What are the five best things to see and do in Baltimore?

Sure, everyone is proud of his hometown; but you won’t find any city folk with more pride than your average Baltimorean. As the largest independent city in the country, it’s no surprise that Charm City has plenty of awesome sights to see and fabulous activities to dive into. Whether you are strolling alongside the shark tank in the National Aquarium or rooting for the Orioles in Camden Yards, there’s no end to the fun that can be had in Baltimore. Here is our list of the five best things to see and do in Lord Baltimore’s eponymous city:

1. Venture to Fort McHenry. Though Baltimore had been a thriving city for nearly 200 years by the time this star-shaped fort was attacked, Fort McHenry remains one of the best historical sights in the city. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Francis Scott Key penned the famous "Star Spangled Banner" here after holding off the British for more than 25 hours. With an unrivaled view of the city’s Inner Harbor, you can explore the Star Fort and set eyes on the largest (and one of the oldest) Star Spangled Banner you’ll ever see (it was originally 30 feet by 42 feet).

2. Mosey around the Inner Harbor. Charm City has been a major U.S. seaport since the early 1700s. As a major tourist attraction, you may be thinking that you’d want to avoid this kind of place. Think again. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor lures visitors and locals alike, as it is one of the most iconic seaports in the country. Lined with shops, museums and restaurants, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more Baltimorean than this. You can even hop on a water taxi or a paddleboat and float on the northern branch of the Patapsco River (right off of the Chesapeake Bay).

3. Flock to M&T Bank Stadium. Football fan or not, the atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium will get you cawing for the Baltimore Ravens. With stars such as linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed, it’s hard not to root for the Ravens. Named after Baltimore legend Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, this AFC football team is the pride and joy of the city. Ravens fans are some of the rowdiest in the league, especially against longtime rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. With purple body paint and purple beer, the fans cheer on their beloved Ravens every game, rain or shine.

4. Soar to Camden Yards. Once the home field of baseball legends Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Jr., Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world. The redbrick stadium sinks into the ground just a couple blocks from the Inner Harbor. With stellar views of the Patapsco River, it doesn’t matter if you are a Baltimore Orioles fan or not. With a Natty Boh (a locally brewed beer) and a Boog’s Barbeque pit beef sandwich in hand, be sure to join the crowd in yelling "O!" during the "O! say can you see" part of the national anthem.

5. Dive into the National Aquarium. Jutting out into the Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium Baltimore is one of the best underwater adventures in the nation. As you venture up on the escalator, be sure to admire the stingray pool below and the life-size model of a humpback whale soaring above you. With more than 16,000 creatures, you can travel the underwater world without even leaving the building. Whether you are a shark fanatic or a jellyfish fiend, each and every exhibit at the National Aquarium will certainly intrigue you.

  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can I go to watch sports in Baltimore?

    As many cities are, Baltimore is extremely proud of its sports teams no matter how far in the hole the season is. With two fabulous professional teams, two NCAA Division One schools and plenty of sports bars, you won’t have any trouble finding a game to watch.

    Sprint up Charles Street to catch a lacrosse game at Johns Hopkins University. Both consistently ranked in the top 20, the Blue Jays showcase both men and women’s lacrosse teams. After experiencing a bit of Maryland’s office team sport, get another dose of the Native American sport at the nearby Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

    Venture on up to the outskirts of Baltimore to watch the Towson University Tigers make a name for themselves on both the lacrosse fields and football field. Once perceived as a commuter school, Towson University has become a top tier university for both athletics and academics.

    Now for the big leagues: Just two blocks from Baltimore’s historic Inner Harbor lies Camden Yards. The redbrick ballpark was once home to baseball legends Babe Ruth (albeit for just five months) and, modern day ball hero, Cal Ripken Jr. Watch out for fly balls as the Baltimore Orioles soar their way through nine innings. Grab a locally brewed National Bohemian — known as Natty Boh by locals — and cheer on the O’s in this picturesque stadium.

