65 Best Sights in Baltimore, Maryland

American Visionary Art Museum

Federal Hill Fodor's choice

The nation's primary museum and education center for self-taught or "outsider" art has won great acclaim by both museum experts and those who don't even consider themselves art aficionados. Seven galleries exhibit the quirky creations—paintings, sculptures, relief works, and pieces that defy easy classification—of untrained "visionary" artists working outside the mainstream art world. In addition to the visual stimulation of amazingly intricate or refreshingly inventive works, reading the short bios of artists will give you insight to their often-moving spiritual and expressive motivations. The museum's unusual, playful philosophy extends outside its walls, with large exhibits installed in a former whiskey warehouse, an outdoor movie theater, and a 55-foot whirligig twirling in the museum's plaza.

Baltimore Museum of Art

Charles Village Fodor's choice
Baltimore Museum of Art
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

Works by Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, and Monet are among the 90,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts on exhibit at this impressive museum near Johns Hopkins University. Particular strengths include an encyclopedic collection of Postimpressionist paintings donated to the museum by the Cone sisters, Baltimore natives who were pioneer collectors of early-20th-century art. The museum also owns the world's second-largest collection of Andy Warhol works and many pieces of 18th- and 19th-century American painting and decorative arts. The museum's neoclassical main building was designed by John Russell Pope, the architect of the National Gallery in Washington. A $28-million renovation resulted in a new, interactive exhibition space, a renovated visitor's entrance, and a completely reworked contemporary wing. From Gertrude's, the museum restaurant, you can look out at 20th-century sculpture displayed in two landscaped gardens.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Fodor's choice
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

This star-shaped brick fort is forever associated with Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner," which Key penned while watching the British bombardment of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Through the next day and night, as the battle raged, Key strained to be sure, through the smoke and haze, that the flag still flew above Fort McHenry—indicating that Baltimore's defenders held firm. "By the dawn's early light" of September 14, 1814, he saw the 30- by 42-foot "Star-Spangled Banner" still aloft and was inspired to pen the words to a poem (set to the tune of an old English drinking song). The flag that flew above Fort McHenry that day had 15 stars and 15 stripes, and was hand-sewn for the fort. A visit to the fort includes a 15-minute history film, guided tour, and frequent living-history displays on summer weekends. To see how the formidable fortifications might have appeared to the bombarding British, catch a water taxi from the Inner Harbor to the fort instead of driving.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Maryland Science Center

Fodor's choice

Originally known as the Maryland Academy of Sciences, this 200-year-old scientific institution is one of the oldest in the United States. Now housed in a contemporary building, the three floors of exhibits on the Chesapeake Bay, Earth science, physics, the body, dinosaurs, and outer space are an invitation to engage, experiment, and explore. The center has a planetarium, a simulated paleontological dinosaur dig, an IMAX movie theater with a screen five stories high, and a playroom especially designed for young children.

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Fodor's choice

More than 2,000 animals live in the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the third-oldest zoo in the country. Elephants, lions, giraffes and hippos are among the park's roaming game. The zoo's centerpiece is a new African penguin habitat, a state-of-the-art facility surrounded by water housing the country's largest breeding colony of Afircan penguins. Other exhibits feature a giraffe-feeding station, the polar bear arctic pool, and a petting zoo with a re-created barnyard. Also, don't miss the Jones Falls Zephyr, a locomotive modeled on an 1863 locomotive that takes visitors on a 10-minute ride alongside the African Journey exhibit. Surrounding the zoo is grand, leafy Druid Hill Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Fodor's choice

Home of the Baltimore Orioles, Camden Yards and the nearby area bustle on game days. Since it opened in 1992, this nostalgically designed baseball stadium has inspired other cities to emulate its neotraditional architecture and amenities. The Eutaw Street promenade, between the warehouse and the field, has a view of the stadium. Look for the brass baseballs embedded in the sidewalk that mark where home runs have cleared the fence, or visit the Orioles Hall of Fame display and the monuments to retired Orioles. Daily 90-minute tours take you to nearly every section of the ballpark, from the massive JumboTron scoreboard to the dugout to the state-of-the-art beer-delivery system.

