Hampden, Baltimore: Quirky Tips & Useful Guide To The Neighborhood

With most of its focal points situated within a one-mile distance called The Avenue, Hampden is a small neighborhood that packs a big punch.

One of the quirkiest neighborhoods in Baltimore, Hampden is one of my favorite spots to chill at any time of the year.

Hampden Baltimore

During the summer, you’ll find people walking 36th Street aka “The Avenue ” with ice cream from The Charmery or enjoying a meal at one of the street side dining areas. In the winter, the glow from the storefronts calls out to you with the promise of warmth and some amazing finds for holiday gifts.

The neighborhood embraces everything that is Baltimore, from the accent to the kitschy red, yellow, and black decor. The people are friendly, the street is abuzz, and the overall vibe is always immaculate in Hampden.

Tips for Visiting Hampden

  • You could powerwalk the entire stretch in less than ten minutes so don’t make a day of visiting Hampden, but also, don’t leave Baltimore without visiting Hampden.
  • Come prepared to shop because you’re going to buy something even if you don’t plan on it.

Parking in Hampden

There is tons of street-side parking available in Hampden. The Avenue is lined with pay-to-park slots, and while it could get busy during the weekend, I have never had an issue finding a spot within ten minutes.

Do keep in mind that some parts of 36th Street have curbside parking but have the old meters that only take coins. A majority of the neighborhood has upgraded meters where you could pay with a credit card, but bring a couple of quarters along just in case.

Things to do in Hampden

Hampden Main Street aka 36th Street aka “The Avenue”

The Avenue is Hampden’s main attraction. The mile-long stretch on 36th Street starts from the intersection of Falls Road and continues inward. It is lined with boutique shops, thrift stores, music stores, cafes, and restaurants. Hampden is also home to Atomic Books, an award-winning independent bookstore that has been around for over 20 years.

You can spend hours walking in and out of each establishment and perusing the unimaginable odds and ends you’ll come across.

Shop at the Boutiques

Do not visit Hampden without expecting to spend some money. From hip clothing to home decor, you’ll surely find something for yourself or as a gift.

Trohv has a curated collection of unique art and merchandise, most of it locally made. Get high-end bath and beauty products from In Watermelon Sugar. Caravan sources stunning clothing and jewelry from India, Thailand, and other exotic corners of the world.

Go Thrifting

Vintage finds and thrifted treasures await you on every corner of Hampden. Milk & Ice Vintage is one of my favorites because they have everything from abstract cocktail dresses to authentic cheer sweaters from the 60s. There’s more one-of-a-kind clothing at Changed My Mind Vintage – it’s my go-to for a unique piece.

Keeper’s Vintage and Whatnots Antiques are great if you’re in the market for old books, eye-catching decor, and statement jewelry that make a big statement!

Buy Baltimore Souvenirs

Baltimore in a Box is so special that it deserves its own little shout-out. The storefront on 36th street lets you curate a box of Baltimore goodies and ships it to anywhere in the US for free. There are pre-made boxes with all of their best sellers, or you can pick and choose from Old Bay-flavored snacks and goodies, clothing, coffee, decor, art, and more.

They have an ice cream scoop shop with unique Baltimore flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Crowd favorites include the ‘Bawlmer Cookies & Cream’ which is made with locally produced Berger Cookies and the ‘I’m So Crabby’ made from UTZ Crab Chips and vanilla ice cream.

Walking Tours in Hampden

Explore the beauty of Hampden and its intricate history with a self-guided walking tour. Baltimore Heritage, in partnership with the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance, published a comprehensive walking tour brochure that is available at many stores on the Avenue such as Trohv or Bazaar.

The guide was compiled by a local historian and will take you deep into one of the most intact 19th-century urban mill villages in the United States.

Christmas Lights in Baltimore

Annual Events in Hampden

HampdenFest (September)

The main event of HampdenFest is the Toilet Bowl Race – which is exactly what it sounds like. Locals create “race cars” out of toilets and vie for the finish line down Chestnut Avenue. You can also enjoy live music, local vendors, and other family-friendly entertainment.

HONfest (June)

HONfest celebrates the generations of women who helped make ‘Bawlmer’ the amazing city that it is today. The annual festival pays homage to “Hon” culture – a term of endearment that is classic Baltimore.

Alongside eccentric outfits, beehive hairstyles, and feather boa scarves, there are over a hundred craft and food vendors as well as three stages of live music and entertainment.

Miracle on 34th Street (December)

It is Baltimore tradition to grab a hot chocolate from one of the nearby cafes and head on over to Hampden’s 34th Street every holiday season. The entire neighborhood comes alive with lights and decor that will put you in a cheery mood. Keep an eye out for the Christmas tree made from hub cap covers!

Restaurants in Hampden

Hampden is a favored Baltimore spot to have a meal because you will find Greek, Italian, Indian, and tons of other international cuisines in the short stretch. Many of these restaurants have sidewalk/ outdoor dining options that are great for summer nights.

The Verandah Kitchen in Hampden

An eatery serving Indian cuisine in the form of small plates. The chicken curry tacos and the ginger mint lemonade are my go-to combination.

Avenue Kitchen & Bar

A more upscale alternative, this eatery has everything from BBQ to brunch that you can pair with a house margarita or a wine flight.

Arthouse

Small plates, wood-fired pizzas, craft beer, and an evolving array of art by local artists. Arthouse is the physical definition of Hampden dining.

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