When visiting Baltimore, you can find an inner-city haven that has handsome, modern residential options close to good schools, cultural activities and artistic pursuits. It’s also the visitor’s icing on the cake that there are destination restaurants, chic and unique clothing stores, a fabulous gym, a solid business section and a range of modern hotels perfect for any budget. Oh, did we mention it’s also on the waterfront? Yep, it’s all there in the tiny Harbor East neighborhood in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.

Once an abandoned industrial site, the Harbor East neighborhood has refashioned its blank canvas into something both upscale and vibrant, with a youthful heartbeat and a contemporary style. Twelve square blocks of trendy restaurants, pacesetting boutiques and nationally recognized brand stores, all accented by lifestyle businesses, are beginning to gel together, creating a sense of community with residents who stand behind its personality.

Embracing sustainability, environmental concern, smart growth and a positive social and economic climate, this downtown Baltimore neighborhood seems to be on a continual uptick with social groups, neighborhood parties and community events crowding the calendar. Fashion shows, 10K runs, bike events and culinary galas gather folks together to support their residential and personal investments. Gaining notice from stylistas all along the Eastern Seaboard, this development is neatly bucking the trend many other urban areas are working hard to reverse. They’re growing, thriving and living, with optimistic attitudes about the future.

Working closely with the Healthy Harbor Initiative, the Maryland Athletic Club, or MAC, encourages residents to lift, run, ride, pump, paddle and get moving in every way possible to create a healthy population. They also get involved in helping the neighborhood restaurants plan healthy MAC-approved menus. Residents lend support to the electric boat rental concession and kayak rentals so more people can enjoy the water than ever before.

Stylish shops offering everything from handbags and shoes to home fashions and jewelry dot the retail business landscape. From White House/Black Market and Lululemon, to Urban Chic, Amaryllis, Sassanova and South Moon Under, the shops are deftly matched to the demographic, and offer fashion that mixes well here.

Restaurants include icons like Roy’s, along with a good selection of outstanding local fare that constantly appears on the Baltimore’s Best lists, including Pazo, Cinghiale, Oceanaire, Charleston, Pabu, and Wit & Wisdom. There is a Whole Foods within walking distance and a CVS pharmacy, along with a dozen fabulous bars and pubs.

Guests visiting the area have hotel choices from the Four Seasons, with a spa and fitness center matched only by the exquisite art collection carefully chosen by the owners, to the Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront and America Suite.

Transportation to and from East Harbor is a cinch by car, but is also easily accessible via water taxi, the Charm City Circulator, Zip Car, bicycle and the 8-mile Waterfront Promenade paved walkway. Connected, unique and accommodating, this neighborhood might be the perfect model for future urban core redevelopment — its goals to bring life back to the center of the city and provide a clean, healthy option for those who long to regain urban status, once again being in the center of it all.