Visit Like A Local with Naijha & Greg
Discover what Naijha and Greg love about Baltimore, including their favorite things to do in the Inner Harbor, their favorite festivals and their recommendations for must-visit restaurants for vegans.
What makes Baltimore different from other cities?
It's a city of neighborhoods, each having its own personality and charm. Native Baltimoreans are truly proud of their city and its history. It has a level of charm and its artistic exhibitions speak loudly. It's Charm City.
What do you love about Baltimore?
It’s a great city, it’s a down to earth city. There is a lot of history here, a lot of diversity here. You can go to the Gwynns Falls trails to ride your bike or go hiking. The parks are great – Druid Hill Park is the third oldest established park in the United States. The museums are great – Reginald F. Lewis and National Great Blacks In Wax. Our daughter loves Port Discovery. Then you also have the community, that’s what I really like. Because Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods you can easily walk down the street and go to several different neighborhoods and meet a lot of different people. We have a diversity of people and socioeconomics that mix right in this city. Each neighborhood has its individual personality; it’s like going to another state sometimes.
If you only had 24 hours in Baltimore, what would you do?
If it's a nice day, I would hang out most of the day at the Inner Harbor. There's something for everyone – singles, couples, families, everyone. I'd take a water taxi, cruise or the dragon paddle boats out on the water. Dining out would need to include eating at an establishment that offers many vegan options. Near the Inner Harbor, I would go to Encantada at the Visionary Arts Museum. If I decided to venture out, you have The Land of Kush, Grind House Juice Bar, Big Bean Theory, Grub Factory, Golden West, Red Emma's, Joe Squared, One World Cafe, Flight American Fusion and many more situated within the city of neighborhoods. For nightlife, which I don't get much of, I recently partied at Sangria, and another one of my favorites is the Baltimore Comedy Club at the Best Western Hotel.
On a dreary day, if I'm with my daughter, Port Discovery, the Maryland Science Center, or Ripley's Believe It or Not! If I'm alone, I'd go window shopping at Harborplace and The Gallery and dine at one of the veg-friendly places I mentioned.
Where would you take a visitor to experience Baltimore like a local?
I would take them all over to see the fullness of Baltimore, from East to West, all over. Let’s go to National Great Blacks In Wax, the Harbor, Land of Kush, Penn North, Flight American Fusion, Senator Theatre, Arena Players, which is the oldest black playhouse still active in the country, and Lexington Market for food.
Penn North is known as the area where the unrest happened but historically that area is where a lot of clubs were during the height of the jazz era with people like Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway and the Temptations performing in this corridor of hot spots. Billie Holiday is from that area. Malcolm X talked about this area in his autobiography. There is a lot of history there. Any visitors looking for that culture, history and realness are definitely going to want to visit that area. If you want to know what Baltimore really is, that’s what it really is.
Tell us about the vegan community in Baltimore. Why create a vegan festival here?
It’s growing. It’s already grown significantly. There are several restaurants that are vegan like Grub Factory and Grind House, and others that are veg-friendly like Golden West and One World Café. The interest in vegan and vegetarian food has grown significantly since Land of Kush opened and even in the past year.
Over time we’ve seen the need to bring more to the community with Vegan Soulfest, Baltimore Vegan Restaurant Week and the World Vegan Mac Championship. It’s getting people more aware of what it is and the food is good. It’s an exciting time to go vegan!
I've attended plenty of vegan festivals and I don't usually see a lot of my demographic represented at these festivals – people of color. There is this myth that veganism is a "white" or privilege thing, which is far from the truth. You can be any nationality or socio-economic background and be vegan. I partnered with Thrive Baltimore on this event back in 2014. We wanted to bring a vegan festival of this kind smack dab in the middle of Baltimore city. No one was doing this, and now Vegan Soulfest is expected each year. We get people from all over the world as vendors and attendees. It's a fun time to celebrate culture and veganism.
Quick Tips: What are your favorite festivals?
1. Vegan Soulfest – it’s a friendly and open celebration of veganism and culture
2. Artscape – a great place to take children, there is so much to do
3. Baltimore VegFest – another great vegan festival
4. Light City – beautiful and great for kids around the Inner Harbor
5. Jazzy Summer Nights – that’s always a good time
6. AFRAM – we started Land of Kush vending at that festival and we’re glad it’s coming back and getting revamped