5 Reasons Why Baltimore Is The Coolest Place To Be From

5 Reasons Why Baltimore Is The Coolest Place To Be From

"The Greatest City in America"

"Why do all the benches say we are the 'The Greatest City In America?'" I had the hardest time figuring that out when I was younger. Amidst the horrible reputation for heavy drug use, crime and violence, gangs, etc., I do believe that Baltimore still has more positive traits than negative. I am a twenty-something Baltimore native who has moved away and visited many times after. Although there are many other factors and influences that make this place home, I've decided to focus on my top five that really hit me hard when I come back to visit:

1. Weather and nature

In Baltimore County, we get all types of weather. Some days it's sunny and 80 degrees, and the next day it's a high of 46 degrees with an insane wind storm and rain. But despite the bi-polar weather, we get all four seasons, which some people across the country do not get to experience at all. There is certainly nothing worse than a 90-degree day with the humidity levels out of the frame, but we do get the perks of beautiful morning sunrises and evening sunsets. We get all different types of trees and plants that bloom, thrive and then die as the year progresses. We get rabbits in our yards in the beginning of spring, and deer roam our neighborhoods and fields in the dusk of a summer night. We get annoying mosquitos, but we can hear the birds chirp every morning. There is such a delicate balance of beauty here and it's nothing like any other state I've traveled to.

2. Downtown and National Harbor

Baltimore City Skyline

Although the radius and safety factor of this city will not be spoken of in this article (sorry, too depressing), there are actually so many neat things to do downtown and in the surrounding area. Not only is the skyline absolutely unique, there are tons of attractions and history here. For one, the United States national anthem was written at Fort McHenry ('Merica). The ports of Baltimore connect from the Chesapeake Bay and out into the Atlantic Ocean–can you say boat rides? Downtown Baltimore also has so many restaurants that have great seafood, steaks and Italian cuisine. You can also head out to the iconic "Fed Hill" and hit the strip of bars that is overly-crowded with young adults, or head to "Fells" and hang out on the original cobblestone streets and indulge while being near the water. Regardless of where you go downtown, there is a reason why they call Baltimore "Charm City," and only locals know the true spots to enjoy it.

3. Maryland pride

OK, so it's the beginning of April and I went into Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley, and I swear everything to the left of the escalator was nothing but Maryland-pride items. From bright orange Oriole's gear to the deep purple of the Ravens' to the super awesome company Route One Apparel that kicks out nothing but our state pride gear, there is clearly a high demand to rock our state proudly. Not to mention, I live in California now and still rock a Maryland Crab sticker on the back of my car–I have a lot of pride being from this awesome state, and having that sense of community with your neighbors and friends is so special. I certainly don't feel that living in Los Angeles. In Baltimore we have a culture, and we all come together as a family...it's truly an incredible upbringing.

4. Sports

If you're from Maryland, you're into sports by default. It just kind of happens, it's how we all bond–we go out and watch sports and socialize. I really don't know how it works, but that's just the way it is. When there's an Orioles home game you'll probably make it to Camden Yards once or twice on a mid-summer's night with your friends and family to watch the sunset for a 7:05pm game while the stadium lights up orange and we sing the national anthem where we proudly interrupt the bold soul singing with an obnoxious "Oh" during the line "O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave." Or how about in the dead of winter and it's beyond cold out, and we all suit up in dark purple and tailgate hours and hours before a Ravens game in the parking lot of M&T Bank Stadium. There is no more iconic American sport than football and, in Baltimore, we are all about bleeding purple. Yes, we're rowdy, and no, we don't care. (On behalf of the our pride, we will forget about that 2015 season, Ravens. That was a rough one, fam.)

5. Music

I had to save the best for last. There is nothing like the Baltimore music scene. I had such an amazing privilege of growing up with a solid bout of talented musicians and industry pioneers. Because of everyone's talent and dedication, most of us have created our own communities based upon the genre(s) of music that we listen to. We've got some of the quaintest and coolest venues like the 8x10, Rams Head, Merriwether, Soundstage and Pier 6 within our backyards that hold some of the most diverse kinds of music. Thinking about it now, almost all of my friends I stay in touch with here are people I met at a concert or "show." I live in Southern California, and although you'd think we'd get it all, we get skimped on some tours and that makes me bummed. Baltimore really has it all going on for music. And if Baltimore doesn't bring it, DC is an hour away and there isn't a tour that doesn't stop there. Music is a universal language and when we all stop to appreciate it, the world becomes a happier place.

If you're feeling adventurous, follow me on Facebook at Goddessy Outfitters and keep up to date with travel content, inspiration and good vibes!

Cover Image Credit: Ithacaacda

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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4 Breakfast Spots Near The University of Kentucky That Will Actually Get You Out Of Bed In The Morning

These places will satisfy all of your breakfast cravings.


If you're a breakfast foodie like I am, you know that is an absolute priority to find the most popular breakfast spots despite the city you may be in. You don't want to visit the touristy and basic restaurants that everyone else goes to, but instead, you are determined to uncover the locations that are the best of the best. Most foodies will go to great lengths to discover these places. As a University of Kentucky student and major foodie, I have searched all over Lexington to find my favorite places to visit on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This took my entire first semester and many trips to the ATM, but today, I am now blessed to say that I am a regular at all 4 of these incredible breakfast spots.

1. The Great Bagel

The Great Bagel is one of my all-time favorite restaurants to visit on Sunday mornings. The restaurant offers a variety of bagel sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice, and it makes for the perfect early morning start to a day filled with homework or relaxation.

2. Chocolate Holler

Though not a true restaurant, Chocolate Holler is one of the most popular coffee shops near the University of Kentucky. Because it is only a 3-minute drive from campus, Chocolate Holler is always buzzing with UK students who come to socialize or study. The coffee shop is most well known for its chocolaty drinks and the music is great there, too!

3. Stir Krazy

Stir Krazy is a local smoothie bar down the street that serves protein shakes, smoothies, and tea. Though It only consists of these three beverages, the shakes at Stir Krazy are enough to fill you up for breakfast or lunch. Each shake or smoothies range from 200 to 250 calories and serves as the perfect energizer before a workout or a filling recovery drink after a workout.

4. La Madeleine

La Madeleine is a French breakfast and lunch cafe conveniently located on campus (and only a 30-second walk from my dorm). Their breakfast is served all day long and their croissants are to die for. I highly recommend building your own omelet for the most fulfilling experience. Not to mention, their iced caramel macchiatos are a great refresher on the side.

No matter which city, state, or country I am currently in, I make it my mission to eat as a local would. In Lexington, Kentucky, these four breakfast spots are guaranteed provide you with a plethora of different types of food to get you through even the worst cases of morning hunger. Though these places are my current favorites, I am now looking forward to containing the search for more breakfast restaurants, cafes, and juice bars throughout my next four years in this city.

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