Best Things To Do in Baltimore
You'll want to pack a good set of walking shoes to stroll along the Inner Harbor and make your way through the Baltimore Museum of Art, where you'll find impressionist paintings from the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne. If admiring art isn't your thing, take to Federal Hill Park or catch a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards before indulging your taste buds with blue crabs, a city favorite. For off-the-beaten-path exploration, head to Druid Hill Park to see the Maryland Zoo and stop by Mount Vernon to see Baltimore's Washington Monument. History buffs, art enthusiasts and foodies alike will revel in the colorful neighborhoods of this city, which are home to everything from modern museums to historical monuments to a burgeoning dining scene.
Updated July 31, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Baltimore2.5 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND2.5 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Situated in Charles Village, just north of the downtown area, the Baltimore Museum of Art claims the title of largest art museum in Maryland. Filled with more 95,000 art pieces, including an impressive Matisse collection, donated by Baltimore natives Claribel and Etta Cone, the museum draws art enthusiasts from across the globe. An entire Cone Wing of the museum is devoted to the sisters' spectacular repertoire of paintings from distinguished artists like Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne. Recent visitors praised the extensive collection, citing free admission to the world-class museum as a major perk.
The museum is also home to one of the largest Andy Warhol collections in the world and features European sculptures, African and Asian arts, and decorative arts. The Contemporary Wing, which showcases works by women and artists of color, among others, and the sculpture garden, which hosts jazz sessions during the summer, are two main museum highlights. If you're interested in discovering what else is on display, check out its official website.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Baltimore0.4 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Although not as famous as the Baltimore Museum of Art, this free Mount Vernon museum displays art dating back to 5000 B.C. Since it opened in 1934, the museum has expanded into a total of three distinctive buildings. Featuring Renaissance paintings, Asian art, Byzantine and Ethiopian art, and an extensive Egyptian collection, among other works, the exhibitions offer a diverse selection of art styles. The Walters is also known for its medieval galleries, which include artifacts like suits of armor from the Middle Ages. The Walters Art Museum also offers a variety of family-focused programs, as well as free drop-in art activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which allows little ones to participate in arts and crafts projects. Recent visitors praised the museum's comprehensive collection and stunning interior design.
Free walk-in tours are available for those who want a more in-depth look at the galleries. While the museum itself is free to the public, keep in mind special events and lectures may require an admission fee for non-members. For further details on current exhibitions, consult the Walters Art Museum's official website. The museum welcomes visitors Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Thursdays, visiting hours are extended to 9 p.m.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Baltimore0.6 miles to city centerSportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerSportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you're downtown during a game day, you're bound to see droves of fans flashing orange as they head to Camden Yards. Located just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor, the stadium is one of the most famous in the league. Built in a retro style in the early 1990s, Oriole Park offers an authentic baseball game experience. The park features a well-kept field, abundant restaurants, beer, pretzel and hot dog stands, and beautiful views overlooking the city from the stands.
Recent visitors highlight the park as comfortable and festive. They enjoyed the food vendors and the prices inside the stadium, and they recommended seeing a game even if you are just a casual fan. The park also boasts an Orioles Hall of Fame and museum located outside stadium's front entrance.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Baltimore2.6 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND2.6 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
While detained on a ship in the Chesapeake Bay during a battle in the War of 1812, lawyer, poet and writer Francis Scott Key saw a flag of 15 stars and stripes soaring above the fray, signaling the Americans success in holding of a British naval attack. As the story goes, this sight inspired him to write the country's national anthem. Today, the site of the battle – and Key's moment of inspiration – is one of the most popular tourist haunts in Baltimore.
Admission to the general park area is free, but there is a $15 fee for visitors ages 16 and older to enter the historic star-shaped fort. At the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, spectators can partake in a variety of programs, including the Fort, Flag and Fire! Ceremony every Saturday at 2 p.m. in July and August, which invites spectators to enjoy guided tours and even assist in the changing of the 42-foot flag. After the history lesson, relax on the grounds and enjoy a picnic with the family. Recent visitors said their favorite part of the tour was soaking in the scenic views of the water and brushing up on American history with "flag talks" given by highly informative park rangers.
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Many of the attractions in Baltimore – including the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the USS Constellation and the major sports stadiums – are centered in the Inner Harbor. Since the 18th century, the Harbor has been one of the most important seaports in the country, with a prime position alongside the Chesapeake Bay. Apart from the surrounding sites, you can also spend the day walking around the area, taking in a street performance or exploring the shops and restaurants.
While some travelers cite the area as somewhat of a tourist trap, most agree that the scenic strolls and convenient location make it a must-see for any first-time visitor. The neighborhood serves as a great place to catch a water taxi, have a meal, and shop around. Plus, there are many summer concerts and events in the area.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Baltimore0.8 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This Federal Hill art museum, which was once a whiskey warehouse, beckons to those with eclectic tastes. Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a 55-foot-tall "Whirligig" wind-powered configuration, which sets the tone for the quirky art displayed inside. The American Visionary Art Museum exhibits explore a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology on everyday life, the power of story-telling, race and gender. Recent reviewers highlight the colorful, multi-dimension collection as appealing to adults and kids alike. They also appreciate the hands-on nature of many exhibits.
