Often ignored in favor of visiting DC, Baltimore has so many incredible things to see and do. From great shopping to amazing restaurants, boat tours, and more, Baltimore has what you’re looking for.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just visiting for the day, or you’re settling into Baltimore for the long haul – this is the list of things you need to check out.
If you want it, you can find it in Baltimore, MD. Especially if what you want is a good time!
Table of Contents
Baltimore Inner Harbor
It’s a must-see if you’ve never been into Baltimore, though it might feel a little touristy to residents. The Inner Harbor is the heart of the city, and a great representation of the city itself. This used to be the home of the city’s steel mills and ship-building facilities, a backbone that made Baltimore so great.
World Observation Level
Be sure to go to the top of the World Observation Level, where you can see some incredible views.
You can wander and enjoy the view, or hop on a paddle boat and experience Baltimore from the water. You can rent a Dragon Paddle Boat, or get on a Water Taxi to work less while enjoying the view more.
There are a variety of Cruises on the harbor you can take, including ones that offer local beer, live music, and even dinner on the water. A night cruise is especially lovely, because you can really experience the Baltimore skyline.
If you time your visit right, book a Blue Angels Practice Day Cruise for a seriously amazing experience. The Sunset Cruise is especially lovely as well.
Want a cruise of a different kind? Check out Urban Pirates, which stars in the Harbor and features a real pirate ship. Kids can feel like they’re really sailing the seven seas, or adults can join in on the “Bring Your Own Grog” cruises with music and adult games. The water cannons on the side of the boat are fun for all ages.
Charm City Helicopters
If you really want a Baltimore experience you’ll never forget, skip the cruise tour and go with Charm City Helicopters. Their packages include dinner at either Ruth’s Chris or Capital Grille, both amazing steak chains, and an incredible tour over the city in a helicopter.
If you want to upgrade your package, you can dine at Phillips Seafood or Fogo de Chao.
Baltimore Visitor Center
The Baltimore Visitor Center is located in the Inner Harbor, and while it sounds like a total dud, it’s a nice stop to get a feel for the area, get suggestions on where to go, learn more about what is around, get discounts on tickets to local museums, and more.
It’s also nice because there are restrooms… essential for a day walking around the Harbor.
One of the best things in the Harbor for kids or adults is the National Aquarium, a must-stop – especially if you’re visiting and it turns to rain! Tickets are a little pricey – $40 per adult, $30 per child at the moment – but there is so much to see it’s worth it.
There are dozens of animals, and for a little extra you can experience some amazing tours, including private dolphin tours, a shark experience, and even attending a dolphin training session.
Catching a game at Camden Yards is a rite of passage for every Baltimore resident. The O’s are practically a religion to Baltimore natives, and even when the O’s are doing poorly, seeing them in person is a really excellent experience.
The Gallery at HarborPlace
If you’re in the Harbor and want to do some shopping, check out The Gallery at HarborPlace, a huge indoor mall. There are three levels, and a good mix of local stores and mall brands you know and love.
Inner Harbor at Night
As far as nightlife is concerned, be sure you check out a show at Illusions, a bar and lounge that has an escape artist/comedy mix. When was the last time you saw a magician perform live while drinking or eating dinner, outside of Vegas?
If you’re in the mood for some gambling, check out Horseshoe Casino, a 2-story monstrosity of a building with over 100,000 square feet of gaming. It even has a World Series of Poker room, which is very cool for those of you who suffer from insomnia and stay up until 4 am watching reruns of the tournaments instead of sleeping.
Inner Harbor Restaurants
There is a ton of amazing dining in the Inner Harbor as well.
Phillips is a relatively local chain with fresh seafood, and a tourist staple, but if you only have time for one meal, that wouldn’t be my first choice.
Miss Shirley’s Café
Miss Shirley’s Café is a local favorite, technically a chain but all locally owned and operated. It’s very diner-inspired, with local and fresh twists. The Maryland Omelet is my favorite, but their pancakes are killer.
Tir na nOg Irish Bar and Grill
Tir na nOg Irish Bar and Grill (no, that’s not a typo) is a traditional Irish pub featuring foods you normally associate with a pub. The atmosphere is perfect.
