When it comes to historical places in the United States, Baltimore probably isn’t the first city that comes to mind. Surprisingly though, Baltimore boasts a rich array of landmarks and historic sites.
It has a beautiful harbor and is made up of hundreds of districts, so it’s no wonder that it’s also known as a city of boats, and a city of neighborhoods. You can choose to rent a boat or book the top family hotels, and you’ll be guaranteed a good time.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in history, culture, or just have some fun, Baltimore has something for you. Check out these top things to do in Baltimore:
If you have little ones, or love wildlife, then a day trip to the National Aquarium tops the list of things to do in Baltimore.
Take a walk through Level One as blacktip reef sharks swim above and around you. Head up to other levels to explore a tropical rainforest, or the wild extremes of Australia. The National Aquarium prides itself on immersive exhibits that simulate natural habitats, transporting you away from the city and into the wild.
If you’re not keen on sea creatures, there’s still plenty to be seen. The National Aquarium hosts over 750 species, including crocodiles, sloths and flying foxes.
With over 1.5 million visitors per year, the aquarium can get pretty packed. To avoid the crowds, try going on a weekday. If you’re going on a weekend, try before 11 am or after 3 pm. Tickets can be bought online or at the aquarium (if you’re buying tickets on-site, be prepared to queue), and range from 24.95 USD to 39.95 USD.
Allocate a couple of hours at least to allow yourself to be entranced by the aquarium and its many inhabitants.
From DC: Baltimore and Annapolis Day Trip
Duration: 6 hour
2. All aboard the Historic Ships!
History and maritime buffs ahoy! Next on the things to do in Baltimore is visiting Historic Ships, an open-air museum where you get to climb onboard history itself. It houses one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world. Among some of the ships there are the USS Constellation, the last remaining civil-war era ship afloat, as well as the USS Torsk, a submarine that saw action during World War 2 and has an impressive record of over 10,000 dives.
Historic Ships gives a fascinating insight into what life was, and is, like on or under the sea. Squeeze through the narrow corridors on the USS Torsk, or operate the capstan on the USS Constellation’s main deck. Be sure to catch the daily cannon-firing demonstration on the USS Constellation as well.
These ships are rich in history and are a fun place to spend a few hours exploring.
Opening hours vary depending on the month, so be sure to check out their website before heading over.
Ticket prices range from 5 USD to 18 USD, depending on the number of ships you want to visit.
3. Walk in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe
Baltimore defines the beginning and end of Poe’s life. It was in Baltimore that Poe began to write his imaginative short stories, and it was also in Baltimore that Poe met his mysterious death.
Poe wrote some of his early stories in a tiny, unassuming brick house in Baltimore, and it has since been turned into the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum to celebrate his legacy.
The house is well-preserved, and visitors can walk on the same floor and stairs that Poe did. The plaster walls and woodwork also remain unchanged. There are various exhibits that tell the story of his life and death in Baltimore. Artifacts, such as his writing desk and chair, are also on display.
In 1979, while renovating the house, workers lifted the floorboards to find skeletal remains of animals, eerily reminiscent of Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart. Visitors have described the experience as ‘both disturbing and ethereal.’ If you’re a Poe fan, or have a love for the horror and mystery genres, then this is a place you can’t miss.
The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is open in the summer months on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is 5 USD for adults and 4 USD for seniors and students. Children under 12 can enter for free with an adult.
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4. Send chills up your spine at the Westminster Hall Burying Grounds
Just a short walk away from the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is Westminster Hall, a graveyard and former church. Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law are buried in the cemetery. Other notable people resting there include General Sam Smith and General James McHenry.
A graveyard might be an eerie place to visit, but this is a must-see for fans of Poe. There is a monument dedicated to the poet at the gates of the building and his actual grave is behind the church.
The burying grounds are open from 8 am to dusk and are free of charge. If you’d like a tour of Westminster Hall and the Catacombs, you can arrange a tour. More details on tours and prices can be found on their website.
5. Grab a meal at one of the public markets
Baltimore’s public market system is over two centuries old, making it the oldest continually-operating market system in the United States.
The markets feature a wide range of products, and you can find local specialty items such as beef tongue, rabbits, and even muskrat!
One market to stop by is the Lexington Market, found in downtown Baltimore. It’s been around since 1782, and you can find local favorites like fried ice creams, Baltimore’s world-famous crab cakes and Bergers Cookies (shortbread cookies topped with fudge). The market also hosts jazz and rock and roll bands on weekends.
Many of the locals consider their public markets to be the ‘real’ Baltimore, reflecting the character of its neighborhoods. If you want to get away from the tourist sites, then head over to the public markets. Make sure to bring an empty stomach!
