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Explorin' & Tourin' Part IV

December 4, 2015
  • Fun in Charm City
  • Festivals
  • Holidays
  • Baltimore Events
  • Life in Baltimore
  • Arts/Music
  • B'more Eats
Up next, Hampden!

Next up on our tour is the epicenter of the “Bawlmer” culture.  That’s right, it’s Hampden, Hon!   With its eclectic shops, electric art scene, and delectable array of restaurants Hampden has something for everyone. 

But first, what’s a Hon?  Am I a Hon? Are you a Hon?  Well, the answer – YES, everyone’s a Hon!  “Hon” is short for “Honey” and it’s a slang term of endearment, and is typically used at the end of a sentence.  For example, “How bout dem O’s, Hon?”  It started back in the 60s among the workingwomen of Baltimore who used the friendly term when speaking to neighbors, friends, and visitors.  Cute, isn’t it?

Hampden offers some special events throughout the year to celebrate Hon culture and the neighborhood’s strong sense of community.   Right now, you can head to Hampden to enjoy the spectacular light display on 34th Street.  Every night in December (dusk until 11:00pm) the lights dazzle for all passersby to enjoy.  So take a break from studying for finals and go enjoy some outdoor holiday merriment!  (P.S. 34th Street is super photogenic so if you post any cool pics to Instagram, don’t forget to tag us @baltimorecollegetown or use the hashtag #baltimorecollegetown.  We’ll regram some of the best!) Feeling super festive? Well, this Sunday (December 6, 1pm-3pm) you can catch the 42nd Annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade; and if you’re lucky you may even get to see the big man himself, word on the street is Jolly Old Saint Nick will be making an appearance.


While you’re there enjoying the Miracle on 34th Street, you may as well do a little holiday shopping and grab a bite to eat, right? Right.   So here’s a list of some of the top spots to help you plan your Hampden visit:


  • Atomic Books – literary finds for mutated minds!  This quirky bookshop offers everything from artwork to audio books, from cookbooks to comics.  If you’re looking for unique gift for that friend who has everything, this is the place for you!
  • Trohv ready to spruce up your dorm room or apartment? Trohv is your one-stop-shop for home furnishing, hip decorations, and knick-knacks anyone would be proud to have on their desk. 
  • Twenty 20 Cycling – calling all Bmore bike riders!  This is the place to go for all your cycling needs – repairs, apparel, accessories, rentals, and bikes (duh!).
  • Double Dutch Boutique - modern lines, indie designs, vintage finds!  This unique boutique offers fashion forward pieces from local, national, and international designers. Whether you’re searching for a new staple in your wardrobe or a glitzy dress for a special event Double Dutch has an excellent selection for you to peruse. 
  • Mud and Metal - a shop and a gallery all in one!  Mud and Metal offers guests a selection of “art you can live with,” which includes artistic pieces for kitchen use (think dining sets, servers, glassware) functional art like clocks, mirrors, and lamps, decorative hardware (drawer pulls, nightlights, curtain hooks, and the like), and so much more.  And on the second floor you can visit The Gallery Above, an art gallery featuring the work of local talent that also doubles as a special event space and yoga studio.


  • Holy Frijoles – tasty, affordable Mexican menu with everything from loaded nachos to chimichangas to enchiladas.  (pssstt … for all my 21+ readers, every Monday is Margarita Monday at Holy Frijoles and that means $3 house margs!)
  • Golden West – a Baltimore staple, Golden West offers a diverse selection with American classics like burgers and BLTs intermixed with New Mexican specialties like Huevos Rancheros, which, fun fact, have been featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate.
  • Le Garage one of Hampden’s newest eateries, Le Garage specializes in French cuisine and boasts their artisan frites (that’s French for French fries, FYI) are some of the best around – and I have to agree!  May I recommend a bucket o’ frites with their roasted garlic parmesan aioli dipping sauce, delish!
  • Café Hon – you won’t be able to miss this one what with the huge pink flamingo hanging out above the main entrance.  This local hot spot offers tons of MD themed diner classics like the Hon’s hot crab dip, Bawlmer’s Best Wings (Buffalo or Old Bay), and the Hampden Burger (featuring caramelized onions and secret sauce). 
  • Grano Pasta Bar – fresh, authentic Italian food made to order.  You can select your own unique pairing of sauce and pasta to create your perfect meal.  Need I say more?
  • The Charmery  – I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!  Whenever you’re craving some frozen deliciousness on a cone all you have to do is make a trip to The Charmery.  There, you’ll be able to choose from flavors like Berger Cookies and Cream, Old Bay Carmel, and vegan Toasted Coconut.  Yum!
  • Spro Coffee eating and shopping can be really tiring, I know.  So if you’re in need of a caffeine boost head to Spro for a quality cup of Joe.  Seriously, quality is the name of the game at Spro and its high-standards have earned it several awards from Baltimore Magazine, City Paper, and The Baltimore Sun.  

I realize it’s only December, but it’s never too early to plan for the festivals of the future!  You can start getting excited now for two very special Hampden celebrations:

  • Honfest – June 2016 – celebrate the beginning of the summer by dressing up in your best horn-rimmed glasses, feather boa, and beehive hairdo.  Although Hon attire is not required, it’s always highly recommended, and who knows? This may be your year to win the Baltimore’s Best Hon pageant! You’ll also be able to enjoy live music, hundreds of artisan vendors, and tons of food trucks!
  • Hampdenfest – September 2016 – celebrate the end of summer with another Hampden street festival!  This time ‘round you’ll be able to witness the famous toilet bowl races – that’s right, toilet bowl!  People get really into it, and it’s kindof a big deal if you’re the winner – so get to designing if you’re up for the challenge to become the next Porcelain King (or Queen).  Or, if stationary activity is more your style, there’s also a pie eating contest sponsored by Dangerously Delicious Pies – so don’t forget that elastic waistband!

Well, there you have it, explorers.  I hope you enjoy your trip to Hampden, Hon!

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