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20 Things You Can't Miss In Baltimore

Published May 09, 2016

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:

Top 3 activities to book in Baltimore (and vicinity)

1. Be enthralled by the wildlife at the National Aquarium

Baltimore national aquarium
Source: Sean Naber

If you have little ones, or love wildlife, then the National Aquarium is a must-see on your Baltimore trip.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near National Aquarium in Baltimore and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near National Aquarium in Baltimore

2 . All aboard the Historic Ships!

Lightship chesapeake baltimore md1

History and maritime buffs ahoy! Historic Ships is an open-air museum where you get to climb onboard history itself. It houses one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world. Among some of the ships there are the USS Constellation, the last remaining civil-war era ship afloat, as well as the USS Torsk, a submarine that saw action during World War 2 and has an impressive record of over 10,000 dives.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Lightship Chesapeake and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Lightship Chesapeake

3. Walk in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar allan poe house and musuem baltimore

Baltimore defines the beginning and end of Poe’s life. It was in Baltimore that Poe began to write his imaginative short stories, and it was also in Baltimore that Poe met his mysterious death.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Edgar Allan Poe Museum and House and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Edgar Allan Poe Museum and House

4. Send chills up your spine at the Westminster Hall Burying Grounds

Poe grave baltimore

Just a short walk away from the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is Westminster Hall, a graveyard and former church. Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law are buried in the cemetery. Other notable people resting there include General Sam Smith and General James McHenry.

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

Baltimore lexington market
Source: Ron Cogswell

Baltimore’s public market system is over two centuries old, making it the oldest continually-operating market system in the United States.

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!

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Lexington Market and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Lexington Market

6. Tour John Hopkin’s University

Johns hopkins university

Whether you’re a prospective student or your college days are long over, the John Hopkins Homewood Campus is definitely worth a visit. Located in North Baltimore, the Homewood Campus is home base for Hopkins’ undergraduates.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Johns Hopkins University and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Johns Hopkins University

7. Take a ride on the Charm City Circulator shuttle bus

Charm city circulator baltimore

It’s easy for visitors to get around Baltimore even without a car, and that’s thanks to the Charm City Circulator (CCC). The CCC is a free shuttle bus service that runs through four routes in the city, and it is used by tourists and residents alike. The fleet is made up of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which are eco-friendly.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Baltimore and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Baltimore

8. Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Oriole park at camden yards %2817260075656%29

Baltimore has a long and colorful history with regards to baseball, and there’s no place where that is more distinct than Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Oriole Park is one of the most highly-praised major league ballparks. Baltimore’s home team, the Baltimore Orioles, have won the World Series three times.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Oriole Park at Camden Yards and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Oriole Park at Camden Yards

9. Immerse yourself in baseball history at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

Babe ruth birthplace

Baltimore also has the distinction of being the birthplace of baseball legend Babe Ruth. If you have even a mild interest in baseball, this is a must-see. The museum encompasses the small row house where the Babe was born. It has several exhibits about the life and times of Babe Ruth and you can see the room where he was born.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

10. Explore the birthplace of the American National Anthem

1280px fort mchenry flag and cannon

After the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the American flag flew high over Fort McHenry. The sight of the flag in the sky moved Francis Scott Key so much he wrote the poem that would eventually become “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Fort McHenry and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Fort McHenry

11. Let the kids play at Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Port discovery 0083

Play and learn, learn and play. If you have young children, you have to visit the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Try saying ‘three-story playground’ to your kids without their eyes lighting up in excitement. Port Discovery is great fun for kids aged 1 to 10 as well as for the adults who take them there.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Port Discovery and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Port Discovery

12. Coo over the animals at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Spheniscus demersus  maryland zoo  usa 8a

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is the third oldest zoo in the U.S., but you wouldn’t guess that from the well-maintained exhibits and spaces. This is a great place to spend an afternoon admiring Mother Nature’s creations.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Maryland Zoo and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Maryland Zoo

13. Watch a film at The Charles Theater

Station north arts district baltimore chas st

Whether you’re a film buff or just like to watch the latest Hollywood flicks, you can catch something at The Charles. The 108-year-old cinema is the oldest in Baltimore. The original auditorium has only been altered slightly from the theatre that it was in 1939.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Baltimore and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Baltimore

14. Ride a train at the birthplace of American railroading

B o railroad museum august 2002 02

The B&O Railroad Museum has the largest collection of 19th century locomotives in the United States of America. It features historic railroad equipment and trains from all time periods. It’s a fascinating place for train and history lovers alike.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near B&O Railroad Museum and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near B&O Railroad Museum

15. Get around on a Baltimore Water Taxi

Baltimore water taxi
Source: mo1229

Baltimore is also known as the city of boats; its harbor is beautiful and the city is full of nautical history and traditions. The Baltimore Water Taxi has been part of that culture for over 35 years. It ferries both tourists and residents to their destinations across the water, and is considered to be a way of life in Baltimore.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Inner Harbor and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Inner Harbor

16. Take a cruise along the Inner Harbor

Spirit cruise baltimore

In line with nautical tradition, why not spend a few hours cruising down Baltimore’s waterfront? You can opt for a lunch, brunch or dinner cruise aboard Spirit Cruises. The cruise provides dining and live entertainment with large dance floors, a live DJ and full service bars. You can also step out to the open-air rooftop lounge to feel the breeze and admire the Baltimore skyline as it drifts by.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Inner Harbor and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Inner Harbor

17. Take a stroll through Fell’s Point

Baltimore fells point

Fell’s Point is a historic neighborhood that was established in 1763. Historically, Fell’s Point was home to large populations of immigrants from Germany and Poland. Today, its cobblestone streets form a trendy shopping district with a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars. Many historic homes and businesses were preserved, leading to a diverse range of different architectural styles from different times in history.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Fells Point and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Fells Point

18. See 1,000-year-old trees

Bald cypress swamp and spanish moss

Experience the primeval beauty of the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary. The sanctuary houses one of the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in the United States. 100,000 years ago, creatures like woolly mammoths roamed the woods here.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Frederick and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Frederick

19. Browse the shops at Belvedere Square

Belvedere square

Belvedere Square is the central gathering spot in North Baltimore. A diverse commercial hub, Belvedere Square features an array of shops. It has a gourmet market, boutique retail shops, and delectable restaurants. Belvedere Square is where to go when you’re looking for the exceptional – upscale food and ingredients can be found at the market here. You can browse the shops and then sit at one of the outdoor tables to munch on artisanal bagels, bread, and coffee.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Baltimore and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Baltimore

20. Brush up on pop culture at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

Geppi museum baltimore

Can you name some of your favourite comic characters that have graced the pages of newspapers? If you can – or better yet, if you can’t – then you’re due for a visit at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM). GEM is dedicated to telling the story of pop culture, including how it entwines and influences American history and the way of life. Through entertaining and educational exhibits, GEM helps visitors understand the influence that pop culture has on our lives, and brings back the childhood thrill of seeing our favorite characters on screen or on a newspaper page. GEM is great for kids and the young at heart.

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Geppi's Entertainment Museum and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals near Geppi's Entertainment Museum

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.

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Belicia is a clueless child in between polytechnic and university. She loves playing with words and cameras, and in her free time tries to stay curious and keep exploring the world. To her, the...Read more

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