You've got to grow up here to have that soft twang as the city's name rolls off your tongue. Newcomers never quite acquire the knack, but the local habit of calling everyone "hon" is much more easily adopted. You'll know the accent from seeing films of native son John Waters.
In 1661 David Jones was the earliest English settler in the area known today as Jonestown. The colonial General Assembly of Maryland created the Port of Baltimore at Whetstone Point (now Locust Point) in 1706 for the tobacco trade. The Town of Baltimore was founded and laid out in July, 1729 west of Jones Falls. Named for Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, a founding proprietor of the Province of Maryland, Baltimore was an anglicization of the Irish Baile an Tí Mhóir. The Second Continental Congress met in the Henry Fite House from December 1776 to February 1777, briefly making this the capital of the United States. The 1814 Battle of Baltimore inspired the composition of the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" with references to the British bombardment of Fort McHenry.
Lexington Market, founded in 1782, one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States, was also a place for slave trading. Today The Reginald F Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture is Maryland's largest museum with a focus on the state's and the nation's African-American history and culture, and the African diaspora.
The city has a long history of receiving immigrants from many lands. After New York City, the Inner Harbor here was the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States. Today, in contrast to most big East Coast cities, the place retains an almost small-town way of welcoming people, a world of difference from say nearby Washington -- you won't stand around like a wallflower at the bars here for very long before someone says hello. That said, this is a racially and socioeconomically divided city, with some no-go areas that are best avoided by visitors unfamiliar with city ways. Consult local friends and take a taxi whenever in doubt.
Baltimore has more public statues and monuments per capita than any other city in the country. Some of the earliest National Register Historic Districts in the nation, including Fell's Point, Federal Hill, and Mount Vernon, are here, and almost a third of the buildings (over 65,000) are designated historic in the National Register. The city also boasts cultural assets such as: the internationally renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1916; the Lyric Opera Baltimore at Lyric Opera House; Centerstage, the premier theater company in the city; the Everyman Theatre professional repertory company; and the Arena Players Aftrican-American community theater company.
Educational institutions include: Johns Hopkins University, "America's first research university;" and the affiliated Peabody Institute in Mount Vernon, the oldest conservatory of music in the United States; also Loyola University Maryland Jesuit liberal arts university, the MICA art and design college, Morgan State University, the University of Baltimore, the University of Maryland schools including Coppin State University, and the UM Medical Center teaching hospital.
The Baltimore Museum of Art collection includes 95,000 artworks; 19th-century, modern and contemporary and the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world. The Walters Art Museum is renowned for its collection of world art from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe, plus Greek sculpture and Roman sarcophagi, medieval ivories and Old Master paintings, Art Nouveau jewelry and 19th-century European and American masterpieces. Other noteworthy intitutions include the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor downtown area was neglected and full of abandoned warehouses until the 1970s. Redevelopment began with the construction of the Maryland Science Center in 1976, followed by the Baltimore World Trade Center, and the Baltimore Convention Center. The Harborplace urban retail and restaurant complex opened in 1980 on the waterfront, then the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Museum of Industry soon afterwards. Hotels and office towers quickly filled the spaces around and in between, creating a new heart for this old city.
Baltimore/Washington International Airport has easy rapid rail and bus connections to downtown. Penn Station, at 1500 North Charles Street, is the arrival point for Amtrak trains as well as commuter trains.
Bus lines charge as little as $15-20 to Baltimore from New York, as well as providing inexpensive service from Washington or Philadelphia. Greyhound and Peter Pan pull in and out of The Greyhound Bus Terminal at 2110 Haines Street. The "Chinatown" bus companies, including Chinatown Bus, Dragon Deluxe, Gotobus, and NYDC Express, generally have curbside stops.
Baltimore has good rapid trasit from the airport, through the city and Union Station, to northern suburbs; also a subway line from Owings Mills in Baltimore County, through Downtown to Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. See MTA for details. The rest of the city is badly served by buses, so for convenience, skip the aggravation and take a taxi or rent a car.
Mount Vernon. The semi-official “gay village” occupies the north side of Mount Vernon, along North Charles. It’s about halfway between the Inner Harbor and Johns Hopkins University.
Local Media & Resources
The local gay paper, Baltimore OutLoud, will keep you updated on local LGBT news and events.
The Baltimore City Paper is the weekly general circulation alternative paper for other listings. Website Baltimore.org also has a good set of restaurant listings, events and general tourist information.
