Baltimore is a major city in the United States, the largest in the state of Maryland and since the 18th century, a major seaport. If you enjoy history, art, and great food, you will find plenty of interesting things to do in Baltimore for all ages. There are key landmarks to discover including America’s first cathedral – Baltimore Basilica – and curious monuments, like the 19th century Phoenix Shot Tower. Molten droplets of lead were dropped from the top of the tower into a deep vat of water at the bottom, where they quickly hardened into round lead shot. TripAdvisor lists 243 things to do in Baltimore, so put on some comfortable shoes and have fun exploring!
The Inner Harbour
Many of the city’s main attractions can be found in the Inner Harbor.
At its entrance, Fort McHenry stands, silently watching over the harbor. This is where the American flag was raised in 1814 to signify victory over the British and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the US anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.
It is fun to wander around the Inner Harbour, take in some shopping or enjoy a casual meal. For history buffs, there are plenty of vessels to explore including the warship USS Constellation, the US submarine Torsk, the lightship Chesapeake, and the USCGC (United States Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter) Taney, which was the last surviving ship from Pearl Harbor.
The National Aquarium is situated close by and is full of fascinating amphibians, reptiles, and birds – as well as thousands of different fish and marine creatures. There is a large open pool with stingray and another with sharks of various sizes. Visitors have the chance to meet dolphins and to learn how the food is prepared for the sharks!
The Maryland Science Center is also worth visiting as it covers three floors that are packed with innovative exhibits and has live demonstrations entitled Dinosaur Mysteries and Follow the Blue Crab. There is also a planetarium and observatory.
During the summer months, the Inner Harbor is the venue for all types of musical performances and other colorful events.
Admire some great art
Baltimore Museum of Art can also be found in the area and has an impressive collection of 95,000 pieces- including work by the famous impressionists Matisse, Picasso, and Cézanne. There is free entrance to the museum.
Walters Art Museum, affectionately referred to as ‘The Walters,’ is housed in three separate buildings with displays of Renaissance, Asian and Byzantine and Ethiopian paintings. There is free entrance and guided tours available and at the weekend. There are ‘drop in’ art and craft sessions for families.
If you enjoy quirky art, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), is definitely worth a visit! This museum is housed in an old whiskey warehouse and highlights the work of untrained and self-taught artists and has interactive exhibits portraying the impact that modern technology has had on everyday life.
Fun things for children
Maryland Zoo at Druid Hill Park is one of the oldest zoos in the country and has 1,500 animals to see. The zoo is divided into three geographical areas – for example, ‘The African Journey’ is where you will find giraffe, lions, cheetah and many more. The zoo offers visitors the chance to book to share breakfast with the chimps and other animals which is great fun!
Port Discovery Children’s Museum is a great find if you have children, as it has loads of interactive and educational displays. The Museum of Industry is fun too as it looks at industry in the area in the early 20th century and has plenty of hands-on experiences including printing a pharmacy and garment loft
If you are a baseball fan or have older children, why not take in a game of baseball at Orioles Park? This famous retro-style stadium was built in the 1990s. The season runs from April-September and when the Baltimore team is playing, the stadium is a sea of orange! The team hasn’t done so well in recent years, but its fans are loyal and during every game John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ is played! There are stadium tours available throughout the year and a Hall of Fame to visit.
Unusual things to do in Baltimore
If you are feeling energetic, it is worth climbing Federal Hill for impressive panoramic views of the city. There are two routes to the top and the one via Battery Avenue includes 100 steps. The hill used to be called ‘Signal Hill’ and during the Civil War was used as a lookout. More recently, local shipping companies would raise their flags on the top as their ships arrived in the harbor. If you are in Baltimore on 4th July, this is definitely, “THE” place to watch all the fireworks!
During the summer months, Patterson Hill is also worth climbing as it is topped by an interesting pagoda. There are often outdoor concerts there and regular birdwatching sessions as a vast variety of birds can be seen there, ranging in size from goldfinches to blue herons and including the beautiful Baltimore Oriole!
Great food and wine to enjoy
Baltimore is known for its delicious blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. You will find several crab shacks in Inner Harbour. The iconic place to visit is Faidley’s Seafood which makes the most delicious crab cakes. You will also find crab cakes on the menu in many city restaurants. If you decide to go along to watch the baseball, you will be able to sample a ‘crab mac & cheese dog’ which is unique to the Oriole Stadium!
While the blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay are famous, oysters are also found in the bay. If you want to sample some, the Thames Street Oyster House is the place to go. If you prefer not to eat the oysters naturally with their sea water, they can be ordered with a variety of sauces.
Baltimore is also the home of Pit Beef. A joint of beef is cooked over charcoal and then sliced really thin. The meat is served in a crusty bread roll with some tiger sauce and finely sliced raw onion – and tastes good! The other local specialty is Berger Cookies. These cookies are found in all the supermarkets and are irresistible as they are covered in a thick layer of fudge chocolate – always buy double the quantity you think you need!
If you enjoy a glass of fine wine, it is interesting to visit the wineries of Chesapeake. This area produces good reds and whites and there are guided tours with the chance to enjoy some wine tasting accompanied by plates of charcuterie. If on the other hand, you prefer a beer, National Bohemian Beer – affectionately known as a ‘Natty Boh’ is the local brew and widely available.
A memorable evening is one combining tasty food with romance. The Spirit of Baltimore offers a luxury three-hour cruise with an excellent buffet dinner as you sail past many landmarks and dance to the music provided by the onboard DJ.
There is certainly plenty to see and enjoy in Baltimore, Maryland- no wonder many people regularly take a second trip there!