Baltimore Neighborhoods & Towns
You'll probably spend much of your time in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. But if you have some extra days, you should also explore the area's less touristy neighborhoods. There are more than dozens of areas in the Greater Baltimore to explore, each with its own individuality and charm.
Once characterized by its dilapidated warehouses, today this flourishing area houses steel high-rises, sprawling shopping complexes at Harborplace and even the National Aquarium in Baltimore — where you can spot fascinating species like blacktip reef sharks — making it an ideal starting point for exploration.
The nearby Harborplace on Pratt Street contains several levels of restaurants and specialty shopping, including souvenir stores. Just a stone's throw away, you’ll find the much-loved Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the interactive Maryland Science Center and the quirky American Visionary Art Museum along with the USS Constellation, the Navy's last all-sail warship. Once you’ve carved out some time to explore the Inner Harbor’s top sites, venture east and you’ll discover some of the city’s most storied neighborhoods, including Little Italy and Fells Point. You can easily reach the Inner Harbor and City Center using Maryland Transit Administration public transit.
East of the Inner Harbor is Little Italy, home to some of Baltimore's oldest buildings. Old World restaurants and charming homes dominate the neighborhood. Every Friday in July and August, the neighborhood hosts Cinema al Fresco, during which the streets become an open air theater playing Italian and Italian-themed films at the corner of High and Stiles Streets. This vibrant neighborhood also houses the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the Star Spangled Banner Flag House.
Farther east of Little Italy is Fell’s Point. A shipyard in its early days, Fell's Point now has streets lined with bars, restaurants and shops. You can get to Fell's Point easily by car or water taxi from the Inner Harbor. While you're there, explore the Fells Point Maritime Museum, the Robert Long House Museum and a few of the many pubs that host live music nightly. In this vibrant part of town, you’ll want to leave some time for digging into scrumptious seafood-focused dishes at restaurants like Riptide by the Bay and tipping back a pint at trendy spots like The Rockwell and Max’s Taphouse, known to stay buzzing through the wee hours.
Federal Hill, located across the bay from the Inner Harbor in South Baltimore, offers ample photo opportunities along its charming cobbled sidewalks and boutiques. You’ll also find a myriad of bustling bars and restaurants. Nearby is Camden Yards, home to MLB's Baltimore Orioles, as well as M&T Bank Stadium, home to the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Fort McHenry, the brick fort where Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner," is only a short drive or water taxi trip away. There are exhibits, as well as a daily changing of the flag, which has 15 stars and stripes like in Key's day. A park (ideal for picnicking) surrounds the fort.
Head East from Fell’s Point, and you’ll venture into Canton, one of the trendiest spots in the city. A former working-class neighborhood in Baltimore's southeast, the area's rehabilitated buildings are now condominiums, apartment complexes, shops and restaurants. The Maryland Korean War Memorial is here at the Canton Waterfront Park. The area is also bordered by Patterson Park, a sprawling urban green space that serves as a prime people-watching spot.
One of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Baltimore is Mount Vernon, north of the Inner Harbor. The neighborhood's Walters Art Museum has an impressive collection of art ranging from ancient Greek artifacts to impressionist paintings. The tranquil Mount Vernon Place park is another must-visit. The statuesque Washington Monument is the crown jewel of the park, and is the first monument to be dedicated to America's first president. Though you’ll need to climb 228 steps to reach the top, the spectacular city views are well worth the trek.
Mount Vernon is also known for its large concentration of gay bars, and the neighborhood hosts the Baltimore Pride parade and block party every year. In addition, the neighborhood shelters the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the third oldest zoo in the country. From here, you should also swing by Charles Street, a lively spot characterized by its vibrant dining scene. You can easily reach Mount Vernon on foot by heading north on Charles Street from the Inner Harbor; the distance is approximately 1.2 miles.
Over the years, Baltimore has carred a less-than-stellar reputation for safety, perpetuated by crime-heavy HBO series "The Wire." Although some parts of town might live up to those portrayals, well-traversed tourist areas are generally safe for visitors. While tourists will most likely not encounter any kind of violent crime, including drug-related activity, especially in busy areas like the Inner Harbor, Mount Vernon, Fells Point and Federal Hill, you should still use common sense and stay vigilant of your surroundings. Like any large city, Baltimore has its fair share of robberies and muggings. Stay prepared by stowing away your valuables and sticking to busy streets, especially at night. If you're unsure of where you are going, take a cab or drive yourself, since neighborhoods can quickly change from block to block.