Port Discovery Children's Museum

Fodor's choice

At this interactive museum, adults are encouraged to play every bit as much as children. A favorite attraction is the three-story KidWorks, a futuristic jungle gym on which the adventurous can climb, crawl, slide, and swing their way through stairs, slides, ropes, zip lines, and tunnels, and even across a narrow footbridge. Learn about the Earth's atmosphere as you splash around in Wonders of Water (rain slickers and shoes are provided). Cook food in Tiny's Diner, an interactive restaurant. A soccer field becomes a stage for dance-offs and virtual races. Changing exhibits allow for even more play.

The National Aquarium

Fodor's choice
The National Aquarium
Andrei Medvedev / Shutterstock

The most-visited attraction in Maryland has nearly 20,000 fish, sharks, dolphins, and amphibians dwelling in 2 million gallons of water. The Blacktip Reef exhibit mimics a coral reef in the Indo-Pacific waters. It features pufferfish, stingrays, and more unusual creatures, such as the tasselled wobbegong, a carpet shark. In the Living Seashore exhibit, visitors can touch live stingrays. The aquarium also features reptiles, birds, plants, and mammals in its rain-forest environment, housed inside a glass pyramid 64 feet high. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are part of several entertaining presentations that highlight their agility and intelligence. The aquarium's famed shark tank and Atlantic coral reef exhibits are spectacular. Arrive early to ensure admission, which is by timed intervals; by noon, the wait is often two to three hours, especially on weekends and holidays.

Walters Art Museum

Mount Vernon Fodor's choice

The Walters' prodigious collection of more than 30,000 artworks provides an organized overview of human history over 5,500 years, from the 3rd millennium BC to the early 20th century. The museum houses major collections of Renaissance, Baroque, and Asian art as well as one of the nation’s best collections of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ethiopian works. It also houses Medieval armor and artifacts, jewelry and decorative works, a gift shop, a family activities and arts center on the lower-level, and a café.

Washington Monument

Mount Vernon Fodor's choice

Completed on July 4, 1829, the impressive monument was the first one dedicated to the nation's first president. An 18-foot statue depicting Washington caps the 160-foot white marble tower. The tower was designed and built by Robert Mills, the first architect born and educated in the United States; 19 years after completing Baltimore's Washington Monument, Mills designed and erected the national Washington Monument in D.C. After extensive restorations, the monument's lower-level museum has reopened; visitors can climb the 227-step circular staircase to the top and enjoy stunning bird's-eye vistas over downtown.

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B&O Railroad Museum

The famous Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was founded on the site that now houses this museum, which contains more than 120 full-size locomotives and a great collection of railroad memorabilia, from dining-car china and artwork to lanterns and signals. The 1884 roundhouse (240 feet in diameter and 120 feet high) contains exhibits and historic objects. It adjoins one of the nation's first railroad stations. Train rides are available Wednesday through Sunday (weekends only in January). TraxSide Snax serves food and drinks.

Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

West Baltimore

This plain brick row house, three blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was the birthplace of "the Bambino." Although Ruth was born here in 1895, his family never lived here; they lived in a nearby apartment, above a tavern run by Ruth's father. The row house and the adjoining buildings make up a museum devoted to Ruth's life and to the local Orioles baseball club. Film clips and props, rare photos of Ruth, Yankees payroll checks, a score book from Ruth's first professional game, and many other artifacts can be found here.

216 Emory St., Baltimore, MD, 21230, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $6, Apr.–Oct., daily 10–5, until 7 before Oriole home games; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–5

Baltimore City Hall


Built in 1875, Baltimore City Hall consists of mansard roofs and a gilt dome over a 110-foot rotunda, all supported by ironwork. Inside you can get tours of the chambers and view exhibits on Baltimore's history. Directly across the street is City Hall Plaza, on what was originally the site of the Holliday Street Theatre. The theater was owned and operated by the Ford brothers; they also operated Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where President Lincoln was assassinated. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was first publicly sung here.

100 N. Holliday St., Baltimore, MD, 21202, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Tours generally offered Tue. morning, Wed. afternoon and Thurs. morning—call Curator Jeanne Davis at 410-396-4947 to schedule.

