When it comes to historical places in the United States, Baltimore probably isn’t the first city that comes to mind. Surprisingly though, Baltimore boasts a rich array of landmarks and historic sites.
It has a beautiful harbor and is made up of hundreds of districts, so it’s no wonder that it’s also known as a city of boats, and a city of neighborhoods.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in history, culture, or just have some fun, Baltimore has something for you. Check out these top twenty things to do when you’re in the City of Baltimore:
1. Be enthralled by the wildlife at the National Aquarium
Take a walk through Level One as blacktip reef sharks swim above and around you. Head up to other levels to explore a tropical rainforest, or the wild extremes of Australia. The National Aquarium prides itself on immersive exhibits that simulate natural habitats, transporting you away from the city and into the wild.
If you’re not keen on sea creatures, there’s still plenty to be seen. The National Aquarium hosts over 750 species, including crocodiles, sloths and flying foxes.
With over 1.5 million visitors per year, the aquarium can get pretty packed. To avoid the crowds, try going on a weekday. If you’re going on a weekend, try before 11 am or after 3 pm. Tickets can be bought online or at the aquarium (if you’re buying tickets on-site, be prepared to queue), and range from 24.95 USD to 39.95 USD.
Allocate a couple of hours at least to allow yourself to be entranced by the aquarium and its many inhabitants.
2 . All aboard the Historic Ships!
Historic Ships gives a fascinating insight into what life was, and is, like on or under the sea. Squeeze through the narrow corridors on the USS Torsk, or operate the capstan on the USS Constellation’s main deck. Be sure to catch the daily cannon-firing demonstration on the USS Constellation as well.
These ships are rich in history and are a fun place to spend a few hours exploring.
Opening hours vary depending on the month, so be sure to check out their website before heading over.
Ticket prices range from 5 USD to 18 USD, depending on the number of ships you want to visit.
3. Walk in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe
Poe wrote some of his early stories in a tiny, unassuming brick house in Baltimore, and it has since been turned into the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum to celebrate his legacy.
The house is well-preserved, and visitors can walk on the same floor and stairs that Poe did. The plaster walls and woodwork also remain unchanged. There are various exhibits that tell the story of his life and death in Baltimore. Artifacts, such as his writing desk and chair, are also on display.
In 1979, while renovating the house, workers lifted the floorboards to find skeletal remains of animals, eerily reminiscent of Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart. Visitors have described the experience as ‘both disturbing and ethereal.’ If you’re a Poe fan, or have a love for the horror and mystery genres, then this is a place you can’t miss.
The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is open in the summer months on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is 5 USD for adults and 4 USD for seniors and students. Children under 12 can enter for free with an adult.
4. Send chills up your spine at the Westminster Hall Burying Grounds
A graveyard might be an eerie place to visit, but this is a must-see for fans of Poe. There is a monument dedicated to the poet at the gates of the building and his actual grave is behind the church.
The burying grounds are open from 8 am to dusk and are free of charge. If you’d like a tour of Westminster Hall and the Catacombs, you can arrange a tour. More details on tours and prices can be found on their website.
5. Grab a meal at one of the public markets
The markets feature a wide range of products, and you can find local specialty items such as beef tongue, rabbits, and even muskrat!
One market to stop by is the Lexington Market, found in downtown Baltimore. It’s been around since 1782, and you can find local favorites like fried ice creams, Baltimore’s world-famous crab cakes and Bergers Cookies (shortbread cookies topped with fudge). The market also hosts jazz and rock and roll bands on weekends.
Many of the locals consider their public markets to be the ‘real’ Baltimore, reflecting the character of its neighborhoods. If you want to get away from the tourist sites, then head over to the public markets. Make sure to bring an empty stomach!
6. Tour John Hopkin’s University
There are buildings dating back to the 1800s, and the campus is a beautiful place for a stroll. You can register for a tour on their website, or go on a self-guided walking tour.
If looking at the architecture doesn’t interest you, you can visit the two museums on campus. The John Hopkins Archaeological Museum features over 700 artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, the near East and the ancient Americas. The other museum is the Homewood Museum, one of the best surviving examples of Federal Period architecture.
You can register for a visit on their website.
7. Take a ride on the Charm City Circulator shuttle bus
The shuttle is efficient, with a waiting time of about 10-15 minutes between shuttles. The shuttle service connects famous landmarks, making getting around a breeze. It’s a nice way to take in all that Baltimore has to offer.
Best of all? It’s free of charge!
You can check out the routes and schedules on their website.
8. Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
You can buy tickets to watch a Baltimore Orioles game, or book a ballpark tour. The tour gives you the chance to experience the ballpark from the club suite level, the press level, and even the Orioles’ dugout. Tour details can be found on their website.
