Baltimore Bucket List

30 Best Things To Do in Baltimore

Baltimore’s chippy pride and down-to-earth quirkiness put the charm in Charm City. From some of America’s most historic landmarks to vibrant communities of arts and sports, everyone will find something to love in Baltimore.

These are the things to do worth doing in Baltimore!

1 Hear the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry

Whenever you hear the National Anthem of the United States of America, you’re listening to a poem about Baltimore.

The rockets red glare. The bombs bursting in air. These words, penned by Francis Scott Key, recall a moment in the War of 1812 that saw Fort McHenry fend off a potentially devastating attack from the British that could have spelt doom for America. And that’s not hyperbole: just one month earlier the British captured Washington DC and burned down the White House.

On September 13th, 1814 the British set their sights on Baltimore, bombarding Fort McHenry for 25 straight hours. Although heavily outnumbered, Baltimore stood strong. When the fog of war cleared the “broad stripes and bright stars” of the American Flag continued waving proudly over the fort.

Today, Fort McHenry is a National Monument and Historic Shrine that provides an eye-opening glimpse into our country’s history, with a waterfront walking path that provide panoramic views of the Patapsco River.

2 Eat the Best Crabcakes in Baltimore

Blue crabs aren’t just a delicacy in Maryland, they’re a way of life. Each year, more blue crabs are caught in the Chesapeake Bay than anywhere else in the world. Marylanders aren’t shy with their pride: you’ll see the crustaceans plastered everywhere in the state, from bumper stickers and billboards to t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories.

While steamed crabs are popular for backyard barbecues and family gatherings (see our Maryland Bucket List), in the city, crabcakes are the more popular pick.

Traditionalists will find the best crabcakes in Baltimore at Faidley Seafood, founded in 1886 and located in the World Famous Lexington Market. But Baltimore is a culinary destination- visit a small neighborhood restaurant, try their take on Crabcakes, and find your own favorite.

Some of our favorite crabcakes in Baltimore include:

3 Explore Historic Fell's Point

This historic waterfront community offers the quintessential Baltimore experience and should not be missed.

It began as a ship-building community in the 1700s (it predates Baltimore), was home to a fleet of government-sanctioned pirates in the 1800s (Privateers), and its reputation for serving the appetites of sailors and citizens survives today. The cobblestone streets of Fell’s Point are lined with more independently owned bars and pubs than any other place in the United States per square mile- one of which served Edgar Allan Poe his last drink.

Take a leisurely stroll along Thames Street and find century-old hidden treasures, from the quaint family grave of its founders to the relics of dive bars that proudly protested prohibition. When your feet get tired, find respite in one of the dozens of shops and eateries: there’s something for everyone in Fell’s Point.

4 Federal Hill Park

The towering banks of Federal Hill offer visitors the most spectacular and picturesque view of Baltimore in the entire city. The American flag-topped hill overlooks the entirety of Baltimore’s harbor, which made it an excellent outpost for the merchants and military men of centuries past.

Below you’ll see the Inner Harbor, part of Baltimore’s Waterfront Promenade, which makes a beautiful walk, jog, or bike for pedestrians. You can take it all the way to Fell’s Point (and beyond), stopping at the Maryland Science Center, National Aquarium, Harbor East, and other attractions along the way.

5 See the Orioles at Camden Yards

The ballpark of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles is the poster child of American nostalgia. It opened in 1992 and is widely considered the most beautiful baseball stadium in America.

The stadium’s name – Oriole Park at Camden Yards (OPACY) – comes from the beautiful old railway station that serves as its backdrop. Highlights of the beloved ballpark include a pedestrian concourse on “Utah Street” street that ushers fans between their seats and concessions in home run territory.

Make sure to grab a beer with the locals at Pickles before the game, spot Brooks Robinson’s Golden Glove nearby, scream “O” at the appropriate time of the National Anthem, and visit the Orioles HOF Statue Park in left field before the last out.

6 American Visionary Art Museum

If you firmly believe that “good weird” is a thing, then you’ll love the American Visionary Art Museum. Its collection of offbeat, bizarre, and enchanting works from self-trained artists tell a story about the artists themselves, and reveal a bit of our own truths in the process.

