One of the most historic cities on the East Coast of the United States, Baltimore, Maryland, has seen its fair share of ups and downs, from the attack on Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the creation of the world’s first dental college, and the formation of the United States’ first investment bank, first chartered railroad, first post office system, first Sunday newspaper, and first chartered water company, to the destructive Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, some fairly serious crime rates, and a population that has plummeted from nearly one million to only two-thirds of that today. Wandering around the city, I couldn’t help but appreciate its historical significance (as well as the revitalization around the Inner Harbor) and its fine architectural contributions. Read about the top five buildings in Baltimore >
I had already sampled the surf in Baltimore, Maryland, at Oceanaire Seafood Room, and now I wanted to try the turf. So I crossed over Eastern Avenue Bridge spanning a narrow inlet of the Inner Harbor and entered the city’s Little Italy, where red, white, and green lights stretch across a few streets and the aromas of Italian cooking waft from the neighborhood’s handful of restaurants and cafés. Of these, La Scala Ristorante, consistently rated one of the city’s best Italian restaurants, grabbed my attention with its promise of a delectable meal and possibly a game of bocce. Read more >
The deep blue sea is probably the last great unexplored place on the planet — a dark, forbidding netherworld filled with beauty and mystery that has long held the fascination of mariners and landlubbers alike. Examine any map from the 1500s and you’ll see the oceans illustrated with ferocious sea monsters that terrorized sailors. Although many of the legends and myths surrounding those creatures have been dispelled or explained (mermaids don’t really exist, and the Kraken was most likely a giant squid), the sea and its myriad denizens still fascinate us.
Whether it’s the ferocious dragonfish or horrifying viperfish that could petrify even the bravest explorer, the perennially happy clownfish (thank you, Nemo), the vividly colorful mandarinfish, or the remarkably intelligent dolphin, life under the sea is an ongoing voyage of discovery. Thanks to aquariums around the world, we don’t have to plunge to the ocean floor to see and understand what lies beneath (although that’s fun, too). These are my top five aquariums in the world. Read more >
Repurposing old, beautiful buildings is the best way to preserve a city’s architectural history and unique character, and Baltimore does a fairly good job of it. The Bromo-Seltzer Tower, for instance, is now an artist colony; the Pratt Street Power Plant in the Inner Harbor now houses a giant Barnes & Noble and a Hard Rock Café. You can stay in another landmark building overnight when you check in to the elegant Hotel Monaco, now occupying all 13 floors of the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad headquarters, constructed more than a century ago. Read more >
Crab dinners and Baltimore are practically synonymous, but there are plenty of other fish in the sea, and the Oceanaire Seafood Room has expertly mastered the preparation of many of these options. Just a short stroll east from the Inner Harbor, this upscale restaurant combines a sophisticated nautical ambience with a deep menu overflowing with seafood specialties ranging from Florida yellowfin tuna to Faroe Islands salmon to a wide variety of crustaceans. You may have to shell out a few extra dollars, but that will seem irrelevant from the moment you get hooked on Oceanaire’s offerings. Read more >