Stayed at one of Oakwood's furnished apartments for a summer-- I've heard that it is expensive, but since it was paid for by my company, I'm not complaining. The furnished apartments are done very well-- luxurious bedding, all the appliances//kitchen utensils you could possibly need, tastefully arranged furniture. I do wish the pans they gave us were nonstick, but that was not a huge deal. The pool was nice, although I do suspect there were a lot of neighborhood kids that came in and used it from time to time. Many of the residents there are also quite interesting...
University One condominiums are typically owned privately, but most of the complaints are directed toward the building staff. In particular, the seventy-five dollar move in fee that is often arbitrarily charged. Very strict sign in policy as well--safety first, I suppose. Some of the apartments are in better shape than others, it depends on your landlord. One thing that you can bet on however is that the rent will probably be high!
The Broadview Apartments offer studios, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments for rent. Their floorplans--particularly the 2 bedroom apartments--are quite spacious and reasonably priced--especially compared to some other comparable apartment buildings in the area. The staff at the front desk and main entrance are particularly friendly, they have a slightly more relaxed guest policy (you only have to call down after 8pm), however in the evenings they do have a security guard on duty. They've also been doing some minor renovations to spruce up the place, repainting the halls and replacing the wallpaper and such.
Hopkins House Apartments was once regaled one of the nicer apartment buildings to live in around the JHU area, however for the past year (summer 2005 onwards) many residents have been complaining about the construction. Currently they are in the process of replacing all the balcony railings around the building, which means that all balconies have been locked from the outside--which means no ventilation when it is warm out and management refuses to turn on the central air conditioning because it is only April. Individual apartments are also being renovated to include all new kitchen appliances, which inevitably will result in rent increases (although this is already a trend for the area), which some people see as a ploy to get rid of the many Hopkins undergraduates that currently live in the building. All in all, however, the apartments are nice--just try and move in after the construction is over so you don't have to deal with the constant jackhammering..
Unlike some museums that are so huge that there is no way to finish looking through all the exhibits, the BMA is a nice sized place with a great range in its collections. the matisse cone collection is nice, and the modern art exhibits are quite interesting too. the outdoor sculpture garden is very nice to stroll through, particularly in the spring when there are lots of rabbits around. Also worth checking out is the restaurant at the BMA--Gertrudes, which has $10 entrees on Tuesdays and outdoor seating on a lovely patio when the weather is nice!
The first time I tried to go to the spy museum tickets were sold out for the day until 5 or 6 pm--meaning that we'd only get a few hours to look around, so we passed that time. Second time I tried to go to the spy museum, we got there early and got in without a problem. I thought overall the museum was fun and entertaining. I especially liked the "training" area at the beginning. The end of the exhibit though, tended to give off a propaganda-ish vibe which made me feel a little uncomfortable. All and all though, a good place to visit that is worth the admission!
I'm not a bead enthusaist, but I was walking down North Charles one day and decided to just take a look. I'm not even particularly into beads or jewelry making, but the store was fascinating. They have a wide selection of beads on display that you can play around with. I think they have some jewelry making workshops and things you can sign up for too.
The Baltimore aquarium is a beautiful building that is currently going under construction. I believe that when they're finished they're going to have a whole new rainforest section, which should be amazing to check out. Other than that, their current exhibits are great too. The stingray pool is fascinating--I can always spend easily a half hour just staring at them swimming around in there! The only one drawback I'd say is the admission price--try going when they have their $5 after 5pm promotion. It's a great deal, just make sure you get there early enough to get tickets to the last dolphin show!
I've gone to Starlite a few times on the days (Friday nights or something?) that they offer lessons.. They have two rooms, one in which they're doing more classic ballroom dancing, and one which is latin. They offer two 45 minute classes back to back, one in which they teach you basic steps and another in which you learn a sort of "routine". Afterwards, it is time for free dance. If you are here with a partner, this is a good time to practice (and watch other people as well!), but if you are here by yourself it may be less fun, especially if you are a guy. Girls have it easier, and often get asked to dance by random people (most of them who know what they're doing and can give you some pointers)!
I usually go to Vallco when stores like Express are having a sale because I know that they will be less crowded and have more inventory than the Valley Fair branch. Unfortunately, that is pretty much all I go to Vallco for. Vallco also has an ice skating rink and an arcade that used to be popular with the preteen set. Hopefully when renovations start, some new businesses will come in and revive this mall!