Discover historic figures, landmark sites and enriching museums in the aptly nicknamed Charm City.
Located in the Chesapeake Bay region of the USA’s northeastern coast, Baltimore is a vibrant city of fun attractions and modern delights that is also jam packed with diversity and historical significance. This is the birthplace of the USA’s national anthem, home of the country’s first commercial long distance railroad and a longstanding center for discovery and progress. Explore a city filled with history, art and beauty on this tour of Baltimore’s rich heritage.
Birthplace of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’
Start at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, a historic fort renowned for its role in the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. After witnessing the battle and waking to see the U.S. flag still waving, Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which would eventually become the USA’s national anthem. Visit the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House to learn the story of Mary Pickersgill, the woman who sewed the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during that battle. Delve deeper into Maryland’s rich history at the Maryland Historical Society. The collections of this library and museum include more than 2,000 paintings, English and colonial silver, furniture, textiles, pottery, architectural drawings and toys. There’s even a section devoted to Native American archaeological artifacts unearthed in Maryland.
The Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps
An African American Cultural Journey
Your introduction to Baltimore isn’t complete without learning about the city’s rich African American history. The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum is an inspiring place to start. Gain in-depth knowledge about the lives of freedom fighters and history makers from Baltimore and beyond such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall. Follow the journey of African Americans in Maryland, past and present, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. Don’t miss the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. Step inside this prolific center – the namesake of composer, ragtime pianist and jazz musician, Eubie Blake – for performances, dance workshops, film series and exhibits celebrating the African American community’s influence on arts and culture. Finally, take time to reflect at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. This former shipyard and industrial building have been transformed into a heritage park and museum honoring the impact of African Americans on Baltimore’s maritime history.
A family enjoys a hands-on exhibit at the Frederick Douglass Isaac Myers Maritime Park
Get immersed in unique historic sites as well. It’s a little eerie to step back in time at the mysterious Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. A self-guided tour of the home includes exhibits on the distinguished author’s life in Baltimore, poems, short stories and artifacts. For another uniquely American story, enjoy exhibits and train rides at the B&O Railroad Museum, where U.S. railroad history began. Combine the beauty of the waterfront with history in Fell's Point, a wonderful place to spot historic architecture against a quaint backdrop while visiting pubs, eateries and shops. At the bustling Inner Harbor, see a number of historic ships including The USS Constellation, the last sail-only warship of its kind; the USS Torsk, one of only 10 Tench fleet submarines used in World War II; and the USCGC Taney, the Coast Guard ship noted as the last ship floating after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Best of all, one ticket will allow you to tour all three ships.
Historic ship, the USS Constellation, at the Inner Harbor on Pier 1
Arts for All
Baltimore’s culture extends beyond history into a rich arts community. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, spend time admiring the world's largest collection of French impressionist Henri Matisse’s artwork in the world. Another noteworthy stop is the Walters Art Museum, one of a handful of museums in the world featuring a panorama of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. An added bonus: Both museums offer free general admission. Find more inspiration at the American Visionary Art Museum, which showcases “outsider art” from self-taught artists with limited or no contact with mainstream art institutions or schools.
Spend at least one evening enjoying Baltimore’s vibrant performing arts scene, which includes the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and The Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, as well as eclectic neighborhood hot spot, the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
Contemporary Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art
Fly into Baltimore-Washington International Airport and rent a car to head into the city or take a shuttle or car service.