25 Best Things to Do in Baltimore (MD)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The City of Baltimore is the largest in the state of Maryland and the largest independent city in the United States. There is a huge amount of history behind this fantastic city and approximately one in three buildings is listed on the National register which is more than any other city in the country. Baltimore has the world famous Inner harbor which is a site to be seen either at day or night and a plenty of places to get your fill of live entertainment.

There are countless things to do here so let’s take a look at the best things to do in Baltimore.

1. The American Visionary Art Museum

American Visionary Art MuseumSource: Bruce Alan Bennett / shutterstock
American Visionary Art Museum

The AVAM was opened in 1984 and was the brainchild of Rebecca Hoffberger. The museum was designed to show to the world artwork that was created by self-taught individuals. The artwork on display here is both radiant and transformative, it is unlike artwork you will see in more of the secular art galleries. A huge amount has changed at the museum since its early beginnings, over 70 weddings take place each year here and the museum has one of the highest incomes compared to costs in the U.S.

2. Cheer On The Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden YardsSource: Amy Roswurm / shutterstock
Oriole Park at Camden Yards

The city of Baltimore comes alive when the Baltimore Orioles have a home game to play. Tens of thousands of people pack into Oriole Park to cheer on their beloved baseball team. The Orioles were at their most successful between 1964 and 1983 when they won 9 division championships, six pennants and three World Series. The success might not have been as forthcoming since those days but that does not stop the loyal fans from getting behind their team and having a great day out in the process. Whilst at the game look out for John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” which is always played during the seventh inning stretch.

3. Meet The Animals At The National Aquarium

Baltimore National AquariumSource: Andrei Medvedev / shutterstock
Baltimore National Aquarium

There are nearly 200,000 animals at the National Aquarium including amphibians, birds, reptiles and of course fish. For those that really want to experience the aquarium from the other side you can go on an immersion tour and see things from inside the tank itself. There are dolphin encounters where you can get up close and personal with the dolphins in a teaching and playing session. If sharks are of interest to you then you can see how the aquarium looks after them with a behind the scenes tour, this includes seeing how the food is prepared for the sharks to eat.

4. Enjoy The Historical Fort McHenry

Fort McHenrySource: Christopher Mazmanian / shutterstock
Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry was built in 1798 but is most famous for its role in the War of 1812. During this war the fort successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the British Armies attacks. During World War I the U.S armed forces used the fort again and in World War II the U.S Coast Guard used the fort. McHenry is now a designated national park and an exciting Baltimore tourist attraction. In1814 a Garrison flag was flown over the fort which signaled the American victory over the British. Francis Scott Key saw this and wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” This poem finally became known as the Star Spangled Banner.

5. Get Hands On With The Historic Ships In Baltimore

Lightship ChesapeakeSource: f11photo / shutterstock
Lightship Chesapeake

As far as collections of military vessels go, this could just be the greatest in the world. You have the US Sloop-of-War-Constellation, the US Submarine Torsk, the Lightship Chesapeake and the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney (the last surviving ship from Pearl Harbor). The stories told within these vessels will keep many a history buff entertained and many a child enlightened. Throughout the year there are many evening events as well as overnight educational programs that are held for the local community to enjoy.

6. See The Trains At The B&O Railroad Museum

B&O Railroad MuseumSource: Pixel Doc / shutterstock
B&O Railroad Museum

The most significant collection of railroad items in America are held at the B&O Railroad Museum. There is so much to do at the museum but perhaps the most fun and interesting is the Mile One Express Train Ride. At certain times you can take a twenty minute trip along the first commercial mile of railroad ever laid in America, this is where railroad in America started! Another fascinating part of the museum is the ride and restoration shop which will give you a behind the scenes look at the restoration facility the museum has to keep all the stock in working order and to restore new pieces.

7. Give The Kids A Thrill At Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Port Discovery Children's MuseumSource: Ritu Manoj Jethani / shutterstock
Port Discovery Children’s Museum

If you visit Baltimore in the children’s school holidays then you may be wandering what to do with them for a day out. If that is the case then a trip to Port Discovery Children’s Museum is sure to leave them feeling satisfied. The museum is spread out over three floors and features many ever changing interactive and educational exhibits. The museum is suitable for children aged zero through ten and features tot trails, kick it up, wonders of water, royal farms convenience store and many more exhibitions.

8. The Baltimore Museum Of Art

Baltimore Museum Of ArtSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Baltimore Museum Of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art has been collecting art works for a long time. In 1914 it started with just one piece of art and over one hundred years later its collection stands at 95,000 pieces. The museum showcases 19th century, modern and contemporary art including the largest collection of Henri Matisse works in the world. The museum has 210,000 square feet of floor space and the building itself is also a piece of art by renowned architect John Russell Pope. The museum is completely free to enter giving you the opportunity to come back again and again.

