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If it's been a while since you've checked out Charm City, you might be surprised at how much is going on, from the revival of several historic neighborhoods to thriving food, drink, and arts scenes. At the heart of the regeneration is leafy, townhouse-lined Mount Vernon, a designated National Landmark Historic District now vibrant with indie restaurants and shops. Nibble edibles from a range of artisan vendors at the Mount Vernon Marketplace (520 Park Ave.; mtvernonmarketplace.com), which is also home to Taps Fill Station, a hybrid bar and “filling station” where patrons can refill reusable containers from on-tap beer, wine, coffee, and oils. Make the charming The Ivy (from $425; 205 E. Biddle St.; 410-514-6500; theivybaltimore.com), opened last year in a restored 1890s mansion, your home base. Of the 18 individually designed rooms some have bay windows, others private balconies, while all include complimentary mini-bars (including liquor), afternoon tea, wine hours in the cozy library, plus multi-course breakfasts and local car service.
Meanwhile, over in Hampden/Woodberry, the once blue-collar mill town is seeing a significant amount of growth. Stroll The Avenue, the bustling main drag lined with galleries and shops like decor-gift haven Trohv (921 W. 36th St.; 410-366-3456; trohvshop.com), which stocks everything from Scottish wool blankets to hand-picked vintage tableware. Then get ready to eat and drink: stellar choices include Basque-inspired La Cuchara, named one Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants of the year (3600 Clipper Mill Rd.; 443-708-3838; lacucharabaltimore.com); Woodberry Kitchen (2010 Clipper Park Rd., No. 126; 410-464-8000; woodberrykitchen.com), with farm-fresh menus from James Beard Award-winner Spike Gjerde; and Cosima (3000 Falls Rd., Mill No. 1; 443-708-7352; cosimamill1.com), a Sicilian/Southern Italian spot set in what was once a mill’s boiler room. Quench your thirst at new breweries like Union Craft (1700 Union Ave.; unioncraftbrewing.com), which offers tours and happy hours with food trucks and live music; and Waverly Brewing Company (1625-C Union Ave.; 443-438-5765; waverlybrewingcompany.com), serving several beers on tap and a rotating menu from local catering partners.
The water has always been a big part of Baltimore identity and appeal, and several neighborhoods along the harbor and bay are also on the rise. Bordered by Patterson Park, row house–lined Canton is home to new dining like the globally influenced Gunther & Co. (3650 Toone St.; 443-869-6874; eatatgunther.com) from noted D.C. chef Jerry Tricem, located in the historic Gunther Brewery complex, and the upscale Alma Cocina Latina (2400 Boston St.; 667-212-4273; almacocinalatina.com), serving made-to-order arepas and fresh ceviche. In Port Covington, the waterfront Sagamore Spirit distillery complex and tasting room is owned by Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank—a devoted local whose other projects include the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel on Fell’s Point’s Recreation Pier; both the distillery and hotel are slated to open in 2017.