It has a fantastic permanent collection in addition to frequently rotating temporary exhibits, making it worthy for repeat visits. The American Visionary Art Museum belongs on everyone’s Bucket List.

7 National Aquarium

It’s the most iconic shape of Baltimore’s skyline, the crown jewel of the Inner Harbor, and undoubtedly among the best aquariums in the United States. Award winning exhibits at the National Aquarium include an Amazon River Forest, Atlantic Coral Reef, Australia: Wild Extremes, Blacktip Reef with sharks galore, Dolphin Discovery, Jellyfish Invasion, and a Living Seashore that let’s kids and adults touch some of the aquariums inhabitants.

8 Baltimore World Trade Center

The view atop Federal Hill is fantastic, but if you’re willing to spend a few bucks, the 360 degree panoramic views at the Top of the World Observation Deck at Baltimore’s World Trade Center give an unparalleled birds eye view of the entire city and its surroundings.

Visitors and locals alike should get this view at least once: it gives an epic “lay of land” that illustrates Baltimore’s unique position at the tip of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

9 Sagamore Spirit Distillery

Baltimore has a rich history of adult beverages, and the newest addition is Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Port Covington. Located not far from Under Armour’s Headquarters, and owned by Under Armour’s Founder Kevin Plank, Sagamore Spirit is becoming a Baltimore tradition of its own.

The waterfront distillery offers tours and tastings in a beautiful setting that’s easily accessible from downtown.

10 Walters Art Museum

This free museum has everything from ancient 5000 BC relics to modern 21st century art.

Initially a personal collection started by father and son duo William and Henry Walters, it grew to 22,000 items by the time Henry passed in 1931. The collection was donated to the City of Baltimore “for the benefit of the public,” and the rest is history. The collection now has over 36,000 items.

Take a trip back in time as you explore Egyptian history, Byzantine art, Renaissance paintings, Medieval artifacts, and so much more. Stick around to enjoy food, drinks, and delights in Baltimore’s artsy Mount Vernon neighborhood.

11 Baltimore Museum of Art

The BMA is a 210,000 square foot museum housing 95,000+ objects of significant cultural performance. The collection includes 1,000 works by Henri Matisse, sits in a monumental historic building designed by architect John Russell Pope, and includes two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring 20th century sculptures.

Perhaps best of all, admission to the Baltimore Museum of Art is free.

12 Inner Harbor

The hub of Baltimore’s tourist industry can be found in the Inner Harbor, where the Patapsco River nestles itself between the city’s most prominent attractions.

The National Aquarium, Convention Center, Science Center, Power Plant Live, and Historic Ships can all be found around the Inner Harbor, connected by a wide pedestrian footpath that surrounds its entirety.

13 B&O Railroad Museum

In 1829, Baltimore businessmen and engineers gathered at this site to plan the first commercial long-distance train track in the United States: the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Today, in partnership with the Smithsonian Museum, this National Historic Landmark has grown to become the most important railroad collection in America.

You’ll find full-size locomotives, artifacts and tools, and extensive historical story-telling that puts the importance of Baltimore’s railroading industry into context; in 1835 the American Railroad Journal called the B&O “… the Railroad University of the United States,” and nearly 100 years later it has so much more to teach.

14 George Peabody Library

This breathtaking building looks like its straight out of a Harry Potter movie. Five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies give way to a gorgeous 61-foot skylight, shining the sun on stacks and stacks of old, beautiful books. The library opened in 1878, was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind, and has 300,000+ books from the 19th century.

The library is free, open to the public, and photos are allowed- you’ll definitely want to snag a few for the gram.

15 Poe's Gravesite at Westminster Hall

Famed poet Edgar Allan Poe met a mysterious end on October 7th, 1849 after being found delirious on the streets of Baltimore. He died at Washington College Hospital at 5AM, only 40 years old, and his cause of death is still disputed: suicide, murder, cholera, hypoglycemia, rabies, syphilis, influenza? We’ll never know, but the fascinating story reads like a true-crime murder mystery.

Initially buried in a humble plot that quickly reached a state of disrepair, supporters pushed to have his grave moved and enshrined, finally raising enough money to erect a memorial in 1875. You can see Poe’s final resting spot at Westminster Hall and Burying Grounds where he lay next to his wife, Virginia.

