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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.