Baltimore - Our City

We realize location is a large part of the decision of which graduate program to choose. It is important to find a setting in which you are comfortable because you will be typically spending five years or more in the town of your choice.

General Baltimore Information: Charm City

Nicknamed the “Charm City,” Baltimore is the eighteenth largest city in the United States with a population of about 625,000, with an additional 2.4 million people living in the surrounding areas. Its location on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest tidewater bay, makes Baltimore one of the busiest shipping ports in the nation. The Bay also provides Baltimoreans with bountiful seafood including the famous Maryland Blue Crab.

The Mount Vernon neighborhood Orioles baseball at Camden Yards

Famed for Francis Scott Key’s inspiration for the Star-Spangled Banner, during the 1812 British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore is steeped in history and tradition. It is well known for its legendary residents: Edgar Allen Poe, Upton Sinclair, Babe Ruth, and Billie Holiday among many others. Additionally, it is considered the birthplace of duckpin bowling and ice cream.

Housing and Neighborhoods

The consensus among students is that Baltimore is a good city to live in on our stipend – for a large east coast city, its cost of living is relatively reasonable. The details of where and how you live are up to you, but here is some general information to make your search more informed and productive.

In choosing where to live, keep in mind that virtually all students have their own cars, although many rely on some forms of public transit for their commute to school.

A very comprehensive and useful site run by JHU offers information on living and moving to the area. This site contains on- and off-campus housing links, in addition to information about moving and storage, buying furniture and setting up utilities (Gas, electric, etc.) once you have a place to live.

Due to personal preferences, you will find that students are scattered throughout Baltimore City and County. Our advice is to find a place that you can tolerate for a year once you move to Baltimore, and then use that first year to find your preferred corner of the city after you have experienced life here. Some of the neighborhoods popular with students are:

  • Canton: Southeast of the hospital campus.
  • Charles Village: Close to the Hopkins Homewood campus, north of the hospital.
  • Federal Hill: Southwest of the hospital across the harbor.
  • Fell’s Point: South of the hospital, in walking distance.
  • Mount Vernon: Northwest of the hospital.
  • Hampden: North of the hospital via Highway 83.

More details on Baltimore’s neighborhoods can be obtained from Baltimore Collegetown: Neighborhoods and The City of Baltimore: Neighborhoods.

Transportation: Local and Beyond Baltimore

Most students choose to have a car. While not essential to life in Baltimore, it makes living here much easier.

Getting Around: Public Transport

Baltimore's Light Rail train line

Baltimore's public transportation system in not nearly as extensive as in neighboring Washington DC or New York City, however it can prove a convenient alternative to driving to work or around downtown.

Students can purchase subsidized monthly MTA passes for $20 through the Office of Financial Affairs, located in BRB 131, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Phone: 410-955-3216.

An essential resource for Baltimore's entire public transit system is MTA Maryland. Useful landmarks are shown on the Visitor's Map, and the Regional Transit system .


The 15.5-mile, 14 station Metro Subway travels from Owings Mills in western Baltimore County through the heart of Downtown Baltimore to Johns Hopkins Hospital. It runs Monday-Friday from 5 a.m. to midnight and weekends 6 a.m. to midnight. During the day the subway operates every 8-10 minutes and on evenings, weekends and holidays trains run every 15-20 minutes.

Light Rail

Baltimore's above ground rail line travels from Baltimore County's Hunt Valley (a corporate, hotel, and shopping complex) located north of the city through the heart of downtown Baltimore's shopping, sightseeing, dining, and entertainment districts, past Camden Yards Sports Complex to BWI Airport and Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County.

Johns Hopkins Shuttles

BA JHU Shuttle in front of the School of Public Health

If you live in the Charles Village or Mount Vernon neighborhoods, getting to and from the medical campus is very easy. A free JHMI shuttle bus runs frequently between the JHU Homewood Campus and the Hospital Campus. There are 3 stops between the campuses: 27th Street and St. Paul/Charles, Penn Station and Centre Street/Peabody. During the morning and afternoon rush, shuttles run as frequently as every 10 minutes, with service spread out to every half hour during the day. In the evening, the shuttle runs hourly until 11:30 p.m. A complete Homewood-Hospital route and schedule can be found here.

There are also other free Hopkins shuttle services from other areas such as the Hopkins Eastern High School campus, with details at Campus Security.

Campus Parking

Those students commuting to campus by car have two choices for parking on campus:

  • Off-Site Satellite Parking in 1 of 2 lots located within 1-1.5 miles from campus center. Regular shuttle service is provided. Both the parking and shuttle for the satellite parking lots are free of charge to Hopkins staff and students.
  • On-Site Garage Parking at one of three campus garages (Washington, Caroline or Kennedy Krieger Institute [KKI]). The cost is subsidized by the School of Medicine and students pay about $50/month through payroll deduction. There are limited spaces (a waiting list may apply for spaces in certain garages) in these lots and more information is available upon registration.

Students can park in garages on campus (with the exception of the KKI garage) for free after 4 p.m. (and before 8 a.m.) weekdays or anytime on weekends and holidays. All that is needed is your JHMI ID to swipe in and out of the garages.

More information about on-campus parking can be found here.

