Exploring “Charm City:” Long Weekend Guide for Baltimore

Updated: May 24, 2020

Looking for a long weekend? Baltimore is the perfect place to check out! I am OK with going against the status quo and fighting for #Baltimore as a tourism place. Although it may be rough around the edges, it also has so many gems -- making it one of those underrated cities I love. 


Why you should go to Baltimore, Maryland?

  • I have an entire article dedicated to that, "Why Baltimore, Why Now: 9 Reasons to Visit!" Whether it is for food, music, views or all of the above, #Bmore has it. It is small enough to not be overwhelming, but large enough that you will not be bored!


Fun Facts about Baltimore, Maryland:

  • Some famous people who originate from Baltimore include Thurgood Marshall, Michael Phelps, Babe Ruth, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Hasselhoof, and Sisqo. 

  • The first United States post office was inaugurated in Baltimore in 1774.

  • The first telegraph line in the world was established between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore in 1844.

  • Snowballs (known elsewhere as snow cones) were invented in Baltimore during the Industrial Revolution.

  • Baltimore City is an independent city (meaning that its not part of any county). As such, it is the largest independent city in the U.S.




Check out my guide to exploring this city nicknamed the “Charm City”


PLACES TO VISIT:


1.    Walter Art Museum (FREE):


Containing about 36,000 objects spanning about seven millennia starting from 5000 B.C.E, this art museum is worth checking out. The best part: it’s FREE! The museum started off as a gift from philanthropist and collector Henry Walters. He donated his art collection -- two buildings AND an endowment-- to Baltimore “for the benefit of the public” so that people can be touched by art. I appreciated this museum because of the wide range of art that I saw in one locale. To see Arabic art alongside Christian crosses, alongside Ethiopian icons, alongside Matisse paintings was pretty cool.


TIP:If you are going on a hot summer day, it is a great place to go to cool off from the heat!



2.    Fort McHenry:


Heard of the Star Spangled banner? Did you know that it was written in Baltimore? Fort McHenry, located in Baltimore, was the birthplace of our National Anthem during the War of 1812. This is a good place to visit if you are a history lover or want to see some unique views. Upon entering, there is an exhibition where you can learn more about the War of 1812 as well as the meaning behind the words of the #NationalAnthem. Furthermore, you can watch a short film as well as listen to different versions of the anthem from various musicians. I recommend that you come towards the end of the day so you can see when the flag is switched as well as folded. It was an interactive experience that was both informative and an honor to be a part of!


TIP: The most scenic way to get to Fort McHenry is by water taxi. It is a quick 10-15 minute ride from Fells’ Point area.


TIP: The cost to get into the fort is $15. However, you can explore the exhibit as well as the surrounding areas for free.There is also a film that you can watch for free if you do not want to pay to enter the fort. We were there near closing and ended up wandering inside. However, no one checked if we had wristbands.



3.    Baltimore Museum of Industry:


This was a museum that I was unsure if I would like, but I ended up loving. The coolest aspect of this place is that it used to be an old oyster cannery from the 1860’s.  Now, it is a museum dedicated to the industrial contributions of Baltimore, which is an overwhelming number. There are exhibits and interactive artifacts that discuss the manufacturing industries from the 20th century as well as present day contributions. There are also rooms set up to look like the past, such as an old pharmacy and an old printing room. This is where I discovered, for example, that the first umbrella factory in the United States was established in Baltimore in 1828. 


TIP: As with any museum,it is always good to double check the hours of operation. For example, this museum is closed on Mondays. Also, if you have a student ID, you can get a $5 discount.




4.   Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture: Anytime I travel, I love to see if there is an African American museum. Baltimore did not disappoint. Located a couple of blocks from the #InnerHarbor, this is the largest museum in Baltimore. It is named after Reginald F. Lewis, the first African American to build a billion-dollar company called TLC Beatrice International Holdings. Lewis is the epitome of “started from the bottom, now we here,” ending up on 1993 Forbes list of 400 richest Americans with a net worth estimated at $400 million. There is so much history to discover among the 11,000 documents and artifacts in the museum. WOW, just WOW! It made me proud of my history as well as more informed. 


TIP:  If you are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders, you can get in for free on the first full weekend of every month by showing your card and an ID. If you have a student ID, you can get a $2 discount. 



5.    Top of the World Observation Level:


Looking for a breathtaking view of Baltimore’s skyline and harbor? This is a great spot as you get a 360-degree panoramic view of Baltimore from the 27th floor of the World Trade Center, the world’s tallest 5-sided building. It is the only building in Baltimore offering such views!  You can not only see the Inner Harbor, but the surrounding city and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay as well. There is also history and other facts posted there for you to learn about Baltimore on a deeper level.


TIP: Since this is in the Inner Harbor, it is best to check this out as you check out other attractions such as Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, the #NationalAquarium and Historic Ships in Baltimore. 



6. National Great Blacks in Wax Museum


I did not know that such a museum existed until I was a chaperoning a weeklong black college tour in 2015. Although I have not been back since, I definitely felt inspired when I visited. This wax museum is very unique because it features all prominent black historical figures. Not only is it Baltimore's first wax museum, but it is also the first wax museum of African American history in the nation.  In existence since 1983, the museum features over 100 wax figures and scenes, including a full model slave ship to represent the Atlantic Slave Trade as well as a room highlighting contributions from important black Marylanders contributing to African American history. In 2004, The #BlacksinWax Museum was recognized by the U.S. Congress and became The National Blacks in Wax Museum.


TIP: Be prepared to feel both emotional and enlightened. To see Black history portrayed in this way truly brings it to life, both the good and bad. 


7.     National Aquarium


The National Aquarium, formerly known as the Baltimore Aquarium, is located in the Inner Harbor. It is known to be one of the top five aquariums in the country, which explains why there are about 1.5 million visitors annually. There used to be a Baltimore Aquarium and a National Aquarium in DC before the DC location closed permanently. This National Aquarium appears to be fairly new by its exterior, including the Upland Tropical RainForest, a multi-floored Atlantic Coral Reef, an open ocean shark tank, and a 4D Immersion Theater.


TIP: Although I personally do not think it is worth $39.95, it is often one of many tourists’ stops. I would recommend checking it out on “Dollar or Less” Days”, which is usually the first week of December. However, let me warn you, the lines for the aquarium during this weekend are extra long so they put a limit on it. You should get there before they open!



8.     Historic Ships in Baltimore


If you are into warships, this is the place for you! I am not personally interes