The museum opens its doors Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission costs $15.95; admission for children ages 7 and up costs $9.95; children 6 and younger can visit for free. The easiest way to access the American Visionary Art Museum is by walking south along Baltimore's Inner Harbor to Federal Hill. For more information about the museum's exhibits and hours, check out the official website of the attraction.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Baltimore0.8 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
For some of the best views of the Inner Harbor and Baltimore skyline, head to Federal Hill just south of downtown. The massive hill was once used during the Civil War and the War of 1812 as a major lookout spot. Until recently, it was also known as Signal Hill, where flags of local companies were raised as their ships arrived into the harbor. Past visitors said Federal Hill offers the best view in the city.
You have two options for getting to Federal Hill's summit: stairs or rolling hill. If you prefer the stairs, head up the 100 stairs on the Battery Avenue side. Warren Avenue, on the other hand, doesn't offer any stairs, but boasts scenic hillside views. If you're in the city for the Fourth of July, this makes for a great spot to watch the fireworks.
- #8View all PhotosfreePatterson Park#8 in Baltimore1.8 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.8 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
A marble fountain, swimming pool, lake, pagoda and dog park can be found in this 300-year-old park, where locals and visitors congregate for seasonal events and concerts. The Pagoda atop Hampstead Hill – formerly called the Observatory – was built in 1890 and crowns the park, affording unobstructed city views. Recent visitors called this pagoda unique and worth a visit.
When you're not soaking up the scenery from the Pagoda, people-watching or joining other revelers for outdoor concerts, you can also take part of the activities held by the Friends of Patterson Park and volunteers, including bird-watching tours and gardening classes. On a clear day, rare bird types, such as the great blue heron and American goldfinch, have been spotted throughout the park.
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This 200-plus-year-old Maryland Science Center is one of the oldest scientific institutions in the country. Originally a meeting place for amateur local scientists to discuss papers, the museum has transformed into one of the most visited attractions of the Inner Harbor. Boasting interactive exhibits for children, a planetarium for astronomy gurus, and giant dinosaur replicas for budding paleontologists, the museum offers plenty of activity for its visitors. Recent visitors said this attraction is fun for all ages, and they appreciated that the exhibits occasionally change for repeat visitors.
One of the most popular parts of the center is the IMAX theater, which shows a wide range of movies, from science-related flicks to more mainstream blockbusters. General adult admission prices to the museum are $24.95, and entrance to the IMAX theater costs $13.95 (for feature films). Discounts are available for kids ages 3 to 12, seniors and large groups. The Science Center is located off of Light Street along the Inner Harbor, and is easily accessible via the Charm City Circulator. The museum operating hours vary, depending on time of year. Generally, the museum welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with extended hours on Saturdays. Consult the museum's official website for its current hours.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Baltimore0.4 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The USS Constellation, which is currently docked at pier 1 along the Inner Harbor, was first launched in 1854 and has had a tenuous history throughout its active life. The last all-sail ship in the U.S. Navy, the Constellation once played a role in disrupting the slave trade and has seen duty in both world wars. Today, visitors can climb aboard and tour the decks and play the part of a 19th-century sailor.
Travelers report that youngsters (and the young at heart), particularly enjoy hanging out on the vessel, since there is much to see and do. Plus, recent visitors complimented the informative tour guides at the historic site. However, touring the ship might not be the best for those who can get a bit claustrophobic as some spaces are tight and can be tricky to navigate.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Baltimore0.4 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
One of the most well-known attractions in Baltimore, the National Aquarium houses more than 20,000 animals. The aquarium revolves around a bottom-level, open pool, which is filled with stingrays and fish. Continue upstairs and you'll discover a wide variety of marine animals, before you encounter the humidity of the rainforest replica at the top of the building. Visitors can return to the first floor down a spiraling path, which is enclosed by a giant shark tank.
A very popular attraction at the aquarium is the "Blacktip Reef" exhibit, a $12.5 million space designed to model the elaborate Indo-Pacific reef system that displays 20 blacktip reef sharks along with 60 distinct species of fish, including zebra sharks, clown triggerfish and a 500-pound green sea turtle named Calypso. "Dolphin Discovery" – the aquarium's largest exhibit – is another highlight thanks to the seven resident dolphins that provide a glimpse into how these animals play and interact.
- #12View all Photos#12 in Baltimore1.1 miles to city centerMuseums, Historic Homes/MansionsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.1 miles to city centerMuseums, Historic Homes/MansionsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Step inside the this brick house-turned-museum on 203 Amity St., and you'll stumble upon a cornucopia of Poe pieces – from a telescope to a portable traveling desk – preserved from when Poe and his family resided in Baltimore from 1833 to 1835. The writer's former residence – now a National Historic Landmark – is also the location where historians believe Poe composed many of his famous poems and stories, including "MS. Found in a Bottle" and "To Elizabeth." There are also permanent and rotating exhibits that catalogue Poe's life, work and ties to Baltimore.
Recent visitors said the house was well-preserved, and they appreciated the knowledgeable and friendly docents. However, some were disappointed that the rooms were mostly empty and not filled with period decor.
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