Baltimore Bucketlist: Top Things to Do in Baltimore
25, Apr, 2019
11 THINGS TO DO IN BALTIMORE
When you visit any new area and have limited time, it’s always about finding the next adventure — talking to others who have visited the area before is helpful, but it’s even better to have the opportunity to ask a local.
Since we’ve been in business in Baltimore for several years, we wanted to share our answer to the often-asked question — what are the best things to do in Baltimore? The answer is that the list could go on forever, but we’ve gathered some of our favorites for you, so you can be confident when you come to Baltimore to visit, you’ll hit all of the highlights. Whether you’re a mermaid at heart, artist, hipster, literature buff, baseball fan, history nerd or patriot, this city has something for you! If you’re searching for Baltimore weekend activities, or are planning a longer stay, this list is the perfect place to start.
1. EXPLORE INNER HARBOR
Perhaps the most well-known part of Baltimore is Inner Harbor, and rightly so — it’s centrally located, and offers a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay as well as countless shops and restaurants. You can even catch a ride on a water taxi for a tour by water. Choose the Baltimore Water Taxi, and you’re sure to get a modern boat — Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, recently purchased the company and upgraded the entire fleet. While Baltimore residents may say the Inner Harbor is a bit of a tourist trap, the reality is, it’s the best place to start when you visit Baltimore, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. This harbor has been one of the most important seaports in the country since the 18th century, so there’s history to uncover as well. Not to mention the fact that the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, USS Constellation and sports stadiums are all located in the Inner Harbor area. This is a place you need to explore.
2. GO UNDERWATER AT THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM
This aquarium, located in Inner Harbor, features more than 20,000 animals — you’ll begin by looking into an open pool of stingrays and fish — you can even touch them — make stops in the Amazon River and tropical rainforest and end among the sharks in the Blacktip Reef. The layout of the aquarium is easy to follow, so it’s perfect for keeping foot traffic moving and giving you an opportunity to get up close to many impressive sea creatures — like Calypso, a 500-pound sea turtle. In addition to all the permanent exhibits, there are always a few changing exhibits that vary throughout the year.
Once you’ve finished exploring, you can head over to the 4D Immersion Theater to get even closer to the sights, sounds and smells of the marine life you got to see through the aquarium. Don’t forget to walk around the Waterfront Park on your way out — this area is packed with wildlife from Maryland’s diverse ecosystems, so it’s no surprise the National Wildlife Federation declared it a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
With such a deep dive into marine life, it’s no wonder this place can get crowded. While getting up close to these sea creatures is one of the best parts of exploring the National Aquarium, it’s important to plan for your visit to be sure you have the opportunity to do just that. All year long, classes of children visit on field trips, so plan to go early to make the most of your visit.
3. DISCOVER FAMOUS HISTORIC SHIPS
Not far from the National Aquarium, there are a few historic ships docked at the harbor that are worth exploring. Chances are you may have heard of the USS Constellation, which is the last all-sail ship built by the U.S. Navy. It was involved in disrupting the slave trade and sailed in both world wars. Obviously, this ship — as the last of its kind to be built — is a treasure of its own, but there are a few others at Inner Harbor that are equally as famous. The USS Torsk is the submarine that sank the last two enemy combatants of World War II, and USCG Cutter Taney is the last surviving vessel to witness the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Take some time to explore these pieces of history while you’re roaming Inner Harbor.
4. UNLEASH YOUR INNER ARTIST AT THE AMERICAN VISIONARY ART MUSEUM
Across the harbor from the National Aquarium and the historic ships is the American Visionary Art Museum. This isn’t your typical art museum. Of course, it’s fun to visit art museums and gaze at the famous pieces of artwork you’ve only ever seen in books, but have you ever considered what an art museum displaying the work of self-taught artists would be like?
For those who don’t know, visionary art is art by individuals who have had no formal training — they’re 100 percent self-taught. They have a passion and a vision and decide to create something — it could be a drawing, a painting or a 55-foot-tall “Whirligig” like the one that greets you at the door. Between the permanent and temporary exhibits at the American Visionary Art Museum, you’re sure to see an eclectic variety of funky pieces created by people just like us. Looking for something a little more traditional? Check out the Baltimore Museum of Art or the Walters Art Museum.
5. CATCH A GAME AT CAMDEN YARDS
Just a short walk from Inner Harbor is Oriole Park. Good news — you don’t have to be a baseball fanatic to enjoy a visit to Camden Yards. This is the quintessential baseball experience — get a hot dog and a beer and enjoy the game with stunning views of the city in the background. Not a big fan of hot dogs? This place has some of the best ballpark restaurant options — including Boog’s Barbecue and the Baltimore Chop House. For as little as $10 per ticket, being a part of the Baltimore Orioles game-day experience is an affordable, fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.
For those who are diehard baseball fans, or are just looking for the complete Oriole Park experience, stadium tours are available year-round. Get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous stadiums in the league and learn everything you ever wanted to know about Baltimore’s baseball history — including a guy by the name of Babe Ruth. Make sure you check tour times, as they change depending on the time of year.
