Baltimore, Maryland is one of the top haunted cities in the US. Naturally, it has always been on my bucketlist of places to visit. My coworker, who went to boarding school in Baltimore also said that, fun fact, Baltimore has the most spiders per square inch than any other city. I hate spiders, so really I was there for the colonial history, Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia, haunted pub tours, and murder mysteries.
October would have been the best time to visit Baltimore for haunted Halloween fun, but the opportunity came in June. Ugh, hot, humid, sweaty June on the east coast. Luckily, I was equipped with anti-chafing methods, but was not prepared for the all-day sweat session. With my Nikes tied to my feet and Body Glide on my inner thighs, I set out on foot to find the best things to do in Baltimore.
Visiting literary & haunted Baltimore
If you only have a few days to explore the haunted and spooky history of Baltimore these are the MUST do.
See the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
I first learned of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death from Atlas Obscura. It is an exhibit in the Medical Examiner’s office in Baltimore that is not open to the general public. Inside the Nutshell Studies you will find real relics from actual murders and detailed dioramas of REAL crime scenes. Mostly from the 1940s, these dioramas are used to teach police students what to look for at crime scenes.
Tip to visiting the Nutshell Studies:
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. I wasted $15 on a lyft just to find out I needed an appointment to view the mini crime exhibit. Luckily, Bruce called me back later that day while I was having lunch at Bertha’s in Fell’s Point and I was able to come in the following day.
Visit the Nutshell Studies: 900 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
Leave a penny on Edgar Allan Poe’s grave
Originally, Baltimore’s darkest and well known poet was buried in an unkempt grave now surrounded by the University of Maryland. When you enter the cemetery you are greeted with his shiny marble memorial. Don’t stop there. Edgar Allan Poe’s actual grave is in the back of the cemetery past the half sunken tombstones and slats.
To pay for Edgar Allan Poe’s new final resting place, it was funded by school children donating pennies. To this day, people still stop by to leave a penny on Edgar’s grave. Depending on when you visit, you may also find a bottle of cognac. Flowers and a torn page from The Raven was left on his grave site when I came to visit.
While adjusting my camera settings, a homeless man actually stopped by and laid a penny on the top of his headstone.
Visit Poe’s grave: 515 W Fayette St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Grab a drink at The Horse You Came In On Saloon
In the theme of American literary giants and Edgar Allan Poe, pay homage to the king of creepy by having a drink at his last stop. Literally. The last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen alive was at The Horse You Came In On Saloon. The Horse You Came In On Saloon is one of the oldest bars in Baltimore and is rumored to be haunted by the poet too.
Out of the haunted bars I shared a drink with ghosts at in Baltimore, The Horse You Came In On Saloon had the best music. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any ghosts. But it was nice to pull up a saddle (literally) and drink where some of literature’s heavy-weights also shared libations.
Visit the saloon: 1626 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231
Sit on the steps of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Baltimore apartment
When I was in New Orleans, I enjoyed a drink at The Carousel Bar – a favorite of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was only natural that I visit my favorite American author’s apartment on Park Ave in Baltimore. The grey and black row house looks almost abandoned for being a landmark. If you peer through the windows you can see a bookshelf and there is a sign about leaving packages on the door step. Imagine being someone who lived in the same building as F. Scott Fitzgerald did.
There is a blue marker on the outside of the building that tells passer-bys that you are walking by literary history. He supposedly started renting this apartment to be closer to Zelda who was being held at a facility near by for treatment.
Visit Fitzgerald’s apartment: 1307 Park Avenue
Sip on Prohibition Punch at The Owl Bar in the Belvedere Hotel
The Owl Bar is about a mile away from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s apartment. The Owl Bar is an eclectic bar within the beautiful and historical Belvedere Hotel. After contemplating life in the 1920s on Fitzgerald’s stoop, I went to his neighborhood bar for happy hour.
The Belvedere hotel has a huge ballroom with white linen table cloths and gold accents, reminding me of the scene from The Great Gatsby when we meet Daisy in her home. The Owl bar is located down a small dark hall opposite the ballroom. It is lined with pictures and news clippings of some of the famous faces that have partied or stayed at the historical hotel.
Visit The Owl Bar: 1 E Chase St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Read a book at George Peabody Library
George Peabody Library at John Hopkins University was at the top of my must-see list. You can easily walk from the Inner Harbor or Fell’s Point but be aware of your surroundings. While on my way there I found myself in some less than favorable company. George Peabody Library sits in the neighborhood of Mount Vernon, known as the gay friendly area. On every building you will see rainbow flags and messages of acceptance, even on church walls.
The library is located across the street from a beautiful old church. The church is a striking shade of gothic dark browns in comparison to the more modern grey buildings. The Washington Monument is also right next to the library. It is a cool place to stop and take a few photos.
It doesn’t cost anything to visit the library. You will see a few students studying on the few tables available. But I have no idea how anyone could study with so much beauty around them and tourists snapping photos. You can’t go upstairs, but you can poke around the books on the first floor. You will find records of families that immigrated to the city as well information on other US cities.
Visit George Peabody Library: 17 E Mt Vernon Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Getting around Baltimore
Baltimore has some awesome neighborhoods and landmarks that are spread out around the city. In any other city, I would suggest you get around on foot. Walking is the best way to explore a new town, and gets you the best photos. How else would I have found these awesome doors of Baltimore?
But, Baltimore is a little bi-polar. On one hand, everyone is charming and nice. On the other hand, it’s a little scary and you can find yourself in some sketchy parts of town. I didn’t take quite as many pictures as I usually do because people would make comments about my DSLR. I didn’t want to risk someone mugging me for it.
My Baltimore travel tip: travel by lyft.
It makes visiting Baltimore a little more expensive but everyone from my lyft drivers, hotel staff, and random restaurant strangers advised me not to walk or take the bus. I did walk some areas if it was under a mile. While walking to the George Peabody Library I did run into a part of town that had more graffiti, broken shop windows and trash on the ground that I had hoped. Keep your head down and keep walking.