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Tips on What To Do in Baltimore

Baltimore has a range of things to see and do to occupy a variety of visitors' interests.  History buffs might enjoy strolling by the old houses, and museum enthusiasts will not find their options lacking. And even kids with short attention spans should find Baltimore's attractions engaging.

  • Why go? The gleaming, family-friendly Inner Harbor, anchored by a world-class ballpark and aquarium" -- Concierge.com
  • Visiting Baltimore without seeing the Inner Harbor is like touring New York City and skipping Manhattan. The harbor and surrounding area are home to a good number of the city's most popular sites: the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium, and the American Visionary Arts Museum and Science Center. The neighborhoods themselves are fun to explore." -- Fodor's

Inner Harbor

Baltimore's waterfront is an attraction in itself, filled with restaurants, hotels and shopping spots, as well as major tourist attractions, like the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the American Visionary Arts Museum. For sports fans, travel writers and leisure visitors suggest stopping by nearby Camden Yards to watch the Orioles baseball team and M&T Bank Stadium to cheer on the Ravens football team play.

  • Baltimore's Inner Harbor is the obvious starting point for visitors, the focal point of the town's turnaround in the late 1970s. Visitors can get a feel for the city's seafaring days through attractions on the Inner Harbor, harbor cruises, and even water taxis." -- Frommer's
  • If you spend a long weekend in Baltimore, you can see most of the Inner Harbor attractions and get out to a few neighborhoods, too. Weekends are by far the busiest time for the Inner Harbor, but weekdays are often the best time to explore the boutiques in neighborhoods like Hampden and Federal Hill." -- Fodor's
  • Sports fans of any stripe should check out the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum and the nearby Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. Walking distance from the stadium, the museums offer both interactive and historical exhibits" -- Away.com

Historic Attractions

From the Inner Harbor you can jump on a water taxi to Fort McHenry take a tour of the fort's interior and enjoy a picnic in the surrounding park. The star-shaped fort is the place where Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812. Experts and recent visitors alike highly recommend you make a stop here.

There are other notable Baltimore stops steeped in history. Although the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. is better known, it was preceded by Mount Vernon's much smaller monument to the nation's first president. Unlike D.C.'s monument, the Baltimore version features a statue of the president at the top. Visitors can climb to the top for fantastic views of the city below.

Literature fans will flock to the Poe House, where Edgar Allen Poe lived for three years and wrote his first horror story, "Berenice." The house is located in West Baltimore; a neighborhood that writers say can get seedy, especially at night.

  • For a historic view of the city, climb up Charles Street to the old neighborhood of Mount Vernon. You'll find manicured lawns … and see an early memorial to George Washington ($2 to climb the 228 steps to the top), predating its better-known cousin 40 miles south." -- New York Times
  • Baltimore's Washington Monument is located in the cobblestone Mount Vernon neighborhood. The 1815 statue was the first architectural monument dedicated to George Washington. After touring the museum at the base of the monument, climb the 228 steps to the top for grand views of the city." -- National Geographic Traveler
  • Though the "Master of the Macabre" lived in this tiny row house only three years, … you can view changing exhibits and a video presentation about Poe's short, tempestuous life. Because of the possibility of crime, it's best to visit this neighborhood during daylight hours as part of a group." -- Fodor's

Museums

For art enthusiasts, the Inner Harbor's American Visionary Art Museum is filled with unique pieces, starting with a 55-foot wind-powered Whirligig at the front of the building. For something a bit more typical, writers and leisure travelers recommend the free Walters Art Museum in Mount Vernon. The museum's collections range from pieces from the early years in human history to the early 1900s. East of the Harbor in Fells Point is the city's oldest residence; built in 1765, writers say the Robert Long House Museum gives visitors a sense of how things were during the Revolutionary War and is now open for tours.

North of the Harbor in Charles Village and close to Johns Hopkins University is the Baltimore Museum of Art, which features the one of the country's largest Andy Warhol collections.

