After enjoying a whirlwind weekend in Baltimore, it’s easy to see how it got its nickname Charm City.
From the beautiful waterfront that showcases its fabulous downtown attractions, to world-class museums and historic sites, to delightful neighborhoods and authentic Chesapeake Bay cuisine, Baltimore is a city you won’t soon forget.
First time to Baltimore? One of the best areas to stay in downtown is Inner Harbor, which is the heart of the city’s action.
After landing at the airport, my friend and I caught an Uber to our hotel – the Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor.
This very reasonably priced property offers a boutique hotel experience in the landmark 1906 U.S. Fidelity and Guarantee building, just two blocks from the Inner Harbor and Baltimore Convention Center.
Choose from a variety of spacious rooms: all feature expansive windows, nine-foot ceilings, microwaves, refrigerators, and king- or queen-sized clean and fresh Hampton beds.
If you’re traveling with the family or prefer extra space, reserve a studio suite with an additional sleeper sofa. Its historic seventh-floor guest rooms open onto a private lobby with original marble and mahogany.
After we unpacked our bags, we returned to the lobby to enjoy the complimentary breakfast that takes place daily. There were plenty of hot and cold options to choose from.
From the lobby, there’s a set of stairs that lead to a lower level. Here you’ll find its business center, indoor pool and fitness center.
Inner Harbor has many stories to tell, from its heyday in the 18th century as the nation’s leading shipbuilding site, to a major site for oyster canning, steel working, railroad building, immigration port and military supply center.
In 1980, the Inner Harbor area underwent a major revitalization with the addition of many attractions, hotels, restaurants and shops.
Today, the Inner Harbor is a major tourist destination and port of call for cruise ships.
After exploring Inner Harbor to get our bearings, we had lunch at Argosy Cafe, which is distinctly Baltimore, and close to where we were staying.
Located on the first floor of the Munsey Building, named for Frank Munsey, they have named the restaurant for his weekly pulp magazines. It provides many Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic classics with a twist.
We enjoyed Grilled Vegetable wrap and The Munsey Burger. Don’t forget to try its coffee, which they roast in-house and brew in ways you haven’t seen before.
Next, it was time to visit some of the city’s attractions such as the National Aquarium, American Visionary Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
All attractions are within walking distance and can be accessed via the free Charm City Circulator bus service, the Baltimore Bike Share, or the Baltimore Water Taxi.
First up, we decided to visit one of its biggest attractions, the aquarium.
With a mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, the National Aquarium is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s two top aquariums and has hosted over 51 million guests since opening.
Today, the aquarium builds on a 35-year history of local, regional and global conservation initiatives that provide real solutions for protecting marine life, ecosystems and aquatic communities.
Its Animal Rescue team has rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of marine mammals and endangered sea turtles throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
It was easy to spend almost two hours exploring all of its exhibits – there are about 20,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living the various habitats.
After getting up close and personal with the animals at the aquarium, we decided to check out the shopping in Harbor East.
Harbor East shines as an outstanding example of blending history and culture with business, recreation and fun.
There’s something for everyone in this rapidly growing area between Fell’s Point and the Inner Harbor.
Joggers share the sidewalks with bikers and leisurely strollers window shopping the upscale boutiques. Harbor East has also evolved into a restaurant lover’s paradise.
From Urban Chic to Urban Adventure, chocolate to wines, antiques to crafts, designer shoes to handbags, Harbor East offers it all at boutiques like Sassanova, Amaryllis, Handbags in the City, South Moon Under and Arhaus, to name a few.
The water ferry is must do experience – it’s also a pretty fun way to get around too. We jumped on at the Aquarium stop and stayed on until Fell’s Point.
Named for the Englishmen who founded a ship-building company here in 1726 that would go on to produce the famous “Baltimore Schooners,” Fell’s Point is a spirited waterfront community in perpetual celebration of Baltimore’s British nautical roots.
The neighborhood’s visage has remained largely unchanged since its founding and attracts many visitors. Explore the 18th- and 19th-century homes and storefronts – most were once one of the “three B’s”: boarding houses, brothels and bars. Chesapeake Bay cuisine is at its best here too, whether you crave oysters on the half shell at a local pub, or fresh seafood at an upscale restaurant.
For dinner, we went to Points South Latin Kitchen in Fell’s Point.
We were treated to its best seats in the entire restaurant – a table in its private wine cellar.
After being escorted by the hostess down the stairs, we were met with candles in this very romantic setting.
The food was fabulous and we loved chatting with each of the servers who came in and out during the night as they looked for wine bottles to take to their tables upstairs.
The entire experience was one of our most memorable meals while traveling.
The next day, we went to The Walters Art Museum – its’ acclaimed as one of the best art museums in the United States.
The Walters offers 55 centuries of art, including Egyptian mummies, medieval armors and 19th-century masterpieces.
Next we went to visit The George Peabody Library, which is a remarkable research library housed in a remarkable building, one of the most beautiful in the world.
Nearby is The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower – it’s been a part of Baltimore’s skyline since 1911 and a beacon for innovation and the arts since 2007. Gallery spaces showcase local and regional artists through free exhibitions and openings.
Our final stop before lunch was Open Walls, which is an unparalleled street art project managed by and located in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District and curated by Gaia.
It is an outdoor exhibition of more than a dozen extraordinary murals that enliven public spaces, tell the story of community revitalization and stimulate national dialogue.
For lunch, we went to Mount Vernon Marketplace – it offers the finest, freshly prepared artisanal food with over 14 purveyors.
Here you can find everything from artisan sandwiches and charcuterie, fresh local oysters and seafood, noodles and dumplings, French crepes, Ethiopian cuisine and coffee, vegetarian bean burgers, vegan soups & falafel, cold-pressed juices and salad bar, Korean style bibimbap, and more.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon exploring Inner Harbor.
One cool experience is the “Historic Ships.” Here you will find four ships and a lighthouse that are all National Historic Landmarks – USS Constellation, USS Torsk, USCGC Taney, Lightship 116 Chesapeake and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
For a small fee, you can enjoy “hands-on encounters with history,” demonstrations, activities, overnight adventures and tours.
We ended the day with dinner and drinks at The Brewer’s Art.
Set in a grand Mount Vernon townhouse, offering many temptations for your palate. Chef Ray Kumm’s seasonally changing menus feature meats, fish, seafood, pasta, and vegetarian offerings.
The Brewer’s Art brews its own beer on the premises, including Resurrection, a Baltimore favorite.
No matter what you do in Baltimore, you won’t be disappointed!