By Doug Pickford
Growing up I became a little familiar with Baltimore mainly through trips to Memorial and Camden Yards stadiums to see the Orioles play. In college I befriended a couple Baltimoreans and made a few more forays into the City with them. But over a recent weekend, I really got to see and learn more about Charm City than I had ever imagined.
The celebration of my nephew’s wife’s 40th birthday (a young folk on spokes) offered us the ability to plan a surprise expedition to Baltimore. Unbeknownst to her, we planned a long weekend of activities and surprises. One such activity was a guided bike tour of the City…a great decision on so many counts.
Recently my wife, friends and I (the Old Folks) have a modus operandi that involves booking bike tours in cities we visit. We’ve done such tours in places like Boston and New Orleans, and more recently Baltimore. On every tour we’ve taken, we have found the tour guides (and companies) to be extremely knowledgeable and super friendly. These tours are developed for novice riders and can usually include children (see tour guidelines when booking for specifics).
A huge advantage of doing bike tours instead of say, a walking tour, is that you are able to see far more areas of the city you are visiting. In Baltimore, we covered just about every neighborhood in the inner city in a three hour timeframe. For our tour, we booked with Light Street Cycles, located in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore. On our arrival (there were 12 Old Folks), bikes were tagged and ready to go. After a few slight adjustments, we hit the streets.
Riding a few of the less traveled back streets in Federal Hill, you quickly realize why Baltimore is given the Charm City nickname – it is a truly charming place! Federal Hill reminds you of so many inner city areas that are fast becoming destinations where millennials are moving to… nice, well kept row homes in walkable (and bikeable) communities located close to downtown areas of employment. Bike lanes are appearing on most streets and access to places like the Inner Harbor is easy.
Our itinerary took us from Federal Hill to Ft. McHenry, back to the Under Armour headquarters, Domino Sugar, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Edgar Allen Poe’s grave, Babe Ruth’s birthplace, Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium…not to mention many unnamed neighborhoods and sections of the city in between. All along our guide reminded us of how “feisty” Baltimoreans were (and possibly still are) known to be, hinging many of their early fortunes on being privateers – or legal pirates who pillaged foreign ships for the government’s benefit.
Joined by four additional riders midway through the ride, the Light Street guides certainly had a large contingent to deal with on city streets. Huge kudos go out to this company, as they made for an incredibly enjoyable, safe and informative tour. I highly recommend Light Street should you venture to Baltimore and want to experience more than just the Inner Harbor (which is what most people do). Friendly, affordable and incredibly knowledgeable – perhaps the Light Street folks forgot to be feisty – or perhaps they simply are becoming more charming!
Light Street Cycles
1124 Light Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230