Maryland’s largest and liveliest city, Baltimore is packed with interesting historic attractions, world-class museums and impressive cultural landmarks. Mostly centered around its attractive Inner Harbor are countless cool and charming neighborhoods to explore with plenty of vibrant arts areas and trendy nightlife spots.
As it was long an important shipping, railroad and manufacturing center, centuries-old forts, ships and buildings can be found throughout the city. Many of its museums focus on these important parts of its past with others looking at various aspects of art and the sciences. An excellent aquarium and zoo also lie alongside pretty parks and peaceful waterfront walks.
Aside from taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the gritty old seaport, other things to do in Baltimore include enjoying a superb show or sporting events. Both the NFL’s Ravens and MLB’s Orioles hail from the city as do the internationally renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
18. Baltimore Museum of Industry
Lying along the Patapsco River just southeast of downtown, you can find the hugely interesting and educational Baltimore Museum of Industry. Full of interactive exhibits and old artifacts, it occupies a distinctive-looking oyster cannery that dates to the 1860s.
Opened in 1977 to preserve the city’s industrial past, it looks at lots of businesses and manufacturers that have operated in Baltimore over the centuries. As such, guests can amble around recreations of not just a cannery and garment loft but a pharmacy and print shop too.
Besides covering the processes involved, it also shines a light on each of the industries’ inventions, evolution and traditions. Outside visitors can see the Baltimore – a terrific old tugboat – moored at the quay with demonstrations on the museum’s working machines taking place each Saturday.
17. Washington Monument & Mount Vernon
Rising dramatically above the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood is the massive and majestic Washington Monument. The first major landmark in the nation dedicated to George Washington, it makes for some fabulous photos and views.
Standing right in the center of the square, the giant column towers 178 feet tall with a striking statue of the first President of the USA perched atop it. Built between 1815 and 1829, it looks out over all the fine Greek Revival and Beaux Arts buildings that characterize the charming district just north of downtown.
Aside from seeing the pretty statues, fountains and parks at its foot, you can also enter the museum and learn more about the monument. The highlight though is clambering up its seemingly endless spiral stairway and basking in phenomenal panoramas of the city from its viewing platform.
16. M&T Bank Stadium
If alongside some sightseeing you want to catch a thrilling sporting spectacle, then the magnificent M&T Bank Stadium is one of the best places to go. The home pitch of the city’s beloved Baltimore Ravens, it lies just a short distance south of downtown.
As it is very highly rated for its ease of access, fan amenities and fantastic sightlines, watching an action-packed NFL game couldn’t be better. The team’s fervent fanbase also creates an unforgettable atmosphere with all five tiers of its big bowl being coated in the vivid purple of the Ravens.
While the enormous arena has now wowed spectators for just over two decades, it also hosts other sporting events, concerts and shows during the year.
15. Little Italy
Home to dozens of excellent restaurants and traditional trattorie, Little Italy sprawls across several blocks southeast of the center. Known for its strong Italian-American heritage and identity, the close knit ethnic enclave is undoubtedly one of the city’s favorite areas to dine out.
Originally home to Irish, German and Jewish immigrants, the little district east of Inner Harbor saw an influx of Italian-Americans in the early twentieth century. Since those early days, both locals and tourists have come to enjoy some delicious dishes at its warm and inviting establishments.
In addition to dining at its romantic, family-run restaurants, you can walk around the peaceful and picturesque neighborhood and see the stupendous St. Leo’s Church. In summer, it hosts an outdoor film festival alongside other cultural and community events.
14. Top of the World Observation Level
Just a short stroll away is one of the best and most breathtaking viewpoints in the city. From the Top of the World Observation Level, guests can drink in extraordinary 360-degree panoramas of B’more down below.
Located at a height of roughly 350 feet, it occupies the 27th floor of the ginormous Baltimore World Trade Center. As well as overlooking the Inner Harbor, it gazes into the bustling heart of downtown. Informative yet engaging audiovisual presentations bring the history of the city and its sights to life before your eyes.
After having enjoyed the view ‘til your heart’s content and snapped some photos, you can stop by its moving 9/11 Memorial of Maryland. Dedicated to those from the state who died during the attack, it features steel beams from the site and the names of the 68 unfortunate Marylanders.
13. Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave Site
Another poignant place you can pay your respects is Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave Site at the corner of N Greene and W Fayette streets in West Baltimore. At the small cemetery outside of Westminster Hall, you’ll find amazing old markers featuring quotes, images and emblems of the esteemed author.
Fittingly enough for a writer whose works often dealt with mystery and the macabre, even in death poor Poe went through a number of trials and tribulations. Originally buried in an unmarked grave, a series of strange accidents and odd events delayed a proper funeral. As such, he was only interred at his current final resting place in 1875 – some 26 years after passing away.
