Baltimore is Maryland’s largest city and arguably one of the historically significant cities in the country. It is home to thousands of buildings listed in the National Register, more than any other city in the States. Additionally, there are plenty of things to do in Baltimore that interests history buffs, museum junkies, families, and anyone looking for cheap weekend getaways. From checking out interesting museums, historic warships, and charming neighborhoods, you’ll never run out of activities.
Discover what Baltimore has in store for you and check out this list of things to do and places to see in Charm City.
1. Stroll Around the Inner Harbor
Walking around the Inner Harbor is one of the classic things to do in Baltimore. The picturesque seaport lined with plenty of restaurants and cafes is where 19th-century ships meet modern Baltimore attractions like the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center. Without a doubt, the Inner Harbor is a must for anyone visiting Baltimore.
Take in the riverside views as you enjoy a relaxing walk around the harbor, soaking up the picturesque views. Stop by the restaurants and enjoy local specialties: Baltimore crab cakes, pit beef, and steamed blue crabs. For a different perspective of the harbor, rent a boat or a water taxi or go on a sightseeing cruise. Several tour operators offer special cruises where guests can enjoy lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea with splendid views of Baltimore and the river.
2. Hang Out at Fort McHenry National Monument
Back in 1814, Fort McHenry made national headlines after withstanding a 25-hour long attack from British forces. Despite consistent bombings, the fort stood tall and saved the city from occupation. The heroic act then inspired poet and writer Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” which would then become America’s national anthem. Today, visitors can get a glimpse of Baltimore’s history by visiting Fort McHenry National Monument.
Take a self-guided tour or join ranger-led programs detailing the significance of Fort Henry. Events like flag changing ceremonies and National Flag Day are also held in the fort and locals and tourists are encouraged to participate. However, if you’re not a huge American history buff, you can simply enjoy a picnic at the fort grounds and admire scenic views of the river. The national monument also has paths circling the fort where you can bike or go for a run.
3. Find Eclectic Art at the American Visionary Art Museum
While most museums, like museums in Madrid, showcase masterpieces by seasoned artists, Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum begs to differ. This museum in particular specializes in so-called outsider art or art created by self-taught individuals. Therefore, find all sorts of unique and quirky artworks, installations, and exhibits at this fascinating museum.
The American Visionary Art Museum features more than 4,000 artworks in its permanent collection and several temporary exhibitions. See sculptures made from scrapped material, paintings made from sauces, and other idiosyncratic creations. All these unorthodox pieces residing within the equally whimsically decorated museum encourage visitors to explore and think out of the box.
4. Meet All Kinds of Sea Creatures at the National Aquarium
The National Aquarium is one of Baltimore’s must-visit attractions, home to more than 17,000 animals. Its unique architecture stands out among the buildings around the Inner Harbor and at night, the wave-shaped lights are a nice sight from the river. Perfect for all ages, visiting the National Aquarium is also one of the best things to do in Baltimore. For budget travelers, plan your visit on Friday evenings and enjoy admission at half price to the aquarium.
Enter the National Aquarium and be in awe of the wide variety of marine creatures such as stingrays, jellyfishes, and sharks. In addition, the aquarium also boasts replicas of Amazon rainforests and Australian river gorges, allowing its visitors to discover and see more than just aquatic creatures. The aquarium also hosts special programs for those who want to get a closer look at dolphins, sharks, and other animals.
5. Catch a Baseball Game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Watching a baseball game has been part of America’s culture and is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and almost everywhere in the country. Likewise in Baltimore, the city takes pride in having one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums, the first retro-style ballpark built in the early 1990s. Therefore, a baseball game is a must for sports enthusiasts visiting Baltimore.
In summer, cheer for the Baltimore Orioles on a Major League Baseball Game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and feel the stadium come alive with people cheering. Not a huge fan of baseball? You can still enjoy a guided tour around the stadium and explore the dugout, press box, and bleachers. Not far from the ballpark is the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, created in honor of Babe Ruth, widely considered as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
6. See Works by Matisse at Baltimore Museum of Art
Housing works of art from around the globe, the Baltimore Museum of Art is Maryland’s largest museum. It also has the largest collection of works by Henri Matisse, a renowned French artist famous for his use of colors in his paintings. Aside from works by Matisse, you can also find works by Picasso, Cézanne, and van Gogh. Best of all, admission to this museum in Baltimore is free!