9. Take A Trip To America’s First Cathedral

Baltimore BasilicaSource: Sergey Novikov / shutterstock
Baltimore Basilica

America’s first cathedral is officially called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, most commonly known as the Baltimore Basilica. The cathedral was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe who is considered to be the “Father of American Architecture. Construction on the cathedral was completed in 1821 and was consecrated on May 31st 1821 by Archbishop Ambrose Marechal. The building went through a mass renovation that was completed in 2006 and cost the Catholic church $34 million. A visit around this beautiful building is highly recommended.

10. Try Your Hand At Manufacturing

Baltimore Museum of IndustrySource: Sea Salt / shutterstock
Baltimore Museum of Industry

The Baltimore Museum of Industry focuses on manufacturing and industry from early 20th century America. The museum has various sections that are hands-on and has both working equipment and artefacts. You will come across a garment loft from 1900, a print shop, a replica pharmacy called Dr. Buntings and plenty of other historical places. The museum is happy to host guided tours which include activities for children to get involved in.

If you’re travelling to Baltimore by bus or train, I suggest using wanderu.com. For example check out their page to travel from Boston to Baltimore by bus.

11. Hear The Orchestra At Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

SymphonySource: 18percentgrey / shutterstock

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have their home at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The hall was named after a philanthropist from Ukraine who was the president of the Baltimore Symphony from 1965 to 1983. There is an ever changing menu of shows to be seen at the hall and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra celebrating their 100th birthday a whole host of special events are sure to be put in the calendar.

12. Learn About Baltimore’s Jewish History

Jewish Museum of MarylandSource: jewishmuseummd
Jewish Museum of Maryland

The leading museum of Jewish regional history is in Baltimore and is called the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The museum is set on a campus that has three exhibition galleries that focus on the Jewish American experience. There is the Lloyd Street Synagogue that is the third oldest synagogue in U.S. There are regular events held throughout the year that offer the community of Baltimore an opportunity to learn about the Jewish Culture and make new friends.

13. Admire The Washington Monument

Washington Monument in BaltimoreSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
Washington Monument in Baltimore

The Washington Monument really is a site to behold. This huge column was designed by the same architect that designed the Washington Monument in Washington. The monument stands at 178 foot tall and can be climbed by walking up the 227 steps to the top. Once at the top you can enjoy excellent views of the city below. If you are in the city on the first Thursday of December each year you can enjoy a firework display and the ‘Lighting of the Washington Monument’ as the annual Christmas Lights are switched on.

14. Gaze Up At The Phoenix Shot Tower

Phoenix Shot TowerSource: everythingforall / shutterstock
Phoenix Shot Tower

The Phoenix Shot Tower in Baltimore is one of only a few shot towers left in the United States today. Back in the early 1800’s molten lead would be dropped from the top of the shot tower into a vat of water at the very bottom. As the lead droplets hit the water they would form perfect spheres and then solidify in the water as they sunk. The shot tower was used from 1828 until 1892 and is constructed from one million bricks. At one point it was the tallest building in the United States.

15. Meet The Animals At Maryland Zoo

Maryland ZooSource: Mickey Mehari / shutterstock
Maryland Zoo

Within Druid Hill Park is the Maryland Zoo, the third oldest zoo in all of America. The zoo first opened in 1876 and is now a major city attraction. The zoo is split into several areas with the largest being the African Journey. In this section you can see large numbers of animals that originate in Africa. Animals include African Elephants, Lions, Cheetahs, African Leopards and many more. Popular with children is the new African penguin exhibition that houses 60 African black-footed penguins, the penguins live in a recreation of their natural habitat.

16. Get An Insight Into Edgar Allan Poe’s House

Edgar Allan Poe's HouseSource: Hethers / shutterstock
Edgar Allan Poe’s House

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer and literary critic who lived in Baltimore in the 19th Century. The home is fantastically preserved and visitors are welcome at certain times of the year to come and see the house where he lived with his grandmother, aunt and two cousins. The house is unfurnished but the main fabric of the building remains untouched. There are various exhibits that you can look at including the writing desk and chair that he regularly used. Due to the seasonality of the museum it is advisable to check the exact opening times before attending.

17. See A Live Show At The Royal Farms Arena

Baltimore Royal Farms ArenaSource: Arturo Holmes / shutterstock
Baltimore Royal Farms Arena

The Royal Farms Arena is situated on the site that used to be used by the “Old Congress Hall.”  Throughout the years the arena has played host to many different events ranging from music to boxing, to hockey and to wrestling. The current Royal Farms Arena is unlikely to remain in its current position or state for long as the city is regularly receiving proposals for a new state of the art arena that could possibly attract an NHL or NBA franchise to the city.

