Life at UMBC

While UMBC is known for its focus on academic achievement and research, there are plenty of opportunities on- and off-campus to unwind and relax. Listed below are a few favorites identified by current Biology graduate students, faculty, and staff (not necessarily endorsed by the department.) Most of the places listed below are connected to the UMBC shuttle line or public MTA bus route.

Two female students sitting at table outside and laughing.


Baltimore is known for its diverse neighborhoods and there are many restaurants close-by offering all types of cuisine. The UMBC/Catonsville area, specifically, is home to many amazing choices. Some student, staff, and faculty favorites include (list below is not necessarily endorsed by the department):

Just off campus
OCA Mocha (UMBC’s student-run coffee shop)*
Ship’s Café
Double T Diner (American, open all night)
Peace of Pizza (pizza and salads)
State Fare (American gastropub)
El Guapo (Mexican)
The Burger & Sausage Co. by Farmhouse Greens
Ice Cream Cottage
Catonsville Gourmet
Matthew’s 1600 (upscale dining)
Sorrento of Arbutus (pizza & subs)*
Umami Global Bistro (Halal; vegan-friendly)
Paul’s Restaurant – 5507 Oregon Avenue*
Papa Johns – 1407A Sulphur Spring Road*

*Can use campus card (click here for details)

Baltimore City
The Helmand, on N. Charles St. (Afgani)
Nam Kang, on Maryland Ave. (Korean, open until 4 am)
Blue Agave, in Federal Hill (Mexican)

Mango Grove (vegetarian Indian)
Hunan Manor (Chinese)


Woman and man walking outside. Woman is wearing a UMBC t-shirt. CULTURAL, SOCIAL, AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Museums & Aquariums
American Visionary Art Museum
Baltimore Museum of Art
Fort McHenry
Flag House Museum
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Zoo in Washington, DC
The National Mall in Washington, DC – with access to many free museums
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC
National Arboretum in Washington, DC
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American Art
The Walters Art Museum

Historic, Scenic, and Local Sites
Old Ellicott City –  Minutes away from campus; features restaurants, pubs, and coffeehouses.
Inner Harbor – Walk the scenic Baltimore Harbor, while exploring many exciting restaurants, cultural events, the National Aquarium, and more!
Federal Hill – Many bars and restaurants this small Baltimore neighborhood overlooking the Inner Harbor.
Canton – Lots of bars and restaurants in this small Baltimore neighborhood, along O’Donnell and Boston Streets.
Fells Point – Located east of downtown Baltimore, this is the major bar/club district of the city.

Music & Theatre
UMBC Event Center (Chesapeake Employer’s Insurance Arena)
Peabody (offers many free concerts)
The Charles Theatre
9:30 Club
PowerPlant Live!

Exercise & Outdoors
Local & State Parks

  • Patapsco (minutes from UMBC, biking & hiking)
  • Gunpowder
  • Deep Creek
  • Great Falls at Potomac
  • Loch Raven Park (fishing, water activities, trails, mountain biking)

Greater Baltimore Canoe Club
Baltimore Road Runners Club
Earth Treks Climbing Center (indoor rock climbing at multiple locations)
New River (in nearby West Virginia, canoeing & kayaking)
Ski Liberty, White Tail, & Roundtop (in nearby Pennsylvania)
Seven Springs (skiing)

Other Entertainment
Numerous movie theaters
Miniature Golf (Elkridge, Reisterstown and Perry Hall)
Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse
Xanadu Games (local game store)
The Board & Brew (board game café)

Seasonal Events
Catonsville Sunday Farmer’s Market (usually on UMBC bus route)
Artscape – Baltimore’s largest arts festival takes place over three days in the summer, attracting an average audience of more than 300,000 people to Midtown Baltimore and the Station North Arts & Entertainment District each summer. Live music, street theatre, art displays, graphic design/video game exhibitions, local vendors, and food. No admission fee.
Light City – a free fall festival of light, music and innovation in the Inner Harbor. Several past Light City events have been sponsored by UMBC.
Maryland Renaissance Festival – held every weekend, August through October. Tickets required.



Arundel Mills Mall
Columbia Mall
Giant (grocery store)
Sprout’s (grocery store)
H-Mart Korean Grocery
Patel Brothers Indian Market
Lotte Plaza Asian Market


Man in life jacket stands in sailboat as he reaches towards second sailboat carrying two people. UMBC printed on sails.ON-CAMPUS RECREATION

UMBC teams play a full schedule of 19 intercollegiate sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. The athletics and physical education department also sponsors a variety of intramural offerings throughout the year. Other facilities available to graduate students are an indoor track, fitness trail, golf driving range, tennis courts, Olympic-size outdoor and indoor swimming pools, sauna, locker rooms, exercise areas, several weight machines and a full 15-piece Nautilus Fitness Center complete with electronic exercise bicycles and computer health analysis. Aerobics, lap swimming, pick-up basketball and use of the exercise equipment are available on a daily basis. The Indoor/Outdoor Recreation Center provides the usual collegiate activities of billiards, board games, table tennis and soccer, darts and video games. Tourneys for men and women are held each year in these and other indoor games and sports. The Outdoor Club offers rental of canoes, sailboats, tents and other recreational gear, as well as a resource library describing the excellent local and regional outing areas.


Actors in elaborate costumes.


Research at UMBC takes place not only in the laboratory but also in the concert hall, theatre, gallery and dance studio, where outstanding artists and faculty in the visual and performing arts reinterpret the classics and explore new modes of expression before audiences composed of colleagues, students and the general public.

The visual arts are strongly represented by the imaginative and critically acclaimed exhibitions of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, which often draw on its vast photography collection, and in the Fine Arts Gallery, one of the finest spaces in the region dedicated to contemporary art in all its forms.

The University sponsors a full season of performances by the UMBC Symphony Orchestra and the renowned Maryland Camerata, UMBC’s resident chamber choir.

UMBC is also home for a variety of professional companies and ensembles that tour nationally, such as the Phoenix Dance Company, and Doug Hamby Dance.