15 Best Things to Do in Baltimore, MD
Located in north-central Maryland, Baltimore in Baltimore County offers plenty of things to do and places to see, thanks to its vibrant history.
Baltimore was founded in 1729 and developed shortly as a major seaport on the Patapsco River near the Chesapeake Bay.
Incorporated as an independent city in 1851, Baltimore got its name from the English nobleman Cecil Calvert, second Baron Baltimore.
Besides its port, the railroad was pivotal to Baltimore’s growth and development.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, built in 1830, is the oldest US railroad and was instrumental in the eventual entry of manufacturing and heavy industry in the city.
Baltimore has shifted to a service-focused economy in more recent years, drawing major government agencies and organizations to its fold.
The city is also home to the multi-titled Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball.
Off the bat, therefore, a trip to Maryland becomes more worthwhile if you check out the things you can do in Baltimore.
Pick the activities that appeal to you most in the list below!
Tour Fort McHenry
The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is located on East Fort Avenue and has been declared a national park.
Its centerpiece is a historic star-shaped fort that helped ward off a British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812.
Fort McHenry’s Visitor Center features a museum about the fort and its role in that crucial battle during the war.
The fort’s successful defense of Baltimore inspired the poet Francis Scott Key to write the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which eventually became the American national anthem.
Besides the museum displays in several rooms in the fort, a movie about it is played every 30 minutes in the Visitor Center.
Fort visitors can go on picnics at the fort’s picturesque grounds near the Orpheus Statue.
Visitors can access and leave Fort McHenry via the Water Taxi from the city’s Inner Harbor area.
It typically takes two hours to fully appreciate a visit to this fort, which also has a bookstore.
Visit The Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is located in Safari Place and is one of the four zoos in Maryland.
Opened in 1876, the Baltimore zoo is one of the oldest US zoos and has amassed a collection of over 1,500 animals representing almost 200 species.
Allot two to three hours to view the exhibits in this zoo, which sprawls over 135 acres and features three sections.
The largest among these is the African animal collection, where there are elephants, chimps, and African penguins.
The zoo is also home to polar bears and native Maryland wildlife species.
Take a Stroll along the Sculpture Gardens
The Alan and Janet Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden and the Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden occupy all of 1.1 acres.
This twin artistic attraction in Baltimore can be found on the northeast grounds of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
This unique art attraction in Baltimore offers a look at the 100-year history of sculpture, revolving from the figural to the abstract.
The Alan and Janet Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden alone features 34 sculptures laid out amid masterfully rendered landscaping.
Many of the featured sculptors here are postwar artists, including Jacques Lipchitz, Marino Marini, and Ossip Zadkine.
The garden’s landscaping has a fountain accent with a two-level linear reflecting pool and a stepping-stone bridge.
The highlight of the reflecting pool is an untitled ear-shaped sculpture by Isamu Noguchi circa 1958.
The gardens are open to the public for free year-round every Wednesday.
Browse the Displays of the Baltimore Museum of Art
This museum was founded in 1914 and stands on Art Museum Drive.
From its initial collection of one painting, the Baltimore Museum of Art has grown its displays to host 95,000 artworks.
These art pieces span from the ancient Egyptian era to contemporary times.
The museum’s 19th-century display of modern and contemporary art includes the most extensive public collection of the works of Henri Matisse.
This museum also features various examples of artistic styles from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas.
Tour The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Baltimore is home to The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum on East North Avenue.
This museum features over 150 life-sized life-like wax figures of prominent African Americans.
The likenesses featured in the museum include those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman.
Other wax figures in the museum are representations of other individuals, like educator Mary McLeod Bethune, activist Sojourner Truth, and Arctic explorer Matthew Henson.
This museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., while Sunday hours are from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Tour the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park
A full day may be needed to take all that the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park offers in its expanse of more than 1,000 acres.
Accessible via Windsor Mill Road, this park is Baltimore’s largest, with plenty of charming features and facilities.
The park stretches along the valley, and tributaries of Gwynns Falls on the western city line up to Wilkens Avenue.
Some of the park’s areas are lush woodlands so much akin to a wilderness that part of the Blair Witch horror film series was shot there.
The park facilities for visitors to enjoy include tennis courts and baseball, football, and soccer fields.
It also features miniature trains that the Chesapeake and Allegheny Steam Preservation Society operates for free rides every second Sunday of April to November.
In addition, the park is home to the Carrie Murray Nature Center and the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center.
Hike or Bike the Gwynns Falls Trail
Stretching over 22 miles, Gwynns Falls Trail is an unbroken carless corridor for cyclists and hikers who want to explore much of Baltimore.
This trail follows the course of Gwynns Falls, traverses the perimeter of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, and proceeds southeast to downtown Baltimore.
By taking this trail in full, you can explore the west and southwest neighborhoods of Baltimore and several local parks.
The Gwynns Falls Trail will also take you to several cultural and historical landmarks of the city, its business district, and downtown Inner Harbor.
You can access this trail via its trailheads on the I-70 terminus Park and Ride or on Leon Day Park, Windsor Mill Road, Winans Meadow, and Frederick Avenue.
Look at Art across Cultures
Visit the James E. Lewis Museum of Art on Argonne Drive inside the campus of Morgan State University.
