Baltimore’s fitness scene is young and restless. New studios are popping up, and energetic crowds turn out to sweat, cycle, and box jump with their neighbors. With 5ks nearly every weekend, there’s always a charity run on the city’s calendar. (We’re home to Johns Hopkins, after all.)
Of course, there’s more than one reason to be jealous of Charm City’s health scene. And we’ve got all the underrated dives and weird art you could want. Want to fit in, hon? Ditch the t in the city’s name, dress in Under Armour, and don’t mention The Wire. Here we go.
We brunch better
Sure, decadent southern-inspired dishes are there if you want them. Think: buttermilk biscuits and gravy or eggs benedict with crab. But health options are all over Baltimore’s quirky brunch scene, too. The popular farm-to-table spot, Woodberry Kitchen, offers hearty quiches with farm-fresh veggies; Blue Moon Café’s got you covered with savory potato pancakes; and Papermoon Diner’s vegan-friendly tofu scramble is packed with flavor.
Under Armour pride
Under Armour is a Baltimore original, and company headquarters set up shop right on the Patapsco River. The city has a lot of pride in the brand, and UA gives back to the community through active programs. They have a community center called the UA House, which is run through Living Classrooms Foundation. Under Armour also hosts a bunch of free fitness events, like a group workout every Sunday. And, the best news, they’re open to the public.
Studios get weird
Small studios thrive in Charm City. Their classes tend to be more focused and creative. Think: drop-in workshops with names like “Witch Yoga” and Grateful Dead-inspired workouts. Small studios also offer discounts and free weeklong trials if you’re new—just ask.
Easy on the wallet
The fit lifestyle is cheap here. Baltimore’s one of the most affordable cities in the Northeast, and you can find free fitness classes nearly every day of the week. Not to mention, affordable cafes and takeout options mean it’s no problem to eat healthy in a pinch.
This boat is real
It’s not all about the Inner Harbor in Balty—although, you can make the Harbor Walk your go-to running route. Baltimore sits right where the Patapsco River meets the Chesapeake Bay. These waterways are cause for the town’s crab craze. So when you’re not breaking out the crab mallets in the summertime, you can hit up the city’s water sports scene. We’re talking kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing within an arm’s reach.
Farmers market love
Balty loves its farmers. Maryland is a major farming state, and growers come from all over for the Sunday market underneath Jones Falls Expressway. This is the city’s biggest market, so expect to spend all morning here. Other smaller markets are spread out throughout the week and make it easy to get cheap, fresh produce and healthy prepared foods on your schedule.
Food festivals done right
The city’s veg scene is on the rise. We’re home to Vegan Soul Fest, an annual celebration of that veg way of life, and B’more Healthy Expo, a daylong series that helps you get your health on track. Both annual events are totally free, so there’s no reason to miss out on seriously delish bites and nutritional know-how.
Old school markets
Before there were hip food halls like R. House, Balty was—and still is—home to old school public markets. Scattered around downtown, this network of six markets is the original approach to counter service (and a few even date back to the 18th century). The small yet iconic Broadway Market on Aliceanna is more than 225 years old and still in business—talk about a classic. Lexington Market and Cross Street Market sell fresh seafood and quick lunchtime bites. You can take your meal to go or pull up a bar stool and fuel up with a hearty breakfast plate.
Booze meets fitness
Boozy and active events supply the city’s beer and bubbly to motivate you through your workouts. Charm City Run hosts weekly pub runs through Locust Point. The Crab & Beer Fest—a natural pairing—cracks open in June; there’s the Craft Beer Festival every October; and the Belgian Beer Festival in the winter. Oh, and don’t forget about Baltimore Beer Week every fall. But if we’re getting back to the fitness other than 12oz. curls, the Charm City Beer Run and Wine Run are the city’s new classics. So you can fill up on beerspiration all year long.
Art all over
Run through any Baltimore neighborhood and you’ll pass by public art; murals, sculptures, and graffiti punctuate the city from Penn Station to the Graffiti Lounge, MICA campus, and onward. We’ve also got Artscape, the nation’s largest annual free arts festival. It dominates the city every summer, where hundreds of thousands sweat it out for three days in July.
Old Bay obsession
If you don’t put it on your popcorn, you’re not from Baltimore. Old Bay is a Maryland-original spice, patented with its own secret recipe. Sure, it’s meant to be paired with crabs. But locals aren’t afraid to get weird with their favorite seasoning. Hit up a summer cookout, and serve up classic Old Bay-seasoned potato salad. Or use it to flavor a healthy serving of grilled chicken. This versatile spice works with any diet.
One word: snowball
Totally not a snow cone. The moment spring hits, Baltimoreans line up at snowball shacks. Forget messy ice cream. As a post-workout treat, locals reach for this flavored shaved ice, instead. And the flavor combos are endless. Consider a snowball the sugar source that cools you down after a long run along the Waterfront. Order the classic egg custard snowball—just don’t over think it. After all, it’s just ice, right? Natural hydration, basically.