    A few blocks from Camden Yards is the purple-clad M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Watch the 2001 Super Bowl Champs take on the rest of the NFL. Ravens fans are some of the rowdiest in the league and for good reason. As the fans don purple body paint and gulp purple beer, cheer on stars such as linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed.

    As far as sports bars go, you really can’t go wrong in the Greatest City in America. With the Ravens and Orioles being the pride and joy of Baltimoreans, every bar with a TV will be broadcasting the game live, no matter what the score is. Some of our favorites are Field House in the heart of Canton, Mother’s Federal Hill Grille in the yuppie neighborhood of Federal Hill and Pickles Pub across the street from Camden Yards. Pickles Pub is one of the best bars for pre- and post-games for both Ravens and Orioles fans, but of course it is also hopping during the games.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Baltimore food experiences?

    As the largest independent city in the country and biggest cultural hub in Maryland, you have to expect that Baltimore offers some great food experiences. In fact, Charm City offers some of the most unique cuisine you’ll ever encounter. Here’s our list of the five best Baltimore food experiences:

    1. Lexington Market. Sprawled over two blocks, this centuries-old roofed market has more than 150 stalls and vendors offering fresh vegetables, seafood, meats, baked goods and prepared foods. With some of the best crab cakes known to man and outstanding shrimp salad sandwiches, a trip to Lexington Market is a must — even if it’s just for the culture. Sure there are plenty of events at the market throughout the year, but the most anticipated is Lunch with the Elephants. Every March, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants parade up Eutaw Street only to arrive at the market with 1,100 oranges, 1,000 apples, 500 heads of lettuce, 700 bananas, 400 pears and 500 carrots waiting to be inhaled.

    2. Maryland blue crabs. These sweet-tasting crustaceans are probably Maryland’s greatest contribution to the culinary world. To try them, partake in a crab feast. It's quite the affair: Tables are topped with newspaper and steamed Maryland blue crabs are placed on top, filling the air with the spicy aroma of Old Bay seasoning. Though you’ll have to get a lesson on how to pick one of these suckers (a skill that’s instilled in Marylanders from day one), it’s definitely worth the work.

    3. Crab cakes. Remember the line from Wedding Crashers: "Crab cakes and football. That’s what Maryland does"? Well, it’s true. You haven’t had a real crab cake until you taste one without all the bread filling. The sweet meat of the backfin in the Maryland blue crab is held together with eggs, a teensy bit of breadcrumbs and, yes, more crabmeat.

    4. Berger Cookies. A Baltimore tradition, Berger Cookies are an experience in their own. The German cookie — vanilla wafer covered with a thick chocolate ganache — has become one of the biggest cultural hits in Baltimore. Surprise, surprise: A German family brought the recipe over to America in the mid-1800s. One bite of a Berger Cookie and you will become a devotee. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

    5. Ballpark fare. Sure, you can get ballpark fare in just about any city, but Baltimore goes beyond the usual substandard hot dogs and peanuts. Considering Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the world, it’s only right that it serves some unique food. Make your way below the bleachers to Boog’s BBQ and order up a pit beef sandwich, a regional specialty. Add in a locally brewed National Bohemian — or Natty Boh, as Marylanders call it — and you’ve got yourself a delicious game-time meal.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Baltimore?

    Baltimore has an encyclopedia's worth of history, a few great universities and two amazing stadiums, but one of its biggest assets just may be its live music campus. What’s nice about Charm City’s concentrated music scene is that once a performance is over, you can head to the next show and repeat. You can groove all night long.

    Power Plant Live! is home to the live music scene in this historic city. Named for the nearby building that was once an actual power plant owned by Baltimore Gas and Electric, this commercial complex showcases seven live music venues ranging from country crooners to well-known rock bands.

    Sprawled over 26,000 square feet, Rams Head Live! is one of those venues, offering five bars, three viewing levels overlooking the stage, more than 40 video monitors plus a backdrop screen and, of course, world-class audio and visual equipment. Citizen Cope, Jay-Z, B.B. King and Sugarland have all taken the stage here.

