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Hidden charms dot Baltimore


One of the pleasures of Baltimore is discovering the places and half-hidden spots that don't get trumpeted much. These lesser known locations are often more interesting than the destinations besieged by the busloads of tourists from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Baltimore can be reluctant to reveal its charms and secrets. You have to search and be prepared to ask some directions. But here are a few places that are made to order for an August day.

* HarborView Marina at the eastern foot of Federal Hill at Key Highway, south of Cross Street. There's a fine new pier and marina that extends into the Patapsco River off Federal Hill. It's now filled with large cabin cruisers and sailboats. From the pier, the Domino plant appears to so close that you feel as if you could reach out and touch one of the freighters unloading raw sugar.

The other morning, the pier had a number of sightseers and boaters, some of whom wisely brought along their binoculars to help identify local sights and landmarks. The Baltimore Museum of Industry sits just to the south of the pier. Don't miss the old steam tug "Baltimore" anchored there.

The long concrete pier is reminiscent of one at a seaside amusement park, minus the midway and rides. It's well landscaped and has ample benches and lights. The views of the downtown skyline and Fells Point are spectacular, particularly in the early morning and in the evening. It's also pleasant to walk through the HarborView marina building, with its restaurant and boating shops. At the pier's end, there's a barge that has its own swimming pool, umbrellas and small clubhouse. You don't expect to see people swimming here.

The Inner Harbor's two water taxi lines will put in here on request. Just inform the gondolier you want to stop at HarborView.

It's easy to forget that only a dozen years ago, HarborView was the bustling Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Key Highway ship repair yard.

* Water Lily Garden, Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. Due west of the restored Homewood House, 3400 N. Charles St., is a square formal garden facing the Johns Hopkins University president's residence. The garden, screened by clipped greenery, is designed around a large water lily garden. On a lazy August afternoon, the dragonflies dart around the claret-colored waterlilies while the trout-size goldfish go after unsuspecting insects. The gardening staff (which keeps the whole campus in great summer colors) puts on a fine display of dahlias here, with blossoms the size of a salad plate.

Many visitors to the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection and sculpture garden (Charles Street and Art Museum Drive) might include a walk here as part of their day.

* Old St. Paul's Cemetery, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Redwood and Lombard streets. Some of Baltimore's first residents sleep behind the high stone walls. This ancient burial ground is generally open on sunny Saturdays from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when custodian Gunnar Richardt regularly cuts the grass and prunes the trees. The spot is an unexpected downtown oasis filled with old tombs and burial plots. Appointments to visit the cemetery can also be made by calling the parish office at 685-3404.

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