Rusty Scupper Restaurant and Bar
Rusty Scupper Restaurant and Bar is great if you want up a more upscale date-night vibe right on the water.
Luna Del Sea Steak and Seafood Bistro
Luna Del Sea Steak and Seafood Bistro is just a few blocks off the Harbor itself, but has a great patio.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
The Oceanaire Seafood Room has a great wine list if you’re into pairing high-end food with higher-end wines.
Local Inner Harbor Restaurants
- Blackwall Hitch
- SoBo Café
- Pratt Street Ale House
Inner Harbor Chain Restaurants
- Bubba Gump
- Fogo de Chao
- Hard Rock Café
- Ruth’s Chris
- McCormick and Schmick
- The Cheesecake Factory
Don’t forget about Fell’s Point, too.
The long-loved party district for 20-somethings looking to barhop, Fells Point in Baltimore is a much-adored but somewhat underappreciated area of Baltimore.
Cobblestone streets really take you back to Baltimore’s roots, and even just walking around the neighborhood and soaking up the history can be amazing.
When you’re walking through Fells, remember that the original stone bricks you’re walking on were brought over to the US on ships from Europe!
Robert Long House
The Robert Long House is the oldest standing residence within the city of Baltimore, and tours are available if you want to really experience history.
The ice cream at Taharka Brothers is seriously life-changing. Try the Macha Mochi for something different.
Fells Point Markets
Fell’s Point Farmers Market
The Fell’s Point Farmers Market, open in the summer every Saturday morning, is also a must-stop. Lots of great local vendors, local coffee, and more. Plus the traditional ‘farmers market’ goods of local meats, veggies, and more.
Broadway Market is a year-round indoor market with local restaurants, shopping, and even drinks.
There are events nearly every weekend, and sometimes during the week, at Fell’s Point too. Don’t miss the Makers Market, where local vendors and artisans gather each year.
Charm City Night Market
There are popups, music, art, and more. Be sure to check out upcoming events at the Charm City Night Market, a popup in Fells Point that shares different cultural experiences.
The Sound Garden is a pretty neat hole-in-the-wall if you love vintage records or music. Their selection of vinyl’s is pretty much unmatched, and it’s fun to find your favorite artists hidden in the stacks.
Baltimore Food Tours
There are also lots of tours you can go on throughout Fells Point that will help you spot not only the most important buildings or architecture, but the food or drink.
Charm City Food Tours
Charm City Food Tours will teach you not only about the history of the food in the area, but introduce you to the best restaurants, too.
Bar Tours or Distillery Tours
There are several Bar Tours or Distillery Tours that are worth checking out if you want to bar hop with a bunch of friends or strangers.
Baltimore Tours and Crawls
Be sure to check out Baltimore Tours and Crawls to see what they have going on during the time you visit – there’s always something different!
Baltimore Ghost Tours
Unsurprisingly, there are also ghost tours, put on by Baltimore Ghost Tours. It’s a 1-hour tour that will have you feel spooky, and come away learning about the dark history. Best during October when fall is upon us, but honestly? It’s great in the summer, too, when you don’t need a jacket!
The Vagabond Players
The Vagabond Players is genuinely a Fells Point landmark, being the oldest continually operating community theater in the entire United States.
It’s been operating for over 100 years, and was originally part of America’s “Little Theatre” movement. It’s such a fun experience to see a live show put on by the community, and by local talent.
As far as the bar scene goes, Fells Point is perhaps the best in all of Baltimore – though, don’t tell that to a local, or they’ll talk your ear off about how you’re right… or wrong.
The Rockwell is a fun, slightly upscale place that offers craft cocktails and bold, bright designs.
Rye is also on the nicer side, with a fireplace and very upscale feel.
DogWatch Tavern is very much what you’d think of when you think of a hole-in-the-wall bar, but their food is both good and well-priced, hard to find in Fells, and their happy hour is on point.
Max’s Taphouse has a similar vibe, with lots of beer on tap.