Baltimore Civil War Museum-President Street Station

Harbor East

President Street Station offers a glimpse of the violence and divided loyalties that the war caused in Maryland, a state caught in the middle. Originally the Baltimore terminus of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, the relocated station, built in 1849, contains exhibits that depict the events that led to mob violence. It began when troops from the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment bound for Washington, D.C., walked from this station to the Camden Station (near Oriole Park). In what would be the first bloodshed of the Civil War, four soldiers and 12 civilians were killed; 36 soldiers and a number of civilians were wounded. The riot lasted for several hours and inspired the secessionist poem "Maryland, My Maryland," today the state song.

601 President St., Baltimore, MD, 21202, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Weekends 10–4, tours available by appointment.

Baltimore Museum of Industry

Federal Hill

Baltimore is proud of its blue-collar roots. The fascinating and kid-friendly Baltimore Museum of Industry is housed in an 1865 oyster cannery and features interactive exhibits covering the city's rich industrial heritage. Tour a circa 1900 belt-driven machine shop, learn how oyster canning revolutionized the food industry, and see a garment loft as it would have looked in early 20th-century Baltimore. The print shop, featuring a working Linotype machine, contains drawers of tiny, touchable letters that were used to create lines of text. The Maryland Milestones gallery highlights world-changing inventions such as the gaslight, the passenger railroad, Noxzema cream, and the umbrella. Just don't call these museum pieces "relics"—on the weekends, volunteers fire up the machines and give live demonstrations. It's a sight to behold and well worth the half-mile walk south of the Inner Harbor along Key Highway.

1415 Key Hwy., Baltimore, MD, 21230, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $12, Tues.–Sun. 10–4

Baltimore Streetcar Museum

Station North Arts District

This often-overlooked museum lets you travel back to an era when streetcars dominated city thoroughfares. A film traces the vehicle's evolution, there are beautifully restored streetcars to explore, and, best of all, you can take unlimited rides.

1901 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD, 21211, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $7; $5 children and seniors, June–Oct., weekends noon–5; Nov.–May, Sun. noon–5

Baltimore Visitor Center

Inner Harbor

Stop by the sweeping, all-glass center for information on the city, brochures, tickets, and hotel and restaurant reservations.

401 Light St., Baltimore, MD, 21202, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Oct.–Mar. daily 10–4; Apr.–Sept. daily 9–6

Basilica of the Assumption

Mount Vernon

Opened in 1821, the Basilica of the Assumption is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States. Designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol, it stands as a paragon of neoclassicism, with a grand portico fronted by six Corinthian columns that suggest an ancient Greek temple. Two towers are surmounted by baroque domes. The church, including 24 skylights in the dome which were covered over before or prior to World War II, was restored in November, 2006, the bicentennial of the laying of the church’s cornerstone.

Broadway Market

Fells Point

Head to the market's two pavilions to grab a drink or light snack or stock up on ethnic deli meats. You can also find pizza, sandwiches, and oysters at a raw bar.

Broadway between Fleet and Lancaster Sts., Baltimore, MD, 21231, USA

Bromo Seltzer Tower

West Baltimore

Baltimore was the headquarters of the Bromo Seltzer antacid company, which modeled this tower after Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio in 1911. A five-story, rotating blue bottle once sat at its top

and could be seen at night as far as 20 miles away (it was removed in 1936). Today the tower has been converted into artist studios, which you can visit for free on Fridays and Saturdays. As a special treat, you can even tour the clock tower and learn about its century-old mechanics.

21 S. Eutaw St., Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Fri. 1–7 and Sat. 11–4. Clock tower tours Fri. every hr 1:30–5:30 and Sat. 1:30–2:30 pm

Cal Ripken Stadium

Cal Ripken Stadium brings Single-A baseball to town with the IronBirds, an Orioles minor-league affiliate team. Owned by Cal Ripken, the team plays short-season ball every June to September in Ripken Stadium, a 5,500-seat venue complete with skyboxes. Future plans include opening the Ripken Museum and a hotel.

Carroll Mansion

Historic Jonestown

This was once the winter home of Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It's now a museum dedicated to the history of the city and the neighborhood, Historic Jonestown, as told by the various occupants of the house through the years.

Concord Point Lighthouse

The conical Concord Point Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. Built in 1827, it was restored in 1980. You can climb up 30 feet for views of the bay, river, and town.

