Baltimore City Guide
Baltimore, which is located around a sheltered harbor at the end of the Patapsco River where it joins Chesapeake Bay, is Maryland’s biggest city. This strategic location of Baltimore affords it easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and today Baltimore is one of the busiest ports in the USA.
Baltimore is nicknamed ‘the Charm City’ for it lies between the Northern and Southern parts of the country and offers an ambience that is a unique amalgamation of small town sensibilities coupled with big city swagger.
Baltimore is often regarded as an important destination on the business travel map, for this bustling port city is home to a vibrant service economy. However aside from its business profile, Baltimore is now acknowledged as a favored vacation destination which offers tourists several interesting attractions in the form of its waterfront at Harborplace, the World Trade Center with its 27-storey high Top of the World Observation deck, the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center along with eclectic neighborhoods, an invigorating nightlife scene and excellent restaurants that serve fresh seafood specialties.
Where to stay in Baltimore
Near the Airport
Baltimore’s international airport is located 10 miles south of the city. The area around the airport plays host to several mid-range and budget hotels which are favored by both business and leisure travelers on a visit or vacation to Baltimore. Most of these Baltimore airport hotels offer free shuttle services to the North Linthicum Light Rail Station which provides direct transport connections to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area, the main focal point of all tourist and business activity in Baltimore.
Inner Harbor Area
The Inner Harbor Area is considered to be the heart of Baltimore city. This area is home to Baltimore’s famed attractions like the National Aquarium, the Harborplace and gallery and the Maryland Science center. Also located within the inner harbor area is the Baltimore convention and exhibition center. The Inner Harbor hosts a wide range of hotels that cater to all travel budgets and the area is favored as an accommodation option by both business and leisure travelers alike.
This area which lies close to the Baltimore harbor side was once an industrial hotbed. Today Harbor east plays host to the hippest hotels, restaurants and shops in Baltimore which makes it a favorite with young and trendy visitors on vacation in the city.
The Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore was once home to its original seaport and it featured much shipbuilding activity as the famous Baltimore clippers and schooners were built here during ages past. Today Fells Point is known for its vibrant nightlife and dining scene and hosts several hotels and inns which are popular with vacationing tourists.
Places to see in Baltimore
Maryland Science Center
The Maryland Academy of Science is one of the USA’s oldest scientific institutions that dates back to 1797. The Maryland Science Center is housed in a modernist glass, steel and concrete edifice on the inner harbor area. The center which is focused on an educational experience offers five floors of interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater and the world renowned Davis Planetarium and observatory.
The National Aquarium is considered to be Baltimore’s leading tourist attraction and the aquarium is consistently voted as one of the top ten family attractions in the US. The National aquarium showcases a wide array of marine creatures which are arranged in various displays like the Pacific coastland, the Amazon rainforest, Coral Reef, Ocean Open tanks and more. Both the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center are considered to be must-do attractions on any vacation to Baltimore especially if you are visiting the city with your kids in tow.
Baltimore Art Museum
If you love art then the excellent Baltimore Art Museum should be considered a must do on your trip to Baltimore. The Baltimore Art Museum is not a large museum but it has an excellent collection of art including the Cone sister's collection which includes signature works of artists like Matisse, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso. The museum permanent collection also includes great furniture and decorative arts wing, jewelry, contemporary and abstract wing and Asian, African, Native American, Pacific Islander art collections. The Museum has two outdoor sculpture gardens which contain works by eminent artists like Rodin (his famous sculpture of the thinker is housed here), Henry Moore etc. Entry to the Baltimore Museum of Art is free every day.
B&O Railroad Museum
A fun activity for all the family on a vacation to Baltimore is a visit to the B&O railroad museum. The museum which is located at the site of the first station in the USA offers displays of old world trains like locomotives, passenger cars, classic heritage trains, mail cars and Pullman sleepers.
The Fort McHenry National Monument
The Fort McHenry National Monument has much historical importance for it is believed to be the inspiration for the American national anthem. This anthem was written by poet Francis Scott Key while watching the British attack Baltimore during the War of 1812. The British naval forces bombed the fort for 25 hours but it withstood the attack with the American flag flying high. A visit to the fort includes a film presentation of the event and a tour of the monument and the grounds which are now a national park. The fort is often used as a site for military ceremonies and drills and also hosts a daily changing of the guard ceremony.
