Founded in 1729, Baltimore is well known as the largest city and center of culture in Maryland, a major U.S. seaport, the site of Johns Hopkins University, and the home of major sports franchises including the Orioles and the Ravens. With a downtown considerably revitalized in recent decades, Baltimore has many attractions to tempt visitors. Here are a few examples:
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
George Herman “Babe” Ruth is still considered by most baseball experts the greatest player in the history of the game. While most fans associate him with the New York Yankees, and perhaps with his earlier team the Boston Red Sox, the Babe was actually born in a downtown Baltimore row house (near the present Oriole Park at Camden Yards), and signed his first professional baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league franchise.
With the cooperation of Ruth’s surviving family, this residence was restored and filled with exhibits from his life and career, and opened in 1974 as a national shrine and museum.
For a time the site also expanded to cover a broader spectrum of Baltimore sports, including the history of the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Colts. With the opening of Camden Yards, many of these artifacts were moved to the stadium’s Sports Legends Museum, leaving the Birthplace site to once again focus on the Babe specifically.
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum
The “Baltimore and Ohio Railroad” is sometimes abbreviated as the “B&O Railroad,” and yes, this is the same B&O Railroad immortalized in the game of Monopoly. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, now part of CSX Transportation, dates back to the 1820s and was the nation’s first common carrier railroad.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum has one of the most extensive collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world.
The museum exhibits include locomotives from the last 200 years, and entire buildings used in the railroad industry. There are examples of different rolling stock, as well as artifacts used by railroad personnel, such as lanterns, pocket watches, signals, and tools.
From April through December, a train ride is included in the price of a visit.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum is open until 4 PM seven days a week, closed holidays. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $8 for children up to 12.
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is one of those museums that’s a lot more fun than it is dry and educational.
Located in Camden Station at Camden Yards, it is a celebration of the history of American pop culture, from the 1700s to the present. The nearly 6,000 exhibits include books, comic strips, radio broadcasts, TV shows, dolls, toys, games, and other memorabilia of various kinds.
Geppi’s is open 10 AM to 6 PM, every day but Monday. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $7 for kids, with special half price admission on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Inner Harbor area of Baltimore has been the focus of renovation efforts since the 1950s, and especially since 1980 with the opening of the festival marketplace Harborplace, an impressive complex of buildings with numerous shops and restaurants. The bulk of the attractions that bring tourists to Baltimore each year are in or within a short walking distance from the Inner Harbor.
Along with Harborplace, the other anchors of the Inner Harbor are the National Aquarium (see below) and the Maryland Science Center.
Other sites in or near the area-some of which are described in greater detail above-include Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the Baltimore Convention Center, the World Trade Center Baltimore, and Camden Yards.
There are also many historic ships to see in the harbor, including the SS John W. Brown, one of two surviving Liberty ships from World War II still afloat; the USS Constellation, the last Civil War era ship still afloat; and the USCGC Taney, the last ship still afloat that survived the Pearl Harbor attack.
Baltimoreans tout downtown’s Lexington Market as the world’s largest continuously running market of its age (opened in 1782). Originally a site for local farmers to sell their produce, Lexington Market today consists of two large buildings on Lexington and Paca Streets, with numerous restaurants and stands selling meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, candy, and more. There is often live music in the afternoon, including jazz bands, rock and roll bands, or performances by groups of children from local schools.
Lexington Market is at least as popular with locals as with tourists. It draws a large lunch crowd from downtown workers, and students from the nearby University of Baltimore, and University of Maryland at Baltimore.
The Lexington Market is closed on Sundays.
Baltimore’s National Aquarium draws an average of 1.6 million visitors per year, making it the most visited of Maryland’s tourist attractions.
The world-class aquarium features 16,500 specimens of over 600 different species, from the local Chesapeake Bay, to the Amazon, to a Pacific coral reef, to Australia.
Among its most popular attractions are the dolphin display, a ray pool, an electric eel, a giant Pacific octopus, Animal Planet Australia, a rooftop rainforest, and a multiple-story shark tank.
The National Aquarium is open seven days a week, with the hours varying seasonally. Admission for all exhibits is $29.95 for age 12 and above, $28.95 for seniors, and $24.95 for under 12.
Poe House and Museum
Noted poet and author of horror stories Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, but spent much of his life in Baltimore, where he died.
One of the homes that he lived in, on Amity Street, was saved from planned demolition in the 1930s, restored, and opened as a museum in 1949.
Visitors can see such exhibits as a lock of Poe’s hair, a large portrait of his cousin Virginia Clemm (one of the relatives with whom he shared this house), and a reprint of his 1849 obituary.
The house is run by the Edgar Allan Poe Society, which sponsors tours and activities year round, including events for Halloween and for Poe’s birthday in January. The house is open to the public from April to early December, Thursday through Saturday, from noon to 3:30 PM.
Poe aficionados can also visit his grave site, which is just a few blocks away on Fayette Street.
These and many more possibilities await the visitor to Baltimore. Don’t forget while you’re in town to sample the world famous crab cakes and seafood.
“Baltimore Attractions.” Baltimore City.
“Maryland Welcome.” Visit Maryland.
“Visit Baltimore.” Baltimore.org.