Where: From Federal Hill to Lafayette, Baltimore

Why: Vintage baubles, a magic shop, aromatherapy and a movie house with serious staying power.

How Far: Forty-five minutes from the District, then all day and all night if you do it right.

Many Washingtonians venturing to Baltimore never get past the Inner Harbor. But our neighbor to the north has sooo much more to experience. One way to taste a different slice is to take a trip on Charles Street, south to north, cutting through some of the city's most eclectic neighborhoods.

Start in Federal Hill, where you can burrow for hours in Vanessa's Vintage Treasures for collectible china, retro aprons and pillbox hats. Have a dog in tow? Stroll up the block to Lucky Lucy's Canine Cafe for a natural bakery treat (for your pooch, not you) or a Snozzle's designer bandana (charms attached). Then, cut over to bustling Cross Street Market for human food: choice produce, meats and baked goods.

Next up: the Mount Vernon neighborhood. After the Civil War, it was home to Baltimore high society; now, it's a National Register Historic District. At Renewing Touch, you can get a 15-minute chair massage or visit the drop-in meditation room. Then shop guilt-free at A People United for fairly traded gauzy clothing, Buddhist sculptures, and furniture from Tibet and India. Up a block is Mount Vernon Place, where the spectacular spires of United Methodist Church, a gothic temple built in 1873, demand to be photographed.

At Penn Station, it's hard to miss the controversial new attraction that "Bawlmerans" either love or hate: a five-story, robotic-looking structure by artist Jonathan Borofsky, featuring a throbbing heart-strobe (meant to represent the union of female and male at the heart). Considering the historical surroundings, it is -- to put it mildly -- incongruous.

Time it right, and you'll hit the busy 1700 block of North Charles in late afternoon. Rest your gams by catching a flick at the Charles Theatre, a National Historic Landmark that in its 108-year history has been a cable car barn, a library for the blind, a ballroom and the city's first all-newsreel movie house. Afterward, grab tapas or crepes at one of the restaurants next door. You'll want to fortify yourself before crossing over to Club Charles, where the crowd dances into the wee hours -- and boogiers have been known to include local indie-film hero John Waters.

Karen Kullgren

Road Trip maps are available at www.washingtonpost.com/roadtrip, as are addresses and hours of operation (check before you go!). Have a trip idea? E-mail roadtrip@washpost.com.