Baltimore is so rich in attractions, events and history that visitors could easily spend weeks enjoying its charms. Regrettably, few vacationers have weeks at a time to spend exploring this magnificent city. This can leave travelers struggling to figure out how to stuff all the things they most want to do into the one or two days available to them. While that’s never going to be an easy decision, smart choices can maximize one’s itinerary during even the shortest trips.
The first step to planning an amazing vacation itinerary to Baltimore is selecting a focus. Are you a history buff looking to dig in to the city’s fascinating past? Are you a sports fan looking for a high-energy getaway revolving around the excitement of a pro sports game or two? Are you a culinary enthusiast eager to eat your way through the city’s best restaurants? No matter what you choose, identifying a focus will make it easier to decide which attractions to give your attention to throughout your trip.
The second step in planning the perfect weekend getaway is to pick accommodations that put you right in the center of the city’s attractions. With limited time to spend, you don’t want to waste precious hours shuttling back and forth between your hotel, dinner and the sights. Look for one of the many hotels in Inner Harbor to put yourself just minutes away from all the best attractions by foot, public transit or Water Taxi.
Consider checking the map of the Charm City Circulator and selecting a hotel on its route for free, no-hassle transportation while you’re in town. If you enjoy stretching your legs, check out accommodations such as the Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor, which offer free bike rentals to guests for convenient, no-cost green transportation to facilitate your explorations!
Being centrally located in the city gives visitors the best opportunities to hit as many attractions as possible in a short period of time. Which attractions to prioritize, of course, depends on personal preference.
Top sites for history lovers include:
- Historic Ships.
- Pride of Baltimore.
- Fort McHenry National Park.
- Edgar Allan Poe House.
- The Star Spangled Banner Flag House.
- Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park.
Families traveling with children should consider prioritizing:
- National Aquarium
- Maryland Science Center
- Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
- iFLY Baltimore
- Baltimore Museum of Industry
- The Maryland Zoo
Art and cultural aficionados won’t want to miss:
- The Baltimore Art Museum
- The Peale Center
- The Edgar Allan Poe House
- The Walters Art Museum
- Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore
Sports lovers should check out:
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards
- M&T Bank Stadium
- The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
Shopaholics can’t lose by prioritizing:
- Harbor East
- Antique Row
- Lexington Market
Visitors interested in the city’s maritime history should consider:
- The National Aquarium
- Historic Ships
- Pride of Baltimore
- Boat Tours
- Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park
Everyone should sneak in a visit to the Top of the World Observatory if they can manage it. There’s no better site from which to take stunning photos of one’s visit.
How long visitors will spend at each location depends entirely upon the activity and their personal interest and energy levels. Some locations, such as the Zoo, Aquarium and Port Discovery can easily occupy a family with young children for most of a day. Historic ships may take as little as an hour to explore with the limited Squadron Pass or can stretch to more than three times that with the Fleet Pass, particularly on days when events and living history activities are underway.
Similarly, some visitors will be able to browse the whole of the Lexington Market or Antique row in an hour or two. Experienced shopaholics might easily be able to spend a whole day covering the same ground. Visitors can gauge their estimated time commitments by reviewing attractions’ websites in advance for details, and negotiating time use with their traveling companions.
Another key factor to take into account, when deciding upon an itinerary, is the proximity of each attraction to your lodging and other attractions. Visitors should plan their paths to involve as little extraneous travel as possible during short trips.
So, for example, a family who spent the morning at Port Discovery might choose to have lunch at a restaurant in Power Plant Live!, which is close by, before moving down the harbor to Historic Ships rather than bouncing around the city to the Baltimore Museum of Industry and then coming back, which would waste unnecessary time in transit.
While these considerations can seem small, they can save a significant amount of time and energy, particularly for travelers hoping to hit as much as they can during their stays.
Baltimore was an unending raft of events year-round. From art to music to food and drink festivals, every month sees at least one (and usually numerous) festivals and events popping up all over the city. This is important to be aware of for two reasons.
First, festivals and events can add an extra spark to any itinerary. Food lovers able to catch the annual Belgian Beer Festival, Vegan Soul Food Festival or one of the many seafood-oriented festivals will find their trips hard to top.
Second, festivals can impact the accessibility and timing of some attractions. For example, Power Plant Live! Is a popular festival site and visitors hoping to check out drinks and dining in the area may find themselves spending significantly longer than usual in those pursuits during events. Likewise, the hours and accessibility of the Edgar Allan Poe House change during the annual Poe festival, which may impact visitors’ plans.
If at all possible, check one of the many Baltimore events websites or the websites of key attractions you wish to visit before going to get a heads up on applicable festivals and events that may influence your trip.
Getting around Baltimore is made easy by all the accessible transportation options in the city. For maximum convenience check out the:
- Free Charm City Circulator.
- Water Taxi.
- Rentable bicycles and scooters.
- Metro Public Transit system.
- Airport shuttle services.
Inner Harbor is rich with great dining options. From five-star restaurants to hole-in-the-wall dives, there is something for every taste. When you’re in a hurry, or looking for a quick bite to eat that won’t hold up your itinerary, be sure to check out the famous Lexington Market or Power Plant Live! If you want to try one of the city’s finest restaurants at any point during your stay, be sure to make reservations as availability fills up fast and you don’t want to waste a precious slot on your busy schedule.