Literary City Guide | Baltimore, MD

I would never want to live anywhere but Baltimore. You can look far and wide, but you’ll never discover a stranger city with such extreme style. It’s as if every eccentric in the South decided to move north, ran out of gas in Baltimore, and decided to stay.
— John Waters, Shock Value: A Tasteful Book about Bad Taste

Tour Guide: Ann Marie Brokmeier

Ann Marie Brokmeier

Ann Marie Brokmeier is a graduate student who loves trying new (vegetarian) food, drinking new beer, reading new books, and tweeting about all of the above. 


Relationship to Baltimore: I wandered into Baltimore seven years ago and couldn’t bear to leave. Charm City truly is charming.

Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Alice Walker, hands down.

Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Baltimore’s talented and beloved chef, Spike Gjerde.

Writing soundtrack: Usually something soothing and contemporary, like The Civil Wars, Neko Case, or The Avett Brothers.

Pen or Pencil: Pen.

Coffee or Tea: Coffee, iced.

Paperback or Hardback: Paperback. 


Good Reads


Atomic BooksAtomic Books is such a gorgeous and odd independently-owned bookstore. They host their own reading club, just added a bar inside of their shop, and are frequented by Baltimore-native John Waters.

The Book Thing. This huge book co-op can keep you reading for years. All books are donated and therefore, free. The only catch? You can only take 150,000 books per day, per person.

Normals BooksNormals is a collectively-run bookstore that has been serving Baltimore for over 22 years. Stop in for new or used books, records, CDs, and various media and try not to get lost in the time warp that is Normals Books.


Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Pratt Library is one of the oldest free public library systems in the United States. With 24 branches in the city and surrounding area, you are never too far away from a book. The Pratt Library stays current through social media, with contemporary events, and by offering eBooks and audiobooks, in addition to traditional print media.

The George Peabody Library. This stunning building offers a look into part of the Sheridan Libraries Special Collections at Johns Hopkins University. It is a research library and, although you are unable to check items out of the building, that’s okay because you’ll never want to leave.


Slamageddon. Head to Club K on the second Sunday of each month for a night of enthusiastic and talented slam poetry. Usually hosted by Baltimore-based spoken word artist, Slangston Hughes, this monthly series is a must-see.

Starts Here! A newer reading series hosted by the amazing Ivy Bookshop. The monthly reading is held at Artifact Coffee, who happens to have the best pour-over in the city.

Worms Reading Series. This reading series brings a diverse crowd together to witness the showcasing of Baltimore’s finest writers.

Poetry & Conversation. This well-attended reading series, hosted at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, brings poets and poetry-lovers in from far and wide.


Literary Mount Vernon Tour. The Maryland Humanities Council hosts an incredibly informative and entertaining free tour of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, with stops at H.L. Mencken’s apartment, the hotel that F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed long-term, and Tupac Shakur’s arts high school, to name a few. Don’t have time to sign up for a tour? Go self-guided with the Baltimore Heritage Walking Tour smartphone app.

Edgar Allen Poe House & Gravesite. Baltimore is one of the many cities across the U.S. to argue ownership of Poe’s legacy. Poe lived and wrote in Baltimore for a short time, and he famously died after stumbling out of one of Baltimore’s still-operative saloons, The Horse You Came in On. While visiting Baltimore, be sure to take the time to visit his house, his gravesite, and the last place he ever had a drink.

Good Eats


Artifact Coffee. The coffee and specialty drinks at Artifact are incredible, but don’t stop there. The food is all locally-sourced with a rotating menu, so it’ll unlikely be the same each time you visit.

Charmington’s. This coffeeshop offers delicious Counter Culture coffee, homemade snacks, and free WiFi, not to mention great service.

TriBeCa Coffee Roasters. TriBeCa employees love coffee and after trying some of their homemade roasted coffee, so will you.


On the Hill. Looking for mouthwatering and sustainable food? On the Hill uses organic, local, and natural ingredients as much as possible, and their food is delicious. 

Alewife. Alewife has won numerous accolades for their delicious Smoke Burger. Pair it (or anything else on their well-crafted menu) with one of the 40 beers on tap.

Woodberry Kitchen. The pinnacle of great Baltimore food. While pricey, it is constantly lauded as one of the best restaurants at which people have eaten anywhere, much less in Baltimore.

Owl Bar. What started as an old speakeasy during Prohibition, is now a popular spot for locals to grab a drink and a slice of brick-oven pizza.


The Charmery. Locally-made ice cream that will knock your socks off. Flavors range from Baltimore favorites (Berger Cookies & Cream, Old Bay caramel, Lemon Stick) to old favorites (Mint Chip, Tell Tale Chocolate) to wild flavors (Chinese Food & a Movie, anyone?). No matter what you get, you won’t be disappointed.

Vaccaro’s Italian Pastries. Serving Baltimore since 1956, there is nowhere else in the city that serves up desserts of such great quality and quantity. Grab traditional cannoli (or two), and more tiramisu than you’ll know what to do with.

Dangerously Delicious Pies. Located in the Baltimore neighborhood of Canton, Dangerously Delicious will serve you homemade pies (sweet or savory) with a side of rock music. Try out their “Date Night special”: two slices of savory pie, two sides, two slices of sweet pie, and two drinks for $20.

Ann Marie's 5 Favorites

1. Favorite view: The Top of the World observation deck at the Baltimore World Trade Center gives you a 365-degree view of the entire city and its surroundings. It is breathtaking and only costs $5.

2. Favorite place to write: Red Emma’s – Grab some coffee and a vegan treat, sit down, write a bit, get distracted by people-watching, write a little more, meander through the bookstore. Repeat.

3. Favorite museum: The American Visionary Art Museum is perfect for eccentric tourists and locals. Between the quirky gift shop, the talented and awe-inspiring exhibits, and free outdoor summer movies, you’ll fall in love.

4. Favorite coffee shop: Milk & Honey provides delicious coffee, treats, and locally-produced groceries.

5. Favorite thing about Baltimore: Baltimore is small enough that there is a sense of community, but large enough that you’re never done exploring it.