Do Student Voices

Johns Hopkins University: Best Off-Campus Outings

Looking to leave campus and explore Baltimore? You’re in the right place! Read on to find affordable and accessible activities.

By Anne Flemming, Johns Hopkins University
A shot of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor featuring the National Aquarium (Credit:

BLUEJAYS – It can be hard as a new college student to break free of the daily routine of classes and dorm life. One of the best ways to make the most of your college experience is to explore your surroundings off-campus and immerse yourself in the city around you. 

Every student has different interests, but this list has something for everyone. Whether you’re feeling active or just wanting to take some great Instagram photos, there are affordable and accessible activities in Baltimore for whatever it is you’re looking for.

Jellyfish from the National Aquarium (Credit: Instagram @michelle_sicardd).

Inner Harbor 

One of the most popular spots for Hopkins students looking to get off campus is Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Just a 15-minute drive, students have access to dozens of restaurants and stores. The Johns Hopkins shuttle, (which can be called through the Hopkins TransLoc app just like an Uber between the hours of 6 pm and 2 am), is a free, easy way to get to the Inner Harbor; the dropoff spot is right in front of the Cheesecake Factory. 

Inner Harbor is home to popular chain restaurants like Shake Shack, Chipotle, and IHOP. A student favorite is Miss Shirley’s Cafe, a great spot that serves breakfast all day. My personal favorite dish is their Dark and White Chocolate Chip Specialty Pancakes, which are large enough to take home and save for later.

One of Baltimore’s main attractions, the National Aquarium, is located in the heart of the Inner Harbor. The price for admission, which is normally $39.95, is reduced to $19.95 every Friday after 5 pm. These Half-Price Friday Nights make for a fun and affordable activity for students. 

If you’re interested in reading more about places to eat in Baltimore, check out our Johns Hopkins College Guide.

Miss Shirley’s famous Dark and White Chocolate Chip Specialty Pancakes (Credit:

Sherwood Gardens & Rawlings Conservatory

If you’re in need of your daily flower fix, there are some great options not too far from campus. Sherwood Gardens, a six-acre park known for its 80,000+ bulb tulips on display in the spring, is just a 15-minute walk from campus. It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of campus without having to go too far—not to mention, the scenery is beautiful. Sherwood Gardens is the perfect place for a picnic with friends, or simply just to stop and smell the roses. 

The Rawlings Conservatory is another gorgeous spot to get in touch with nature. Located in Druid Hill Park, just under two miles from campus, the Rawlings Conservatory allows its visitors to feel as though they’re traveling across the world; they have cacti and bonsai trees housed inside a beautifully constructed greenhouse. Admission is free, but you should reserve a spot online before heading over.

Inside of the Rawlings Conservatory, highlighting some of the beautiful plant life housed there (Credit:


Another great spot is a neighborhood located right behind campus known as Hampden. Its main attraction is the vibrant shops and restaurants lining West 36th Street, known as “The Avenue.” Home to vintage shops, galleries, and retro-themed dive bars and diners, Hampden is a great spot for students looking to grab food, shop, or just walk around and hang out. Hampden also houses an ice cream shop that is a student favorite called The Charmery, as well as a popular Italian BYOB restaurant known as the Grano Pasta Bar.

For Hopkins students, Hampden is easy to access; the walk is just under a mile. If you take the Stony Run Trail that runs through the woods directly behind campus, the trip can be a short, yet scenic hike. In addition, the Johns Hopkins Shuttles travel to and from Hampden during the designated hours. My personal favorite mode of transportation to Hampden is an electric Bird Scooter, which can be found scattered across campus. You can rent one for a base price of $1 with an additional cost of $0.15 per minute. 

“The Avenue” in Hampden featuring the ice cream shop, The Charmery (Credit:

Druid Hill Park

If you’re looking for a place with options for everyone, go to Druid Hill Park. Only about a mile walk from campus, it’s a great place to go for a run or have a picnic while overlooking Druid Lake. There are many different attractions within the large park, including the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (with tickets available for $22), baseball fields, a swimming pool, and tennis courts.

The park also has playgrounds, pavilions, and a disc golf course where you can fulfill the stereotypical college experience of tossing a frisbee with your friends. At the first hint of sunshine, grab some folks and head to Druid Hill Park to enjoy all the different activities the park has to offer. 

Druid Lake and the surrounding park (Credit:

Towson and Washington, D.C.

If you’re looking to venture a little further off-campus, the Collegetown Shuttle can take students to and from Towson, which has an extensive shopping mall as well as other shops and restaurants. Of course, Washington D.C. isn’t too far away either and is easily accessible by train. Through the CharmPass app, (an app that facilitates the purchase of bus or train tickets in Baltimore), students can purchase train tickets to D.C. for just $8, making it an affordable day trip.  

Whatever it is you need to shake up your daily college routine, Baltimore can provide!