The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore has services for, and information about the local gay community.
Creative Alliance hosts events and workshops for artists, educators, activists, and local communities, including music/performances, exhibitions, film/video/digital media, and other special events and festivals at the Patterson Theater in Highlandtown/ East Baltimore. Also here: Dan Savage's HUMP! Film Festival, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Made In Baltimore Short Film Festival in September, and more screenings throughout the year; plus live performances by The Kinsey Sicks on their stage.
MdFF film screenings take place at the SNF Parkway theaters, featuring curated, bold programming with films from every era, region, and genre, focusing on independent, international, documentary, classic, and cult-favorite films. Their Maryland Film Festival is in early May.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below, see our gay Baltimore map & listings pages.
Bars & Clubs
Gay Village bars include Grand Central, a popular spot at the center, with the Drinkery, the Gallery, and Leon's not far away. The 1722 and the Eagle are a bit further north, around North Avenue and the new bar Flavor/ Attic opened just south of Mount Vernon Place. Other bars are scattered across the metro area.
1722 Club (1722 N Charles St), mixed crowd, weekend after-hours dance club with hip-hop and top-40 on Fridays, gayest on Saturdays for house and techno.
Baltimore Eagle (2022 N Charles St), leather/fetish men's cruise bar and Nest Nightclub shows, dance parties and special events; Man Upp DILF/ Cigar/Pipe Socials, Testosterone and Bearracuda events, underwear parties, bear and otter nights, burlesque and bearlesque shows, weekday food specials.
Club Bunns (608 W. Lexington St) mostly men, hip hop and house music dance club with go-go boys, in Mt Vernon.
Club Charles (1724 N Charles St), 1940s Art Deco mixed cocktail lounge/ restaurant, arty, alternative aesthetic, has been a John Waters haunt; eclectic menu, seafood emphasis, veggie/vegan options.
Club Orpheus (1003 E Pratt St), Thusday, Friday, Saturday alternative and underground dance parties in Little Italy, young 18-plus mixed crowd, varied nights/music styles, pansexual, goth and fetish.
Drinkery (203 W Read St) neighborhood bar with family vibe, good jukebox tunes, mixed ages, mostly men. Re-opened June 2016 after closing briefly.
Flavor (15 E Centre St), American bistro small plates, craft cocktails, Sunday brunch, Friday/Saturday late night kitchen and Happy Hours. Upstairs Attic Friday night Queeraoke and Booze Bingo, plus third Saturdays Ladies' Nights.
Gallery (1735 Maryland Ave) mixed men and women locals' tavern and restaurant, African-American fare, good jukebox music variety, bottles to go.
Grand Central (1001 N Charles St), popular video bar and Disco dance club complex, karaoke nights, upstairs Loft Bar with outdoor deck and Saturday women's nights, Sunday Afternoon Tea, Elekroshock first Satudays and other special theme nights each month.
Leon's (870 Park Ave), after almost 60 years, truly a gay institution "where Uniqueness and Imagination Rule." Find meat or veggie burgers, paninis, tacos, and stir fries at Steampunk Alley (227 W Chase St), with WiFi access.
Mixers (6037 Belair Rd) mixed gay/straight club, Fridays are gayest, easy parking out on the North East side, weekend DJs, good sounds, patio deck, monthly drag extravaganza.
The Rowen Tree (1633 S Charles St), South Baltimore neighborhood gay bar, good prices, karaoke, special seasonal drinks, mixed crowd.
CLOSED: Hippo (1 W Eager); Jay's on Read (225 W Read); Paradox (1310 Russell); Quest (3607 Fleet); and Waterstone Bar & Grille (311 W Madison).
Big hotels such as the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront (700 Aliceanna St; 410-385-3000) cluster around the Inner Harbor with all the amenities and conveniences of their kind, much like in any big city. But the smaller hotels and Inns scattered around town can provide a far more intimate experience of Baltimore.
1840s Carrollton Inn (50 Albermarle St; 410-385-1840), a bed & breakfast of interconnected rowhouses around central courtyard, has antique furnishings and lavish comforts. Located just north of Little Italy, steps from free shuttle to all points of interest.
Abacrombie Inn and Restaurant (58 W Biddle St; 410-244-7227) fine food and accommodations at the heart of Mount Vernon between Johns Hopkins and downtown, close to restaurants and most gay nightlife.
