Travel: A novel take on visiting Baltimore

Author Anne Tyler talks about the role of Baltimore in her new book Vinegar Girl. Plus, a few travel recommendations.

Baltimore USA

Photo, Scott Wyden Kivowitz/Getty Images.

Vinegar Girl by Anne TylerThe inspiration: Vinegar Girl, Anne Tyler, $30.

Anne Tyler isn’t exactly a fan of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew; in fact, she figured that “whatever I did to this outrageously misogynistic play would be an improvement,” she says. And so Vinegar Girl drops its characters in modern-day Baltimore and gives Kate some actual bite. “Baltimore is so gritty and determined,” Tyler says, “that Kate was bound to feel at home.”


The 135-year-old Hotel Brexton has buckets of charm: a wedge-shaped, brick and sandstone exterior, a pair of turrets and a grand spiral staircase. It was also the childhood home of king-nabbing Wallis Simpson. Rooms from $120, Hotel Brexton.

Hotel Brexton.

Hotel Brexton.


An unfussy crab house perched on the water, Bo Brooks is, in Tyler’s estimation, a true Baltimore experience. “Heaps of steaming crabs are dumped on the table for you to smash happily with your mallet,” she says. Give yourself a night to recover from all that crustacean carnage, then head to Café Cito for one of its perfectly eggy and cheesy breakfast sandwiches. BO Brooks; Café Cito.

Café Cito.

Café Cito.


Last year, two days after the Freddie Gray protests erupted, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played a free outdoor concert for hundreds of locals. This summer, guests like Yo-Yo Ma help celebrate its centennial. If the weather is nice, you’ll find Tyler up on Federal Hill. “With a bit of imagination,” she says, “you can see what Baltimore looked like 200 years ago, when it was a tiny village curling around a harbour.” Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

All aboard!

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