Baltimore/Fells Point

Fells Point is a historic maritime neighborhood east of Baltimore's Inner Harbor area that contains the city's densest collection of pubs, bars, and restaurants (good ones, that is).

Understand

Lady Maryland docking

Founded in 1763 and incorporated into the city in 1773, Fells Point is comfortably Baltimore's most charming historic district—indeed, it was Maryland's first designated historic district. The harbor rose to prominence in the early nineteenth century as both a principal destination for immigrants arriving from Europe and for the U.S. shipbuilding industry. Fells Point was the birthplace of the first frigate of the Continental Navy, the Virginia, as well as the famed Baltimore Clipper: a fast ship used for privateering and blockade running to much success during the War of 1812. The wild success of the ships were in no small part responsible for the Battle of Baltimore—the British Navy targeted Baltimore in order to halt the production of these ships, responsible for so much damage to the Royal Treasury!

Fells Point was largely spared the decline faced by the rest of the city in the second half of the twentieth century, owing to the fact that it is simply beautiful. Preservationists kept a close watch on the condition of local historic buildings, and had financial muscle to back them up from wealthy locals who stayed here for the beautiful historic streets, and from businesses, many of which are built on the important tourist sector.

There are a host of other small neighborhoods in and on the periphery of Fells Point, the best known of which is Little Italy, a tiny neighborhood with a very tightly knit Italian immigrant community. Pretty, safe, authentic, and with wonderful food, it's a highlight of any Baltimore visit (as long as you dodge the odd couple of tourist trap restaurants).

Jonestown is now thoroughly off the tourist radar, having undergone serious economic decline after the construction of low income housing projects in the mid-twentieth century, but has a fascinating history as the one-time center of Baltimore's Jewish Community, and is today home to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Beautiful Upper Fells Point is quieter and more residential than its bigger neighbor, but does have a few fantastic cheap Mexican restaurants worth seeking out, as it is home to Baltimore's most rapidly growing Latino community. Butcher's Hill, a one-time German-American and Jewish stronghold, is pretty enough, and undergoing a wave of new construction and development near Johns Hopkins University Hospital, but does not have any significant attractions for visitors.

Film

Fells Point was the principal filming location for the national crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street, which can make for interesting viewing before or after a visit. Don't expect your visit to share much in common with the stories on the show, though—you are highly unlikely to experience any crime while walking the harbor and its restaurants and shops, really any time of day.

Fells Point was also briefly seen in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. The character Becky (played by Rosie O'Donnell) can be seen exiting her car with a bag of groceries while tugboats moored at city pier can be seen in the background.

Fells Point Diner was also the fictional late night eating stop in the movie Diner - where the ensemble characters gathered to bicker about the night's events and multiple mundane topics of daily life.

Get in

Neighborhoods in the Fells Point area

By car

Parking is actually not that hard in Fells Point, although you will need to hunt a little bit for a parallel parking spot. Residential parking is limited to two free hours, after that you may find your car towed. Read the signs carefully. There are also a good number of metered spots on Broadway and around the harbor, which you can pay via credit card at the meter machines.

Fleet St and Broadway are the main avenues, although they are usually terribly backed up with traffic.

By Circulator bus

The Orange route comes in from the Inner Harbor and runs up Central Ave through Little Italy before returning Downtown.

By water taxi

Ed Kane's Water Taxi, +1 410 563-3901, stops at the Broadway Pier, connecting to the Inner Harbor, as well as Fort McHenry in South Baltimore and Canton to the east. Day passes, adults: $9.00, kids under 10: $4.00. May–December only.

By bus

The quite useful, if overcrowded and a bit unreliable, public Bus #11 runs along Fleet St going east to Canton and west to the Inner Harbor, and then on through Downtown to Midtown and on to Johns Hopkins Main Campus in North Baltimore.

See

Do

Phoenix Shot Tower in the snow

Buy

Fells Point is simply put the best shopping district in the city, with a clear focus on smaller boutique stores. It's not the cheapest section of town, but its unique stores make for a great browse even if you don't feel like maxing out your credit cards.

Central Thames St

Eat

Fells Point and its surroundings have a real wealth of restaurants, ranging from cheap, delicious Latino dives to upscale contemporary American—some of the finest in the city. And then of course, there is Little Italy, which is arguably Baltimore's favorite place to dine. It's 100% authentic, and has options ranging from affordable and hearty family-style dining to romantic and intimate to the high end foodie heaven at Aldo's.

Little Italy

Cherry blossoms on the waterfront

Latino

Budget

Attman's Deli

Mid-range

Splurge

St Michael's in Upper Fells Point

Drink

It is profoundly easy to find a drink in Fells Point, and to find others to share it with—there is an astounding number of pubs in the small neighborhood.

Walk around the main streets, and you'll find every other door is both open and bearing a chalk board listing their ridiculous specials, like $6 for all you can drink mimosas over a period of ten hours on Sunday. The bars here are less offbeat than you'd find in other parts of the city, with a bit wider appeal—they tend towards the more traditional faux-Irish pubs. While it's quite easy to go awry with the local restaurants (tourist traps abound), you can have a great bar experience just by walking around and following your intuition. Live music is commonplace throughout the bars every night of the week.

Sláinte, indeed

Sleep

The Inner Harbor is where you'll find the big upscale chain hotels, but Fells Point will give you a lot more local flavor, with smaller inns available, principally historic bed and breakfasts.

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Don't let the fog hit you on your way out

Stay safe

For the most part, this is a very safe section of Baltimore, and you are unlikely to run into any trouble in the well-trafficked neighborhoods of Little Italy and Fells Point. But as with much of Baltimore, rough neighborhoods are not far away—it's best to avoid walking through the Perkins Homes housing projects, and to remain vigilant in Jonestown. The one type of crime that affects visitors in this area is smash-and-grab theft of belongings from parked vehicles; you should keep your car clean, with any items tucked away in the trunk or glove compartment.

Go next

Visitors staying here might find that they don't have much desire to leave. Fells Point has pretty much all you need for a really nice vacation. Of course, don't miss the major attractions in the Inner Harbor or Fort McHenry across the harbor in Locust Point. If you are feeling like a bit of an adventure, though, a trip east to Greektown can make for a very rewarding dining experience. If the nightlife here feels a little too conventional, and you would like to experience a bit of Baltimore's famous quirky/offbeat life (or, for that matter, the opera), hop a cab over to Midtown.

Routes through Fells Point

Owings Mills Downtown  NW  SE  East Baltimore END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.