lazarus IV, President of Maryland Institute College of Art
"The Station North area has become the center of Baltimore's emerging music and visual arts scene. It has become recognized nationally for the quality of music and art there. The Area 405 gallery, the gallery in the Railway Express Building and the Single Carrot Theatre are just a few of the places that are worth a visit. When I'm there, I also like to stop at Joe Squared restaurant for some fabulous risotto."
Jamie Costello, anchorman for WMAR, Channel 2
"It seems like yesterday that Proctor and Gamble was producing soap and powder there, but now it's Under Armour's new palace. The view from the deck is one of the best in Baltimore. It's like my secret getaway. Sometimes when nobody is around at night, I can just sit and listen to the soundtrack of the city."