Located in the university’s Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Building, this museum features a collection of works by American, European, African, Oceanic, and Asian artists.
Founded in 1952, the museum houses over 5,000 artworks in various media and genres, including contemporary art.
Artworks in the museum's permanent exhibits extend from the ninth century to the present and comprise sculptures, drawings and sketches, paintings, mixed media, and photography.
The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission to the museum is free, but it accepts donations from visitors.
Enjoy the Good Life at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
This casino is housed in a two-story building occupying the entire east block of Russell, Bayard, and Worcester Streets.
The second largest in Maryland, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore flaunts a gaming floor of 122,000 square feet.
Its patrons can choose from more than 2,200 slot machines, including 150 video poker consoles.
They can also access a World Series of Poker room, table games, and video lottery terminals.
Open 24 hours, the casino offers several dining venues, with the top-tier choice being the Gordon Ramsay Steak bannering the dishes of its internationally acclaimed chef.
Meanwhile, the casino’s casual dining place, Fú Noodle House, offers authentic Asian dishes from China, Korea, and Vietnam.
Explore an Urban Oasis
Baltimore boasts an urban oasis in its Herring Run Park on Belair Road on the northeast side of the city.
This park spreads over 375 acres of woodlands, with its namesake stream Herring Run meandering across the park’s acreage.
The park was developed with an extensive trail system to enable visitors to hike or bike along the stream.
Along the trail, you can observe great blue herons and white egrets fishing for their meal on Herring Run.
Deer and foxes are also frequent sightings in the woodlands of this city park.
In addition, Herring Run Park offers three kids’ playgrounds at Chesterfield Avenue, Brehms Lane, and Parkside Drive.
Park visitors can enjoy picnics and go fishing on the Herring Run stream.
Enjoy the Baltimore Herb Festival
Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park hosts the Baltimore Herb Festival, traditionally held each spring.
This festival started in 1987 and comes unique with a specific herb celebrated yearly.
The festival is also distinctive for its informative activities, like lectures and exhibits about herbs and edible plants.
The other attractions during the festival include an herbal lunch, vendors, music, and rides on the park’s miniature trains.
The annual Herb Festival is a fundraiser for the care and maintenance of the historic Winans Chapel, another point of interest in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park.
Visit the Cylburn Arboretum
Accessible via Greenspring Avenue, the Cylburn Arboretum is another place to enjoy a wilderness experience right within the city of Baltimore.
This arboretum spreads over 200 acres, boasting blooming gardens and hundreds of tree specimens.
It also features meandering woodland trails extending 3.5 miles around the arboretum’s acreage.
These pathways, with the paved portions accessible to bikers, teem with wildflowers and enable visitors to view the arboretum’s historic 1860s mansion.
The best season to visit the arboretum is during fall, when it hosts fun Halloween activities.
This annual event features musical entertainment, a haunted trail, food trucks, and complimentary wine and beer.
On ordinary days, food services aren’t available at the arboretum, but visitors can bring a picnic snack or meal.
The Cylburn Mansion is open for tours during the first weekend of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Try Bouldering at Movement Hampden
Located on West 41st Street, Movement Hampden is the Baltimore location of the Movement gym chain specializing in wall climbing and bouldering.
Day passes and equipment rentals are available in Movement Hampden within the vibrant Union Collective neighborhood.
Movement Hampden provides a bouldering terrain of more than 10,000 square feet that it also utilizes to give training instructions on the sport’s basics.
In addition to wall climbing, this gym also has other fitness areas and a yoga studio, all with professional instructors.
Movement Hampden is open 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Play Golf or Tennis at Clifton Park
Located in East Baltimore, Clifton Park spreads over 266.7 acres, bounded in the south by Sinclair Lane, north by Erdman Avenue, and east and west, respectively, by Belair and Harford Roads.
This park is home to Baltimore’s first public golf course, which was built in 1915.
This layout is a regulation course of 18 holes over 6,016 yards, offering a par 71 play.
Clifton Park also features 11 clay tennis courts a short distance west of the park’s community gardens.
The park also flaunts its eponymous Clifton Mansion, originally constructed in 1802.
The mansion now serves as the home base of Baltimore’s Civic Works’ community service programs and hosts the pro shop of the golf course.
Clifton Park was originally the estate of the famed Baltimore Quaker entrepreneur-philanthropist Johns Hopkins.
His many bequests led to the foundation of many revered institutions, like the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.
Cheer the “Birds” at Oriole Park
A visit to Baltimore can be more satisfying if you watch a game of the Baltimore Orioles, whom the locals affectionately refer to as The Birds or simply The Os.
Their home games are set at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a natural grass ballpark on West Camden Street.
This stadium was completed in 1992 and replaced the city’s Memorial Stadium.
The new ballpark came out as remarkable because it was the first “retro” ballfield of Major League Baseball.
The ballfield’s location at Camden Yards, a former Baltimore rail station, further reinforces the ballpark's endearing old-fashioned setup.
Baltimore is a city that shouldn’t be left out on a visit to Maryland.
The city’s history dates hundreds of years back and has woven many points of interest into Baltimore.
Mix all these with the well-preserved natural environment in this part of Maryland and you wouldn't run out of enjoyable things to do in Baltimore.
See also: Where to Stay in Baltimore