The American Visionary Art Museum, dedicated to outsider art and self-taught artists, is among the finest in the world, and has earned a lot of critical praise for its profoundly innovative shows that connect with just about anyone, from museum curmudgeons to regular gallery hoppers. Plus, they host the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, which is... a sight to behold, to say the least.
There are reasons that John Waters keeps apartments in far-flung cities, but primarily resides here: this place is full of gritty glamour. Food carts serve up crabcakes on the street here the way other cities sling hot dogs. The football team is named after a goddamn poem, and still wins Super Bowls. Baltimore's neighborhoods each have their own distinct character -- as well as their own allelotype of rats -- from Pigtown (excuse me, “Washington Village”) to Hampden. The artists haven't gotten priced out yet, so the city's creativity is still fomenting.
Bear with me for a moment: if the cities of the mid-atlantic seaboard were high school classmates, DC is the high-strung, overachieving, type-A dean's list student, while Baltimore is the smart, irreverent kid doodling in the back of the room, the one who their teacher secretly likes more and thinks will be more interesting later in life.