The Getaway
20 Excellent Things to do in Baltimore

It's easy to spend an entire visit to Baltimore exploring the famous Inner Harbor district. Why not wander a bit further and see this colorful city for all it is? Sports fans, photographers, history buffs, and those who love the ocean all have special places to visit here. There's plenty to eat here, too, from ballpark hot dogs to the city's famous crab cakes and lots of specialties in cozy restaurants -- try Little Italy and Fells Point for some great choices. For kids, the aquarium is fun and fascinating, and for couples, enjoy the waterfront park for a sunset stroll.


01 Explore historic Fort McHenry

Ever wonder where the national anthem came from? Well, Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine has something to do with it. In September 1814, this was the site of the Battle of Baltimore, where the Americans fought off the British Navy. Francis Scott Key saw British bombs landing on the fort, but at dawn, the 30 x 42 feet Star-Spangled Banner was still standing, albeit a little worse for wear. The striking image led to the creation of a poem, which, when added to the melody from a gentleman's club, became a notoriously difficult anthem to sing. You can visit the star-shaped stronghold for a reenactment of the battle.

02 Visit the Baltimore Museum of Art

Georgia O'Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Renoir are just some of the well-known artists whose pieces line the walls of this beautiful local institution. View the Cone Collection, the Antioch mosaics, and other thought-provoking artworks before heading to Gertrude's for the super popular weekend brunch special (you may want to make reservations in advance). The restaurant uses farm-fresh ingredients and heroes Chesapeake cuisine. Finish off your visit with a walk through the serene sculpture garden.

03 Take a stroll through Druid Hill Park

Druid Hill Park is a hub for locals. You can savor a picnic, walk your dog, play tennis, go jogging, or take in the views of downtown from the reservoir. If you're in Baltimore for remote work or a long stay, try and score fresh produce deals at the Farmers' Market on Wednesdays. This park is home to the Rawlings Conservatory, which looks like it's just waiting for someone to bust out a rendition of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" from "The Sound of Music." In addition, the Maryland Zoo is located at Druid Hill Park, so you can commune with the animals before the day is done. Both the conservatory and zoo are some of the oldest of their kind in the U.S.

04 Catch a show at the Hippodrome Theatre

The legendary Hippodrome Theatre in the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District makes the three-hour trek to Broadway proper somewhat unnecessary. With 2,248 seats in the house, seasoned thespians and casual theatre-goers can all land a spot to see a high-quality production with good acoustics. The turn-of-the-century theatre is now a part of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.

05 Experience the Charm City Circulator

Whether you're traveling on a budget or prefer sitting and relaxing between Point A and Point B, you'll want to take advantage of the Charm City Calculator (CCC). This free bus covers four routes around downtown Baltimore. The vehicles use clean energy and pass by various attractions and historic sites for your convenience, including a service that goes to Fort McHenry.

06 Discover Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore

Master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, was born in Boston but lived in Baltimore at several junctures of his life. The city is where he spent his last moments, too, for he expired under mysterious circumstances aged only 40. Charm City's football team, the Ravens, are named after one of Poe's poems. You can visit the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, where the writer briefly lived and penned prose in the attic, as well as his gravesite, which lies at the back of Westminster Hall. Dip into original manuscripts at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and look for the lock of the author's hair, then refuel at Annabel Lee Tavern, founded by a fan of Poe's literature.

07 Check out the Maryland Science Center

With an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, an observatory, and dozens of exhibits covering topics like the Chesapeake Bay, the human body, outer space, physics, and dinosaurs, the curious will find something to get excited about at the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor. Gaze up in awe at the constellations, try your hand at design projects, and do experiments like you're Einstein lite at this family-friendly destination.

08 Get your fill of history at the B&O Railroad Museum

Kids and train fanatics will relish spending time at this railroad museum. It's a love letter to the locomotive and documents when the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was the first passenger train in America. Immerse yourself in the life of a train employee by scoping out a caboose or passenger car, and get an eyeful of the sprightly model trains and cities. Of course, you can ride a train for an extra charge too.

09 Enjoy a day at the Maryland Zoo

Remember Druid Hill Park? One of its attractions deserves more than a perfunctory mention. The Maryland Zoo, formerly known as the Baltimore Zoo, dates back to 1876 and houses about 200 species. Travel to Boulder's Beach and Kruger Park in South Africa to see penguins and lions without crossing the Atlantic Ocean or chill out with flamingos and polar bears. Little ones will love the carousel.

