how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Baltimore Maryland on $20 a day

This is part of an 18 week, 7,532 mile, Vanabode road trip detailed in the book from Amazon
titled Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day for just $2.99
See East Coast Road Trip for more pictures, itinerary, maps and trip overview.

Baltimore Maryland features the Inner Harbor, Fort McHenry, art galleries and architecture that spans over two centuries. There are nine geographical regions to Baltimore. It was once an industrial town but is now a thriving modern service economy. Baltimore is a successful example of its ambitious efforts at renewal and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Inner Harbor, and the Power Plant are proof how the old is now new again. Go up 27 floors to the observation level of the World Trade Center. The panoramic views of the skyline are fabulous. Up there you are 405 feet over the harbor and can see for miles.

  picture of intercontinental in baltimore maryland

Parking for our 7'2" high van was difficult as all of the parking garages we came across were only 6'8". We finally found outdoor parking near Little Italy which was priced reasonably and across the street from the Public Works Museum. Street parking is metered which I don't recommend because you will constantly be watching the time while trying to enjoy Baltimore. There are other variables to consider in parking garages and private lots due to special events, game days, and weekdays after 5 p.m.

picture of harbor in baltimore maryland

Above: Picture of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Since the 1700s the harbor has been one of the major seaports in the United States. And in the 1970s the cultural center started blossoming to what it is today.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a combination of old brick buildings and modern architecture which is a great backdrop if you live any of the marinas at the Inner Harbor. Before we got started on our walk along Shore Promenade we detoured into Barnes & Noble for a bit. Barnes & Noble is built around the smoke stacks of the old power plant and inside pictures and descriptions tell about the history of the building and you can see the old water tubes from the inside. Other chains such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Gold's Gym, ESPN Zone, Chipotle and Houlahan's are also housed at the old Power Plant. There is plenty of outdoor seating and space for people watching too. It's a popular hang out.

picture of submarine outside of baltimore museum

Above: Picture of an historic USS Torsk docked at the Baltimore Maritime Museum. Baltimore's Inner Harbor is one of the most visited areas of the city.

We walked away from the Inner Harbor to check out some other streets and came across the Maryland Art Place. This not-for-profit center for contemporary art is located in Baltimore's entertainment district at the end of Market Place at Power Plant Live! Plaza. This plaza has a common outdoor area that is surrounded by restaurants and nightclubs. We checked out a mall and some galleries around the area as well.

picture of power plant in downtown baltimore maryland

Above: The Power Plant is a massive entertainment complex. Day or night the area is lively with a book store, restaurants and bars and lots of music.

We went to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine for a couple of hours. We watched the movie at the visitor's center and walked around the fort reading and pushing buttons to hear about the residents and the life at Fort McHenry. It was not crowded inside the star-shaped fort but the surrounding picnic areas and the parking lot was full. During the War of 1812 this fort defended the Baltimore Harbor and stopped the British advance into the city. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and amateur poet, was inspired and wrote what is now known as the Star Spangled Banner, originally entitled Defense of Fort McHenry.

baltimore maryland fort mchenry picture

Above: Fort McHenry is in the shape of a five-pointed star. Along with living quarters for military personnel it served as a prison during the Civil War.

We stayed outside of Baltimore in the community of Forest Hill which is about an hour north of Baltimore. It is not too developed and the roads are scenic while traveling through the area. One morning Yulia and Simon took me on a nice scenic run through the woods at the Ma Pa Trail where we saw deer and rabbits, very quickly though. Yulia brought Jason and I along with her to pick strawberries at a U-Pick farm. I have never picked strawberries before and thoroughly enjoyed it even though I was a sweaty mess afterwards. Their house smelled like fresh strawberries for days while she was making many jars of strawberry jam.

picture of yulia in strawberry field near baltimore maryland

Above: Picture of Yulia and 1/5th of crated strawberries she, Jason and I picked for her yearly strawberry jam recipe. It was a hot summer day but the strawberry picking was fun and the fruit was just beautiful and delicious.

We all ate the biggest and best crab cakes any of us had ever had, and you would never believe they came from a pizza joint. Every crab cake enthusiast knew about this gem too. The place was packed with people eating crab cakes and pizza. So what we did was purchase the crab cakes and cooked them at home, and had a relaxing meal with a bottle of wine and some bread. Simon drove us to the Metro so we could spend one day in Washington, D.C. and then he picked us up at the end of the day. That night we met some friends of theirs in Havre de Grace at an Irish Pub for dinner. We had a great time in and around Baltimore mainly because we employed a Vanabode.

picture of Yulia and Simon at an Irish Pub in Havre de Grace Maryland

Above: Picture of Yulia and Simon with us at an Irish Pub in Havre de Grace.

Jason's thoughts - Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is worth attending as long as you take the time to READ the plaquards and learn. Otherwise the actual hardware and buildings may be disappointing for some. I do not recommend it for kids under the age of 17 unless they are in it for the history. The harbor areas of Baltimore are the only places that I highly recommend spending the day if you are in the area. They are interesting, growing, people full, and have good choices for eating. The proximity to Washington DC is the biggest draw for me personally as a tourist. However it looks like a good place to live if you enjoy East coast weather.

Kelly's thoughts - Now that I am writing about Baltimore I want to go back and spend more time there, but I have to admit that while I was there I wasn't that impressed. I think it might have been that the stores and restaurants around Inner Harbor are typical of America. Of course there are some unique places in Baltimore and that is why I have to go back to get away from the typical tourist areas so that I can give it a fair chance. Now, I'm not knocking Inner Harbor at all. I enjoyed walking around the harbor, it was peaceful and I like seeing the boats at the marinas, and being able to see the cities diverse architecture from this area. And even though I am a city girl, I adore national parks too, and maybe my mood was a little distracted. I'm sure we'll return and I will let you know how much fun we had.

Travel info - Baltimore is located in central Maryland at the head of the Patapsco River which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. It is approximately 40 miles northeast of Washington D.C.

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