Grammercy Mansion B&B (1400 Greenspring Valley Rd; 410-486-2405) elegant b&b rooms and suites, antique furnishings and art, fireplaces, bountiful breakfasts, set in tranquil gardens just north of the Baltimore Beltway.
Hotel Brexton (868 Park Ave; 443-478-2100), boutique hotel in historic building with luxurious accommodations and first-class service, close to most of Baltimore's gay establishments.
Hotel Indigo Baltimore - Mt. Vernon (24 W Franklin St; 410-625-6200) renovated 1907 building, easy walk to the convention center and Inner Harbor shops and restaurants. Was Mount Vernon Hotel.
Aldo's (306 S High St, Little Italy), Zegat's highest-scoring Maryland Italian restaurant; southern-influenced regional cuisine, local organic produce, fishmongers and butchers, sumptuously-appointed dining rooms.
b bistro (1501 Bolton St, Bolton Hill), eggs, and organic seasonal ingredients from their local farm, on-site hand-made pasta, ice cream, pastries, sausages; dinner, a La Carte Sunday brunch menu, rustic and mellow European wines.
Bertha's Restaurant & Bar (734 S Broadway, Fells Point), seafood, ales and bitters, meals and sides, famous for mussels; live music performances.
Cafe Hon (1002 W 36th St, Hampden), "Welcome to Bawlmr, hon!" Crabs, oysters, American comfort foods and other special Hontown fare; lunch, brunch and dinner.
City Cafe (1001 Cathedral St), gay-favorite internet cafe in Mount Vernon, sandwiches, desserts, coffees; coffeeshop weekday breakfast from 7:30am, lunch, dinner and popular weekend brunch.
Club Charles (1724 N Charles St), 1940s Art Deco mixed cocktail lounge/ restaurant, arty, alternative aesthetic, eclectic menu, seafood emphasis, veggie/vegan options. Their nearby 1950s-style Bohemian Coffee House (1821 N Charles St) serves coffee, fresh-baked desserts, sandwiches and more.
Gertrude's (10 Art Museum Dr), cafe at Museum of Art, cookbook author and TV show host star chef, Chesapeake Cuisine regional food and cocktails, indoor or terrace seating.
Holy Frijoles (908 W 36th St, Hampden), popular casual Mexican eatery, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitos, tacos etc, bar/cocktails, take-out.
Jack's Bistro (3123 Elliott St, Canton), innovative American cuisine, beer & wine, weekly specials.
Lost City Diner (1730 N Charles St), cozy retro-style sci-fi themed BYOB diner open weekends until 3am; sandwiches, hot dogs, beef burgers to veggie fare, vegan chili, soda fountain millk or dairy-free ice cream sundaes, shakes & floats, smoothies. Saturday/Sunday brunch benedicts, omelets, burritos and french toast.
Mount Vernon Marketplace (520 Park Ave), freshly prepared artisanal foods; gourmet cheeses, sandwiches/ charcuterie, oysters/ seafood, noodles/ dumplings, crepes, Ethiopian cuisine/ coffee, veggie/vegan burgers/ soups, falafel, juices. salad bar, Korean bibimbap, fresh bread, ice-cream, cookies/ cupcakes, burgers, poutines; plus wines, craft beers, boozy milkshakes.
Obrycki's Restaurant & Bar (BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Concourse B), originally a Fells Point crab house; fresh blue crab meat and other local seafood recipes for first or last chance taste of Baltimore.
Paper Moon Diner (227 W 29th St, Remington), eclectic diner with eccentric decor, near Johns Hopkins University; 7am to late breakfast, dinner, sandwiches, international comfort foods, meat or veggie options.
Sip & Bite Restaurant (2200 Boston St, Canton), old-style Baltimore classic diner, cheap home-style food, local charm, open 24 hors (except Tuesdays). Breakfast throughout the day, late night dining, crab cakes.
Tamber's (3327 St Paul St, Charles Village), Indian and American comfort foods near John's Hopkins University; sandwiches, brunch; meat or veggie options, take-out menu.
XS (1307 N Charles St, Mt Vernon), coffe bar, taste of Asia small plates, sushi, tempura, salads, breakfast omelets and scrambles, sandwiches, entrees, meat/seafood/veggie/vegan options; art gallery exhibitions.
For some more restaurant suggestions see our map and listings tab.