18. Take In The Views From The Pier Six Pavilion

Pier Six PavilionSource: Andrei Medvedev / shutterstock
Pier Six Pavilion

If you like outdoor entertainment then you will love the Pier Six Pavilion, the building itself is incredibly beautiful but the view you get of Inner Harbor is breath taking.  There are more than 4,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Pier Six Pavilion so if you are coming to the city to see a live show why not make a trip out of it by staying somewhere close for the night. Since 1981 when the pavilion opened it has seen performers across every genre on its stage, even today with many other choices of venue around it still manages to attract the top names in the industry.

19. Visit The Birthplace Of America’s First Sporting Celebrity

Babe RuthSource: 9246263575 / shutterstock
Babe Ruth

Even if you know nothing of baseball you still would have heard of Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth was a legendary baseball player and the first sporting celebrity in the U.S.A. The Baltimore Orioles were the team that gave Ruth his first professional contract and his birthplace is just three blocks away from Oriole Park. The museum has recently undergone a huge renovation that includes new galleries that tell the story of Babe Ruth. If you are a baseball fan of any team then a trip to this museum will be one of the highlights of your trip.

20. Enjoy The Evergreen Museum & Library

Evergreen Museum & LibrarySource: flickr
Evergreen Museum & Library

Back when the railroads were making all those involved a lot of money the Garrett family were top of the pile. So much so that they had the Evergreen mansion built as their family home. The home is as opulent as it is mesmerizing! Set on 26 acres of lush greenery this 48 room mansion is home to over 50,000 items from the Garrett’s personal collection. There are fine and decorative arts to admire, rare books to see and two generations worth of manuscripts. Often concerts are held during the summer months in the Baskt Theatre and lectures put on in the Carriage House.

21. Discover How The American Flag Was Created

The Flag HouseSource: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / shutterstock
The Flag House

The Flag House in Baltimore was where Mary Pickersgill sewed the garrison flag that was seen flying over Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key. It was this flag that inspired him to write the national anthem of America. In 1927 the city of Baltimore purchased the property and a museum was established within the home. There is much to see and learn at the museum and kids can get involved with many interactive activities as they learn about the flags history.

22. Enjoy A Diverse Range Of Art At The Walters Art Museum

Walters Art MuseumSource: 010110010101101 / shutterstock
Walters Art Museum

If you like art but you are not passionate about a particular period of time or type of work then the Walters Art Museum will provide you with a great mixture of pieces. There is pre-dynastic Egyptian are, Greek Sculpture and Roman Sarcophagi. You can find Art Nouveau Jewelry as well as European and American masterpieces. In total there are approximately 30,000 pieces of work on display and admission to the museum is completely free of charge.

23. Watch A Foreign Film At Charles Theatre

Charles TheatreSource: ESB Professional / shutterstock
Charles Theatre

The Charles Theatre is the oldest cinema in Baltimore. Initially the theatre was designed as a streetcar barn before being relocated to Charles Street where it now remains. The five screen theatre shows a whole range of independent films as well as some of the major releases of today. Each year the theatre holds the annual Maryland Film Festival which attracts movie lovers from across the state.

24. Go To The Top Of The Once Tallest Building In Baltimore

Emerson TowerSource: Andrei Medvedev / shutterstock
Emerson Tower

Between 1911 and 1923 Emerson Tower was the tallest building in Baltimore. Standing at 88 meters tall and having 15 stories. It was designed by Joseph Evans Sperry and the design was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. There are four clock faces near the top of the tower, one on each side of the building. The building was at one time abandoned but it is now used as art studios and has the local fire station situated at the bottom. The building currently sits on the register of National Historic Places.

25 Best Things to Do in Baltimore (MD):

  • The American Visionary Art Museum
  • Cheer On The Baltimore Orioles
  • Meet The Animals At The National Aquarium
  • Enjoy The Historical Fort McHenry
  • Get Hands On With The Historic Ships In Baltimore
  • See The Trains At The B&O Railroad Museum
  • Give The Kids A Thrill At Port Discovery Children's Museum
  • The Baltimore Museum Of Art
  • Take A Trip To America's First Cathedral
  • Try Your Hand At Manufacturing
  • Hear The Orchestra At Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
  • Learn About Baltimore's Jewish History
  • Admire The Washington Monument
  • Gaze Up At The Phoenix Shot Tower
  • Meet The Animals At Maryland Zoo
  • Get An Insight Into Edgar Allan Poe's House
  • See A Live Show At The Royal Farms Arena
  • Take In The Views From The Pier Six Pavilion
  • Visit The Birthplace Of America's First Sporting Celebrity
  • Enjoy The Evergreen Museum & Library
  • Discover How The American Flag Was Created
  • Enjoy A Diverse Range Of Art At The Walters Art Museum
  • Watch A Foreign Film At Charles Theatre
  • Go To The Top Of The Once Tallest Building In Baltimore