Look, when you think about Baltimore, chances are, you think about The Wire. We're not blaming you; yes, it really is a phenomenally well-crafted show, the harbinger of the golden age of television, yadda yadda. And the truth is, Baltimore has pretty high crime (more murders than Detroit last year!), but there's so much more to the city than all that. Baltimore manages to maintain this tricky, sweet-and-spicy balancing act of high/low culture that gives it a flavor stronger than Old Bay, and makes it unique in the US.
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.