But aside from works by these iconic artists, the Baltimore Museum of Art has plenty of other unmissable collections and exhibits. Discover serpentine figures from the ancient Americas, traditional ornaments from Melanesia and Polynesia, and ceramics from China. After your museum visit, stop by the sculpture garden for a breather or have a lively art discussion over a meal at the on-site restaurant.
7. Step Inside the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum
Edgar Allan Poe is one of America’s best writers and poets, famed for his use of mystery and the macabre in his works. He also lived a couple of years in Baltimore and after his death, his residence was preserved and became a museum commemorating his life and works. For literary buffs, exploring the museum is one of the best things to do in Baltimore.
Walk into the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum and find all sorts of items and memorabilia from the legendary author. His portable writing desk and chair for one, was where he penned some of his greatest stories and poems. Every year, the museum also hosts the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival & Awards, commemorating the anniversary of his peculiar death in Baltimore and includes tours related to the author and a reenactment of his death in Carroll Mansion.
8. Take a Tour of the Historic Ships in Baltimore
The Historic Ships in Baltimore comprise four museum ships and one lighthouse. This impressive collection includes the USS Constellation, a three-mast sloop-of-war, USCGC Taney, a Coast Guard cutter, USS Torsk, a World War II submarine, Chesapeake, a lightship, and the Seven Foot Knoll Light, a lighthouse. All historic structures are also located in the Inner Harbor and make for a perfect sightseeing trip.
Relive Baltimore’s maritime history on a visit to the Historic Ships and find out how they played an important role in the wars they fought. Aside from normal guided tours, visitors can also join overnight tours for a more comprehensive exploration of the ships. While the military ships and vessels underwent developments throughout the years, their features and designs remain timeless and significant.
9. Travel Back in Time at the Walters Art Museum
Discover an extensive collection of art at the Walters Art Museum. This free-admission museum is located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood and is also near other historical sites like the Washington Monument. The museum was founded in 1934 and its artworks were initially displayed at the family mansion before moving to a palazzo-style building.
At the Walters Art Museum, marvel at its collection of art dating back to the Ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Etruscan times. See a Roman Funerary stele, alabaster reliefs from Assyria, and pieces from the Aztec and Maya cultures. The museum also contains Chinese and Japanese porcelains, artifacts from medieval Europe, and several paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque Era.
10. Satisfy Your Curiosity at the Maryland Science Center
Visiting the Maryland Science Center is one of the fun things to do in Baltimore for travelers of all ages. Boasting three levels of exhibits, the science center has a planetarium, dinosaur replicas, interactive displays, and an IMAX theater. Its proximity from the American Visionary Art Museum makes it a two-in-one stop near Federal Hill Park.
Quench your thirst for knowledge and explore Maryland Science Center’s fascinating exhibits. Be humbled at the larger-than-life full-scale models of dinosaurs and be a paleontologist for a day at the Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit. Tour inside the human body and know how it feels like to lie down on a bed of nails. The museum also offers different programs and immersive live shows for everyone to enjoy.
11. Tour the B&O Railroad Museum
Originally named the Baltimore & Ohio Transportation Museum, the B&O Railroad Museum is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the favorite things to do in Baltimore for kids and families. In fact, it won Best Museum for Little Kids in Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Picks Awards.
Visit the B&O Railroad Museum and find all sorts of railroad memorabilia, locomotives, and coaches. Make sure to ride the Mile One Express, a 20-minute round trip along the first commercial mile of railroad track in America. For children, listen to a railroad story or participate in fun interactive activities and ride a miniature train around a small town. Then at the souvenir shop, purchase cute locomotive and railroad-themed gifts and trinkets to bring home.
12. Unwind at Fell’s Point
Fell’s Point is another historic district in Baltimore, boasting more than 300 buildings on the National Register. With its cobblestone streets and 18th to 19th-century homes, the waterfront neighborhood is a reminder of the city’s nautical history. Additionally, Fell’s Point offers plenty of antique shops, coffee bars, restaurants, and over a hundred pubs.
After a day of sightseeing, head to Fell’s Point and explore its charming streets. Admire its well-preserved storefronts and buildings, sample local food at the market, or take out your cameras and go on a photo walk around the neighborhood. Have dinner at one of the restaurants and feast on Chesapeake Bay seafood like oysters, blue crab, and striped bass. Cap off the evening with booze and bar chow at a bar and interact with the friendly locals.