Cat’s Eye Pub and The Wharf Rat
Cat’s Eye Pub and The Wharf Rat are both staples in the community – Wharf is set up in an 18th century building with a great atmosphere, and Cat’s Eye has been around since the 1970s.
Birds of a Feather
If you’re looking for variety, check out Birds of a Feather, which has over 100 single match scotches behind the bar and a small but good menu.
The Cannon Room
The Cannon Room also has a great selection of local rye, bourbon, and whiskey.
Some people say that Fells has the best bars in the world. I think that’s pretty dramatic, but they do have an incredible selection to choose from. Whether you’re looking to bar hop on a Saturday night and experience them all, or find a cozy corner to settle into, you can get what you want.
Charm City Pedal Mill
If you are looking for a bar crawl, check out Charm City Pedal Mill, which is a 16-person trolley car that runs entirely on bike pedals. It’s silly and an awful lot of fun, especially with your closest friends – or a group of friendly strangers.
If you’re a bibliophile, don’t rush out of Baltimore yet – there is plenty for you to do.
The Book Thing of Baltimore
The Book Thing of Baltimore, located a little off the beat path, is only open on weekends but such a fun experience. The entire thing is run by volunteers, and there are multiple rooms of books… completely free.
Whether you want a new read, need to snag some magazines for an art project, or just want to see what’s out there, it’s a great way to spend 20 minutes… or a few hours.
George Peabody Library
If you want to experience true book awe, though, be sure to check out the George Peabody Library, a 19th century focused research library in Johns Hopkins University. It’s been called “A Cathedral of Books’, and for good reason. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Marquis de Lafayette Statue is right next door, along with the Washington Monument and Mount Vernon Place, a cool historical landmark with walking tours available to reach the top – and see a great view.
The Book Escape
For an incredibly unique bookstore experience, don’t miss out on The Book Escape in the Inner Harbor. Somehow an often-ignored gem, this bookstore incredibly unique, from the small outdoor patio, the cute trinkets, and even a mascot – a cat!
Must-stop Baltimore bookstores
- The Ivy Bookshop
- Greedy Reads
- Charm City Books (a little bit ‘touristy’ but still worth the stop, especially if you’re in the area)
- Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffee Shop
Grab a Cup of Baltimore Coffee
Baltimore isn’t necessarily known for their locally roasted coffee, but they should be. While you can’t get the variety that you would get in, say, Seattle, Baltimore holds its own in coffee and variety.
Zeke’s is the most famous, and for a reason. While their location, well outside of downtown on Harford Road, might be out of the way, it’s worth the trip to find. The café itself is huge, with a good assortment of pastries and coffee gear, plus some excellent quality beans.
Artifact Coffee is fast becoming a local favorite, and it’s located in an old factory, so it has a really nice artsy ‘vibe’ to it.
Order and Chaos Coffee
Order and Chaos Coffee is located just off the harbor, and also offers sandwiches or breakfast items if you’re looking for a rounded coffee experience.
Koba is down the street and has more of a traditional brick light-and-breezy coffeehouse vibe.
Basically, if you’re getting another Starbucks anywhere in Baltimore, you’re seriously missing out.
More Great Baltimore Coffee Shops
Vagrant Coffee and Ceremony Roasters have numerous locations throughout Baltimore, and both offer a really high-quality cup of coffee.
Spend some time at M&T
Want to catch a Raven’s game? Head over the M&T Stadium, just outside of the Inner Harbor. You can tour the field and see where the Raven’s get ready for their games, or come at the right time and catch a home game.
M&T has more than the Ravens, though. If you want to see a stadium concert in Baltimore, this is where you need to be. Major acts come through all the time, and it’s really an incredible experience being up close and person to your favorite band in such a huge arena.
Find out how to go to a Ravens Game
Hang out with penguins!
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore gets overlooked for the zoo in DC a lot, and that really isn’t fair – it’s an excellent zoo with some incredible exhibits and animals. Hang out with penguins, elephants, or lions, or check out the live cams online to see what they’re up to.
