A Tour of Hampden
This quintessential Baltimore neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants, shops and art all along one main drag. Here’s how to make a day of your Hampden explorations.
Originally built around the Jones Falls mills to provide homes for the millworkers, this north Baltimore neighborhood began transforming in the 90s, when artists began to take root. Hampden’s main drag, 36th Street aka “The Avenue,” is a great place to grab a bite, share a beer, check out some hip boutiques and vintage shops and immerse yourself in the overall vibe.
Things To Do in Hampden
Most of the action is around Hampden’s main drag 36th Street, known as The Avenue, where you’ll find plenty of locally-owned shops and restaurants such as Doubledutch Boutique, Sixteen Tons, Atomic Books, Bazaar, Lovelyarns, The Food Market, Bluebird Cocktail Room and Zissimos Bar. And keep your eyes peeled for some local street art along the way—you can’t miss the giant flamingo hanging above Cafe Hon!
When you’re ready to take a break from shopping, grab a coffee and local pastry from Artifact Coffee or sit down for some lunch at Café Hon, a classic diner celebrating the working-class women of 1960s Baltimore’s who spoke “Bawlmerese.” Then, enjoy dessert with some handcrafted, super-premium ice cream from The Charmery with Baltimore-inspired flavors like Old Bay caramel and Maryland mud.
Download a map and learn about the neighborhood’s history by taking the self-guided Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance Walking Tour, and stop by the nearby Baltimore Streetcar Museum. When you’re ready for a mental break, enjoy the local parks and trails such as Roosevelt or Wyman Park and the Jones Falls or Stony Run trail.
It’s not hard to find great food in Baltimore, and Hampden is no exception. Here are just a few great places to eat in Hampden if you’re looking for a break from your exploration.
Events in Hampden
There are several annual events and festivals in Hampden. Get a true feel for the neighborhood at these can’t-miss events.
Every year in June, women dress up in full “Hon” regalia to celebrate the uniqueness of the Hampden neighborhood. “Hon” is a historic Bawlmer term of endearment, short for “honey.” The spirit of the hons comes to life during HonFest, when The Avenue fills with food, drinks, music, parades and plenty of beehive hairdos.
This annual late-summer festival (since 2002) on The Avenue brings its notable “Toilet Race Competition” to the neighborhood, where participants race decorated (and clean) “human defecation devices” on wheels down 36th Street. The festival also includes the Dangerously Delicious Pie-Eating Contest, the “Rocket to Venus” Atomic Wings Challenge and plenty of live punk and indie rock performances on multiple outdoor stages.
Miracle on 34th Street
A tradition begun by local couple Bob Hosier and Darlene Hughes, the entire block of 34th Street lights up for the holidays with classic and topical festive decor, including the famous hubcap Christmas tree and bicycle wheel snowman.