16 Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

If seeing his grave and memorial aren’t enough, the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum provide a window into the young author’s life, showcasing his personal items (writing desk, chair, etc) in a house where he actually lived.

Poe wrote at least 9 stories and 8 poems from this small house with a tight, winding staircase, and the exhibits at this National Historic Landmark tell the story of his life.

17 Maryland Zoo

The Maryland Zoo was created in 1876, making it the 3rd oldest zoo in the country, behind only Philadelphia (1873) and Cincinatti (1874). Featuring more than 130 species across 135 acres in Druid Hill Park, visitors will be inspired and educated by the diverse collection of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Award-winning renovations have led to the creation of some amazing native habitats including the Penguin Coast, Polar Bear Watch, Maryland Wilderness, and African Journey featuring lions, giraffes, and elephants.

18 Baltimore Museum of Industry

As a port city leading America’s charge through the industrial revolution, Baltimore’s contributions to the country are many. This museum celebrates the entrepreneurs and innovators that made Baltimore one of the most successful trading ports and manufacturing hubs in the world.

Exhibits include an 1865 oyster cannery, 1910 pharmacy, 1929 garment loft, and 1937 flying boat bomber. The accomplishments of Baltimoreans and Marylanders are on display at the BMI and well-worth exploring.

19 Babe Ruth Museum & Birthplace

Arguably the most legendary athlete of all-time, Babe Ruth popularized the “Home Run” in baseball. Although he’s best known as the New York Yankees slugger nicknamed the Sultan of Swat, his roots are planted in Baltimore. Old Yankees stadium was the House that Ruth built, but Baltimore has the House that Built Ruth.

Located just 3 blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, this museum is housed in the actual birthplace of George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Finding your way between the two is simple: a sidewalk trail of 60 painted baseballs connects them.

The museum enshrines the legacy of not only Babe Ruth, but now also showcases the historic achievements of local sports legends from the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Colts, and smaller regional and professional teams.

20 Historic Ships in Baltimore

Docked around the Inner Harbor you’ll find several historic ships that tell the story of Baltimore’s maritime past:

  • USS Constellation- the last sail-only warship designed and built by the United States Navy (1854).
  • USCG Cutter 37- 1930s law enforcement ship that served 50 continuous years.
  • LV116 Chesapeake – 1930 light ship used to guide maritime traffic at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • USS Torsk- 1944 submarine that saw service in World War II.

These historic ships are now floating museums, filled with artifacts and stories from their service days.

21 National Great Blacks In Wax Museum

This isn’t a Madame Tussaud’s tourist trap but rather a local treasure that expresses the African-American history and experience through multimedia presentations. You’ll find many of the famous figures incredibly lifelike (Barack Obama, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman) and will learn about other important people you never knew existed.

The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is a smaller museum but this local gem deserves the entry fee.

22 1st Washington Monument

Although not as popular as the Washington Monument in Washington DC, Baltimore’s Washington Monument was actually the very first monument dedicated to the first United States President, George Washington. The two were designed by the same architect (Robert Mills).

The statue on top of the monument depicts Washington resigning his role as Commander-in-Chief of the army, an event that took place in nearby Annapolis, Maryland.

The 178 foot building has 227 steps you can climb to the top, providing a fantastic view of the Mount Vernon neighborhood it overlooks. Exhibits at the monument’s base explain the history of the President Washington and the building itself.

On the first Thursday of every December a celebration takes place to light up the monument for the holidays, followed by fireworks, and it stays lit up until after Christmas Day.

23 See 60,000 Tulips at Sherwood Gardens

This 6-acre park is a floral paradise most popular for the 60,000 multi-colored tulips that bloom in late April. The annual Tulip Dig on Memorial Day Weekend allows community members to dig up and purchase the tulip bulbs when the season is over.

In the 1800s, this garden was part of the property owned by Baltimore Sun founder A. S. Abell, later turned into a garden its next owner and namesake: John W. Sherwood.

It makes an amazing picnic spot, but plan ahead: there aren’t bathrooms or trash receptacles!

24 Uncover Maryland's Rich African American Heritage at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum

This 82,000 square foot museum celebrates the African American experience in Maryland. It’s location is both convenient and symbolic: located steps from the tourist-friendly Inner Harbor, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum sits where the Civil War began during the Pratt Street Massacre.

