There are plenty of things to do in Baltimore, thanks to its thriving arts culture, world-class sports teams, and unmatched museums. Most Americans wouldn’t consider Charm City (a common nickname) a major place to visit, but its spectacular waterfront views and rich history make this city a must to explore.

    Experience the vibrant heart of the city at Inner Harbour, home to the National Aquarium, an urban beach, and a plethora of shops and seafood restaurants. Art lovers will be intrigued by the wondrous collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, while a ballgame at the storied Oriole Park is a must-do for any sports fanatic. Diehard American and Civil Rights history aficionados cannot leave without visiting Fort McHenry – the site where the Star-Spangled Banner song was composed.

    What are the best things to do in Baltimore?

    1

    Baltimore Museum of Art

    Peruse world-class works of art for free

    • History
    • Budget

    The Baltimore Museum of Art, next to John Hopkins University, is a famed institution drawing art enthusiasts from around the globe. While the museum started off by hosting 1 art piece at a time, its collection now covers over 95,000 pieces from distinguished masters such as Andy Warhol, Picasso, and Cézanne.

    The highlight of the museum is the impressive 1,000-piece Matisse collection housed in the Cone Wing – kindly donated by a pair of Baltimoreans sisters a few decades ago. Works by women and artists of colour are showcased in the Contemporary Wing, also home to a sculpture garden and regular summer jazz sessions. Enjoy the museum completely free before finishing your day with a fine-dining meal at Gertrude’s, which serves up signature Chesapeake Bay cuisine.

    Location: 10 Art Museum Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 443-573-1700

    Map

    photo by Baltimore Heritage (CC0 1.0) modified

    2

    Inner Harbor

    Stroll the heart of the city

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been an important seaport since the 18th century, and continues to be the activity centre of the city. Located just south of downtown, the harbour is home to some of Baltimore’s biggest attractions and is connected by an expansive 7-mile brick waterfront promenade.

    Spend the day walking and shopping at the numerous boutique malls, or stop and take in exhilarating street performances. The National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Centre, and the USS Constellation Museum are the big draws, all within a 10-minute walk of each other. Jump aboard a water taxi or head to Federal Hill Park for the best views of the harbour.

    Map
    3

    Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

    Visit the home of the influential American writer

    • History

    The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum offers a step back in time to early 19th century America. Known for his imaginative (and sometimes horrifying) poems and short stories, Poe lived in Baltimore for several years and is said to have written most of his greatest works in this row house. 

    Walking into the house-turned-museum, you stumble into a bounty of Poe artefacts – from a telescope to a portable writing table. The house is unfurnished, but you get to wander the same hallways and stairs that Poe did some 200 years ago. Taking a self-guided audio tour lasts about 1 hour.

    Location: 203 N Amity St, Baltimore, MD 21223, USA

    Open: Thursday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed from Mondays to Wednesdays)

    Phone: +1 410-462-1763

    Map

    photo by Bohemian Baltimore (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Go to a game at Oriole Park

    Experience world-class sports at this storied stadium

    • Families
    • Group

    There is no truer Baltimorean experience than joining the sea of orange-shirted fans heading to Oriole Park on game day. Located a couple of blocks east of Inner Harbor, the park was built in a retro style in the 1990s and is still a festive and comfortable sports venue today.

    Oriole Park – locally referred to as Camden Yards - is home to the multiple World Series-winning Baltimore Orioles. Visitors to the park commonly describe it as an authentic baseball experience, with hot dogs, peanuts, and cold beers flowing, and Take me out to the ballgame blasting from the speakers. Visit on an off-day to take a neat stadium tour through the press box, dugouts, and even onto the field.

    Location: 333 W Camden St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

    Phone: +1 410-685-9800

    Map

    photo by Keith Allison (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Enjoy a picnic atop a historical battlefield

    • History

    Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine marks the site of one of America's finest military victories – the Battle of Baltimore (1814). The invading British fleet was defeated by the resistance at Fort McHenry, and so inspired Francis Scott Key, that he composed The Star-Spangled Banner in the following months.