The zoo also has cool events, for adults and kids. There is a Halloween event, ZooBoo, where kids can dress up and get candy, a Breakfast with the Animals event with pancakes and animal photo ops, or more adult-themed activities, like Yoga at the Zoo, Wine in the Wilderness, or Sip and Stroll which features local food trucks and craft beer, plus animals of course.
Little Italy is a great neighborhood.
Baltimore is just full of great, small neighborhoods, and Little Italy is no exception. This is one of my favorites because, well, I’m a sucker for pasta and carbs, and Little Italy is full of mom-and-pop restaurants and shops that are run by second- and third-generation Italian-Americans.
Little Italy Restaurants
Aldo’s is regularly rated as the best in the neighborhood, and focuses on more southern-Italian high-end cooking. It’s Zagat’s highest-rated Italian restaurant in the state, if that gives you an idea of both the food and the service you’ll get. It’s very much a date-night, impress-visitors kind of restaurant.
Café Gia’s is also a little higher-end, with a really awesome atmosphere and excellent food. The murals on the walls outdoors speak not only to the history of the neighborhood and the owners, but the deep love they have for the city. Even if you don’t eat here, it’s cool to check it out.
Simply Sip Tea
While not even a little bit Italian, the bubble tea place around the corner, Simply Sip Tea, is excellent! Just go across High street and past Angeli’s Pizzeria.
Now that I mention it, Angeli’s Pizzeria has some of the best pizza in Baltimore. Their logo is “ain’t nothing a pizza can’t fix” and they’re not wrong.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, I can’t recommend Amicci’s enough. They’re family-owned and pride themselves on being a “very” casual eatery, whatever that means.
The prices are reasonable, and the food is excellent. Their fried calamari is my favorite, but the lasagna is top-notch, too.
To split the difference, check out La Tavola, with more modern takes on traditional Italian classics. Their desserts are apparently all made in-house, and they taste like it, too.
Isabella’s Brick Oven
Another great pizza joint in Little Italy is Isabella’s Brick Oven, where the pizzas are, as the name suggests, cooked in a brick oven. This gives an excellent texture to the crust.
It’s a super unassuming little shop on the corner of South High and Stiles, and you’d be forgiven by walking past it not thinking much, but it’s worth the stop.
Hampden is one of the best hipster neighborhoods.
No judgment – if you’re wearing overalls or a questionable hat, you know what you’re into. Regularly voted as one of the best ‘hipster’ neighborhoods in the entire US, Hampden is a great place to spend an afternoon, or a whole weekend.
First Fridays in Hampden
First Fridays are something the entire neighborhood hosts. The first Friday of every month, head into Hampden for live music, late-night shopping, and even drink specials from the numerous bars lining the streets.
36th street is the true ‘center’ of the neighborhood. Walk up and down a few blocks and grab some vintage clothing at Changed My Mind Vintage, stop into Café Hon, a Maryland staple, for breakfast or lunch, or grab brunch at Golden West Café, one of my favorite brunch spots serving New Mexican dishes. Nepenthe Brewing is just around the corner, still within the neighborhood, and has a great taproom.
The Parisian Flea is a great antique store, Balto Vintage has some amazing hidden finds, and The Bookstore Next Door is exactly like what you picture a small, locally-owned used bookstore – piles of books, mostly organized, and some incredible hidden treasures. Exploring the neighborhood, you’ll find some charming row houses and some colorful yard décor.
Hampden Festivals and Events
The area also has two major festivals you should check out – HONFest and Hampdenfest. Honfest takes place every spring, and is a celebration of Baltimore, as well as the word Hon, a term of endearment that every true Baltimore resident uses, or has been called. Baltimore’s Best Hon is crowned each year.
Hampdenfest is usually in the fall, and is a truly eclectic mix of local art, normal festival outings, and some… unique add-ons, like the toilet bowl races that take place down the street. If you ever wanted to see grown men race toilet bowls – no, I’m not kidding! – this is seriously a must-experience. There is also great live music from local artists, usually alternative and rock.
Unique Baltimore Attractions
iFLY in Baltimore
If you want something totally unique, you can check out the indoor skydiving at iFLY in Baltimore. It’s all the thrill of skydiving without jumping out of a plane. I’ve never had the guts, but if you want a thrill without the risk of major injury, it’s a must.
