A Definitive Gay Guide to Baltimore

5.6.2014

By Jami Smith

With upscale accommodations, creative cuisine, and two LGBT film festivals, Charm City might just be the place to spend Pride season.

There are so many options for LGBT events in May, June, and July that smaller cities can often be overshadowed by their more cosmopolitan neighbors. This year, Baltimore is planting its feet firmly as a prime Pride party spot with three LGBT-centric events, with the first starting later this month. With welcoming neighborhoods like Mount Vernon and Hampden, Baltimore has long welcomed visitors as a quirky alternative to the more buttoned up atmosphere of D.C. But the capital city's punky and spunky little sister also has an upscale side that belies the image cemented by HBO's gritty drug drama The Wire. Whether you're in the mood for a spa treatment or a John Waters movie marathon, Baltimore is out to prove that luxury and personality can peacefully co-exist. Main image by Jay W


EAT: More Than Crab

 

WIT & WISDOM: Bottomless mimosas, great atmosphere, and the best view of the harbor, make this place (pictured left) a must during your weekend stay. If you’re staying at the Four Seasons, it’ll be easy to get to — it's located inside the hotel. Opt for the brunch buffet over the menu so you can taste a little of everything. The specialty cocktails are also out of this world, if you’d rather stop in for Happy Hour to enjoy the sunset. (200 International Drive, more info)


WOODBERRY KITCHEN: Everything about this place is delightful. Nestled off the beaten path in an old mill, the atmosphere is equally hip and romantic. Owner Spike Gjerde offers a creative menu of locally sourced farm to table fare that would give any bigger city a run for its money. For a more lighthearted approach to cuisine, check out his version of comfort food  at the Shoo-Fly Diner. (2010 Clipper Park Road, No. 126, more info)


CITY CAFE: Located within steps of the gay bars in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, the City Café is a great place to grab dinner and pre-game before a night out. The menu offers a little bit of everything from steak frites to Chilean seabass and oysters. (1001 Cathedral Street, more info)

 

SLEEP: The Royal Treatment

 

FOUR SEASONS BALTIMORE AND RESIDENCES: If you can afford it, this is undoubtedly the best place to get pampered. The concierge is impeccable, the bed feels like a cloud, and most rooms overlook Baltimore’s picturesque Inner Harbor. The hotel is set up to cater to your every need, including booking a day of relaxation with a massage or a hot tub soak in their renown day spa. (200 International Drive, more info)

INN AT THE BLACK OLIVE: If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable without sacrificing too many creature comforts, this eco-friendly boutique hotel is a great option. The hotel boasts a clear conscience by operating under strict
Earth-friendly practices while still offering five-star amenities for guests. (803 South Caroline St, more info)

RACHAEL'S DOWRY BED & BREAKFAST: This B&B (pictured right) is located in the historic Ridgely Delight neighborhood, occupying an 18th-century townhouse. Reviews are stellar for this LGBT-friendly option, which comes with all the modern amenities and a beautiful courtyard perfect for wine sipping. (637 Washington Boulevard, more info)


CULTURE: Soak Up Local Color

 

HAMPDEN: This revered northwestern neighborhood is the epicenter of kitsch, made famous by John Waters movies like Hairspray and Pecker. With lots of quirky shops and bars all along “The Avenue” of 36th Street, you could easily fill an entire afternoon basking in this weird and wonderful part of town. If you’re celebrating Pride in Baltimore, Hampden hosts its own festival that isn’t to be missed. HonFest, which is hosted on the weekend of June 14, is pure camp with people dressed in cat eye glasses, beehive hairdos, and garish 1960s wardrobes. A truly original festival, HonFest celebrates all things “Bawlmer” and embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon neighbors and visitors alike by the city's working women ("Hey, hon!").

NATIONAL AQUARIUM: Voted one of the top aquariums in the U.S., this attraction isn’t just for the kiddies. The National Aquarium is a hands-on experience with diver presentations, shark feedings, and dolphin shows. Their newest Blacktip Reef exhibit features more than 2,000 replicated coral pieces and various animal species, including Calypso, the 400-pound green sea turtle. You can experience the reef from several vantage points, from an underwater seating area to a floor-to-ceiling pop-out window that allows you to come face-to-face with the animals. (501 E. Pratt St, more info)

MUSEUMS: There are a lot of museums to choose from in Baltimore but if you only have time to see a couple, you should go to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the American Visionary Museum. Between those two, you’ll get the perfect mix of Baltimore and world culture. The BMA hosts a robust variety of classic and contemporary favorites from Renoir to Matisse, and is completely free. The American Visionary museum, on the other hand, is truly unique to Baltimore and is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It celebrates self- taught artists and hosts some of the most creative and thought-provoking art in the country. (BMA, 10 Art Museum Drive, more info; AVM, 800 Key Highway, more info)
 

PARTY: Mount Vernon Beckons

 

GRAND CENTRAL STATION: Conveniently located in the heart of the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood, this is Baltimore’s most popular gay bar. They host weekly fun events like piano sing-alongs and karaoke, but the main attraction remains the hot boys on the dance floor.  (1001 N. Charles Street, more info)


THE HIPPO: If you’re looking for a slightly more laid back vibe where you can actually hear yourself think, walk right across the street from Grand Central to find a more mixed crowd and a slightly less crowded dance floor. (1 West Eager Street, more info)


DRINKERY: This is more of a neighborhood dive bar rather than a wild, raging superclub. But it certainly has its charms, which include strong, cheap drinks. (205 W. Read Street, more info)


PRIDE: Cinephile's Delight

 

THIRD ANNUAL CHARM CITY LGBT FILM FESTIVAL
, May 29-31
: Creative Alliance’s third-annual Charm City LGBT Film Festival selected six award-winning films that have premiered at the most renowned national and international LGBT film festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, and Tribeca. These outstanding documentaries and features hail from the U.S., Taiwan, Germany, Africa and India, and explore a variety of fascinating themes. (more info)



B’MORE QFEST CITYWIDE
, June 12-15, 2014
: Bringing unity to the community, this four-day festival showcases films by LGBT filmmakers from around the world in several venues throughout Baltimore. (more info)

BALTIMORE PRIDE, 
June 15-23, 2014: Spread out over 10 days, the largest Pride festival in Maryland includes numerous outdoor events, including a high heel race, block party, and "Twilight on the Terrace." (more info)

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