Penn North – Baltimore, MD

The neighborhood of Penn North lies between Druid Lake and West North Avenue, with Coppin State University just to the west and Jones Falls to the east. Only 2.6 miles northwest of Baltimore, the inner city living provides an abundance of opportunities for residents. The busy urban streets of Penn North are lined with large brick townhomes. The artsy neighborhood consists mostly of residential properties, allowing for a quieter atmosphere than that of downtown Baltimore, which sits just minutes away. Druid Park acts as the main source of entertainment for most residents in the neighborhood.

Schools in Penn North

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Look for many fast food restaurants, street vendors, and Asian diners inside the Penn North neighborhood. Many of the places to grab food sit on W. North Avenue between N. Fulton Avenue and I-83. Otherwise, as you head toward downtown Baltimore, many upscale restaurants exist with menus that feature ethnic dishes from all over the world. Great Granns next to the Penn/North Station has a large menu full of traditional comfort foods. This hidden gem remains a favorite of locals. For a reasonable price, you can get fresh juice, breaded fish, BBQ, collard greens, shrimp and even Cornish hen. Daily specials often show on a dry-erase board as you enter the establishment. For something more upscale and relaxed, try the On the Hill Café that sits on John Street. This café serves some of the best coffee around and serves premium, all-natural food. It strives to keep the community clean by using wind power and composting, along with joining programs to protect the environment even further. Featuring ingredients from local farms, the menu include dishes such as hormone-free burgers with the toppings of your choice. Dishes of Mexican influence like tamale cakes and quesadillas also fill out the menu.

History & Culture

The neighborhood dates back over 100 years. Since the 1870s, when English settlers first began to arrive, Penn North has consistently grown into a residential region. Businesses began to pop up, and by the 1900s, residents started settling as near as possible to Druid Lake. Several museums exist within the region that teach residents about the history of their surroundings. Other than learning about the history of the city, you can head to the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens. The Rawlings Conservatory has five greenhouse rooms and a half-acre flower garden. Many educational programs and events continue year-round. Downtown, America’s largest free art festival happens annually. Artscape goes on for three consecutive days. With over 150 artists, the festival draws nearly 40,000 people every year. Live concerts, festival food and hands-on activities make the event fun for all ages.

Transportation

While the neighborhood stays rather busy, walking around remains easy due to sidewalks. Bicycling also offers great means of transportation, as do private vehicles. I-83, N. Fulton Avenue and N. West Avenue make traveling much easier. The main roads take you to the center of town, to Druid Park and anywhere else you might need to go. Uber provides rides for the entire Baltimore area, as does the Amtrak station. Taxis can also be hailed in certain areas of the community. With all the forms of public transportation available, a private vehicle isn’t as necessary. Public parking is readily available throughout the area making it possible to park your vehicle close by your destination.

Cost

Penn North continues to present residents with a cheaper way of living. One-bedroom rentals average at about $600 significantly lower than the rentals in the downtown region of Baltimore. Taking an UberX ride to the center of Baltimore costs around $8. Taking the Amtrak runs only a few dollars less than a cab, but weekly and monthly passes bring the cost down even more. The average fuel rate remains about even with the national average. Grabbing a cold beer at one of the local pubs remains cheaper in the neighborhood at about $3 a pint.

Shopping

When in need of normal household necessities, groceries or clothes, you can find it all within walking distance from your home. The nearest mall sits on Liberty Heights Avenue to the west. The Mondawmin Mall has several levels and many mainstream shops. Other than the mall, boutiques, specialty shops and other privately owned stores align on W. North Avenue toward the heart of Baltimore. Everyone’s Place African Cultural Center resides on W. North Avenue and features everything from books to tapestries. Anything that might appeal to lovers of African culture is for sale at this center. The low prices and variety of goods make it a fun stop. While the shop appears small on the outside, the roomy inside showcases walls of books for sale. Grocery stores like the C&M Market, Penn Supermarket and Mama Food Market make shopping for food an easy task. For fresh produce, prepared foods, crafts and fun, head to Druid Hill Farmers Market near the park on Wednesdays from June until September. Freshly baked goods fill the air with sweet aromas as you walk through the outdoor marketplace purchasing locally grown foods.

Parks

Obviously being nestled next to Druid Park helps surround the Penn North neighborhood with natural settings where residents can escape after a long day. The park provides locals with historical monuments, recreational areas and educational facilities. It also has playgrounds, hiking trails, athletic fields, a swimming pool, a zoo and much more. The park appeals to pet owners, children and adults. The park remains free to the public for the most part, but the zoo, pool and other on-site facilities may come at extra cost. Penn North often holds festivals and events in the vicinity of Druid Park. Holiday events as well as guided tours can be enjoyed throughout the year.
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