Earth Treks in Baltimore
There is also an Earth Treks location in Baltimore. Located in an old warehouse that shares its plaza with a local brewery (check out our section below to find the best!), it’s a huge facility that specializes in bouldering, unlike some other locations.
It’s over 20,000 square feet and includes a pretty good-sized fitness area, group classes, and even a yoga studio.
A membership is a little pricey, but a day pass isn’t bad at all, and you can swing by the brewery after to grab a pint and a bite of food.
If you’re more historical, check out these museums!
It’s easy to bypass the museums in Baltimore because DC is so close, and has so many great museum options, but trust me – Baltimore has a lot to offer, too.
American Visionary Art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum is located within the Inner Harbor, and has a great rotating selection of unique or unusual art, including 2 sculpture plazas, plus a sizeable garden.
Maryland Science Center
Maryland Science Center, just around the corner, has the best planetarium in the area. It has plenty of hands-on exhibits for kids and science-loving adults, and it’s a lot of fun to wander through.
Historic Ships in Baltimore
Historic Ships in Baltimore is just down the road on the harbor, and features some really awesome exhibits. You can walk around a 19th-century ship and experience what life, and war, was like back then. There are 3 ships, a submarine, and a lighthouse all available to tour, and it’s a great way to spend a few historical hours in the harbor.
Civil War Museum and Star-Spangled Banner House
End your visit at the Civil War Museum, just a few blocks away, or the Star-Spangled Banner House, which includes tours and exhibits about the home of the original US flag.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is considered a US National Park, and it’s not far away from the Harbor. The property itself is beautiful, and it features a really important point in history. Make sure you time your visit so you can see a recreation, it’s certainly something!
Baltimore Museum of Art
Haven’t gotten enough art? Don’t leave without seeing the Baltimore Museum of Art, a huge building with rotating art exhibits.
Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum is also huge, consisting of 3 buildings. They also tend to have a more modern or interesting selection, sometimes featuring films and other pop culture interests.
Maryland Center for History and Culture
The Maryland Center for History and Culture is just down the street as well, and has the original manuscript for “The Star Spangled Banner” on display, as well as a huge library with lots of historical texts.
Looking for some museums a little off the beaten path?
The National Museum of Dentistry
The National Museum of Dentistry is a little off-putting to some, but if you want to check out George Washington’s dentures, this is the place you’ll need to go.
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum is just a short trip from Camden Yards, and you’ll learn about the birth of one of the greats – who started his career in Baltimore.
Baltimore Museum of Industry
The Baltimore Museum of Industry is located in an old cannery, so it’s a little strange walking in – but the museum features a lot of working parts from the early 20th century, and is a fascinating look into how we as a society got here.
Poe’s Memorial Grave
While not technically a museum, lovers of poetry or history may enjoy a stop Poe’s Memorial Grave in Baltimore. The history of the gravesite is long and fascinating.
The Horse You Came In On Saloon
Be sure to check out The Horse You Came In On Saloon, a 200-year-old bar that apparently served the famous writer his last drink.
Time your visit right and attend a Baltimore festival!
Like many major cities, Baltimore almost always has something going on. Even with the world the way it is, you can’t keep a good city down, and there are dozens of events still going on, with more on the horizon.
Baltimore Mac and Cheese Festival
The Baltimore Mac and Cheese Festival is my personal favorite, but I’m a sucker for good food.
Wine and Food Festival
The Wine and Food Festival in the harbor is a huge deal every year, and has some seriously amazing chefs cooking for the public.
Baltimore Wing and Chicken Festival
If you’re still into food, the Baltimore Wing and Chicken Festival is over a full city block full of chicken wings, fried chicken, and genuine happiness. Seriously, a city block of chicken.
Das Best Oktoberfest
Das Best Oktoberfest is at M&T every year, and it claims to be the oldest running craft beer festival, with hundreds of beers to choose from, plus a great selection of traditional German foods.
Food Truck Festival
At the B&O Railroad Museum, you can check out the Food Truck Festival, which is fantastic. Baltimore has some amazing food trucks to choose from!