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, watching a game is still an experience. Look out for the tradition of fans yelling out the “Oh” in the line, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave”, in the national anthem.
9. Immerse yourself in baseball history at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
It’s full of artifacts, stories and videos. The staff are helpful and keep the museum well-maintained, so you can expect a pleasant and informative visit.
Admission is 7 USD for adults, 5 USD for seniors and 4 USD for children.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, though opening days vary depending on the season.
10. Explore the birthplace of the American National Anthem
Today, the fort is rich in history and activities. It’s a great place for both children and adults. You can watch a video and view some exhibits at the visitor center and then walk around the fort.
Flag changes, flag talks, and ranger talks take place every day, so be sure to check out the timings so you can catch them. On weekends in the summer months, the Fort McHenry Guard performs drill, musket, and artillery demonstrations.
Fort McHenry can also be reached via water taxi, but do note that you can’t leave via water taxi if you didn’t take one to the fort. Plan to spend about one to two hours there.
Admission for adults is 10 USD, and children are admitted for free.
11. Let the kids play at Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Port Discovery is geared towards hands-on learning, with three stories of interactive exhibits for kids to touch, climb, and play with. Your children can solve a puzzle in Ancient Egypt, get their heart rate up with a game of soccer, or scramble through rope bridges and obstacles.
Remember to dress your kids in sneakers if you plan to visit the playground – only covered shoes are allowed.
Admission is 14.95 USD for anyone aged two and up. Port Discovery is open all day, all week, except for the dates listed on the website.
12. Coo over the animals at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The zoo has four main exhibits, showcasing polar bears, penguins, African animals, and creatures native to Maryland. You can stroll through the exhibits, or take the tram from the front entrance.
“The Maryland Wilderness” exhibit is great for kids – it features a children’s zoo. Visitors can watch otters swim overhead, jump across lily pads, explore a cave, or climb into giant birds’ nests.
13. Watch a film at The Charles Theater
Today, you can catch first-run specialty films, foreign films, cinema classics, and Hollywood movies. The Charles also has special showings during the week – right now, repertory films are shown thrice a week and Anime Night is twice a week.
14. Ride a train at the birthplace of American railroading
The museum is located in the old Mount Clare Station, part of the B&O Railroad Mount Clare shops site that began in 1829. It was the oldest railroad manufacturing complex in the United States. The first commercial railroad services started here in 1830, and it’s considered the birthplace of American railroading. Today, visitors can ride the Mile One Express Train, a 20-minute ride on the first commercial mile of railroad tracks laid.
The B&O Railroad is open 10 am to 4 pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sundays.
Admission is 18 USD for seniors, 16 USD for seniors and 12 USD for children.
15. Get around on a Baltimore Water Taxi
The Water Taxi links various tourist attractions, such as Fell’s Point, Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium. It’s a fun and unique way to see Baltimore and get around the city. Each landing stop gives you a chance to explore a different neighborhood and see what makes up the character of Baltimore’s harbor.
Adults can buy two kinds of tickets: a day ticket (14 USD, unlimited trips) or a trip ticket (8 USD, 1 trip). Seniors and juniors pay 7 USD for a day ticket (unlimited trips).
More information on the routes can be found on the official website.
16. Take a cruise along the Inner Harbor
Dinner cruises are classy, formal affairs and are good if you want an exceptional evening. Otherwise, you can opt for a more casual lunch or brunch cruise.
17. Take a stroll through Fell’s Point
Fell’s Point is steeped in nautical history; it was named after Englishmen who founded a ship-building company here in 1726. Now you can stop at bars or restaurants in the area and enjoy fantastic seafood.
Wear comfy walking shoes and enjoy the food, architecture and shopping.
18. See 1,000-year-old trees
Thankfully, the wildlife now is much more familiar. Look out for songbirds and see if you can spot any Orioles, the Maryland State bird. You can walk along the quarter-mile-long (402-meter-long) boardwalk listening to the calling of songbirds and frogs. The sanctuary also operates a nature center where you can learn more about the sanctuary.
19. Browse the shops at Belvedere Square
20. Brush up on pop culture at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
GEM is open from 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
Admission is 10 USD for adults, 9 USD for seniors and 7 USD for students. Children under four enter for free.
Let yourself be charmed by the Charm City
Baltimore has so many things to see, do and experience – you’ll be spoilt for choice! The city is well-connected and there is a wide variety of options for food and snacks. Baltimore might not be the most well-known city in the United States, but it makes up for that by being a truly charming place to vacation.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.