Just wanted to post my trip report and say thanks for your help when I was asking my questions before I left. Had such a great time, and definitely understand why they call it Charm City! Also there was quite a bit of mutual accent love - I love yours, and apparently a lot of you love mine!
Arrived *early* from Philadelphia - took the Amtrak down and it couldn't have been easier. Jumped on the purple circulator bus and dropped my bags off at the HI Hostel on Mulberry Street near the Basilica. The hostel is really nice, super comfortable, and will hold your luggage before and after check in./out I picked up a map and strolled from there down to the Inner Harbor area - still early (about 9:30am) so not many people about. Stopped in at the Visitor's Centre where I picked up a discounted ticked for the American Visionary Art Museum (discount of only about $1.50, but it's on the way so you might as well!). Strolled around to the AVAM and was AMAZED at even the outside of the building, covered in a huge mosaic. This place is absolutely incredible.. I wish I could have taken photos inside! It's something I would absolutely recommend to anyone visiting Baltimore, and have raved about since. Pretty quirky and fun, not your usual stuffy art museum. Loved it. From there I wandered to the Cross Street Market and have to say I didn't love it.. It's a bit browbeaten and was hoping to pick up some bits and pieces for lunch on Federal Hill but nothing really took my fancy - but that is just my opinion. Cross Street itself actually looks like a really amazing spot to wander around though, lots of great little shops but I didn't spend too much time there. Then I wandered back towards Federal Hill and stopped up there on the hill for a few mins to take in the view. From there I went on the circulator bus to Fell's Point where I had lunch and spent the afternoon wandering around. Lots of great looking restaurants here and some great shops too. I went on a bit of a tour with the Orange circulator bus just to see where it went, and jumped off near Camden Yards to pick up my ticket for that night's O's game. I still had a bit of time (although there were lots of people waiting to head inside), but I figured I'd have enough time to head back to the inner harbor to take some photos and maybe take a water taxi for the fun of getting out on the water. Photos are sort of better in the afternoon as the sun is behind you when facing the aquarium at this time of the day - although this means you're facing into the sun when taking photos of the facade of Camden Yards. Took the water taxi out and got back in plenty of time to wander back to the ball park, get something to eat and find my seat in plenty of time for the anthem. It was FREEZING cold, even though the day had been so pleasant... I have to admit that I didn't end up staying for the whole thing because I was so cold!!
I know people had warned me off Lexington Market but I figured I'd go anyway - I was dying for a crab cake at this stage and I'm SO glad I went. I will admit it was in a very intimidating location and the number of police present (on horses, too) reinforced this opinion, so it's a good idea to advertise that clearly to anyone who asks.. Some people might not be as comfortable with that. I have to say I would recommend going, in any case.. Those crab cakes at Faidley's are absolutely TO. DIE. FOR. I also picked up some cookies at the Berger cookie co and they were also just wonderful. Went to see the Washington Monument which is not really worth going specifically to see, in my opinion, but nice all the same and in a really nice area. I caught the bus from there out to Hampden and loved this quirky little area! Grabbed a snack at Cafe Hon with the huge three-storey flamingo outside and this place was right up my alley - such a sweet little diner. Hampden is a really nice spot for shopping - clothes or homewares especially. About 25 minutes on the bus from downtown Baltimore. I spent the afternoon there and on my return to the inner harbour I went up to the top of the world observatory - pretty neat and very inexpensive! For dinner I caught the bus to Nick's - pretty nice spot and bet it's rockin in the summer time - amazing patio area. Crab cakes there were nice but not a patch on Faidley's.
Overall a great trip and wish I had had more time to spend there!