Anyone with a crustacean allergy would be advised to stay well away from Baltimore, as crab is the flavour of the month (every month, actually). This local obsession stems from the abundance of blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay, which has resulted in crab dishes dominating Baltimore menus for centuries - steamed crab, soft shell crab, crab cakes and crab dip, just to name a few. Head to the Inner Harbor and ask a local for their hot tip. Pizza and pasta fanatics will find food heaven in Little Italy. This bustling neighbourhood is located an easy walk from the Inner Harbor and boasts a multitude of family-run Italian restaurants, each with its own unique charm but all sharing an unmistakable love of Italian food, wine and culture. Those visiting in summer might be lucky enough to experience Little Italy’s own outdoor film festival after their meal. Thanks to the city’s diverse cultural heritage, visitors can find just about any cuisine they may be craving. Brazilian, Japanese, Spanish and Middle Eastern restaurants are all in the mix when it comes to Baltimore’s top spots. As is the case with Little Italy, many neighbourhoods have a signature flavour. Head to Fell’s Point or Mount Vernon for traditional pub food, Greektown for (no surprises here) Greek, or anywhere on the waterfront for a great selection of seafood restaurants.
When the time comes to splash some cash in Baltimore, variety is king. Home to the oldest antique precinct in America, the Mount Vernon Cultural District is the place to go for anyone who appreciates continental furniture, rare books, vintage collectables and other unique bygones. Though be warned, a whole day can suddenly disappear on this journey back in time. Teeming with students and creative types, the trendy neighbourhood of Hampden exemplifies Baltimore’s ‘Charm City’ reputation more than any other. Walk along West 36th Street and pick up some handmade clothing, quirky pottery, hipster accessories or even a couple of vinyl records. If a day of designer labels and iconic brands is what’s required, look no further than Maryland’s largest shopping facility, Arundel Mills. The half-hour trip from Downtown Baltimore is well worth it for anyone looking to indulge in a full day of retail therapy, with more than 225 stores on offer, not to mention the USA’s most visited movie theatre complex. Visitors confined to the Inner Harbour need not despair - shopping opportunities abound here. Pick up a memento at one of the many souvenir shops, or explore The Gallery at Harborplace for a wealth of modern stores and a stunning view of the harbour itself.