The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Baltimore

With more than 200 neighborhoods to choose from, deciding where to rent or buy a place in Baltimore can seem daunting.

After all, where you choose to live will be key to your experience here. While it’s difficult to narrow down a list to only five places, the neighborhoods below have been selected because they each have their own distinct appeal and history, making them some of the most sought after places to live in the city. As you do some searching of your own, keep in mind that there could be adjacent neighborhoods that are nearly as close to the amenities and attractions that these neighborhoods offer — or that the neighborhood that’s right for you is beyond these core areas.

1. Central Baltimore: Charles Village

Perfect neighborhood for: students, singles, and families

First developed as a streetcar suburb in the early 20th century, Charles Village has wide boulevards set in a gridded street pattern. The neighborhood is almost entirely made up of rowhouses, many of which have landscaped front yards and expansive front porches that make for great spots to people watch when the weather is warm. Charles Village is famous for its picturesque “Painted Ladies,” Victorian rowhouses painted in vivid colors.

The neighborhood is adjacent to Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, where undergraduates study, and as such, many students and faculty live in the neighborhood. It also has a reputation as one of the more racially diverse neighborhoods in Baltimore, a city that has been largely segregated for decades.

If you take residence here, you’ll be within walking distance from the Baltimore Museum of Art and Wyman Park Dell, a 16-acre public park designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Other attractions include the Waverly farmer’s market, which operates year-round, and The Book Thing, a warehouse full of donated books that are free for the taking.

Also consider: Guilford, Waverly

2. North Baltimore: Hampden

Perfect neighborhood for: artists, bohemians, hipsters, and couples

If you’re seeking a neighborhood that’s a little quirky, check out Hampden, which was  ranked No. 15 on Forbes list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods. This diverse neighborhood mixes young artists and bohemians with longtime residents, some of whom have had families living here since the area was a 19th-century blue-collar mill town (listen closely and you may hear the traditional Baltimore dialect).

In addition to rowhomes, this is one area of the city where you’ll also find duplexes and single-family homes, including some in a Victorian style. Hampden’s main commercial artery is 36th Street, known as “The Avenue,” and it’s where you’ll find funky places to shop and eat. Nearby is the 700 block of 34th Street, which lights up in a dazzling display around Christmastime and even hosts its own ball drop on New Years Eve.

Hampden is only 10 minutes by car or Light Rail from downtown. Come by for HonFest in the spring and you’re sure to catch a glimpse of some beehive hairdos straight out of a John Waters movie, some of which were set in this neighborhood. In the summer, HampdenFest is a day full of music, food, and Toilet Bowl Races (yes, you read that correctly — all entrants must include at least one clean toilet). And around the holidays, Hampden is home to the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade.

Also consider: Remington, Woodberry

3. South Baltimore: Federal Hill

Perfect neighborhood for: Millennials, fitness enthusiasts, white-collar workers

If you’re interested in historic charm but prefer modern amenities, Federal Hill might be the perfect place for you. Located just south of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is this neighborhood full of brick rowhomes, many of which have been fully renovated within the past 20 years. A number of them even feature rooftop decks with views of downtown.

Both South Charles and Light streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and fitness facilities, making this a neighborhood you don’t have to leave very often. Cross Street Market has two-dozen stalls filled with local produce, meats, baked goods, flowers, and seafood that comes straight from the Chesapeake Bay.

If you work downtown, this neighborhood would likely be an easy walk or bike ride from your job. And as an added bonus you’ll also be walking distance from both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium — so it may be time to get some Orioles and Ravens gear!

Also consider: Locust Point, Otterbein

4. East Baltimore: Canton

Perfect neighborhood for: young professionals, singles

Settled in the late-19th century by Polish immigrants, today the waterfront neighborhood of Canton tends to attract young, urban professionals. What used to be factories — including the old National Bohemian factory — have been turned into condominiums, offices, restaurants, bars, and stores.

The lively O’Donnell Square is the heart of the neighborhood; it’s lined with pubs and often hosts street festivals. There are also many fitness and yoga centers sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. There’s even a place for your dog to get some exercise: Canton Dog Park, which has separate areas for small and large dogs.

If you enjoy spending time on the water, there is a public boat ramp and fishing pier in Canton, as well as two private marinas. Canton Waterfront Park is a great place for a picnic; you can watch ships coming into the Inner Harbor, marvel at the gigantic U.S. Navy ships docked across the way, or see Fort McHenry from another vantagepoint. This is also a popular place to view the Blue Angels Air Show and watch pedal-powered sculptures test their water skills during the American Visionary Art Museum’s quirky Kinetic Sculpture Race.

Also consider: Highlandtown, Fells Point

5. West Baltimore: Glen

Perfect neighborhood for: families

Developed in the early 1920s and 1930s, the tree-lined streets of Glen are more suburban-esque when compared to other parts of Baltimore, which is primarily filled with rowhomes. This neighborhood feature housing styles that include Tudor, French Norman, and brick ranch houses, as well as condominiums and semi-detached single family homes.

This community is notable for its diversity, including a mix of African American and Orthodox Jews; the Jewish Community Center and the Baltimore Hebrew College are located in Glen, as well as a dozen synagogues.

Living in Glen, you’ll be able to walk to the Metro or hop on I-83 or the Baltimore beltway. The neighborhood is close to Cylburn Arboretum, where you can walk among spacious gardens and hiking trials, and Pimlico Racetrack, which hosts the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Glen is also nearby the neighborhood of Mount Washington, which has trendy restaurants, boutiques, and a Whole Foods grocer.

Also consider: Mount Washington, Cross Keys



Libby Zay