Getting Out of Town

Washington is easily accessible by train from Baltimore, along with other cities on the East Coast, although prices can be steep (about $100 round trip to NYC). Frequent buses, from both Greyhound and Apex Bus, are good options to New York with service to NYC’s Chinatown taking 3.5 hours at $20 each way.

Air Travel

Getting to the airport is one of the best uses of Baltimore’s public transit system. Access to Baltimore’s BWI Airport and Washington’ Reagan National (DCA) is fairly straightforward. Reaching BWI by light rail takes about 45 minutes and costs $1.60. Service is continuous throughout the day and generally extends to the latest nighttime arrivals into BWI.

Another method is to use a MARC train from Penn Station. This trip takes 20 minutes (with a bus transfer near the airport) and costs $4. Either option is good and may depend on when you want to leave to catch a particular flight. MARC trains, for example, only run on weekdays.

The MARC train or Amtrak trains can also be used to reach Washington’s DCA airport. Frequent train service to Washington lets you transfer to a subway line to reach DCA in about 2 hours for about $10.

Reaching the New York airports is also easy with the Apex Bus (and other Chinatown bus lines) service listed above.

Around Baltimore: Driving

Here are approximate driving times and distances to major cities:

  • Washington DC - 45 miles, 1h
  • New York City, NY - 185 miles, 3.5h
  • Annapolis, MD - 30 miles, 45 min
  • Philadelphia, PA - 100 miles, 2h
  • Ocean City, MD - 135 miles, 3.5h

Free Time: Entertainment and More

Baltimore has been going through a period of revitalization and renovation through which the city has made a substantial investment in the downtown and Inner Harbor areas. Located only a mile from the JHU School of Medicine campus, the Inner Harbor offers many fun and exciting attractions to explore and enjoy. These include the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and Harborplace (two central pavilions with more than 100 shops and restaurants).

With numerous attractions throughout the city, county and surrounding areas, Baltimore was named by Frommer’s Guide to be one of the top 10 U.S. destinations to visit. Baltimore is a lively city where a graduate student can always find something to occupy any free time. More activities and interests are listed here:


There are several malls in the Baltimore area and details can be obtained by a web search. These include:

There are also large shopping malls in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Georgetown Park, DC.

The Baltimore Farmer’s Market runs from May to October and features a vast array of food.

Entertainment Listings

There are several websites with listings of what there is to do in Baltimore:

Live Concerts

A comprehensive listing of major live music events can be obtained from Pollstar, using their feature to search by city. Popular local venues include:


Complete movie and location searches can be done at Fandango but there are several local movie theaters of note:

Restaurants and Bars

Complete listings and reviews of hundreds of Baltimore-area restaurants and bars are available from the Baltimore City Paper.

An important feature to note is that a special JHU student discount card will entitle you to good discounts at several local establishments. The list usually changes somewhat, but expect 10-15% off at places like Akbar and XS.


Classical Music/Symphony/Opera

Museums and More


  • Preakness (3rd Saturday in May) - The second jewel in thoroughbred racing's prestigious Triple Crown takes place at Baltimore's Pimlico Racetrack
  • ArtScape (3rd weekend in July) - The mid-Atlantic's largest celebration of visual and performing arts
  • Kinetic Sculpture Race (Spring): Race of wacky, imaginative totally human powered works of art sponsored by the American Visionary Art Museum
  • Little Italy Open-Air Film Festival
  • Waterfront Festival
  • Monument Lighting (Dec 1): Lighting of Mount Vernon's Washington Monument to commemorate the beginning of the holiday season
  • Baltimore Book Festival (Sept)
  • Maryland Renaissance Festival (September & October)
  • Fells Point Fun Fest (October)

Various Ethnic Festivals take place in neighborhoods throughout the city during the summer and fall months (June-October). Several Food and Neighborhood Festivals also celebrate our famous Chesepeake Bay seafood in the summer and fall. (Oyster, Crab)


There are several major professional sports teams in Baltimore and surrounding areas. Hopkins athletics is also popular, as field hockey and lacrosse teams are frequent NCAA champions.

Watching professional sports:

Playing sports and other activities:

Several intramural leagues are organized through JHU athletic centers, in addition to:

Hiking trails, biking, boating and climbing are available at many national parks in the region:

Skiing/Snowbording can be found at Liberty Mountain Resort (Carroll Valley, PA, 1h drive), Whitetail Mountain Resort (Mercersburg, PA, 90 min drive) and Ski Roundtop (Lewisberry, PA, 90 min drive).

Earth Treks in Columbia, MD, also offers outdoor experiences.

There are also other athletic facilities that you can join such as The Downtown Athletic Club and Bally's.

HG students collect and load donated food for hurricane relief

Volunteer Opportunities

Many worthwhile organizations in the Baltimore area offer you opportunities to contribute your time and effort to their causes, coordinated by the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Student Outreach Resource Center.

Other Sources of Info for Graduate Students

Hopkins Graduate Student Association


If you wish to know more about Johns Hopkins University, the Human Genetics graduate program, official admission requirements or anything we may have forgotten, please do not hesitate to contact us and ask! Sandy Muscelli may be reached at or by phone at 410-955-4260.