From family-friendly historical sites and the bustling Inner Harbor, to museums and monuments, Baltimore has a plethora of unique things to see and experience that are not only fun for everyone - they're also free! When you're planning your next visit, be sure to reference these 50 free things to do in Baltimore for inspiration.
Arts & Culture
Discover Masterpieces at the Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to the internationally renowned Cone Collection, and it holds the largest and most significant collection of Henri Matisse's works in the world. Outside the BMA's walls lies the lavish Sculpture Garden, featuring two terraced gardens, fountains and 34 sculptures. Every Sunday the museum hosts hands-on workshops, interactive gallery tours and more activites for families, including the museum’s Family Audio Tour. The tour highlights 20 objects in the collection, and is narrated by Raoudi, Matisse’s perky schnauzer.
Walk, Wonder and Create at the Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum owns more than 25,000 pieces of art and offers free general admission (excluding special exhibits). Bring the whole family to enjoy special family tours and activities for all ages. Children will enjoy the displays of knights' armor; the statues; the colorful paintings; the furniture; and the many small and lovely objects – including Fabergé eggs. The museum hosts a variety of free family programs as well, from drop-in art classes on Saturdays and Sundays to museum tours with family-friendly guides.
Be Inspired at the American Visionary Art Museum
The exterior of the American Visionary Art Museum is almost as interesting as what you'll find inside. The building is surrounded by unique and curious sculptures that you can explore for free!
Bring Your Imagination to Artscape
Held annually in July, Artscape, the nation's largest free arts festival, features musical performances by local, regional and national talent on multiple outdoor stages; indoor and outdoor visual arts exhibitions; sculptures; art cars; film and theater; crafts; opera; dance; street theater and children's activities.
Free Exhibitions at 33 Art Center
Get in touch with your inner artist by exploring free exhibitions at Baltimore’s 33 Art Center. The exhibitions showcase the work of artists from the mid-Atlantic region.
Share a Toast at Edgar Allan Poe's Grave
Edgar Allan Poe and his wife, Virginia Clemm, are buried in the Westminster Hall cemetery. While you're paying your respects to this great American writer, keep a look out for gravestones belonging to other prominent Maryland citizens.
Dive Into Literature at the Enoch Pratt Free Library
More than 60 years old, the Enoch Pratt Library continues to enchant book lovers of all ages with its immensity – it spans an entire city block in length. It’s one of the first to be built with an accessible street level entrance. The library’s various neighborhood branches feature free classes, musical performances, children’s story times, special guest speakers and more throughout the year.
Uncover the Beauty of the Basilica
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first metropolitan cathedral built in the United States. This historic site contains neoclassical architecture, a 17th-century organ, stunning artwork and more.
Be an Art Scholar for a Day at the Maryland Institute College of Art
Enjoy the free exhibits in all of the galleries on campus at MICA.
Find Your Next Great Read at The Book Thing
The Book Thing's mission is to find new homes for books no longer wanted by their owners. Although you're welcome to donate your own books, its not a necessity - you can still browse its offerings and stock up on free reads. Located in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood, the store is open only on weekends.
Browse the Galleries at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower
The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower has been transformed into studio space for visual and literary artists. Take part in Open Studio Day to view impressive artwork by talented artists. During this free event, guests can visit artists' studios; view or purchase works of art; and enjoy refreshments and light fare.
Cruise the Fell's Point Art Loop
Spend an evening mingling with artists, sampling cheese and wine and soaking up the arts in Fell's Point. On the first Friday of every month, the Fell's Point Development Corporation works with 13 local galleries to display pieces by local artists. The types of art may include woodworking, photography, sculpture or oil paintings. Restaurants offer specials and stay open late to accommodate visitors.
Take a Self-Guided Tour of Baltimore's Outdoor Monuments
From depictions of Baltimore sports heroes Johnny Unitas and Babe Ruth to the somber memorial to Holocaust victims, the city has a variety of outdoor monuments to explore. Some of these include:
- The Kaytn Memorial in Harbor East stands in honor of Polish military officers, policemen and civilian prisoners of war executed by Soviet authorities in March 1940.
- The Washington Monument in Mount Vernon was the first monument built in honor of George Washington.
- The Babe Ruth statue is located on Camden Street outside the Eutaw Street entrance to Oriole Park.
- The Johnny Unitas statue is located at the front of M&T Bank Stadium.
- The Battle Monument commemorates the Battle of Baltimore and honors those who died in September 1814 during the War of 1812, and is located at Calvert and Fayette streets.
- The Baltimore Holocaust Memorial is located at the corner of Water, Gay and Lombard streets.
Orioles Legends and Statue Garden
Now you can “meet” your favorite Orioles Hall of Famers. Oriole Park features six larger-than-life bronze statues that capture the likenesses of Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Brooks Robinson. You’ll find the statues in the centerfield picnic area, but don’t forget to also take a stroll down Eutaw Street to get a look inside the stadium.