Baltimore Jazz Festival
The Baltimore Jazz Festival is a weekend event at the Inner Harbor that is a must-visit for music fans, and features a lot of amazing local talent… plus the classic Maryland addition of crabs.
Perhaps the biggest thing to happen in downtown Baltimore, however, is Artscape, a full weekend art festival that is completely free.
Every July, thousands of people come from all across the area – far beyond just Maryland itself – to check out different art mediums, pick up hand-made pieces, listen to music, and more.
Be sure to grab a selfie with your favorite decorated car that lines North Charles Street.
Amazing Baltimore breweries and distilleries
You don’t have to travel outside of Baltimore to get amazing local drinks. There are numerous distilleries and breweries right within the city, waiting to be toured – and sipped.
Sagamore Spirit Distillery
The Sagamore Spirit Distillery is just off the Harbor, and is a must-stop for fans of rye whiskey. Their tasting tours are going to be your best bang for the buck, but they also have great signature cocktails. Go spend an afternoon exploring, drinking, and learning about how rye whiskey is made.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery
While not local, per se, within the last few years Guinness made big waves when they build the gigantic Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore.
I’m not being dramatic when I say gigantic, either – it’s a massive facility that includes self-guided tours, a beer garden, a store to pick up all your Guinness swag, a taproom, and even regular food trucks so you don’t have to leave.
The taproom also has an in-house menu, and I truly cannot recommend the milk stout smith island cake enough. It’s like everything delicious about Maryland smashed together with everything delicious about Guinness.
Heavy Seas is another local favorite located in Baltimore, and it’s the beer I bring when I visit friends or family out of state. While you can buy a case at most local liquor stores, check out the taproom to try the latest brews or get the full brewery experience.
Check their calendar, too, because they have a rotating selection of food trucks or events going on during the summer and fall – you can literally get sweet or savory waffles, local crab cakes, and more, depending on when you stop by.
Other great choices? Well, there’s a ton. Diamondback Brewing is more artsy-hipster, calling themselves an “experimental production brewery”, but locals enjoy their unique takes.
Suspended Brewing Co
Suspended Brewing Co is small (like, small-small) but has a lot off the beaten path choices, like pale ales or sour beers.
Union Craft Brewing
Union Craft Brewing does free tours on the weekends (call ahead before you go!), and is a fairly large facility. They’re best known for their Duckpin Pale Ale. (This is the brewery right by the Earth Treks location – truly, an all-in-one stop!)
Charm City Meadworks
Like something a little different? Charm City Meadworks makes light, dry beverages, and produces both draft meads and a more traditional mead product. They source from local honey and lots of natural spices, which is pretty cool – if you only think of mead when you think of a renaissance festival, you’re going to want to check it out.
Baltimore Spirits Company
Baltimore Spirits Company is another great choice if you’re looking for something stronger. It’s local, and they claim to specialize in ‘designer’ spirits. I’m not entirely sure what makes a spirit designer, but their apple brandy is great, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about their Shot Tower Gin.
You can find some green space, if you look…
Baltimore might not have an overabundance of parks, but they do exist. If you’re looking to get into nature without actually leaving the city, you have some options!
Druid Hill Park
Druid Hill Park is where the Maryland Zoo is located, and includes trails, sports fields, and beautiful gardens, all without having to enter the zoo itself.
Federal Hill Park
Federal Hill Park is just 10 acres, but boasts incredible views of the city and the skyline. It’s a great place to sit with a coffee or a sandwich and just enjoy the beauty that is Baltimore.
Wyman Park, just down the street, has a stream and a well-maintained play area, as well as plenty of walking paths.
Clifton Park and Carroll Park
Clifton Park has both golf and tennis courts if you’re looking for outdoor activity.
Carroll Park is huge, with over 100 acres. It has a golf course, four basketball courts, trails, and a skateboard park.
Patterson Park has a great dog park if you’re looking to spend time with your pooch.
Chinquapin Run Park
Chinquapin Run Park is a little off the beaten path, but has plenty of walking trails.