Explore a building full of African history, including African artifacts, slavery documents, sports memorabilia, military uniforms, photography , performances, special events, and so much more- you’ll find over 11,000 items in the Lewis collection altogether.

The museum is named after the first African American to build a billion dollar business; Reginald F. Lewis was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and grew TLC Beatrice company to a record-breaking $1.8 Billion revenue in 1987. Unfortunately, he would succumb to brain cancer only 6 years later at the age of only 50.

25 Patterson Park

One 137 acres, Patterson Park isn’t quite the biggest park in Baltimore, but it’s often voted the best. Its sprawling landscape includes huge fields, a lake, walking/biking paths, playgrounds, athletic fields, a swimming pool, ice skating rink, and its most iconic feature: the Patterson Park Pagoda.

In the War of 1812, Patterson Park served as a key defensive position, especially in the elevated Northwest section known as Hampstead Hill. The park is named after Baltimore merchant William Patterson who donated its first 5 acres (and sold an additional 29).

The park’s most iconic feature is the 60-foot tall Patterson Park Pagoda, originally an observation tower built in 1891. It was designed by Charles H. Latrobe as a “people’s lookout tower” and has a distinctly Asian flare inspired by Latrobe’s fasciation with the Far East. It’s incredibly instagrammable, making it a popular spot among locals.

26 Cylburn Arboretum

This urban oasis sits on 200 acres of natural beauty in north Baltimore. In addition to hundreds of different types of trees (an arboretum is a botanical garden devoted to trees), you’ll find wooded trails and beautiful landscaping that make Cylburn Arboretum a remarkable place worth visiting.

Construction of the magnificent mansion on the property took 25 years (1863 to 1888) and it was designed by George A. Frederick, who also designed Baltimore’s City Hall and the Patterson Park Pagoda. It’s built with locally quarried gneiss, designed in Victorian Renaissance Revival style, and is worth a visit while at the property.

27 Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens

Located in Baltimore’s largest park (Druid Hill Park), this stunning historic structure opened in 1888 and is surrounded by 1.5 acres of beautiful flower beds. Inside the pavillion you’ll find 5 themed areas:

  • 1888 Palm House
  • Orchid Room
  • Mediterranean House
  • Tropical House
  • Desert House

A visit to the property allows you to enjoy plants from across the globe while taking a walk through history: Rawlings Conservatory is the 2nd oldest glass botanic conservatory in the United States and was designed by the famous local architect, George A. Frederick.

28 Bromo-Seltzer Arts Tower

Upon construction in 1911, this 15-story clock tower was the tallest building in Baltimore, and it’s still one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city’s skyline. Originally built for Isaac Edward Emerson (the inventor of “Bromo-Seltzer” headache medicine), it is now home to artist studios such as painters, writers, videographers, photographers, and more.

You can only visit the tower on select days when they’re either giving Clock Room Tours or hosting an art event, so plan ahead!

29 Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

A massive crane was required to move this historic 1855 lighthouse from its original location in the mouth of the Patapsco River to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The light feature became automated in 1948 and the lack of a resident keeper caused the lighthouse to fall into complete disrepair. Carried to its new location by crane, the Seven Foot Knoll lighthouse is now a maritime museum and local treasure.

30 Star-Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum

Francis Scott Key penned “The Star Spangled Banner” at nearby Fort McHenry and the flag wavering over the fort on that historic day was sewn in this very house. That’s right: the broad stripes and bright stars mentioned in the United States National Anthem were sewn on Pratt Street in Baltimore.

It was built in 1793, occupied by Mary Pickersgill in 1806, and in 1813 she crafted her famous flag. When the city fended off the British Royal Navy in 1814’s Battle of Baltimore, it was Pickersgill’s flag that was “still there”, glowing in the light of the “rocket’s red glare”.

After Mary’s death in 1857, the home served as a saloon, warehouse, post office, and bank, before finally becoming a museum that pays tribute to this important piece of American history.

Even more Things To Do in Baltimore

This Baltimore Bucket List represents the very best of the best things to do in Baltimore, but there’s so much more to do. For even more, check out our full list of things to do in Baltimore. And if you have suggestions tag us from your favorite places on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter!

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