At his stone tomb, you can now see exquisite engravings of the author and a raven accompanied by its infamous quote. Several other interesting, unique and atmospheric old graves can also be found throughout the rest of the cemetery.
12. Maryland Science Center
Boasting all kinds of fun hands-on exhibits and experiments, the splendid Maryland Science Center also lies alongside the Inner Harbor. A firm favorite with families, its sprawling site also includes a planetarium, observatory and IMAX theater.
While it only officially opened to the public in 1976, it is actually one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the country. This is because local scientists have now been meeting as part of the Maryland Academy of Sciences for more than two centuries. Thanks to their efforts and interest, the city has a world-class museum full of exciting artifacts and exhibits, specimens and science shows to explore.
Besides learning about everything from dinosaurs and flight to human anatomy and nature, you can watch educational shows in its planetarium and IMAX.
11. Maryland Zoo
If instead of history and culture, it is some awe-inspiring animals that you’re after then the Maryland Zoo is certainly the place to go. Part of the historic Druid Hill Park, its spacious enclosures, exhibits and aviaries lie just a short drive northwest of downtown.
Since being established in 1876, it has expanded considerably and now contains over 2,000 animals of more than 130 or so species. While wandering around, visitors can therefore see everything from polar bears and penguins to elephants, rhinos and giraffes.
As well as exploring all the mammal, reptile and bird exhibits, there are also plenty of playgrounds and picnic areas to stop off at. Guests can also watch the fierce lions and friendly giraffes be fed and arrange an encounter with the zoo’s adorable African penguins.
10. B&O Railroad Museum
A fascinating place to amble around, the brilliant B&O Railroad Museum houses one of the world’s most significant collections of railroad treasures. Alongside umpteen artifacts and exhibits are more than two dozen terrific old trains and steam locomotives to see.
Impressively enough, it occupies the old Mount Clare Station, its adjacent roundhouse and a former train manufacturing site. As these beautiful brick buildings date to 1829, the complex is considered to be the birthplace of American railroading. While some sections cover the history and evolution of train travel and transport, other parts are packed with old engines, railroad equipment and railway-related memorabilia.
One of the museum’s main highlights though is its epic turntable which is surrounded by well-preserved locomotives from the 1800s. To top it all off, guests can also take a scenic ride along the most historic mile of track in the United States.
9. Peabody Library
Not to be outdone in terms of its history and importance is the phenomenal Peabody Library at John Hopkins University in Mount Vernon. One of Baltimore’s intellectual and architectural treasures, the ‘Cathedral of Books’ really needs to be seen to be believed.
Named for the wealthy financier and philanthropist who funded its building in 1878, the library lies just a stone’s throw from the Washington Monument. While it showcases some refined Renaissance Revival style architecture, it is its sumptuous interior that really sets it apart.
This is because its cavernous central hall features five tiers of exquisite wrought-iron balconies with gold-scalloped columns rising up to the stunning skylight far above. Lining its many bookcases are over 300,000 influential works, many of which date to the nineteenth century.
8. Baltimore Museum of Art
Yet another of the city’s innumerable institutes to boast a world-class collection is the outstanding Baltimore Museum of Art. Founded in 1914, it lies in Wyman Park, right next to the quaint Charles Village neighborhood and John Hopkins University campus.
Set amidst lovingly landscaped gardens studded with statues, the internationally renowned museum occupies a marvelous neoclassical building. Within its grand galleries you can see paintings, photos and drawings by big names such as Picasso and Matisse, Degas and van Gogh.
Its 95,000 or so works also include delightful decorative arts and artifacts, textiles and sculptures from all around the world. With impressively old artworks displayed alongside thought-provoking contemporary installations, the museum’s extensive rooms, gardens and masterpieces are definitely well worth visiting.
7. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
As the city certainly loves its sport, no trip can ever be complete without watching the MLB’s iconic Baltimore Orioles play a thrilling game. Thanks to its intimate feel and the intoxicating atmosphere, visiting their home pitch at Camden Yards is always a memorable experience.
Despite only being built in 1992, Oriole Park has a wonderful retro design as vintage-looking signs, illustrations and logos decorate the huge stadium. Now one of the league’s most popular ballparks, it offers fans perfect views of the pitch with lots of hot dog stands and restaurants being dotted about.
Aside from taking in the electrifying ambiance and cheering on the team, you can also stop by their hall of fame and museum. Oriole Park also lies near the birthplace of Babe Ruth – one of the MLB’s all-time greats – with its museum being a must for baseball fanatics.