10 Tour the Lexington Market and sample local treats

Entrepreneurs have been doing their thing at Lexington Market since 1783, so there's a long tradition of hustling here. Having survived fires and raids, Lexington is now the longest-running public market in the country. It's set for a facelift, so check that renovations don't clash with your plans. Once you get the green light, eat your fill of delicious goodies, then descend into the catacombs for a blast from the past.

11 Hang out on the inner harbor and waterfront

Along with a beautiful view at any time of day, Baltimore's Inner Harbor district has museums, party spots, nautical destinations, and observation points, all within a short walk of each other. The National Aquarium helps visitors explore the ocean and its wonders with marine life, including dolphins and electric eels. The Top of the World Observation Center on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center has a 360-degree view of the city and harbor. There's a collection of warships from the past, including the U.S.S. Constellation. 'Power Plant Live!' offers dining, dancing, and nightlife in an old power plant that once generated the city's electricity.

12 Explore the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium has a diverse population of marine life, including octopi, sharks, jellyfish, and coral, presented in engaging exhibits. The aquarium is themed to help visitors explore the world and learn about local marine populations and how they are changing. This is also the place to learn about the Maryland seashore and mid-Atlantic ocean life in preparation for a visit to the state's beaches, harbors, and coastal parks.

13 Delight in local crab cakes

It's not just the delicious local crab meat but also the special spices and preparation in big cakes which are so satisfying to eat. You can get them in the inner harbor restaurants, downtown restaurants, seaside seafood shacks, and even delicatessens, where they are served in a sandwich. A local potato chip manufacturer even sells chips with crab cake spice flavoring.

14 Enjoy Charles Village

Charles Village, located around Johns Hopkins University and built in the mid-19th century, has typical student energy, bookshops, eclectic food, and shopping. Vintage clothing and other items are easy to find here, and casual eats include pizza and burritos or Jamaican, Indian, and southern food, plus kebabs.

15 Take a history lesson aboard the U.S.S. Constellation

The U.S.S. Constellation is one of several historic ships available to visit in Baltimore. She was built at the end of the 18th century and engaged in protecting the seagoing commerce of the new United States. She has a vivid history of battles and triumphs, even a few tragedies from which she recovered. If the name is familiar, she is the namesake of the U.S.S. Constellation (CV 64) and other Navy ships over the years.

16 Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

The Baltimore Orioles play here, and Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass here. When you visit a game, you can enjoy crab fries, Korean barbecue, and traditional baseball park fare. A short walk from the Inner Harbor area, Oriole Park at Camden Yards offers tours to the public which last about an hour and a half. Check the Orioles' website for more information.

17 Pop over to Little Italy and other neighborhoods

Baltimore is organized around neighborhoods, some historic and some still establishing themselves. Little Italy is just east of the Inner Harbor space. It became home to large numbers of Italian immigrants during the 20th century. It is known as one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, in part because of its close-knit character. Italian traditions and food are easy to find here, and in the summer, there's an outdoor film festival. Other neighborhoods to visit include Mount Vernon, Fell's Point, Federal Hill, and The Westside.

18 Hang out in downtown Baltimore

Downtown is a mix, including the University of Maryland-Baltimore and the Bromo Arts District centered around the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, which is one of the city's three designated arts districts. The huge Lexington Market, established in 1782, provides an indoor venue for food and ingredient shopping.

19 See the Fells Point District

Fells Point is a historic maritime district founded in the mid-1700s. It is a beautiful area that served as host to generations of immigrants and workers in the shipbuilding industry. Visitors looking for good pubs, bars, and restaurants in the city will likely end up here. It has its own visitor center and Maritime Museum. The Carroll Mansion was home to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. For those who believe in ghosts, a local tour provides information about historical and haunted Fells Point.

20 Don't forget about Mount Vernon and Washington Monument

The first civic monument to George Washington is here, designed by the same person as the Washington Monument in D.C. Visitors can climb for an excellent view. The area surrounding the monument is Mount Vernon, called Baltimore's cultural center for all the museums, theaters, and performance venues. You can catch the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing here. Johns Hopkins University's George Peabody Library is breathtakingly expansive and a beautiful place to explore called the "cathedral of books."


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.