It all started in October of last year, when my then-floormate-slash-loose-acquaintance Sarah and I discovered a mutual love for the great store known as TJ Maxx. We sat in our floor’s common room lamenting the fact that our favorite retail establishment did not seem to have any locations close to the Homewood campus. We then remembered that it was 2013 and that this was the type of issue that may be solved by a quick Google search. Fortunately for us, our prayers were answered, as the search showed us that there was indeed a TJ Maxx in our general vicinity, just one Collegetown Shuttle ride away in nearby Towson.

So that Friday, we hopped aboard the shuttle for an afternoon of browsing, bargain hunting, and a misinterpretation of the shuttle schedule that caused us to stay out much longer than anticipated.

We have since made these excursions a tradition of sort, in a monthly event known as Fun Friday.

Usually about one Friday each month, we choose a neighborhood in Baltimore to explore and head off for an afternoon of adventure, oftentimes without a plan or concrete destination. We’ve thrift-shopped in Hampden, ice-skated in the Inner Harbor, pretended to be classy enough to live and Harbor East, and in one accidentally ambitious afternoon walked from Mount Vernon to Fells Point.


Baltimore’s Finest Hood Rats


Because of our strategy of aimless wandering, we’ve discovered some of Baltimore’s hidden gems, basically by accident. We’ve found the best lattes so far at Café Latte’da in Fell’s and A Common Ground in Hampden. We’ve found some of the best baked goods at a small stall in the Cross Street Market and some of the best pizza at the famous Joe Squared.

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Sarah posing uncomfortably with the square pizza at Joe Squared


We’ve also found some of the quirky things that could only exist in Baltimore, a city that I’ve come to learn very much has its own unique personality. The Book Escape, for example, is a bookstore that has expanded to fill the first floors of two houses on N Calvert Street, and a place where I could spend a whole afternoon browsing and buying books I’ll probably never read.

These excursions have become my go-to stress reliever after long weeks of midterms and problem sets and have helped me get to know Baltimore, a city with so much to offer. While there’s something comforting about the “Hopkins Bubble,” there’s certainly more to B’more than the St. Paul Street Chipotle, just a few blocks or bus rides away.

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Two of the finest tourists you’ll ever see