How to spend a day in Fells Point, Baltimore’s seafood-loving, historic neighbourhood

With the oldest saloon in the US, iconic seafood stops and a reimagined 18th-century market, the Maryland ’hood offers the perfect blend of old and new, writes Richard Franks

Tuesday 21 March 2023 12:23 GMT
<p>Fells Point in Baltimore is known for its harbourfront location and maritime history</p>

Fells Point in Baltimore is known for its harbourfront location and maritime history

From an innovative shipbuilding port of the past to a ’burb of iconic seafood joints and live music haunts of the present, this sprightly Baltimore neighbourhood oozes brilliance beyond its street cobbles.

Fells Point was established in 1726 by Lancashire-born shipbuilder William Fell, and actually predates the city itself. On the surface little may have changed – the USA’s oldest operating saloon is here, where writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe last drank just before his mysterious death – but dig a little deeper and you’ll find boundary-pushing boutique shops, a re-imagined 18th-century food market, and possibly Maryland’s most rockin’ breakfast to boot.

Fells Point has a long maritime history

Here’s how to make a day of it in this distinctive neighbourhood in Maryland’s biggest city, from listening to live music and discovering more of Fells Point’s maritime history, to snagging the best seafood in town, sipping a beer in a pre-prohibition saloon, and bedding down in style at a ship-inspired five-star.

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Arrive in style

Fells Point, with its industrial harbourside suburb, was tactically established to serve its former shipbuilders; today it’s suitably placed as a port of call for the famous Baltimore Water Taxi. While Fells Point is the star here, it’s just one of around 30 waterside neighbourhoods and attractions on the Water Taxi map – day tickets for the US’s oldest water transport service of its kind cost $20.

Catch some live music

Baltimore’s music scene is a hot mix of its cultures. Fells Point has always attracted creatives, and has a healthy blues and jazz scene – 1940s swing singer Billie Holiday lived here, and performed here for the first time too. Holiday’s beloved blues lives on over at Bertha’s and the Cat’s Eye Pub, while jazz still pops at Keystone Korner.

Learn about Baltimore’s maritime industry

The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum celebrates the contributions African Americans made in the establishment and development of Baltimore as a leading maritime city. Fells Point was the first working deepwater dock in or around the city; both enslaved and free men worked as joiners, caulkers and sailmakers. The museum traces the lives of Douglass and Myers, two enslaved men turned social reformers and unionists respectively.

The Patapsco River and the sharp red neon Domino Sugars sign


Blue Moon Café

If you only have time for one plate in Baltimore, make sure it’s here. Blue Moon is famous for its Cap’n Crunch French Toast: two slices of thick, sweet bread, topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream and dashings of the popular cereal. In truth, it’s everything that breakfast shouldn’t be, but it’s oh-so worth the calorie splurge. It’s cosy inside and there are no bookings; rock music paraphernalia, local art and photos of the many celebrities to have visited plaster the walls.

Thames Street Oyster House

This stripped-back raw seafood bar and mid-Atlantic fishhouse is a serial award-winner. Pull up a stool at Thames Street Oyster House and knock back a few oysters or warm up on those foggy autumn evenings with a hearty Maine lobster stew, as the salty sea air drifts in.

Broadway Market

Broadway Market dates back to 1786 as one of the city’s first public markets. Today, it’s the very best of Fells Point: a glorious 2019 refurb saw street food tenants sweep in offering sourdough pizza, chicken and waffles, Polish pierogi and home-style Korean dishes. Keep tabs on weekends for local farmers’ and flea markets.

The Horse is Baltimore’s oldest saloon


Max’s Taphouse

With a stonking 1,600 different craft bottles and cans behind the bar and 100 beers on draught, it’s easy to see why Max’s Taphouse is known as The Land of Beer. First, try Baltimore’s own beer, National Bohemian (known as Natty Boh to the locals) before moving on to a locally brewed hazy pale. There’s nowhere better in Fells Point to whet your whistle.

The Horse You Came In On Saloon

The name doesn’t roll off the tongue, so do as the locals do and call it the Horse. Established in 1775, it remains the oldest continually operating saloon in the US and is Baltimore’s only bar to exist before, during and after prohibition. The Wild West-themed Horse hosts daily live music and offers themed cocktails like Poe’s Old Fashioned, in memory of Edgar Allen who spent his final hours in this very establishment.


Forever the experimentalists, Pitango serves excellent coffee, homemade Italian sipping chocolate and freshly squeezed juices. Pair your hot drink with a coconut macaroon and thank us later.


E.C. Pops

Leave all preconceptions at the door, for this gift shop is the vivid treasure trove of quirks and trinkets you didn’t know you needed. Not only does E.C. Pops act as a mini shrine to Baltimore’s iconic Old Bay seasoning (Christmas tree decorations are a must), the store also stocks whimsical tees, silly underwear and daft greeting cards guaranteed to impress your loved ones.

The Sound Garden record store

The Sound Garden

Baltimore’s best record store is without doubt The Sound Garden. This award-winning aladdin’s cave stocks new and used vinyl, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, and just about anything loosely related to popular culture. You never know who you’ll see here either: if a big band is playing in Baltimore that night, they’re probably browsing the shelves beforehand.

Greedy Reads

“I would never want to live anywhere but Baltimore,” said renowned filmmaker, writer and proud Baltimorean, John Waters, whose many works – like Hairspray – are set in the city. Follow the literary spirit of Waters, also a published author, and many other local writers who based their novels on Baltimore, at indie bookshop Greedy Reads.


Canopy by Hilton Harbor Point

Canopy by Hilton

Fells Point’s new high-rise Canopy by Hilton ticks all the boxes for a luxurious stay… and the harbour views aren’t bad either. Overlooking the Patapsco River and the sharp red neon Domino Sugars sign, this swanky hotel is effortlessly modern with minimalistic rooms inspired by their nautical surroundings. Industrial-style sliding bathroom doors and soft curved wooden ascents are nice touches. Its on-site restaurant and bar at Cindy Lou’s Fish House is a lovely spot for dinner and a few Maryland-style rye cocktails, too.

The Sagamore Pendry

Feeling flush? Splash the cash at the seriously swish Sagamore Pendry. This reimagined five-star property harks back to Baltimore’s maritime heritage: from its Cannon Room restaurant deriving from the cannons stored beneath its pier – there’s even one on show – to the mahogany and brass room accents nodding to ships of yonder.

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Getting there

British Airways flies direct from London Heathrow to Baltimore Washington International and Washington Dulles Airports respectively.

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