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With pre-spring temps already reaching the low 80s, we’ve really only got one thing on our minds: cooking up kick-ass day trips to get us out of D.C. before the tourists roll in. While it feels a little early to plan outings to big bodies of water, it's the perfect time to look to nearby metropolitan areas for a well-deserved break. Baltimore is but an hour’s drive from D.C., but has a decidedly different feel than our nation’s capital.
Charm City is small-town, kitschy by nature (John Waters, etc., etc.), and not nearly as terrifying as a certain award-winning HBO series would have you believe. There are tons of worthwhile neighborhoods to explore, but today, we’re focusing on Hampden, since most of its coolest points of interest are centrally located on or around West 36th Street (also known as "The Avenue"). Here, you can chow down, fuel up, and check out superb shops without straining one bit to see it all. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite go-tos, but since "cool and unexpected" is Hampden's M.O., be sure to venture off our beaten path with some spontaneous wandering.