Leave US politics behind and discover charming, rebellious Baltimore, writes Sarah Pollok
It may take a few weeks to see everything in Washington DC, but the charming city of Baltimore is just an hour away and perfect for the day. Whether you're a sports fan, a bookworm, a shopaholic or foodie, "Charm City" has something for everyone.
Travelling in your own car may mean more freedom but on the MD295 to Baltimore, it also means commuter traffic, so leave early for a quick one-hour journey. Alternatively, trains and buses go between the cities each day, often leaving from DC's Union Station and arriving in Baltimore's Penn Station just 40 minutes later.
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A hub of shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants, the Inner Harbour is great strip to wander along once you've been dropped off at Penn Station. Although it can feel a touch touristy, the harbour is lively with street performers and links some of the top attractions together, such as the Maryland Science Centre and National Aquarium.
If you were entertaining a tourist, the university library is possibly the last place you'd take them. Unless you're a student at Baltimore's prestigious John Hopkins University, and you study at the George Peabody Library. Built by philanthropist George Peabody in 1878, the building is a picture of classical glamour, with elaborate marble floors and showy furnishing lit by enormous windows. Dubbed the "cathedral of books" it's a must-visit for the travelling bibliophile.
Catch Camden Yards on the right day and you can treat yourself to a game for no more than the price of a crisp $10. Whether you closely follow the Baltimore's team, The Orioles, or simply love some top-notch people-watching, there's nothing like getting among a crowd of American baseball fans.
When you've seen one big department store, you've seen them all. So make the most of the local boutiques and head to the quirky suburb of Hampden. Pay a visit to Cloud 9 Clothing for trendy-but-not-pretentious womenswear, while Hunting Ground has second-hand apparel covered and rare vintage finds can be found at Doubledutch Boutique.
Baltimore may seem charming but don't be fooled, this little city was something of a rebel during the Prohibition era, setting up a ring of underground haunts that remain today. Although you're spoilt for choice, those who love a craft anything can't leave without visiting RYE. Credited with bringing craft cocktails to Baltimore in 2011, the beloved bar has a trendy speakeasy fit-out and cocktails you'll spend the rest of your life reminiscing about.
Stride into the Hotel Revival and take the elevator to the top. There you'll find the gem that is Topside; a rooftop restaurant with old-school diner charm and the best views in the city. Expect classic American plates with a twist, like jalapeno crab rolls, baked ricotta cauliflower, and tender short ribs, finished off with icecream sandwiches and churros.