Best time to visit Baltimore
Baltimore’s climate is quite similar to that of other east coast cities and the city experiences hot, humid summers and cold damp winters. July and August are usually the hottest months in Baltimore when temperatures routinely top 91F ( 33C).
January and February are usually the coldest months in Baltimore though the city’s winter temperatures are somewhat tempered by its location near the ocean. The best seasons to visit Baltimore are spring and fall for temperatures during these seasons register average daytime highs of 67 F (19C) and are considered to be perfect for sight-seeing and walking around.
Getting around in Baltimore
Baltimore is accessed via its Baltimore-Washington International airport Thurgood Marshall Airport which is located 10 miles (16km) south of Baltimore and 30 miles (50km) north of Washington. This airport receives a whole host of international and domestic carriers which make getting to the ‘Charm City’ a breeze. In fact we at Fare Buzz routinely announce tempting flight deals for Baltimore from various US cities. If you are currently scouring for cheap air tickets to Baltimore then you would be well advised to check back often with us at Fare Buzz if you wish to snag these well priced, cheap air flights to Baltimore.
The Baltimore International airport is connected to the city by rail, bus and taxi links. Further Baltimore has a well developed and fairly extensive public transport system that consists of a widespread bus network, a light rail and subway network and a fleet of water taxis which serve the Inner Harbor and Downtown areas of the city. Baltimore is also equipped with a fleet of public taxis which can be ordered on the phone or hailed at taxi ranks or on the street.
Most visitors on a vacation in Baltimore like to be based around the Inner Harbor and Downtown areas of the city as they can then navigate the heart of the city on foot or use public transport. They don’t usually elect to rent a car for their stay in Baltimore as parking in the downtown area can be quite difficult and expensive.
However if you are desirous of renting a car for your vacation in Baltimore then Fare Buzz can be of help at this instance as well for we offer several affordable car rentals deals for Baltimore which can be booked via our main travel booking platforms.
Where to shop in Baltimore
Baltimore is not really known for high-fashion finds though the city offers ample shopping opportunities at its many specialty stores and antique shops. Much-frequented shopping hotspots in Baltimore are centered on the city’s stunning harbor front in areas like Federal Hill, North Charles Street and the stretch between Pratt Street and Mount Vernon Place. Popular shopping locales in downtown Baltimore include its waterfront shopping malls like the Harbor place and the Gallery, both of which are host outposts of popular brands like H&M, Urban Outfitters, Aldo, Banana Republic, Coach, Bebe Swarovski and Wet Seal.
If you enjoy browsing for antiques, then Baltimore’s historic Antique Row situated along Howard Street and Read Streets offers you many options. This area is home to more than 20 antique shops, that specialize in collectibles like porcelain, furniture, fine art and more. However, if you have a penchant for outlet shopping, then you need to head out to one of the many Baltimore area outlet malls like Arundel Mills, a lively bargain-filled outlet mall located on the fringe of the city.
Where to eat in Baltimore
Baltimore is renowned for its great seafood, especially freshly steamed blue crabs. The city is thus populated with many fantastic crab houses like Costas Inn, Al’s Seafood and Captain James crab house. However, if you are not too enthused by the bounty from Chesapeake Bay, you needn’t worry for in addition to its many crab houses and seafood specialty restaurants, Baltimore also hosts a wide variety of eateries that offer diverse local and international cuisines.
Highly-rated restaurants in Baltimore include eateries like Charleston restaurant (New American), Samos restaurant (Greek-Mediterranean), Byblos (Middle Eastern), Petit Louis Bistro (French), Ethel and Ramone’s (Creole) and La Scala Ristorante (Italian).
Nightlife in Baltimore
Baltimore offers an animated nightlife scene that features various entertainment options. The city’s many open-air waterfront dance clubs, craft breweries, club lounges, dive bars aim to cater to all tastes and preferences. The busiest nights for the club scene in Baltimore tend to be Fridays and Saturdays though many joints stay open during the week and on Sundays too. The list of the ‘in vogue’ spots in Baltimore however tends to change frequently and currently the list of the ‘best’ nightlife haunts in Baltimore includes heaving nightspots like The Depot, the Stalking Horse, the 13th Floor, Grand Central, Idle Bar, V-No Wine Bar and the Hamilton Tavern.