About This Place
A visitor’s list of things to do in Baltimore invariably features Inner Harbor, history and crabs—hallmarks of the city that reflect its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and its standing as the largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic states.
A hub of popular Baltimore attractions, Inner Harbor boasts shopping, dining and nightlife right on the waterfront. Visitors can explore the harbor up-close by boat or get their bearings from the sky. Optimal views are had from the observation floor of the World Trade Center, a dramatic, slender building designed by I.M. Pei that appears to perch over the harbor.
Destinations at Inner Harbor include Maryland Science Center, which houses a planetarium, and the National Aquarium, where visitors can view bottlenose dolphins at play or see sharks swim in an open-ocean tank. Historic Ships in Baltimore keeps a collection of ships open for tours, among them the USS Constellation, a Civil War-era frigate, and US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, the last of the Pearl Harbor warships. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is accessible from Inner Harbor by land or water taxi. It is the site where Francis Scott Key, in the midst of the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, penned the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Nearly 300 properties in the city are included in the National Register of Historic Places, adding to the number of things to do in Baltimore. Preserved structures located throughout the city offer visitors the opportunity to explore Baltimore’s rich landscape of neighborhoods, many of them distinct in culture and architecture.
Many Baltimore residences constructed in the mid 20th century or later incorporate Formstone, a light-colored brick that resembles stones. Newcomers will notice streets lined with Formstone-fronted row homes—a building standard strongly linked to Baltimore. Well-preserved examples of earlier architecture exist as well. Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church is a 19th-century architectural landmark that displays windows of Tiffany stained glass, a typical characteristic of the Bolton Hill neighborhood.
The historic enclave of Fells Point is named after the Quaker who constructed the first building in the area during the 18th century. Home to an open market on the waterfront, the neighborhood has pedestrian-friendly streets, many of them cobblestone, which lead to wharves and historic sites. Located along the top of a hill and featuring plum city and harbor views, Federal Hill Historic District is home to many of the city’s top restaurants and a retail area populated by galleries and shops. Four landscaped parks that surround the Washington Monument distinguish the Mount Vernon Place Historic District. This polished, mostly residential neighborhood is noted for its well-preserved 19th-century homes.
Punctuate your tour of Baltimore attractions by sampling Chesapeake blue crabs from one of the many restaurants in the city where they are hammered and cracked on tables, or served in cake and soup form. Summer to early fall is peak season for these soft-shell Maryland crabs. Eat your fill at the Baltimore Crab & Beer Festival, held in Fells Point in late August each year.