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What are Baltimore's best deals and discounts?

The reporters behind Consuming Interests, The Sun's consumer blog, have come up with its list of the region's best bargains, which we share with you in honor of Black Friday.

Some people will mark this day by seeking out doorbuster discounts, but we think there are some amazing experiences to be had that cost no money at all. We've also included some ideas for those who enjoy a little retail therapy.

Home decor: Plagued by blank walls in your home? Stop by the Fine Art Department of the Enoch Pratt's Central Library, where patrons can check out prints and maps, some of them framed, for as long as six months. Be warned, though: Hang on to the images past the due date, and you'll have to pay the standard fine of 20 cents per day.

Free or cheap museums: The Walters Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art are free to everyone, all year round. But you can also enjoy the National Aquarium in Baltimore for less than a third of the regular ticket price. On Friday nights after 5 p.m. from Sept. 11 through March, admire the fishes for only $8 per person, plus $4 for the dolphin show.

Cheap culture: Sign up for the Baltimore Fun Savers newsletter at for a list of half-price tickets every week to theater performances, concerts, opera and more.

Free movies: The Enoch Pratt Free Library is the winner here, offering frequent free movies on a big screen with its Saturday Free Family Films at the Central Library's Wheeler Auditorium as well as Film Talk movies and discussions for adults.

Free books: The library isn't your only source of free reading material. Snag some secondhand tomes gratis at The Book Thing in Waverly.

Free stuff: Trying to furnish a new home? The Baltimore Free Store sets up occasional free markets around the city where people can pick up items for no money at all.

Free education: Check out the offerings at the Baltimore Free School for free classes on music theory, modern poetry, art for children and more.

Cheap drinks: Enjoy free, regularly scheduled tastings of wines and spirits at the Wine Source in Hampden. Trinacria Macaroni Works, the Italian deli and supermarket on Paca Street, offers bottles of wine for as little as $4.

Cheap dinner and drinks: Check and download its iPhone app to find drink specials and meal deals for every day of the week in many Baltimore neighborhoods.

Low-cost shopping: Outlets abound, even beyond Arundel Mills! For bargain basement discounts check out the Goodwill Outlet on The Alameda, where clothes and housewares are sold for $1.69 a pound. Looking for something more high-end? Try the Saks Fifth Avenue Company Store in Aberdeen or the "Gucci" Goodwill, a new boutique store at the University of Maryland BioPark on Poppleton Street. And remember: on the last Saturday of every month, all clothing at Goodwill is half price!

To share your ideas for Baltimore's best deals and discounts, go to

Each friday until 2010, Baltimore Sun bloggers present their top-10 lists in print and online.

Coming next week

Elizabeth Large, author of Dining@Large, presents her top 10 restaurants we miss terribly. To share your thoughts, go to

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