The American Visionary Art Museum. Photo by Jack Hoffberger.

The New York Times’ travel section fixated on Baltimore for a second straight week this month, supplementing its “36 Hours in Baltimore” guide with a column on Charm City’s unique mix of fun, artistic flare and affordability.

Frugal Traveler columnist Lucas Peterson begins his Baltimore tale with a tour of Patterson Park and Highlandtown. His time in the Southeast section of the city included an attempt at the ever-tricky sport of duckpin bowling, dining at sausage-and-beer sweet spot Snake Hill, viewing an exhibit at the Creative Alliance and absorbing the sprawling beauty of the latter neighborhood’s namesake park.

A key part of the Frugal Traveler column is shouting out the best cheap eats in the destination city. Some notables Peterson mentioned, beyond Snake Hill: Atwater’s (egg and cheddar breakfast sandwich for $5.75), Café Hon (blueberry cherry crumb pie for $7), Rocket to Venus (the breakfast banh mi for $11) and Faidley Seafood (the pricier jumbo lump crab cake for $15).

Peterson heard from artists in Station North about the relationship between cheap housing and a thriving arts scene, summarizing testimony from a musician that “many in the arts can buy houses and rent inexpensive studios, lessening the financial pressure artists frequently face.” (It would, of course, be tough to also capture creatives’ safety- and lifestyle-related challenges associated with finding cheap shelter and work spaces.)

In addition to touring the staple art museums (BMA, the Walters, the American Visionary Art Museum), Peterson also learned about the upstart makerspace Open Works, highlighting its cheap courses and monthly studio and office-space rates.

An admitted John Waters enthusiast, the Times columnist thoroughly enjoyed visiting the filmmaker’s unofficial fan mail-collection checkpoint Atomic Books, grabbing some cheap Divine memorabilia at Hampden Junque, seeing Waters’ Catholic school alma mater, the Calvert Hall school in Towson, and even watching an interactive, $9 matinee screening (with scratch-and-sniffs for moviegoers) of “Polyester” (1981) at the Senator Theater in Govans.

His writeup concludes with a description of the black comedy film also serving as his endearing impression of Baltimore: “Strange, wonderful and not caring what anyone thinks.”

Good stuff, Frugal Traveler. Come back anytime.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...

2 replies on “NYT’s ‘Frugal Traveler’ Column Touts Baltimore Art, Good Eats and Duckpin Bowling”

  1. Cool that Peterson likes John Waters. An NYC reporter coming to Baltimore to look at our quaint ways and how we live is straight out of John Water’s movie Pecker. Life does imitate art!

  2. It’s sad and unjust that all the places mentioned in the article above are white owned and/ or white oriented, in a majority black city. What about Water For Chocolate, Kevin Brown’s Nancy cafe, Great Blacks In wax and many more unique places for a visitor to frugally enjoy themselves?

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