6. National Aquarium
Lying along Pier 3 of the Inner Harbor is yet another of Baltimore’s standout sights: the exceptional National Aquarium. Long a favorite with families, its spacious tanks and well-done exhibits house over 20,000 mammals, fish and amphibians of more than 750 species.
Considered by many to be one of the world’s best aquariums, it opened in 1981 with its collection of distinctive-looking buildings overlooking the waters around them. Inside guests can explore themed areas such as Shark Alley, Amazon River Forest and Blacktip Reef. Maryland: Mountains to the Sea also provides an in-depth look at the state’s ecosystems and animals.
While wandering about its endless exhibits, you’ll see everything from jellyfish and giant octopi to sharks, sea turtles and even sloths. As well as stroking starfish and stingrays in its touch tank, you can also watch amazing dolphin shows and walk through a lush rainforest environment.
5. Walters Art Museum
Also located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood is the excellent Walters Art Museum, just around the corner from the Washington Monument. Since being established in 1934, it has received lots of plaudits for its diverse array of art styles that span more than seven millennia.
Named for the wealthy father and son who started the collection, its 36,000 works are now spread across two historic townhouses and one Brutalist-style building. Alongside ancient Ethiopian icons and richly illuminated Qur’ans, you can enjoy serene images of the Buddha, Roman sarcophagi and romantic nineteenth century images of French gardens.
Accompanying all of its breathtaking treasures are detailed descriptions of their artistic features and historical importance. Besides marveling at all these masterpieces, visitors can pass by its gift shop and cafe or attend some of its arts and crafts workshops.
4. American Visionary Art Museum
By far Baltimore’s most unique and unusual museum, the eclectic American Visionary Art Museum displays works by self-taught artists from all around the world. Full of creative collages, colorful costumes and strange sculptures, it can be found just off the Inner Harbor, right next to Federal Hill Park.
Often described as ‘outsider’ or ‘intuitive’ art, its collection consists of more than 4,000 objects and installations with temporary exhibitions taking place regularly. These include creations and folk art by everyone from housewives and the homeless to mechanics, the disabled and even neurosurgeons.
While its weird and wonderful works really are a treat to peruse, the historic buildings in which they are housed are just as special. Once a whiskey warehouse and copper paint factory, they are clad in quirky creations with splendid sculpture plazas and gardens lying around them.
3. Fell’s Point
A very popular and picturesque spot to stroll around, Fell’s Point is a charming historic district that dates to the eighteenth century. Packed with hip shops, heaving markets and happening nightlife, its pretty brick buildings and cobbled streets lie down by the harborside.
Up until the Civil War, it was the city’s shipbuilding district with the whole waterfront area and its attractive architecture later being revitalized and restored in the seventies. Nowadays, its incredible old industrial-era buildings and quaint ship captains’ cottages house all kinds of cosy cafes, seafood restaurants and antique shops.
Aside from simply strolling about, shopping and taking in its lively yet laid back ambiance, there are also several historic sites and museums to stop by. As it contains the most restaurants and bars in the city, Fell’s Point is one of the best places to shop, dine and go out in B’more.
2. Fort McHenry
At the entrance to Baltimore Harbor, you can find the fascinating Fort McHenry, which lies right at the tip of the Locust Point peninsula. At the National Monument and Historic Shrine, you can tour the legendary site, learn about its past and enjoy divine views over the surrounding waters.
Built between 1798 and 1800, the pentagonal bastion fort is most known for the role it played in the War of 1812. This was when it successfully defended the harbor from a British navy attack. These events later inspired the writing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – the United States’ national anthem.
As you explore its ramparts and visitor center, informative plaques, photos and short video clips all bring the fort to life before your eyes.
1. Inner Harbor & Historic Ships
The center of life in the city, the Inner Harbor has long been one of the US’ most important seaports. Now lined by many of its main tourist attractions and museums, it also has a whole host of historic ships for visitors to check out.
Located just inland from the colossal Chesapeake Bay, its protected waters have welcomed sailors and ships to the city since the eighteenth century. Tourists can now venture aboard or snap photos of some of these historic vessels bobbing about the bay. These include a WWII submarine, coast guard cutter and the USS Constellation which is remarkable the only Civil War-era ship still afloat.
Despite its storied past, the harbor itself doesn’t have that many historic sites to stop by besides the fantastic Fort McHenry. It does, however, boast more than its fair share of museums and attractions with countless seafood restaurants, chic shops and nightlife spots also being on offer.
Only adding to the appealing ambiance are all its superb street performers and the stupendous views over the harbor’s shimmering waters and skyline.
Map of Things to Do in Baltimore, Maryland