Baltimore’s friendly, down-to-earth vibe comes from its roots as a hard-working steel town and a major port where immigrants built close-knit neighborhoods that reflected a diversity of cultures. Today the city boasts a world-famous waterfront, renowned museums and attractions, a vibrant craft brew scene, and hip and historic neighborhoods. Get ready to explore a warm and welcoming American city like no other place on earth.
Explore the Waterfront
Downtown Baltimore is known worldwide for its famous Inner Harbor—the vibrant waterfront promenade that’s been transformed into a picturesque tourist destination. At the center of it all is the National Aquarium. Baltimore’s most popular attraction features stunning exhibits showcasing more than 20,000 aquatic animals, including blacktip reef sharks, brilliant tropical fish and a massive sea turtle.
The Inner Harbor is also home to Historic Ships in Baltimore, which offers a glimpse back in maritime history. Four vessels and one lighthouse placed around the piers serve as museums, offering information and displayed artifacts from days gone by. For modern-day sights, take a cruise, hop on the Baltimore Water Taxi or tool around on a paddle boat shaped like a dragon or a pirate ship.
Savor Local Chesapeake Bay Seafood
When it comes to Maryland seafood, there’s one must-try classic: Blue crabs. Baltimore’s restaurants serve up the crustacean’s sweet and tender meat in myriad ways, but for an unforgettable experience, try your hand at a traditional steamed crab feast. Other local seafood stalwarts include oysters and rockfish. Try them all at local favorites like Faidley’s Seafood, Nick’s Fish House or Phillips Seafood.
Meet Baltimore’s Artisans and Makers
A culture of entrepreneurs and artisans have turned their passions into successful businesses in Baltimore. Innovative visionaries from all around the city have brought their dreams to life and are sharing their skills with visitors and locals through classes, workshops and samples of their goods.
Thanks to Baltimore’s creative culture, warm and welcoming communities and startup-friendly environment, many of them have opened up their workshops to visitors to teach, to converse and to share a little about the craft that inspires them.
Feeling creative? Take some time to explore Baltimore’s unique crafts and workshops in everything from lacy paper-cutting to printmaking—from making scrumptious brittle to craft brews and spirits—and from terrarium building to bookbinding.
Sample International Cuisine and a Craft Brew
In Baltimore, you’ll discover dining options to complement any palate. From popular waterfront restaurants with beautiful views to locally owned cozy cafes in nearby neighborhoods, you’ll find plenty of welcoming restaurants to choose from, offering everything from Italian to Korean to traditional and nouveau favorites.
Baltimore’s craft beer scene has been quickly growing over recent years. New microbreweries are being welcomed by longtime favorites like Union Craft Brewing. Since its start in 2011, Union has paid homage to Baltimore through beer names like Duckpin, Anthem and Skipjack. And now with their expansion into Union Collective, a launchpad for local businesses, they are supporting other passionate entrepreneurs. Stop by this popular spot in Woodberry for a tour and tasting.
Visit the Historic Birthplace of the Flag
Step into living history at The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and immerse yourself in one of the most riveting stories in our nation’s history. Built in 1793, the Flag House was once the home and business place of Mary Pickersgill, who sewed the garrison flag Francis Scott Key witnessed flying over Fort McHenry that inspired him to write our national anthem.
Today, the house retains much of its original character, showcasing many early 19th century objects that belonged to the Young-Pickersgill family. Families and visitors of all ages can participate in interactive activities, as well as take advantage of special programs offered throughout the year. Featured exhibits located in the museum building include a discovery gallery for children, where kids can design a flag and fly it on the gallery’s flagpole and cook in a replica of the Flag House kitchen.
The first-floor permanent exhibition gallery showcases “Preserv’d Us A Nation,” an exhibit that highlights the brave defense of Baltimore’s ordinary citizens during the War of 1812. The exhibit features a fragment of the Star-Spangled Banner flag and a drum used by an American soldier during the bombardment of Fort McHenry. Self-guided and docent-led tours of the historic house are available throughout the week.
Explore Museums for Every Interest
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is an attraction itself. And, surrounding this vibrant waterfront park, you’ll discover a number of family-friendly places to visit. The Maryland Science Center’s highlights include two-story dinosaurs, a replica Baltimore main street and drop-in DIY activities to keep the kids busy and Port Discovery Children’s Museum features more activities for the little ones to learn through play. A short ride away, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park engages the young and young at heart with a close-up look at penguins, lions and polar bears. And, if it’s the unexpected you seek, you’ll be talking about the oddities in Ripley’s Believe or Not! for weeks.
From culturally significant to family-friendly or just downright quirky, Baltimore’s museums cover the spectrum. Learn about the journey of Baltimore’s African American community at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, and meet the greats like Harriet Tubman, Thurgood Marshall and Billie Holiday at the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum. Celebrate sports history at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, located in the same house the Great Bambino grew up in. Or gaze in wonder at the extensive collection of locomotives and rolling stock at the B&O Railroad Museum, where the first mile of commercial railroad track was ever laid.
For art lovers, no visit to Baltimore would be complete without savoring the world’s largest collection of works by Henri Matisse at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 55 centuries of art at The Walters Art Museum (both offering free general admission) or the fantastical works of self-taught artists at the American Visionary Art Museum. Experience the region’s rich history at the Maryland Historical Society or the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.
Legends and Legacies
Driven by passion, vision and courage, African Americans have made an undeniable contribution to Baltimore and the world. With a Legends and Legacy Pass, you can explore their stories and visit the three most celebrated African American attractions in Baltimore:
The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, America’s first wax museum of African American history and culture features more than 150 life-size and lifelike wax figures.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture highlights the history and accomplishments of Maryland’s African Americans. The permanent exhibit features objects such as an original, autographed photograph of Frederick Douglass, a first edition of his autobiography, a resource center with free family tree research tools, a cafe serving soul food, and a gift shop.
The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park recounts the history of Frederick Douglass, Isaac Myers and the first black-owned shipyard in the United States. Here you can take part in hands-on activities and boat building.
It’s a fascinating way to spend a day—and with a Legends & Legacies Experience Pass, available at the Baltimore Visitor Center, you can visit all three and save 20 percent on ticket prices.
Planning a visit? Learn more and check out these excellent deals on Baltimore hotels.