Baltimore Visitors Guide
Baltimore, one of the country’s most important ports in early America, is a city of contradiction—cosmopolitan yet unpretentious and anchored in the past yet up-and-coming. Although rich in history, Baltimore never feels dated, and is a top destination for Maryland tourism with many Baltimore hotel options. Situated on the Patapsco River near Chesapeake Bay, visitors flock to the city for its vibrant Inner Harbor, its world-class museums and its highly rated restaurants. Whether you’re bringing the kids to watch black-footed penguins play at the Maryland Zoo or heading out with friends on a late-night bar crawl, Baltimore offers fun for die-hard sports fans, discriminating culture vultures and everyone in between.
Top Things to Do in Baltimore
- Military History: For a patriotic outing, visit the Fort McHenry National Monument, famed site of the Battle of Baltimore where Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the United States national anthem; the two-centuries-old “Star-spangled Banner” is even located inside. At the Inner Harbor, you can tour famed vessels such as the Civil War-era USS Constellation and the Taney warship that survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In mid-September, Defenders Day commemorates the resistance of invading British during the War of 1812 with weekend festivities highlighted by pyrotechnic military reenactments and family-friendly activities.
- Art Museums: View the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Cone Collection, which boasts Matisse, van Gogh, Picasso and other eminent painters. Free entry to the Walters Art Museum grants you access to thousands of works. For an altogether different experience, stop by the American Visionary Art Museum, where the focus is on self-taught artists.
- Fun ‘Hoods: You can still see Baltimore’s old-school quirks on display in neighborhoods like Hampden, where blue-collar meets bohemian, and storefront businesses are mainly of the mom-and-pop variety. For antiquing down historical streets or to knock back a few at the more than 120 pubs, head to the waterfront community of Fell’s Point.
- Pro Sports: Stay in one of our Baltimore Country Inn & Suites hotels and catch some baseball and views of the downtown skyline in stunning retro-styled Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Football fanatics will want to get tickets to a hard-hitting Ravens game at nearby M&T Stadium.
What to Eat
Local dishes like crab cakes, steamed blue crabs and soft shell crab sandwiches are specialties that are always in high demand—and rightfully so. Traditionally served on crackers and flavored with Old Bay seasoning, a Baltimore spice mix invention, crab cakes can be found at takeout-only stands and upscale eateries alike. Another seafood standby is Atlantic whiting, a cornmeal-crusted fish that Baltimoreans call "lake trout." Deep fried with all of its bones and served with fries and hot sauce, this low-cost platter is a local favorite.
Don't Miss the National Aquarium, Baltimore
When you’re visiting, take a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to see 17,000 animals living within the National Aquarium’s two pavilions on the Inner Harbor. Star inhabitants of its various ecosystems include a giant Pacific octopus, bottlenose dolphins, a rescued 500-pound green sea turtle named Calypso, and sand tiger, sandbar, nurse, sawfish and blacktip reef sharks. Walk-through sections like Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes allow you to get an up-close look at reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and tropical birds.
When to Visit Baltimore
As the weather heats up during summer, Baltimore begins drawing larger crowds, especially on weekends. Between May and September the city plays host to a full schedule of festivals, many honoring the cultures of its ethnically diverse people. But the biggest draw is Artscape in mid-July, a sprawling, free event its organizers claim is the country’s largest of its kind.
Baltimore Travel Tip
While relatively cheap parking options abound, relax during your Baltimore hotel stay and avoid the hassle of driving altogether by hopping on the Charm City Circulator. The bus shuttle’s four lines are free, arrive at stops every 15 minutes and serve many popular areas across downtown Baltimore including Fell's Point (green route), Camden Yards and the Aquarium (orange route), Baltimore Penn Station (purple route), and Fort McHenry and the Inner Harbor (Banner route).