Baltimore Travel Guide
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Plan Your Baltimore Vacation

Baltimore is a city of distinct neighborhoods. While stellar downtown attractions such as the National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor draw torrents of tourists each year, much of the city's character can be found in bergs like Hampden (the "p" is silent) and Federal Hill. Scores of Baltimore's trademark narrow redbrick row houses with white marble steps line the city's East and West sides. Some neighborhood streets are still made of cobblestone, and grand churches and museums and towering, glassy high-rises fill out the growing skyline.

One of the largest cities in early America, Baltimore’s protected harbor gave the city a strategic advantage. Commercial trade with the West Indies brought great wealth to city merchants, and speedy Clipper Ships, made in Baltimore’s shipyards, wreaked havoc on the British during the War of 1812. A motley band of Fort McHenry’s "Defenders," far outnumbered by British troops, nonetheless stood their ground—and turned the tide of the war. Baltimore thrived as a manufacturing hub until after World War II, when jobs dried up and its populace moved to the suburbs. Rising unemployment, the introduction of heroin and other illegal drugs, and week-long riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were Baltimore’s darkest hours. But the dogged spirit of Baltimore’s Defenders prevailed. With the 1970s came innovative programs offering homesteaders a chance to purchase and renovate once-abandoned row houses for as little as $1. New arts and cultural events, such as neighborhood festivals, celebrated the city’s unpretentious—and oftentimes eccentric—charm. Tourism grew dramatically in the early 1980s with the completion of the Harborplace shopping plaza and its crown jewel, the National Aquarium. Further development of the Inner Harbor, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, continued to fuel the city's resurgence.

Now the city's blue-collar past mixes with present urban-professional revitalization. Industrial waterfront properties are giving way to tech startups and high-end condos. Corner bars formerly dominated by National Bohemian beer—once made in the city—are adding microbrews to their beverage lists. Development continues, particularly around the Inner Harbor, though signs of the city's pockmarked past still persist north and west of downtown. But with more and more restaurants and retail stores replacing vacant buildings and parking lots, Baltimore has become one of the nation’s up-and-coming cities: firmly fixed on the future, with an ever-present nod to its past.


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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Relive American History Take a water taxi to see Fort McHenry, the site of a relentless British attack during the War of 1812. The fort never fell and the sight of its flag after the battle inspired the words that later became the national anthem.
  2. Explore a Revitalized Addition to the Inner Harbor The former industrial zone just east of the tourist-oriented Inner Harbor, now called Harbor East, has become a chic destination with some of the city’s best restaurants, shopping, and people-watching.
  3. Visit the Country’s Most Inspiring Museum The American Visionary Art Museum, which highlights artists outside the mainstream, is a glorious ode to the creative impulse, a family-friendly joy to behold both inside and out. In May, be sure to check out the Kinetic Sculpture Race—art on wheels!
  4. Get Wild and Zany at Honfest For one weekend each June, thousands gussy up to celebrate Honfest in Hampden in the traditional attire of a Baltimore "hon" beehive hairdos and cat's-eye glasses.
  5. Crack 'Em and Eat 'Em like a Baltimorean Baltimore loves crabs, especially at Bo Brooks in Canton—one of the city's best crab houses—where you can crack into a piping-hot crustacean year-round.
  6. Taste the Country's First Tiramisu Piedigrotta Bakery, on the edge of historic Little Italy, claims to have invented tiramisu. Try it for yourself—a big wedge is only a couple of bucks.

When To Go

When to Go to Baltimore

Summer is the ideal time to explore Baltimore. It's also tourist season, which means the Inner Harbor fills up with foot traffic. Though the...

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