6. Tour John Hopkin’s University
Whether you’re a prospective student or your college days are long over, the John Hopkins Homewood Campus is definitely worth a visit. Located in North Baltimore, the Homewood Campus is home base for Hopkins’ undergraduates.
There are buildings dating back to the 1800s, and the campus is a beautiful place for a stroll. You can register for a tour on their website, or go on a self-guided walking tour.
If looking at the architecture doesn’t interest you, you can visit the two museums on campus. The John Hopkins Archaeological Museum features over 700 artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, the near East and the ancient Americas. The other museum is the Homewood Museum, one of the best surviving examples of Federal Period architecture.
You can register for a visit on their website.
7. Take a ride on the Charm City Circulator shuttle bus
It’s easy for visitors to get around Baltimore even without a car, and that’s thanks to the Charm City Circulator (CCC). The CCC is a free shuttle bus service that runs through four routes in the city, and it is used by tourists and residents alike. The fleet is made up of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which are eco-friendly.
The shuttle is efficient, with a waiting time of about 10-15 minutes between shuttles. The shuttle service connects famous landmarks, making getting around a breeze. It’s a nice way to take in all that Baltimore has to offer.
Best of all? It’s free of charge!
You can check out the routes and schedules on their website.
8. Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Baltimore has a long and colorful history with regards to baseball, and there’s no place where that is more distinct than Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Oriole Park is one of the most highly-praised major league ballparks and one of the cool places in Baltimore. The city’s home team, the Baltimore Orioles, have won the World Series three times.
You can buy tickets to watch a Baltimore Orioles game, or book a ballpark tour. The tour gives you the chance to experience the ballpark from the club suite level, the press level, and even the Orioles’ dugout. Tour details can be found on their website.
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, watching a game is still an experience. Look out for the tradition of fans yelling out the “Oh” in the line, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave”, in the national anthem.
9. Immerse yourself in baseball history at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
Baltimore also has the distinction of being the birthplace of baseball legend Babe Ruth. If you have even a mild interest in baseball, this is a must-see. The museum encompasses the small row house where the Babe was born. It has several exhibits about the life and times of Babe Ruth and you can see the room where he was born.
It’s full of artifacts, stories and videos. The staff are helpful and keep the museum well-maintained, so you can expect a pleasant and informative visit.
Admission is 7 USD for adults, 5 USD for seniors and 4 USD for children.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, though opening days vary depending on the season.
After the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the American flag flew high over Fort McHenry. The sight of the flag in the sky moved Francis Scott Key so much he wrote the poem that would eventually become “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Today, the fort is rich in history and activities. It’s a great place for both children and adults. You can watch a video and view some exhibits at the visitor center and then walk around the fort.
Flag changes, flag talks, and ranger talks take place every day, so be sure to check out the timings so you can catch them. On weekends in the summer months, the Fort McHenry Guard performs drill, musket, and artillery demonstrations.
Fort McHenry can also be reached via water taxi, but do note that you can’t leave via water taxi if you didn’t take one to the fort. Plan to spend about one to two hours there.
Admission for adults is 10 USD, and children are admitted for free.
Washington DC: Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery Private Tour
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
11. Let the kids play at Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Play and learn, learn and play. If you have young children, you have to visit the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Try saying ‘three-story playground’ to your kids without their eyes lighting up in excitement. Port Discovery is great fun for kids aged 1 to 10 as well as for the adults who take them there.
Port Discovery is geared towards hands-on learning, with three stories of interactive exhibits for kids to touch, climb, and play with. Your children can solve a puzzle in Ancient Egypt, get their heart rate up with a game of soccer, or scramble through rope bridges and obstacles.
Remember to dress your kids in sneakers if you plan to visit the playground – only covered shoes are allowed.
Admission is 14.95 USD for anyone aged two and up. Port Discovery is open all day, all week, except for the dates listed on the website.
12. Coo over the animals at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is the third oldest zoo in the U.S., but you wouldn’t guess that from the well-maintained exhibits and spaces. This is a great place to spend an afternoon admiring Mother Nature’s creations.
The zoo has four main exhibits, showcasing polar bears, penguins, African animals, and creatures native to Maryland. You can stroll through the exhibits, or take the tram from the front entrance.
“The Maryland Wilderness” exhibit is great for kids – it features a children’s zoo. Visitors can watch otters swim overhead, jump across lily pads, explore a cave, or climb into giant birds’ nests. Head down to Maryland Zoo for one of the most amusing things to do in Baltimore.