  • Stroll through the amazing collections of the Walters Art Museum. Enter the renowned Peabody Institute of Music, but lower your voice to admire the immense George Peabody Library. Continue your tour of Baltimore history and culture at the Baltimore Museum of Art ..." -- Moon Travel Guides
  • Located one mile north of the Inner Harbor, the Walters is just the right size to digest in a few hours. Of special note are the Asian and medieval art, as well as the 17th-century Flemish Collection, which features a sumptuous 'Chamber of Wonders that shows off then-unfamiliar New World curiosities like a stuffed alligator, a walrus tusk, and a leopard skin." -- Concierge.com
  • Take one of the many varieties of tours offered [at the Baltimore Museum of Art], including guided, self-guided, audio, cell phone, and podcast tours. Don't miss Henri Matisse's "Purple Robe and Anemones" (1937), one of the artist's 500 paintings displayed in the museum-the largest Matisse collection in the world. " -- National Geographic Traveler

Attractions for Kids

Families that recently visited the area liked the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which features an impressive shark tank and coral reef exhibit. Don't miss the touch pools and dolphin shows, which will be entertaining for the kids. Nearby, the restored USS Constellation offers kids the opportunity to pretend to be Civil War-era naval officers.

Recent visitors also enjoyed the Maryland Zoo in the northern neighborhood of Mount Vernon. The third-oldest zoo in the U.S. features more than 2,000 animals for the family to spot.

  • This aquarium is perhaps the greatest attraction in Baltimore's celebrated Inner Harbor. The exhibits start small with samples of marine life from local waters, but visitors soon find themselves eye-to-eye with sharks, rays and other very large creatures. ... Admission is high and the wait can be long, but both are worth it. " -- AOL Travel
  • Head to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (early to watch the animals wake up and eat their breakfast (families can also breakfast at the zoo on warm weekends)." -- Moon Travel Guides

Nightlife

While Baltimore is not the most well-known for a hopping nightlife scene, there are a few spots in the city where visitors can find places to play after hours. Travel writers describe decent nightlife scenes in Fells Point, Canton and Federal Hill. The neighborhoods are filled with bars and clubs, and attract a mainly younger crowd. Visitors will find a slightly older demographic as well as the city's gay community in Mount Vernon.

  • Fell's Point may well have the densest assembly of drinking places in the US. You'll find one bar after another lined up along Broadway and the many smaller side streets; almost all feature some sort of entertainment, usually live bands, and on summer nights the sidewalks are packed with revelers." -- Rough Guides
  • The postcollege crowd hits Fells Point after dinner and stays until last call, while Federal Hill gets busy after work. Wherever you go, don't expect such affectations as doormen and velvet cordons." -- Concierge.com
  • On a wintry night when it looks like the city has wrapped itself in a blanket and gone to bed, head east to Power Plant Live, Fells Point, or trendy Canton, and you'll find hot crowds and cool music." -- Frommer's

Shopping

If you're looking to really shop, heading north to New York City might be your bet. But Baltimore is not without its shopping spots. Instead of frequenting the Inner Harbor's touristy (and perhaps overpriced) stores, travel writers recommend heading to Fells Point, Harbor East or Hampden for cute stores.

If you're looking for antiques, the well known 800 block of Howard Street in Mount Vernon is lined with a variety of antiques stores.

  • The most interesting shops are concentrated in a handful of areas: North Howard Street holds a 100-yard-long collection of antique stores, while West 36th Street in Hampden is a mecca for zany Americana. Fells Point and Federal Hill also have distinctive boutiques set among the historic row houses and cute cafés." -- Concierge.com
  • The Inner Harbor is an obvious choice for shoppers. But those who like an adventure will find Fells Point, Hampden, Mount Washington, Antique Row on Howard Street, and a lot of fun. If your wallet needs emptying, head over to Cross Keys, near Mount Washington, for designer threads. Harbor East is the newest go-to shopping district." -- Frommer's

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