    If you are looking for that good old country scene (Maryland is technically on the south side of the Mason-Dixon Line, after all), trot on over to PBR Baltimore. With a ride on the mechanical bull and cold beer in hand, you can Texas two-step your way through the evening as the live country and southern rock plays the soundtrack to your night.

    Cheer them on as the two pianists go head-to-head playing your favorite tunes at Howl at the Moon. This dueling piano show calls for audience participation, so get ready to sing, clap and tap your toes as the performers tickle the ivories all night long.

    With plenty more venues to call it home, Power Plant Live! is definitely the place to be when it comes to hearing some great live music. You’ll also find restaurants and clubs to busy yourself in between acts.
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  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to see and do in Baltimore?

    Sure, everyone is proud of his hometown; but you won’t find any city folk with more pride than your average Baltimorean. As the largest independent city in the country, it’s no surprise that Charm City has plenty of awesome sights to see and fabulous activities to dive into. Whether you are strolling alongside the shark tank in the National Aquarium or rooting for the Orioles in Camden Yards, there’s no end to the fun that can be had in Baltimore. Here is our list of the five best things to see and do in Lord Baltimore’s eponymous city:

    1. Venture to Fort McHenry. Though Baltimore had been a thriving city for nearly 200 years by the time this star-shaped fort was attacked, Fort McHenry remains one of the best historical sights in the city. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Francis Scott Key penned the famous "Star Spangled Banner" here after holding off the British for more than 25 hours. With an unrivaled view of the city’s Inner Harbor, you can explore the Star Fort and set eyes on the largest (and one of the oldest) Star Spangled Banner you’ll ever see (it was originally 30 feet by 42 feet).

    2. Mosey around the Inner Harbor. Charm City has been a major U.S. seaport since the early 1700s. As a major tourist attraction, you may be thinking that you’d want to avoid this kind of place. Think again. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor lures visitors and locals alike, as it is one of the most iconic seaports in the country. Lined with shops, museums and restaurants, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more Baltimorean than this. You can even hop on a water taxi or a paddleboat and float on the northern branch of the Patapsco River (right off of the Chesapeake Bay).

    3. Flock to M&T Bank Stadium. Football fan or not, the atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium will get you cawing for the Baltimore Ravens. With stars such as linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed, it’s hard not to root for the Ravens. Named after Baltimore legend Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, this AFC football team is the pride and joy of the city. Ravens fans are some of the rowdiest in the league, especially against longtime rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. With purple body paint and purple beer, the fans cheer on their beloved Ravens every game, rain or shine.

    4. Soar to Camden Yards. Once the home field of baseball legends Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Jr., Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world. The redbrick stadium sinks into the ground just a couple blocks from the Inner Harbor. With stellar views of the Patapsco River, it doesn’t matter if you are a Baltimore Orioles fan or not. With a Natty Boh (a locally brewed beer) and a Boog’s Barbeque pit beef sandwich in hand, be sure to join the crowd in yelling "O!" during the "O! say can you see" part of the national anthem.

    5. Dive into the National Aquarium. Jutting out into the Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium Baltimore is one of the best underwater adventures in the nation. As you venture up on the escalator, be sure to admire the stingray pool below and the life-size model of a humpback whale soaring above you. With more than 16,000 creatures, you can travel the underwater world without even leaving the building. Whether you are a shark fanatic or a jellyfish fiend, each and every exhibit at the National Aquarium will certainly intrigue you.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Baltimore in one day?

    A city of neighborhoods built on strong ethnic foundations, Baltimore has achieved an incredible downtown renaissance in the past 20 years. New and renovated sports and entertainment venues have reinvigorated the city. Baseball fans flock to red brick Camden Yards, while football fans come out in force to support the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. And Baltimoreans and visitors alike crowd Charm City’s historic Inner Harbor to enjoy its museums, restaurants and nightlife. As the largest independent city in the U.S., you may think it would be quite tough to see what Baltimore has to offer in just one day; but with its grid-like layout, navigating through the best of the city is easy as picking out a Maryland Blue Crab.