13. Watch a film at The Charles Theater
Whether you’re a film buff or just like to watch the latest Hollywood flicks, you can catch something at The Charles. The 108-year-old cinema is the oldest in Baltimore. The original auditorium has only been altered slightly from the theatre that it was in 1939.
Today, you can catch first-run specialty films, foreign films, cinema classics, and Hollywood movies. The Charles also has special showings during the week – right now, repertory films are shown thrice a week and Anime Night is twice a week.
14. Get around on a Baltimore Water Taxi
Baltimore is also known as the city of boats; its harbor is beautiful and the city is full of nautical history and traditions. The Baltimore Water Taxi has been part of that culture for over 35 years. It ferries both tourists and residents to their destinations across the water, and is considered to be a way of life in Baltimore.
The Water Taxi links various tourist attractions, such as Fell’s Point, Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium. It’s a fun and unique way to see Baltimore and get around the city. Each landing stop gives you a chance to explore a different neighborhood and see what makes up the character of Baltimore’s harbor.
Adults can buy two kinds of tickets: a day ticket (14 USD, unlimited trips) or a trip ticket (8 USD, 1 trip). Seniors and juniors pay 7 USD for a day ticket (unlimited trips).
More information on the routes can be found on the official website.
Fell’s Point is a historic neighborhood that was established in 1763. Historically, Fell’s Point was home to large populations of immigrants from Germany and Poland. Today, its cobblestone streets form a trendy shopping district with a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars. Many historic homes and businesses were preserved, leading to a diverse range of different architectural styles from different times in history.
Fell’s Point is steeped in nautical history; it was named after Englishmen who founded a ship-building company here in 1726. Now you can stop at some rooftop bars or restaurants in the area and enjoy fantastic seafood.
Wear comfy walking shoes and enjoy the food, architecture and shopping.
Fells Point Food Tour in Baltimore
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
16. See 1,000-year-old trees
Experience the primeval beauty of the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary. The sanctuary houses one of the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in the United States. 100,000 years ago, creatures like woolly mammoths roamed the woods here.
Thankfully, the wildlife now is much more familiar. Look out for songbirds and see if you can spot any Orioles, the Maryland State bird. You can walk along the quarter-mile-long (402-meter-long) boardwalk listening to the calling of songbirds and frogs. The sanctuary also operates a nature center where you can learn more about the sanctuary.
17. Browse the shops at Belvedere Square
Belvedere Square is the central gathering spot in North Baltimore and one of the many fun things to do in Baltimore. A diverse commercial hub, Belvedere Square features an array of shops. It has a gourmet market, boutique retail shops, and delectable restaurants. Belvedere Square is where to go when you’re looking for the exceptional – upscale food and ingredients can be found at the market here. You can browse the shops and then sit at one of the outdoor tables to munch on artisanal bagels, bread, and coffee.
18. See the historic Baltimore Art Museum
Baltimore is one of a kind American city that many people love to visit during long weekends and holidays. This vibrant city is a great one to check off your travel bucket list for great historic cities like the iconic Baltimore Museum of Art that has been around since 1914. The Baltimore Art Museum is 210,000 sqft (19,510 sqm) in terms of floor space and is architecturally an art piece created by architect John Russell Pope. The museum initially started out to only host one art piece and over time it gradually exhibited about 95,000 pieces of artwork through time. Trigger the inner art connoisseur in you and get the best out of Baltimore’s museum scene during your travels to Maryland.
Baltimore Art Museum
Address: 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218-3898
Website: Baltimore Museum of Art
Opening hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sundays to Wednesdays
Price: 10 USD
19. Spend a day at the American Visionary Art Museum
Still have no clue on what to do in Baltimore? Grab the opportunity to see one of the city’s great attractions like the American Visionary Art Museum. This museum has been around 1984 and was designed and created by Rebecca Hoffberger, which showcases impressive self-taught artists who have potential and love for art. Most of the art displayed in the museum is by students and amateur artists which boast unique and classic mixed medium pieces that have been shown in numerous exhibitions. One other unique fact about the America Visionary Art Museum is that it’s one of the most booked venues for weddings across the US. Not only is it a venue for art and expressionism, but also a venue for unions and celebrations. Make a pit stop at this great attraction in Baltimore and see the city’s finest first-hand.
American Visionary Art Museum
Address: 800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230, United States
Website: American Visionary Art Museum
Opening hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays
Price: 15.95 USD
Join the locals’ harbor culture and go on a sunset sail with this Airbnb Experience hosted by Steve. After a quick safety briefing, you will head out to Baltimore Harbor to set off your sail. You’ll be boarding Condor, your ride for the night, and will be taken to areas with the best views of the city. The best part of it all is that you’ll be served with wine and cheese as you bid the city a good night.
