Just about 64 kilometers (40 miles) from the nation’s capital is Baltimore, a historically rich enclave waiting to be explored. If you’re native to Maryland then you may be familiar with the many transitions the harbor city has undergone, from trade power player to Maryland’s largest economic core. Baltimore is bursting with diversity both culturally and architecturally, being home to many monuments left over from the city’s four centuries of activity. If you’ve never visited the cobblestone streets of Baltimore’s inner harbor, and are thinking of taking a trip, or if you’re a long-time resident looking to explore some lesser known treasures, you will be surprised by what is still waiting to be exposed.
1. Leisure in Little Italy
Baltimore became the new home for many Italian immigrants searching for a better life for their families in 19th-century America. They formed a community based on their longing for tradition and a need to stay connected to their Italian heritage in an unfamiliar new land. This is how Little Italy was born.
Today, although the demographics of the area have changed, the history thrives with festivals and monuments to this iconic neighborhood. When visiting Baltimore, you don’t want to skip a visit to Little Italy. If you can plan your trip around the summer months you can take part in festivals such as the Feast of St. Anthony, a tribute to the perseverance of the community during the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. The festive occasion is celebrated today as a symbol of unity.
The homemade food is amazing and the festival is open to the public. If you happen to miss this festival, August brings the Feast of St. Gabriel and more delicious Italian fare. Visit Little Italy and experience a piece of Baltimore history and Italian cultural pride.
Address: Little Italy, Batlimore, Maryland, United States
Website: Little Italy
2. A different kind of museum
This unique museum is a frequent choice for weddings as the beautiful and bizarre merge in this creative edgy space. Many of the artists featured at the American Visionary Art Museum are self-taught, breaking convention to deliver inspiring works that rebel against the status quo to help open our minds to the variety of artistic expression. Current exhibits include a fun and exploratory journey through culinary history, present, and future, a gallery of art from self-taught DC native artist Sesow, and the Tall Sculpture Barn, a favorite of the museum sure to wow the entire family.
American Visionary Art Museum
Address: 800 Key Hwy, 21230 Baltimore, Maryland
Website: American Visionary Art Museum
3. The last sail-only navy war ship
The USS Constellation is a quintessential piece of American history, having seen many sea battles in its tenure as a merchant ship carrying cargo from the Caribbean to Baltimore. The epic battles are over, but the refurbished ship remains a towering tribute to our country’s tumultuous beginning. Tours of the Constellation are available each weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Address: 301 E Pratt St, 21202 Baltimore, Maryland
Website: USS Constellation
4. Creepy cool in the Cloister Castle
The Cloister Castle is the brainchild of couple Sumner and Dudrea, who spent almost four decades researching and constructing this epic historical monument to European architecture. The house is a mix of many different elements of striking European antiques such as artwork, artifacts, furniture and blocks of stone. In this way, the house is much older than its 70 plus years. Now a favorite for photo shoots and weekend adventures, the Cloister Castle is sure to bring out your thirst for the hauntingly beautiful.
Address: 10440 Falls Rd, 21093 Lutherville-Timonium, MD
Website: Cloister Castle
5. A poet's house
Keeping with the theme of dark and broody, famous poet and creative writer Edgar Allan Poe lived in Baltimore for quite some time, writing several poem and pieces in what is now a historical site open to the public. The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum were created to preserve the family home of the iconic writer when it was scheduled to be demolished during a development project. Walk the halls where “Tales From The Folio Club” was penned and soak in the creative energy that remains in the walls of this Baltimore landmark.
The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
Address: 203 N Amity St, 21223 Baltimore, MD
6. Light on the water
For centuries, lighthouses helped to part the thick fog to lead ships to safe harbor. As a crucial port for import and export during the 19th and 20th centuries, Baltimore’s vital lighthouses were a lifeline, making way for weary sailors to rest without dismay. Today these impressive structures serve as a reminder of our evolving infrastructure. The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was manned by a lightkeeper for over a century and large enough to host a family or two during its lifespan. Today, it is a frequently visited monument that can teach the whole family about the seafaring history of Baltimore.
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
Address: 711 Eastern Ave, 21202 Baltimore, MD
Website: Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
7. Unsung heros of US history
Baltimore hosts a proud history of diversity and a reputation for uplifting heroes that throughout our country’s evolution continues to inspire us towards greatness. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum celebrates important African American figures in American history in lifelike fashion. The museum is known for featuring lesser-known figures like Nathan Carter, the international vocal instructor and Baltimore choir director, as well as iconic figures such as Collin Powel, former Secretary of State. Each exhibit is dedicated to a theme and will introduce more than a few new facts to share.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Address: 1601 E North Ave, 21213 Baltimore, MD
8. Garden in the city
The urban garden and nature observatory Cylburn Arboretum is a 200-acre treasure that is not only free and open to the public daily but also home to a classroom and kitchen dedicated to teaching citizens more about plant life, gardening, and organic cooking. Dogs are allowed to join the tour as long as they are leashed and there are frequent events to highlight Baltimore’s commitment to green living and open space. Scheduled wellness activities such as yoga and guided walking tours can be found on their website.
Address: 4915 Greenspring Ave, 21209 Baltimore, MD
Website: Cylburn Arboretum
History for the whole family
It can be tough to please everyone when looking for educational and intriguing activities, yet when you venture off the beaten path, you are sure to discover that around just about every corner is a piece of history waiting to be uncovered. Embracing historic monuments, museums and artifacts in our everyday lives can be a great way to inspire kids and adults alike to search out new bits of knowledge to share.
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