Traveller's Guide to Baltimore

18th Apr 2023 Paul Alexander Butler

Paul Alexander Butler is a Baltimore local born and raised, and the owner of Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He is also co-owner of Gaming Days, LLC (the home of Free RPG Day).

Hello friends!

Headed to Baltimore in late April for the Pro Tour? Wondering what may await you in Charm City? Baltimore has a lot to offer, but many of the best experiences do require a certain adventurous spirit, as much of the charm comes alive in the various neighborhoods that are scattered outwards from the downtown area. Great food, quirky shops, amazing history, and waterfront strolls await you.


Getting Around Town

Uber and Lyft might be the most hassle free, but there’s a decent bus system as well. Light rail can get you from the airport to the convention center and back. If feeling the wind in your hair is your thing, the city is also full of rentable scooters and bicycles from the likes of Lime, Bolt, Jump, and Spin. Finally, on weekends there’s a water taxi that can take you from the Inner Harbor to some of the neighborhoods across the water.

I would advise you to check the internet for the operating hours of any of the places you plan to visit, as some of them have unusual schedules.



Yes, you’ve seen The Wire. I get it. But there’s also a popular bumper sticker that simply reads “Baltimore. Actually, I like it.” Baltimore is like any major city. Be mindful of your surroundings, plan your travel, don’t foolishly walk down unlit alleys at 4am, and your experience here will be not dissimilar to that in other large urban centers.


Convention Center and Downtown

So what is there to do? I’m going to break it down by neighborhood, so you can decide for yourself how far afield you’d like to explore.

If you’re hoping to stay close to the convention center, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Seven blocks northwest is the historic Lexington Market. The oldest continuously operating market in the United States (since 1782!) just got a $40 million renovation, and it’s an ideal spot to enjoy some of Maryland’s unique treats, like our legendary crab cakes or fudge-covered Berger cookies.

If 19th century horror writers are your thing, just a block away from the market, you can visit the final resting place of Edgar Allen Poe in the graveyard at Westminster Hall. And from there it’s just another half mile to the Poe House and Museum.

The convention center is also very close to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where you can find a variety of restaurants as well as tours of historic ships. If historic ships aren’t your thing, you can also rent a sea-serpent shaped paddleboat or electric pirate ship to go out in the water yourself.

The National Aquarium is also in the harbor area and is not to be missed. From the enormous 260,000-gallon Blacktip Reef exhibit to the jellyfish of Jellies Invasion, there are few aquariums that can compare. See if you can spot the sloth hiding in the trees of the immersive Upland Tropical Rainforest.

On the southwest side of the harbor, you can climb Federal Hill Park for unparalleled views of the city or visit the American Visionary Art Museum. As “America’s official national museum, education center, and repository for self-taught and intuitive artistry” I promise you there’s nothing quite like it. Weird, wonderful, and wild - this ain’t your grandpa’s art museum.


Fell's Point

Across the water from the Inner Harbor and reachable via the water taxi on weekends, Fell’s Point is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and was once home to Billie Holiday and Frederick Douglass. Walking the cobblestoned streets you can find waterfront bars and restaurants, adorable boutiques, and the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum, which honors the contributions that the African-American community has made to developing Baltimore’s maritime industry.

If you’re looking for a pleasant waterfront stroll on a day with nice weather, Fell’s Point is perfect.

Other highlights include The Soundgarden, an expansive music and video shop, and The Horse You Came In On, Baltimore’s oldest bar and long rumored to be Edgar Allen Poe’s final stop before his death.



If you’re going to make one journey out from the Convention Center area, go to Hampden. A 15-minute drive from downtown, “The Avenue” in Hampden (36th street) is the quintessential Baltimore neighborhood, where hipsters rub shoulders with old school Baltimore and “Hon” culture. Coffee, vintage clothing, tattoos, beer, and more are available in the countless little shops and bars, and the people-watching is top notch. My favorite spots include:

  • Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, where the owner Dylan personally sources oysters and other seafood from a variety of regional sources.
  • Mona’s Super Noodle, for pho, noodles, a Laotian take on the classic Baltimore chicken box, and an assortment of interesting booze options imported from Asia.
  • The Charmery, for the best ice cream in Baltimore. Varieties change seasonally but be on the lookout for flavors like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Old Bay Caramel, which combines rich caramel with the classic Baltimore crab seasoning. It’s delicious, I promise.
  • Celebrated Summer Records, a perfect little record store (yes, vinyl, almost exclusively) specializing in punk, hardcore, soul, jazz and rock.
  • Atomic Books, an indie bookstore promising “Literary Finds for Mutated Minds” and oddly, the official place where filmmaker John Waters receives his fan mail.
  • Paper Moon Diner, a 20 minute walk from the Avenue along tree-filled Wyman Park, features a fun menu and the décor is… something. Every conceivable surface (ceiling included) is covered in vintage toys!


More Ideas

Visit the Mount Vernon neighborhood for the Walter’s Art Museum, the cozy basement bar of brewpub The Brewer’s Art, and world-class Afghan food at The Helmand.

The Maryland Zoo is right alongside Druid Hill Park and features an award-winning penguin exhibit.

And we’ve no shortage of unusual museums – the B&O Railroad Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, and the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, just to name a few.



No conversation about Baltimore is complete without talking about crabs. Maryland Blue Crab is arguably the state food. If picking apart a pile of seasoned and steamed crustaceans is your idea of a good time, you’ve come to the right place. There’s no shortage of places to find crabs. Philips Seafood in the Inner Harbor can get you the tourist-like experience, but seek out LP Steamers (not far from Federal Hill) for something a bit more authentic.


I hope you enjoy your stay in Baltimore! And I’d love to see you at Games and Stuff, where we run a Flesh & Blood Armory event every Monday night. It’s an easy trip on the light rail from the Convention Center to the Ferndale stop, where we’re right across the street.

Bring on the Pro Tour!

DISCLAIMER FROM THE AUTHOR: Please drink responsibly.