6. RELIVE AMERICAN HISTORY AT FORT MCHENRY AND THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER FLAG HOUSE
Go to the place where you could see rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air — Fort McHenry. During the War of 1812, this is where Francis Scott Key saw the star-spangled banner that inspired him to write the national anthem. Today, you can walk through the star-shaped fort on a self-guided tour and see an awe-inspiring 42-foot American flag. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into one of the park rangers who love to share their insight into this important part of America’s history. The views of the water and the city are breathtaking — consider packing a picnic lunch, as many visitors do, so you can get the full experience of this historic charm.
After a trip to Fort McHenry, your logical next stop is the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where the first American flag was created. Mary Pickersgill was the woman who sewed the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key the night he wrote the national anthem. She and her family not only lived in this home, but also ran their flag-making business there. The thought of being in the same place the original American flag was created gives a sense of patriotism that is tough to beat. This house-turned-museum is also a great place to learn more about Baltimore during the War of 1812 — and get to see many well-preserved early 19th-century objects owned by the Pickersgill family.
7. ESCAPE THE INNER CITY AND SPEND SOME TIME AT PATTERSON PARK
If you’ve seen a photo of Patterson Park, chances are it included the park’s famous pagoda. This pagoda, built in 1890, is one of the best locations for a panoramic photo of the city of Baltimore. While this unique structure is worth a visit, the surrounding park provides several Baltimore weekend activities. The lush green open space — with a lake, in addition to a pool, dog park, rec center, pavilions, community gardens and small stadium — provide plenty of space to explore. Choose from outdoor concerts, fishing, swimming, bird-watching tours, picnics, gardening classes and, in the winter, ice skating. Come for the photo opportunity of the city and harbor, but stay for the beautiful landscape and fun activities.
8. SEE THE CLASSICS AT THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART
If you love famous artwork, you’ll love the collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art — which happens to be the largest art museum in Maryland. Art enthusiasts travel from across the globe to see the “Cone Wing” of the museum, dedicated to paintings from Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne, and one of the largest Andy Warhol collections in the world. You’ll also find pieces by Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh and more. The sculpture garden even has jazz sessions during the summer. Need to grab a bite to eat? The restaurant inside the museum, Gertrude’s, has a beautiful view of the sculpture garden and excellent food.
9. DISCOVER TALENTED ARTISTS FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD AT THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM
Two men, William and Henry Walters, are credited with amassing this internationally renowned collection of art, which they bequeathed to the city. You may not recognize many artists’ names at the Walters Art Museum, but there’s no shortage of talent. The treasures from the third millennium B.C.E. to the early 20th century include a diverse collection of art — Egyptian mummies, suits of armor from the Middle Ages, Renaissance paintings, Asian art, Byzantine and Ethiopian art and Art Nouveau jewelry.
10. HANG OUT WITH THE HIPSTERS
Hampden made Forbes’ list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods — but what does that mean, exactly? It means you’ll find a local coffee shop on almost every corner, fresh vegetables at frequent farmers’ markets, an impressive number of locally owned bars and restaurants — and food trucks — and a significant number of artists.
As if that list wasn’t cool enough, Hampden puts a unique spin on “hipster,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.” Sure, you’ll find a lot of new, unique places to eat and shops to browse, but what makes this place stand out is how it incorporates the old into the new. Old row homes have been renovated and turned into boutique shops — bringing new life to the days of mills and directories.
Hampden is worth a visit any and every time of year, but there are two events that will give you the full effect of what this cool retro neighborhood has to offer. HONfest is held in June each year — more than four city blocks shut down their streets and more than 35,000 people gathered in June 2017 to listen to live music and take advantage of the 100-plus food, craft and artist vendors that come together to celebrate this festival. If you’re planning to visit over the holidays, there’s one block in Hampden you don’t want to miss. Known as “Miracle on 34th Street,” each year this block of row homes puts up lights and quirky holiday lawn decorations that would put Clark Griswold to shame.
Needless to say, this place is retro cool.
11. FOLLOW IN EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FOOTSTEPS
Edgar Allan Poe and his family lived in Baltimore during the 1800s. It was during those years, in his Baltimore home, that many historians believe he composed some of his best-known poems and stories. His home, now a museum, features several of his belongings, including a telescope and a portable traveling desk. In addition to the permanent exhibit, there are also a few rotating exhibits that capture Poe’s ties to Baltimore.
If you’re planning to travel between January and mid-May, you’ll have to skip the house — it closes during those months every year. Fortunately, there are more landmarks around Baltimore you can visit to follow in his footsteps — from a railroad station he frequented to an old house where he won a poetry contest, and then later to the hospital where he died and the place he was buried.
There are so many things to do in Baltimore that it’s tough to narrow it down. This list encompasses many of our favorites, as well as the sights you can’t miss when you’re visiting the city for the first time.
So, if you were considering a trip and wondering if there were enough things to do in Baltimore this weekend to keep you busy, the answer is yes. The question is, where will you start? If you’re traveling with a group for a weekend away or are celebrating something fun, leave the driving up to us, so you don’t have to worry about navigating the city and fighting through traffic. We’ll get you there safely and in style. Contact Uptown Bus to request a quote.