13. Admire the Flowers of Sherwood Gardens
Take a break from the historic sites of Baltimore and escape to the blooming fields of Sherwood Gardens! The garden is a popular destination in the city for its colorful tulip fields. In addition, the garden also features azaleas, dogwoods, and other flowering plants. Enjoy free admission to the gardens and marvel at the well-maintained bushes and boxwoods.
In spring, the garden is bursting with over 80,000 tulip bulbs, reminiscent of the tulip fields in the Netherlands. Take part in the Annual Tulip Dig and get a chance to bring home these colorful bulbs. Don’t forget to bring your cameras for a photoshoot and soak up the gorgeous views of the flowers and greenery.
14. Grab a Bite at Lexington Market
After all the sightseeing and walking, take a break and replenish at Lexington Market, a huge indoor market with over a hundred vendors. It is also one of the longest-running markets in the world, having been around since 1789. As it has been around for over 230 years, the market preserves Baltimore’s thriving trade and food culture.
Sink your teeth into delicious crab cakes at Faidley’s Seafood, lo mein at the Chinese Pavilion, and other mouthwatering dishes at Lexington Market. After that, satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy cookies, an assortment of danishes, and other baked goods at Berger’s Bakery. The Market also holds jazz bands on certain days and even hosts performances from middle school and elementary school students nearby.
15. View Baltimore From the Top of the World Observation Level
For first-time visitors, going to the Top of the World Observation Level is one of the best things to do in Baltimore. Located on the 17th floor of the World Trade Center, the observation deck offers 360-degree views of downtown Baltimore and the Patapsco River. Admission fees start at 6 USD for adults, however, you can enjoy special rates on certain events like Fourth of July celebrations and art exhibitions.
Aside from the spectacular panoramic views, you’ll also be moved by the touching tribute to the 9/11 victims on its windows. From its massive glass windows, you’ll also be able to spot iconic landmarks like the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. If you’re spending the new year in Baltimore, the observation deck is also a popular spot to watch the vibrant fireworks from.
16. Meet Different Animals at The Maryland Zoo
Home to more than 2,000 animals, the Maryland Zoo is a family-friendly destination in Druid Hill Park. Opened in 1876, it is one of the oldest zoological parks in the United States, divided into different areas. The African Journey is the zoo’s largest area, boasting an enclosed walk-through aviary, lion exhibit, giraffe house, and a massive observation area for African elephants. On the other hand, meet otters, bobcats, and farm animals at the Maryland Wilderness area and polar bears at the Polar Bear Watch.
At The Maryland Zoo, visitors can also get a chance to meet their favorite animals in up-close and personal encounters. Feed giraffes by hand, join the goats on a fun trek through the farmyard, and feed turtles and penguins. For the ultimate Maryland Zoo experience, join the keepers as they feed African penguins or watch a giraffe training session on a fun and safe guided experience.
17. Tour Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Looking for more things to do in Baltimore with children? Port Discovery Children’s Museum is the perfect place to visit, housed in the Fish Market building near the Inner Harbor. Additionally, the museum contains three floors of interactive and hands-on exhibits that encourage children to think and learn through playing.
Let your children discover and play through the different exhibits at Port Discovery Children’s Museum. The Port is a life-sized cargo ship that lets children play as captains and learn how products are shipped around the world. At the Wonders of Water, kids can learn about the different uses of water as they make life-sized bubbles and create music with water. There is also a small convenience store where you can teach little ones how to shop for groceries. For artistic kids, there is a small theater where they can join musical performances, as well as a visual arts studio.
18. Get a Taste of La Dolce Vita in Little Italy
Tourists can also enjoy authentic Italian cuisine at Little Italy, a small neighborhood in southeastern Baltimore. The area is home to at least 20 Italian home-style cafes and eateries where you can savor pizza, pasta, and other Italian classics. Have a chocolate-dipped cannoli, ice cream sandwich, and other Italian desserts at Vaccaro’s or try Cafe Gia’s gnocchi and homemade ravioli.
But aside from its cuisine, Little Italy also hosts several festivals that can get you into the Italian spirit. In October, join the Italian Heritage Day festivities with lively parades and family-friendly events. By December, feel the Yuletide spirit come alive at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. This festive celebration is also complete with hot chocolate and the presence of Babbo Natale (Santa Claus).
19. Explore the Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore Museum of Industry details the city’s rise as a major industrial center through hard work and determination. The museum showcases working equipment and recreated parts of different industries such as a garment loft, machine shop, and cannery. In fact, the museum even features the oldest steam tugboat that dates back to 1906.
