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NICAR24: Things to do in Baltimore

The 2024 NICAR Conference is just around the corner. This year, members are heading to Charm City. IRE’s annual data journalism conference will host amazing sessions March 7-10. But what is there to do outside of conference sessions and networking in Baltimore? 

Thanks to NICAR24 Regional Committee members Tisha Thompson, Mallory Sofastaii and Kimi Yoshino, we’ve got you covered! Thompson is an investigative reporter with ESPN. Sofastaii is a consumer investigative reporter at WMAR-2 in Baltimore. Yoshino is editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Banner

Need a bite to eat? These options are just a walk away!

Willing to grab a bite a little farther away? Thompson recommends The PaperMoon Diner to visit if you want to get a “John Waters” vibe. This eclectic restaurant serves a plethora of menu options, including a vegan selection. 

Yoshino suggests folks keen to eat outside of the immediate conference vicinity to visit Clavel: A James Beard-nominated Mexican restaurant with a great selection of mezcal; however, they don't take reservations. But there are two amazing bars that you can drink at while waiting — Fadensonnen (natural wine bar) and W.C. Harlan (speakeasy type and right across the street from Clavel).

For those coming or going by train, the James Beard-nominated Alma Cocina Latina serves Venezuelan food near the train station with excellent plating and flavors. 

What about nightlife? These are just a quick walk.

Or do you want to get away from the conference venue after sessions wrap? For folks willing to travel farther, Sofastaii suggests an excursion to TopGolf, Horseshoe Casino or the neighborhood of Federal Hill to do the trick. 

So now you’ve got a bite and a drink. What about sightseeing?

Consider also these additional local tips for running and sightseeing, on-screen pop culture and — last but not least — the iconic Mr. Trash Wheel. Read on for more details:

Routes on foot and by water

Cinema and film 

And there’s plenty for television and cinema aficionados. Fans of Baltimore native John Waters can seek out odd spots to enjoy around town. Fans of “The Wire” (set and produced in Baltimore) will also have plenty to discover while touring the area. Likewise, Yoshino says fans of “Homicide: Life on the Street” have added reason to drop by Kooper’s Tavern (noted in the regional committee’s local food suggestions) — it’s across the street from the Pendry Hotel (the site of the Baltimore Police Department in the show) and the bar has the old Homicide white board, used to keep track of solved and unsolved homicides. “Of course, when I went in for a drink and to see the board, nobody that worked there had ever seen the show or knew what I was talking about!”

Mr. Trash Wheel

Finally, worth noting to NICAR attendees, the conference venue is located next to one of Baltimore’s most iconic landmarks – Mr. Trash Wheel. According to the website for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, “Mr. Trash Wheel is a social media celebrity, Baltimore landmark, and part of the semi-autonomous trash interceptor family in the Baltimore Harbor and surrounding waters.” And because we love data at NICAR, you can enjoy a decade’s worth of Mr. Trash Wheel data here.

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