    To start your full-day tour of the Crab Cake Capital of the World, make your way to Miss Shirley’s for a hefty breakfast. Though there is a location in the Inner Harbor, you will want to shimmy on up to the ritzy part of town, Roland Park. This residential area is home to some of the top prep schools in the state, which also happen to have some of the best lacrosse teams in the country. (Lacrosse the official team sport of Maryland, after all.) After you’ve passed through the streets of beautiful brick homes, grab a seat at Miss Shirley’s and order up a Maryland Omelet, full of jumbo lump crabmeat.

    Once you are full of energy and protein, venture back downtown. You are on your way to one of the most historic sights in the country. March up to Fort McHenry, where the Americans held off the British for more than 25 hours during the War of 1812. Sure, that’s a great story; but the real fame of the star-shaped fort comes from Francis Scott Key. After the treacherous day of fighting, he looked up to see the huge American flag still waving and was inspired to pen our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Whether you just stroll the grounds, make a trip to the visitor’s center or peek inside the Star Fort, this is a must-see on a trip to Baltimore.

    After your dose of history, you are bound to be hungry for lunch and some current culture. Mosey on over to the Lexington Market, a staple when it comes to the Charm City’s cultural scene. Step inside the two-block market for a hefty helping of subtle local history (the market is more than 200 years old) and make a beeline for Mary Mervis Deli for the best shrimp salad sandwich you’ve ever tasted.

    Belly full and taste buds satisfied, head down to the historic Inner Harbor. Baltimore has been a thriving seaport for more than two centuries, so it’s no wonder that this is one of the must-sees in the city. Lined with museums, restaurants and shops, Baltimoreans and tourists gravitate to this urban port. Curve your way around the harbor for an underwater adventure at the National Aquarium. Sneak a peek at the stingrays in the pool below you as you make your way up the escalator and don’t forget to look up at the life-size humpback whale model soaring above you. With 16,000 creatures, there’s an exhibit for everyone — from the shark fanatic to the seahorse fiend.

    Following your aquatic experience, scoot on over to Fells Point for an afternoon dose of Baltimore history. You’ve gotten your American history and your Baltimore culture, but not much of the Charm City’s history. Flaunting a shipbuilding center that dates back to 1730 and more than 350 original residential structures, this historic waterfront neighborhood is overflowing with shops, restaurants, pubs and even a vibrant nightlife.

    Depending on the season, you’ll head back into the Inner Harbor to catch a beloved sports game. If it’s fall or winter, fly over to M&T Bank Stadium for a Baltimore Ravens game. Football fan or not, the Ravens fans decked out in purple body paint and sipping on purple beer will certainly get your adrenaline pumping. If you are visiting the Greatest City in America during the spring or summer, soar over to Camden Yards to catch a Baltimore Orioles game. With a track record including legends such as Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Jr., it’s no wonder that locals flock to the picturesque ballpark. The redbrick stadium is just two blocks from the Inner Harbor, showcasing some of the most amazing views of the Patapsco River. So grab a locally brewed National Bohemian, or as the locals know it "Natty Boh," and cheer on the O’s. After your sports experience, which was no doubt filled with Charm City pride, it’s time to partake in Maryland’s single greatest contribution to mankind: Maryland Blue Crabs. Producing more than 50 percent of the United States’ harvest of hard-shell crabs, the nearby Chesapeake Bay offers an experience unique to the Old Line State. Head to the Riverside neighborhood just past the yuppie-filled Federal Hill, for a meal of a lifetime. If you’re new to the crab scene, you’ll need some help to learn the picking method that is instilled in Marylanders from birth. Order up a dozen or two jumbos and let the feast begin. Though the scent of Old Bay is likely still on your hands and clothes, your full-day Baltimore tour is complete. Consider yourself an expert on what Charm City has to offer. Of course, you’ve probably picked up the legendary accent and started to call friends "hon;" just blame it on the Great City in America.