Go on a tour of the Baltimore Museum of Industry and get a deeper appreciation of Baltimore’s history. Walk through the city’s only surviving cannery building, a 1910 pharmacy, machine shop, and vintage printing presses. Led by a guide, learn how these industries helped shape Baltimore’s thriving industry. Then, have your kids participate in interactive tours that allow them to experience working in an early 20th century Baltimore neighborhood.
20. Find Solace at Baltimore Basilica
Also known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Baltimore Basilica is an imposing Neoclassical structure. It is one of the best things to do in Baltimore for those looking for some downtime after spending the day in the city. As the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the country, the basilica is a must-visit for religious travelers or architecture enthusiasts.
Visit Baltimore Basilica and find your inner peace as you explore the house of worship. While its exterior resembles a Greek temple, its interior reveals a tranquil space with light-colored walls and a coffered ceiling. For a deeper appreciation of the basilica, join a guided tour and explore the upper church, undercroft, and crypt. Upon request, get a chance to also see the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden.
21. Marvel at the Washington Monument
In the middle of Mount Vernon is the Washington Monument, a towering obelisk dedicated to George Washington. Over the years it has been part of Mount Vernon’s picturesque skyline along with the Gothic spires of the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. For first-time visitors, seeing the Washington Monument is one of the best things to do in Baltimore.
The ground floor contains a museum about the monument itself and George Washington. Climb 227 steps to get to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the area. Once you’ve soaked up the good views from the top of the monument, continue exploring the Mount Vernon neighborhood. There are various cafes, galleries, and other architectural marvels in store for you.
Where to Stay in Baltimore
(Take note that prices per night depend on the season and are subject to change without prior notice.)
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
Address: 200 International Drive, Harbor East, Baltimore, MD 21202, United States
Price: Starts at 492 USD per night
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is one of the best luxury hotels in the city, strategically located near Fells Point and Little Italy. The hotel also offers rooms with modern decor equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows and flat-screen TVs. Furthermore, the marble bathrooms come with bathtubs and walk-in rain showers. Within the hotel, visit its state-of-the-art fitness center and sauna, and take a dip in its rooftop infinity pool.
Inn at Henderson’s Wharf
Address: 1000 Fell St., Fells Point, Baltimore, MD 21231, United States
Price: Starts at 197 USD per night
Formerly a tobacco factory, the Inn at Henderson’s Wharf maintains its historic charm with exposed brick walls, plantation shutters, and wooden furniture. It is also now a charming boutique hotel that guarantees a personalized stay for its visitors, offering a complimentary butler service delivering freshly brewed coffee and helping get your bath water ready daily. Begin your day with a free continental breakfast in the courtyard. After you’ve ticked off your list of things to do in Baltimore, relax and indulge in a plate of complimentary dark chocolate paired with your alcohol of choice.
Lord Baltimore Hotel
Address: 20 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States
Price: Starts at 169 USD per night
The historic Lord Baltimore Hotel stands in the middle of downtown Baltimore, located a few minutes away from the Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium. The hotel features a harmonious blend of French Renaissance exteriors with sleek and modern hotel rooms ranging from single queen rooms to two-room suites. Each room offers plush beddings, 40-inch flat-screen cable TVs, free toiletries, and a designated workspace. Moreover, its on-site restaurant offers fresh and delicious meals from breakfast to dinner. At night, have drinks with a view of Baltimore at the rooftop bar.
Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore/Woodlawn
Address: 1810 Belmont Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21244, United States
Price: Starts at 84 USD per night
Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore/Woodlawn is a great budget hotel near Patapsco Valley State Park. Although it is located relatively far from downtown Baltimore, the hotel offers free shuttle services to and from the city, allowing seamless travel for its guests. The Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore/Woodlawn also offers accessible rooms and amenities like grab bars in bathrooms, accessible pools, and routes to different areas in the hotel.
Explore Maryland’s Charm City
From historical forts, dozens of museums, and kid-friendly attractions, there are plenty of things to do in Baltimore. If you’re a history buff, visit Fort McHenry, tour Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore residence, and then explore the Historic Ships. Meanwhile, museum lovers can spend an entire day hopping from one museum to another, admiring quirky art pieces from the American Visionary Art Museum and Matisse paintings at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Maryland Zoo, Port Discover Children’s Museum, and the National Aquarium are tried and tested family favorite destinations in the city.
Offering a multitude of places to visit and sights to see, explore Baltimore and discover this seaside city!