My family has driven through Baltimore, Maryland many times on road trips from New England heading south, usually stopping just long enough for a crab dinner or seafood buffet.
With my son’s college search, he wanted to look at two Maryland schools which gave us a perfect excuse to explore this bustling seaside city for a whole weekend. We were delighted by how much Baltimore has to offer. Whether you are interested in hanging out by the harbor, exploring the area’s history, or the arts, you will be kept busy with things to do in Baltimore! So please read on for how we spent our weekend in Baltimore.
Consistently rated as having one of the highest violent crime rates in the US, Baltimore is not the safest city in the US to visit. Despite this, I have felt safe on all my trips. I stay in the areas I am recommending, and I go out mainly in the daylight or stay in populated areas.
Table of Contents
- 1 A Brief History of Baltimore
- 2 Where is Baltimore, Maryland?
- 3 Things to do in Baltimore
- 3.1 Things to Do in Baltimore Inner Harbor
- 3.2 Things to Do in Federal Hill
- 3.3 Fell’s Point
- 3.4 Hampden
- 4 Where to Eat in Baltimore
- 5 And, last but not least, Ice Cream in Baltimore!
- 6 Where to Stay in Baltimore, Maryland
A Brief History of Baltimore
The city was settled in 1792 and named after an Irish nobleman. Baltimore’s port connects to the ocean through the Chesapeake Bay, and it has always been important in trade and battles.
Two Constellation ships were launched here, the Navy’s first ship and the last all-sail warship. The last ship is still in Baltimore’s Harbor.
Where is Baltimore, Maryland?
Baltimore is in northeast Maryland, where the Patapsco River empties into the Chesapeake Bay. It is only about an hour north of Washington, DC, and three and a half hours south of New York City by car.
Things to do in Baltimore
Baltimore has many neighborhoods that are worth exploring.
Things to Do in Baltimore Inner Harbor
The hub of Baltimore is Inner Harbor. This shallow, historic port is now a bustling tourist area full of things to do.
Take the 2.9-mile walk around the harbor.
This concrete walking trail will take you right through the action- stores, restaurants, live music, and historical boats. There are some placards along the route that will share local American history.
Take a water taxi to Fort McHenry.
This fort is famous for a victory in the Battle of 1812 when the British attempted to attack Baltimore Harbor. The British thought Baltimore sounded like an easy target, but its defenses proved so strong that the British gave up. When the fort was safe 25 hours later, Francis Scott Key saw the flag flying and was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner, the US National anthem.
The water taxi doesn’t run in the winter, so you need to walk or take a regular cab.
There are four ships you can tour in the harbor after buying a ticket- the last built sailing warship, the USS Constellation, the USS Submarine Torsk, the Lightship Chesapeake, and the Coast Guard Cutter Taney.
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
I love lighthouses. Although this one is small, it is unique and easily accessible, even though its working life happened sitting in water. This iron screw-top lighthouse, built in 1856, sat on the Seven Foot Knoll in the mouth of the Patapsco River. It is the oldest of its kind still in existence and is on Pier 5 in Baltimore.
This large aquarium is generally rated among the best in the country.
Things to Do in Federal Hill
In 1788 Baltimore ratified the US Constitution on this hill overlooking the Inner Harbor. The neighborhood is now full of brick row houses, restaurants, and art galleries.
My son is a big fan of modern art, and I am just not. Nonetheless, we both found this one of the most unique museums we have visited. It is full of contemporary art, but also science, history, and politics. When we went, there was a running theme of compassion.
Continue your Baltimore Harbor walk by taking the stairs up to Federal Hill Park.
This park looms over Rash Field, where kids play in playgrounds while adults listen to live music. Federal Hill Park gives sweeping views of the main commercial area of Inner Harbor.
Fells’ Point is an upscale neighborhood with fun bars and shops on the water.
In this hipper Baltimore neighborhood, you will find beautifully colored row houses, as well as restaurants and shops on its main street 36th Street or “The Avenue.” If you come at Christmastime, be sure to visit the spectacularly decorated 34th Street, where neighbors of this one block outdo each other with themed decor. Check out my Instagram to see the street in action.
Where to Eat in Baltimore
The food scene is intense in this town, even more robust than I would have expected.
When in Maryland, you have to eat crab.
The crab-eating is different than how I have had it in most places. In Maryland, they put a paper on the table, give you mallets, and Old Bay Seasoned steaming crabs, and you fight the crab for its meat. Just kidding about the fighting part, but it is an experience. Nick’s is on a dock right over the water, so a perfect place for your crab dinner.
This seafood-heavy weekend brunch is right on the water in the Pratt Street Power Plant in Inner Harbor.
I am so sad that I don’t live in Baltimore, if only because I can’t have breakfast here every week. Nothing that we had- gumbo, chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes, or succulent stuffed French toast were close to ordinary.
Because the food was so good, I would love to do a food tour next time I am in the area. Book one for yourself and let me know how it was.
And, last but not least, Ice Cream in Baltimore!
Since I am always looking to add to my list of best ice cream globally, I ask locals for their best ice creams. There was a lot of disagreement, but only between two places– BMore Licks and The Charmery
Both shops make their own rich-tasting ice creams. They both have exciting flavors. The ice cream shops have perfect ice cream, rivaling my top tastes worldwide.
For me, however, BMore Licks squeaked ahead because I was more excited by the flavors. A few of my favorites were Maltimore and Zeke’s Toffee Coffee. I also prefer the consistency of BMore Licks, as The Charmery’s ice cream was on the softer side.
The Charmery is easier to visit, though, as it has multiple locations. Parking near BMore Licks was tricky! However, if you find parking, there is a park across the street from BMore Licks in which to enjoy your ice cream. And there is a beautiful and friendly Ukrainian Church about a block away.
Where to Stay in Baltimore, Maryland
I would highly recommend only staying on the water in Inner Harbor or Fell’s Point to ensure your safety.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Harbor and was very pleased with my stay. It even has an attached parking garage and a walk bridge over the main road to the Inner Harbor Walking Path.
This is a great city to visit because Baltimore has so much to do. I plan to return again and not only for more ice cream and Miss Shirley’s. I would love to spend more time appreciating its houses as well- the architecture is stunning, and there is so much more of this city left for me to explore.
What do you love about Baltimore?