700 Concord St., Havre de Grace, MD, 21078, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Apr.–Oct., weekends 1–5

Davidge Hall

West Baltimore

Built in 1812 for $40,000, this green-dome structure has been used for teaching medicine for nearly two centuries. Part of the downtown campus of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Davidge Hall is a relic of the days when dissection was illegal; the acoustically perfect anatomy theater was lighted by skylights instead of windows so that passersby would not witness students working on cadavers. Register for tours via the website.

Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry

West Baltimore

This unusual museum, which has a set of George Washington's dentures, is on the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland, the world's first dental school. Housed in a Renaissance Revival–style building, the museum has exhibits on the anatomy and physiology of human and animal teeth and the history of dentistry; you can also play a tune on the "Tooth Jukebox." One popular exhibit displays the dental instruments used in treating Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Tours available by appointment.

31 S. Greene St., Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $7, Wed.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. 1–4

Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum

Ellicott City was the B&O Railroad's first stop. The Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station, built in 1831, is the oldest surviving railroad terminal in America. Museum exhibits focus on the history of the railroad and on its role in the Civil War.

2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City, MD, 21043, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $6, Wed.–Sun. 11–4

Enoch Pratt Free Library

Mount Vernon

Donated to the city of Baltimore in 1882 by its namesake, a wealthy merchant, the Enoch Pratt Free Library was one of the country's first free-circulation public libraries; it remains one of the country's largest. The Pratt was remarkable for allowing any citizen to borrow books at a time when only the wealthy could afford to buy them. When the collection outgrew its original fortresslike rococo structure in 1933, Pratt's democratic ideals were incorporated into the new building's grand yet accessible design. Innovations such as a sidewalk-level entrance and department store–style exhibit windows set the standard for public libraries across the country. The building is still a treat to explore. A huge skylight illuminates the Central Hall's marble floors, gilded fixtures, mural panels depicting the history of printing and publishing, and oil portraits of the Lords Baltimore. The Children's Department, with a fishpond, puppet theater, and a large selection of books, is a real gem for little ones. An audio architecture tour of the museum is available at the circulation desk.

400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Jun.–Sept., Mon.–Wed. 10–7, Thur.–Sat.10–5; Oct.–May, Mon.–Wed. 11–7, Thurs. 10–5, Fri. and Sat. 10–5, Sun. 1–5

Evergreen House


Built in the 1850s, this 48-room Italianate mansion was the home of the 19th-century diplomat and collector John Work Garrett, whose father was president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (the Garrett family continued to live here until the 1950s). Garrett bequeathed the house, its contents (an exquisite collection of books, paintings, and porcelain), and 26 acres of grounds to Johns Hopkins University. He required that the estate remain open to "lovers of music, art, and beautiful things." A tour of the mansion is a fascinating look at the luxury that surrounded a rich American family at the turn of the 20th century.

4545 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD, 21210, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $8, Tues.–Fri. 11–4, weekends noon–4

Federal Hill Park

Federal Hill

If you want to snap a photo of the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill Park is the place to do it. On the south side of the harbor, the park was named in 1788 to commemorate Maryland's ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Until the early 1900s, a signal tower atop Federal Hill displayed the "house" flags of local shipping companies, notifying them of the arrival of their vessels. Some of the oldest homes in Baltimore surround the park, and its summit provides an excellent view of the Inner Harbor and the downtown skyline. The park is also a favorite spot for watching holiday fireworks.

Battery Ave. and Key Hwy., Baltimore, MD, 21230, USA

Fell's Point Visitor Center

Fells Point

This visitor center is a great starting point for exploring this revitalized waterfront neighborhood. Be sure to take awalking tour brochure from the gift shop. Tours depart from here on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (May–October) and focus on topics such as ghosts, the War of 1812, maritime history, immigration, slavery, and Frederick Douglass's tenure in Fells Point. One wall showcases a small exhibit outlining the history of Fells Point and its founding family.

1724 Thames St., Baltimore, MD, 21231, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Apr.–Nov. 25, Sun.–Thurs. 10–5, Fri. and Sat. 10–8; Nov. 26–Mar., Tues.–Sun. noon–4