14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and an important seaport on the wide estuary of the Patapsco River. With several famous universities, in particular the Johns Hopkins University, museums and a renowned symphony orchestra, Baltimore is a major east coast cultural center. It was the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe.
The settlement of Baltimore was established in 1729 and named after the Barons Baltimore, founders of the colony of Maryland. Commerce and shipping brought it prosperity, and in 1796 it was granted its municipal charter. Its place in American history was won in 1814, when British forces bombarded Fort Henry for 25 hours without bringing about its surrender. The sight of the American flag still flying over the fort on the morning after the bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key's poem "The Star Spangled Banner", which became the text of the national anthem. The old town center and the inner harbor area have been thoroughly renovated.
See also: Where to Stay in Baltimore
1 Walters Art Gallery
The Walters Art Museum, located in the Mount Vernons Cultural District, is a cultural institution of international renown. It is one of only a few museums worldwide to present a comprehensive history of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. Among its thousands of treasures are a fine collection of ivories, jewelry, enamels and bronzes, and a large reserve of illuminated manuscripts and rare books. The Walters' Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medieval art collections are extensive, as are the museum's holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the collection.
Address: 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-5185, United States
2 American Visionary Art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum displays the work of self-taught artists in six galleries. The main building's architecture is also an artistic creation, winning many international and national awards for its design and beauty. The sculpture barn, formerly the Four Roses whiskey warehouse, houses towering exhibits.
Address: 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD 21230-3940, United States
3 Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Just 3 miles southeast of the city centre via Key Highway and Fort Avenue is Fort McHenry, built between 1798 and 1803 to command the harbor entrance. In 1814 it withstood a 24 hour bombardment by a British warship and thus saved Baltimore from occupation. In the fort's Visitor Center are displays and a film on the history of the fort, referring to the origins of the national anthem, the 'The Star Spangled Banner'. However, the original of the famous flag now hangs in the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
4 Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Maryland with art from around the world, covering a broad spectrum of periods and styles. The permanent collection includes the world's largest collection of works by Matisse. Other notable artists represented include Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh, And Warhol, and many others.
Address: 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218-3898, United States
5 Fell's Point
Fell's Point is a historic area along the waterfront that has been beautifully restored. The old harbor quarter of Fell's Point was once the shipbuilding district of Baltimore, with places of entertainment for the seamen. Today, behind the brick facades of this beautifully restored quarter are mainly restaurants, cafes, and shops.
6 Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum
Pratt Street runs west to the Mount Clare Railroad Station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, from which the first passenger train in the United States ran west to Ellicott's Mills in 1830.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum takes in the Mount Clare Station (1851), the Print Shop (1884) and a roundhouse that now houses an excellent collection of historic locomotives. The centrepiece is the turntable, which connects with 22 lines containing locomotives and coaches. With only a few exceptions all the exhibits are originals and in working order. In front of the building is a large open area with more locomotives. There is also a miniature railway system.
Address: 901 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21223-2699, United States
7 Johns Hopkins University
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University was the first research university in the United States. The university operates the Homewood House Museum. Homewood was built in 1801 with a $10,000 wedding gift from Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, to his son. Homewood is noted for the Federal Period architectural detail throughout both the exterior and the interior. This home is restored and furnished with early 19th century decorative and fine arts.
Address: 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, United States
8 Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the official home of the Baltimore Orioles. The one-time railroad center is only 2 blocks from the birthplace of baseball's most legendary hero, George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Ruth's father operated Ruth's Cafe on the ground floor of the family residence, now center field at Oriole Park.
9 Baltimore Museum of Industry
The Baltimore Museum of Industry is devoted to the industrial history of the city, with special emphasis on the workers and small business owners who were the backbone of the city's development. Among the exhibits are reconstructions of an old workshop, a printing office and a canning factory. At the quay is moored the tug "Baltimore".
Address: 1415 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD 21230-5115, United States
10 National Aquarium
Located on Pier 3 and 4, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is a joint effort with another location in Washington, DC. The aquarium in Baltimore features marine life in various exhibits, from sharks and dolphins, to hundreds of exotic species found in the Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit. Of particular note is the five-storey Tropical Rain Forest, with all kinds of birds, frogs, and a variety of larger mammals, such as sloths and monkeys.
Address: Inner Harbor
Harborplace, an attractive modern complex with two glass-enclosed pavilions in historical style, is both a shopping centre and market, with large number of shops, restaurants and open spaces. Street artists display their skills in the Amphitheater on the Promenade.
Address: 201 East Pratt Street
12 Maryland Science Center
The southwest corner of the Inner Harbor is occupied by the modern Maryland Science Center, with a planetarium. On its three floors are scientific displays, some of which include topics related to space travel and physics. Entertaining and educational scientific experiments offer hands on learning opportunities.
Address: 601 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230-3899, United States
13 Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Basilica of the Assumption is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States, built in the time of Archbishop John Carroll. In the crypt are the tombs of Archbishop Carroll (1735-1815) and others. The building is a National Historic Landmark and was fully restored in the original style between 2004 and 2006.
Address: 409 Cathedral Street
14 Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is dedicated to the nation's first President. A 228 foot spiral stairway leads to the top of the monument with observation windows and a statue of George Washington on top of the monument. On the ground floor of the monument is a museum with displays on George Washington and the monument itself.
Address: 699 North Charles Street
Where to Stay in Baltimore for Sightseeing
Baltimore is a city with a great waterfront, and to get a real sense of the city, staying downtown near the inner harbor is the best option. The lively downtown is easily walkable, with the stadiums, attractions, restaurants, and entertainment options clustered in one area. Sports fans will want to stay on the west side, close to Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, and if you are more into history and restored architectural gems, staying on the other side of the harbor, near Fell's Point, is a good choice. Below are some highly-rated hotels in the center of the action:
- Luxury Hotels: The Four Seasons Baltimore is right beside Fell's Point and the heart of Little Italy. This towering glass hotel offers first-class service and commanding views out over the harbor and city. Set in a 1906 Beaux Arts building, once the headquarters for the B&O Railroad, the Hotel Monaco offers modern amenities while exuding historical charm. Just a few blocks from the convention center, and across the street from the Maryland Science Center, is the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, with panoramic views of the Baltimore skyline from the roof-top pool.
- Mid-Range Hotels: At the top-end of mid-range is the boutique hotel Inn at Henderson's Wharf, where every guest is assigned a butler for the duration of their stay. The Hyatt Place Baltimore, in Fell's Point and near the aquarium, is steps away from beautifully restored historical buildings housing restaurants, shops, and cafés. For a funky, poetry-inspired theme experience, the Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown features rooms with murals on the ceilings.
- Budget Hotels: The Holiday Inn Express Downtown, housed in an old bank building, offers a shuttle service to many of the main attractions. The Sleep Inn & Suites is only a half-mile back from the waterfront and provides standard rooms at an attractive rate. For budget-conscious sports fans, the Holiday Inn Express Baltimore at the Stadiums is within walking distance to both stadiums.
- Walters Art Gallery - official site
- American Visionary Art Museum - official site
- Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine - official site
- Baltimore Museum of Art - official site
- Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum - official site
- Johns Hopkins University - official site
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards - official site
- Baltimore Museum of Industry - official site
- National Aquarium - official site
- Harborplace - official site
- Maryland Science Center - official site
- Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - official site