Sunset Sail with Wine and Cheese
Duration: 2 hours
This walking tour hosted by Liz covers the vibrant artsy neighborhood of Station North Arts & Entertainment District. You’ll be guided through over 50 pieces of art, along with the history that comes with them. If you’re a fan of street photography, this is a tour you do not want to miss. It is a great family activity, too! You can even bring your furry friends if you like! Get to know Baltimore in a unique way by participating in this insightful tour.
Walk the Murals of Station North- three hr
Duration: 3 hours
Now, this is the ultimate way to take in all of Charm City. Explore Baltimore from up above and join this helicopter sightseeing tour with your loved one. The take-off time and flight duration totally depend on your convenience, so make with that what you will and get a different perspective on this vibrant city. A helicopter ride is the perfect date night activity and one that is truly memorable. Just imagine how spectacular your photos are going to be!
Baltimore Helicopter Sightseeing Tour
Duration: 30 minutes
In line with nautical tradition, why not spend a few hours cruising down Baltimore’s waterfront? You can opt for a lunch, brunch or dinner cruise aboard Spirit Cruises. The cruise provides dining and live entertainment with large dance floors, a live DJ and full service bars. You can also step out to the open-air rooftop lounge to feel the breeze and admire the Baltimore skyline as it drifts by.
Dinner cruises are classy, formal affairs and are good if you want an exceptional evening. Otherwise, you can opt for a more casual lunch or brunch cruise.
Baltimore Inner Harbor: 2-Hour Buffet Lunch Cruise
Duration: 2 hour
24. Dive into Baltimore’s vibrant arts and culture scene at Walters Art Museum
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Located in the city’s iconic Mount Vernon Cultural District, Walters Art Museum offers locals and tourists, full integration to the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Awe-inspiring exhibits include medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, 18th, and 19th-century European art, ancient Asian art, Islamic art, ancient American art, textiles and furniture, arms and armor, jewellery, and a lot more. There are also lectures, tours, workshops, talks, and other educational events available to make the visitor experience more immersive.
Walters Art Museum
Address: 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201
Website: Walters Art Museum
Opening hours: Wed - Sun:10am - 5pm; Thu: 1pm - 8pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: Free admission
25. Learn more about Baltimore at The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture
Established by artist and inventor Rembrandt Peale in 1814, The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture is all about telling the story and heritage of the city and its people through arts and culture. Some of the most popular exhibits include portraits of famous Americans and a complete skeleton of a prehistoric mastodon. The museum also highlights artistic works of different historical and contemporary artists, architects, performers, historians, educators, students, and more, through various exhibits and events.
Address: 225 Holliday St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Website: Peale Museum
The B&O Railroad Museum has the largest collection of 19th century locomotives in the United States of America. It features historic railroad equipment and trains from all time periods. It’s a fascinating place for train and history lovers alike.
The museum is located in the old Mount Clare Station, part of the B&O Railroad Mount Clare shops site that began in 1829. It was the oldest railroad manufacturing complex in the United States. The first commercial railroad services started here in 1830, and it’s considered the birthplace of American railroading. Today, visitors can ride the Mile One Express Train, a 20-minute ride on the first commercial mile of railroad tracks laid.
The B&O Railroad is open 10 am to 4 pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sundays.
Admission is 18 USD for seniors, 16 USD for seniors and 12 USD for children.
Advance Admission Ticket to B&O Railroad Museum
Duration: 2 hours
Let yourself be charmed by the Charm City
Baltimore has so many things to see, do and experience – you’ll be spoilt for choice! The city is well-connected and there is a wide variety of options for food and snacks. Baltimore might not be the most well-known city in the United States, but it makes up for that by being a truly charming place to vacation.
Frequently asked questions about things to do in Baltimore
1. What are the top attractions to visit in Baltimore?
Baltimore boasts many historical sites and beautiful and interesting attractions. But if you’re looking for the top attractions, you can visit the National Aquarium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Fell’s Point.
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Baltimore?
One of the best outdoor activities you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Baltimore, aside from museum hopping, is strolling around the historic neighborhood of Fell’s Point, where you’ll see well-preserved structures and numerous shopping options and superb food establishments. Other outdoor activity options include meeting different wildlife and marine life at the National Aquarium and hopping in a cruise ship to see the sights from the water.
3. What are the most popular things to do in Baltimore with kids?
If you’re looking for an activity that both you and your kids will surely enjoy and learn a lot from, then why not visit the Maryland Zoo and the National Aquarium to get to know the different species of animals and aquatic life forms. Another kid-friendly activity you can do here is trying out the interactive exhibits at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
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