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Shopping in Baltimore

Shopping in Baltimore really brings to life the neighbourhood feel of the city.

Key areas

The most brazenly commercial and modern spot is the Inner Harbor, with its Gallery and Harborplace malls, full of the latest designer and brand-name shops. Many of the districts surrounding the harbour area have their own specialities. Mount Vernon's renowned Antique Row, 700-800 North Howard Street, and 200-300 West Read Street, has 40 antique shops and 70 dealers.

A little to the east, on Charles Street, you'll find individual shops, cafes and restaurants. Fells Point's Broadway Market, with its stalls and shops, is the oldest existing building in the city (1785). Nearby are curio shops, galleries and bakeries. Little Italy has a slightly more upmarket feel.

Markets

The oldest market is Lexington, just west of Mount Vernon. Established in 1782, it quickly became the first farmers' market in the USA and continues to thrive today, with a hubbub of dazzling sights and smells. Don't leave the market without sampling a Faidley crab cake.

Others include Cross Street Market (corner of Charles Street and Cross Street), Hollins Market (corner of Hollins Street and Arlington Street), Avenue Market - formerly Lafayette (corner of Pennsylvania Street and Laurens Street) and the new Northeast Market (corner of East Monument Street and Chester Street). Each has its own local colour and flavour. Baltimore Public Markets (tel: (410) 685 6169; www.bpmarkets.com) provides further information.

The Downtown Farmers' Market, Saratoga Street between Holliday and Gay Streets, is open Sunday 0800-1200 (early May to late December). Baltimore has several rare and used book stores; the first block of West 25th Street, close to the Johns Hopkins University campus and the Baltimore Museum of Art is known as 'Book Row'. Visit Kelmscott Bookshop (at 32-34), Royal Books (32), Tiber Books (24), and Johanson Rare Books (34).

Shopping centres

The Village of Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Road is a sure fire winner for shoppers. Its open air setting is charming. It's best known for its locally owned, one of a kind boutiques but also features national retailers such as Ann Taylor and Chico's. Open Monday to Saturday 1000-1800 (until 2000 on Thursday) and Sunday 1200-1600.

On the Inner Harbor, visit the beautifully designed Harborplace and Gallery, 200 East Pratt Street, home to high street shops and good restaurants. Open Monday-Saturday 1000-2100 and Sunday 1100-1900. It also hosts free concerts.

Opening hours

Baltimore's shops follow the opening hours of major US cities, with most opening from 1000 to 2100, Monday to Saturday, and from 1200 to 1800 on Sundays.

Souvenirs

Things to take back are likely to be food based – such as Old Bay Spice (for crab cakes), or sporting – choose from any one of the local teams for jerseys, caps, etc.

Tax information

Visiting shoppers should always retain receipts, as customs may ask to see that the 5% VAT has already been paid locally. Individual shops can provide tax and duty-free forms, allowing tax back on items upon departure from the USA.

Featured Hotels

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Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore

There's something of a beaux-arts feel to this hotel, with marble staircases leading up form the grand lobby. The actual building has been around for more than 100 years, but this belies the modernity of the property, which is sleek and chic. Even the entry-level rooms are of a nice size, and the suites are enormous.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

This contemporary hotel features soothing earth-toned décor, good conference facilities, a fitness centre and all the in-room services you would expect from the Marriott chain. Seafood dishes are especially good at Watertable restaurant. The hotel is conveniently attached to the attractive Gallery mall and has lovely harbour views.

The Ivy

The luxurious accommodation in this 19th-century Mount Vernon mansion aims to give you the feel of staying in the home of a wealthy friend. Nine characterful rooms and suites are fitted out with cosy four-poster beds and sleek bathrooms. Curl up with a book in the library, tinkle the piano or dine in the upscale Magdalena bistro.

Wilson House Bed & Breakfast

Housed in a grand 19th-century mansion this elegant 10-room bed and breakfast offers cosy accommodation near Penn Station. It was here that William Jennings Bryant made deals that led to Woodrow Wilson taking the presidency in 1912. The home is within easy reach of Mount Vernon's cultural venues and eateries and around 5km (3 miles) from the Inner Harbor.

Lord Baltimore Hotel

A fixture in the city since 1928, this is a classic hotel in the French Renaissance style, the huge lobby chock full of chandeliers, staircases and everything you really want on old-style hotel to be. You're only a few blocks from Inner Harbor, and its 400-plus rooms are mostly a good size.

Sleep Inn & Suites Downtown Inner Harbor

A short stroll from the Inner Harbor this hotel puts you within walking distance of Baltimore's main attractions. Rooms are smart and modern with a choice of two double beds or a king bed. Many also have a pull-out sofa bed. A hot buffet breakfast is included.