    Today, you can freely roam or enjoy guided tours of the fort and partake in several activities such as flag talks and drill demonstrations. One favourite is being able to assist in the changing of the 42-ft flag. After a tour, sit and chow down on a picnic while soaking up the scenic views of Chesapeake Bay. Admission to the general park area is free, but there is a fee to enter the actual fort.

    Location: 2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 410-962-4290

    Map

    photo by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Learn about Baltimore’s deep African American roots

    Retrace the footsteps of Civil Rights leaders in Baltimore

    • History

    African American history and culture have been intertwined with Maryland for hundreds of years, with figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Frederick Douglass forever changing the course of America’s history. For a deep dive into local black history, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture has an outstanding collection of artworks, and documents dating back to 1784.

    You can also learn about Maryland’s greatest black leaders at the National Great Blacks Wax Museum, and revel in the life-like figures on display. Or visit the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park to understand the contributions of African Americans on the maritime industry. The best way to explore this rich heritage is with the Baltimore Legends & Legacies Heritage Pass – easily purchased online, giving access to all 3 museums.

    photo by Maryland GovPics (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    National Aquarium

    Be transported into the depths of the ocean

    • Families

    Situated right on Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium is an architectural marvel that’s home to over 17,000 animals and 750 species of fish, marine mammals and sharks. If you have children, this is one of the best things to do in Baltimore, as the interactive exhibits immerse and transport kids into natural marine habitats around the world.

    Accompanying the normal aquarium viewing areas are numerous behinds-the-scenes opportunities such as teaching dolphins tricks. The National Aquarium is also home to exotic animals like crocodiles, sloths, and flying foxes. Plan to spend a full day entranced by the aquarium.

    Location: 501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday and Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, Friday from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 410-576-3800

    Map

    photo by Kimberlyshorter (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Fells Point Historic District

    Tavern-hop along cobblestone streets

    • History
    • Photo

    The colonial-period area of Fells Point, just east of the harbour, is a beautiful place to walk, dine, shop and enjoy some outdoor live music. Founded in 1730 as a maritime community, this beautiful, well-preserved 14-block district has become the thriving cultural centre of Baltimore.

    Start your day at the Visitor's Center, where knowledgeable staff educate you on the history of the city. Take your kids on a pirate cruise of the harbour to battle it out over treasure, then head to the Thames St. Oyster House for delectable Chesapeake oysters. Finish the evening with a pint at The Horse You Came In On Saloon – a favourite watering hole of Edgar Allan Poe – before bar-hopping late into the night.

    Map

    photo by Bruce Emmerling (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Faidley's Seafood

    Serving kings and celebrities since 1886

    • Food

    The softball-sized, golden fried crab cakes at Faidley's Seafood are the stuff of legend. Maryland crab is world-renowned, and when packed neatly into a moist cake and fried, you have a quintessential Baltimore cuisine.

    Faidley’s stands a notch above the rest because of its fresher-than-the-rest crab meat, and a prime location inside the historic Lexington Market. Seating is standing room only, and a handful of communal high tables offer great mingling opportunities while you soak up the eccentric yet charming décor. Outside of the fried fish station, Faidley’s also has a fresh fish and raw bar area regularly having peculiar fare – frog legs and raccoon – on offer.

    Location: 203 N Paca St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 410-727-4898

    Map
    10

    B&O Railroad Museum

    Tour the birthplace of American railroading

    • History

    The B&O Railroad Museum is a fascinating place for train-lovers, home to the largest collection of locomotives, and the site of the first railroad services in the country. You can revel in this heritage by riding the Mile One Express – a 20-minute train ride along the first commercial miles of railroad track in America.

    Walking into the foyer of the Mount Clare Roundhouse entry point is a sight to behold, with its towering 125-ft ceiling and the cascading influx of natural light from the hundreds of windows. Because of the plethora of trains from all periods, and a slew of historic railroad equipment on display, the museum is best explored with a tour guide.

    Location: 901 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 410-752-2490

    Map

    photo by Esther Westerveld (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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