Did you know that the Baltimore Museum of Art, home to famous paintings of Henri Matisse and the likes, is completely free for the general public? It may be surprising, but plenty of attractions in Baltimore are free or feature days of zero-dollar admission. Many free museum days invite the public to appreciate the artwork of both international and local artists. Other attractions throughout the city offer free days, as well. Continue reading to plan your visit to one of Baltimore’s best free attractions.
1Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art, or BMA for short, is a true gem. It began with just a single painting in 1914 and has expanded to more than 95,000 works of art today. Its collection includes the largest public collection of Henri Matisse, a French painter, sculptor, printmaker and draughtsman. It also features beautiful sculpture gardens on its outdoor campus that span nearly three acres. It is located on Art Museum Drive.
The best part? Free admission is a regular thing! Enjoy Matisse’s works and those of other artists as you enjoy many collections and special exhibitions. It is important to note that exhibits are not included in general admission; the extra cost is well worth it, considering you do not have to pay a penny to enter the museum. For example, Monsters and Myths is a popular exhibition that features Surrealist works of the 1930s and 1940s. See a Picasso masterpiece or enjoy a Salvador Dali painting while the exhibit stays in the BMA.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is also closed on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
2Edgar Allen Poe Gravesite
Edgar Allen Poe and his wife Virginia Clemm are buried right here in Charm City. Visit their gravesite to pay homage to Poe, a prominent American author whose works include “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” There is free admission at the Westminster Hall cemetery, where you can also visit the gravesites of other famous Maryland figures like James Calhoun, the first mayor of Baltimore.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library has some of Poe’s most important works on display, including rare books, letters and manuscripts. Among some of the stranger Poe collections located at Enoch includes a lock of his hair and a chip from his coffin. Poe is a beloved part of Baltimore’s history and has ties to Fells Point, Mt. Vernon and other iconic landmarks across the city. Did you know that the Baltimore Ravens are named for Poe’s short story? If that isn’t enough, the team’s three mascots are even named Edgar, Allen and Poe! Many restaurants, taverns and bars pay homage to the writer, including Annabel Lee Tavern in Canton.
3Enoch Pratt Free Library
The Enoch Pratt Free Library takes up an entire city block and is filled to the brim with impressive literature collections. With free admission and 22 branch locations, there’s something for everyone at this public library system. A variety of events draw residents and visitors into the library, including kid-focused read-alongs and seminars for adults. Some other unique events at the library include the following:
- Yoga and meditation
- Legal services
- Classes for homeschooled students
- Kid dance classes
- Knitting instruction
- Upcycling lessons
- Local art exhibitions
The country’s largest free arts festival comes to Baltimore every July! It’s one of the most popular free things to do in Baltimore every summer. Enjoy musical performances by both local and national talent on multiple outdoor stages. The festival also includes multiple visual arts exhibitions, crafts, street theater, kid-friendly activities, sculptures, art cars, film and theater events and more. The festival is held in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District along Mount Royal Avenue, Cathedral Street and Charles Street.
The three-day festival has free admission for everyone who wishes to attend. Visit artist tents to purchase one-of-a-kind crafts and gifts or sit on the lawn to enjoy music of all genres. The festival features more than 150 artists, craftspeople and fashion designers. Don’t forget about the food – Artscape would be nothing without the amazing local cuisine on offer
5Charm City Circulator
When it comes to budget travel, look no further than Baltimore’s free public transportation! The Charm City Circulator is a privately-funded public bus system that lets you hop on and hop off at various points throughout the city. It has 30 buses, four major routes and, did we mention it’s free? Buses arrive every 10 to 15 minutes along each stop. You can access real-time schedules and traffic updates on your mobile phone. Take the free bus to any of these free events to make the most out of your trip to Baltimore.
6Walters Art Museum
Visit Walters Art Museum in Mount Vernon for a fun, free day filled with rich art history and amazing ceramics. The collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5,000 BCE to the 21st century. Browse through the beautiful architecture to ponder 36,000 objects. Some impressive features include painted mummy cartonnages from Egypt circa 850-750 BCE, battle armor circa 15th century and incense burners from 1200 AD.
No need for a free museum day at Walters; every day is free! The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It closes on Thursday at 9 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in addition to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
7Walter Sondheim Fountain
One of the “cooler” free things to do in Baltimore is splash around in the Walter Sondheim Fountain! Beat the heat this summer with the kids at Inner Harbor. The fountain is fun for all ages and features 53 interactive water jets. Along the edge of the fountain you can enjoy stunning views of the Inner Harbor and West Shore Park. The fountain is Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.