Free Salsa Lessons
Shiver Me Timbers! Story Time with the Urban Pirates
Join the crew of Baltimore's own pirate ship, Fearless, to hear swashbuckling tales of adventure! Climb aboard the ship in historic Fell's Point, where the crew of pirates will take your family back in time without ever leaving the port! Enjoy the captivating tales of pirate history every Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. You can then choose to purchase tickets for a family fun cruise aboard Fearless if you decide to hit the high seas.
Beat the Heat at the Walter Sondheim Fountain
It’s a fountain you can actually play in! Come down to the Inner Harbor to let the kids cool off on those warm days - all they have to do is stand on the fountain's large, flat surface to catch the spray from its 53 interactive water jets. While your kids play, you can sit back and enjoy people watching and take in breathtaking views of the Inner Harbor.
Visiting Ship Tours
Climb aboard, tour and learn the fascinating history of any one of the massive ships that visit Baltimore’s Inner Harbor each year. As host to about 24 ships annually, the harbor provides a port for tall ships (large, traditionally-rigged ships) and naval vessels from all over the world, as well as Baltimore’s very own Pride of Baltimore II. Visit www.sailbaltimore.org to view the schedule of incoming ships.
Drop by the Creative Alliance for Family Drop-in Art Classes
Create your next masterpiece at one of the Creative Alliance’s drop-in art classes. Held at the repurposed landmark Patterson Movie Theater, the classes, featuring kid-friendly art projects, are held every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
Dedicated to Baltimore businessman Pierce John Flannigan III and located near Pier 5 Hotel, Pierce’s Park is much more than just a park. It’s an imaginative space of discovery, where children can interact with locally created sculptures intended for climbing; homonyms engraved along the sidewalk; and even a musical fence. Let the kids play at this sustainable park while you enjoy free wireless Internet access courtesy of the nearby Pier 5 Hotel.
Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Baltimore’s annual parade, featuring floats, high school and community marching bands and more. The parade kicks off at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Eutaw Streets.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Featuring Irish dancing, a mummer’s band, bagpipes, floats and, of course, St. Patrick himself, Baltimore’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade sets off on its 2.5-mile route at the Washington Monument and ends at Market Street.
The Mayor’s Christmas Parade
Join the mayor, local TV and radio personalities and thousands of celebrators as the Mayor’s Christmas Parade works its way through North Baltimore’s Hampden and Medfield neighborhoods. Featuring holiday floats, marching bands and the big man himself, the parade is sure to delight the whole family!
For Music Lovers
Rock Out to Live Music
Stop by Power Plant Live! on Friday evenings for the Friday Night Live! concert series. Watch local artists and national headlining bands perform on the newest permanent outdoor stage. Or head over to Hard Rock Café Baltimore at the Inner Harbor for free outdoor concerts, Thursday through Sunday nights from May through September.
Sing and Dance at the Harborplace Amphitheater
Located between the Harborplace Pavilions, the Harborplace Amphitheater hosts free performances by singers, dancers, magicians and more. Street performers entertain by day, while bands of all genres ranging from Motown and funk to R&B and country perform live, free concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Discover Nature's Beauty at the Cylburn Arboretum
The Cylburn Arboretum is a nature preserve and city park spanning about 207 acres. Experience the feel of a grand estate in a rolling countryside, all within city limits. Collections of Japanese maples, hollies, conifers, Maryland oaks, tree peonies and magnolias stand on spacious lawns and in luscious gardens surrounding the Victorian mansion. Explore trails that wind through the woodlands, on which you can discover rare trees, native plants and wildflowers.
Free Summer Outdoor Movies
Films on the Pier in Fell's Point features free movies on Wednesday nights beginning at 8:45 p.m. on the Broadway Pier.
On Thursdays in July & August at 9 p.m., grab a blanket or a folding chair and catch a free film after dusk on Federal Hill. Flicks from the Hill is sponsored by the American Visionary Art Museum, and admission into the museum is free on these "flicks days" between 5 and 9 p.m. before the film.
Bring your lawn chair or blanket to the intersection of High and Stiles streets in Little Italy on Friday nights in July and August for free Italian-themed movies at 9 p.m. Live music begins at 7 p.m.
Pedal Your Way Through the Gwynns Falls Trails
Get off the road and enjoy a leisurely (or rigorous) bike ride along the recently expanded 15 miles of trails.
Get Away From it All at Patterson Park
A small oasis within the city, Patterson Park offers an opportunity to escape. Sit back and relax by the water at Boat Lake or visit the famed Pagoda (open from April to October) to see great views of the city. You can even take the family dog to the newly opened dog park.
Druid Hill Park
Leave downtown behind and lose yourself in nearly 750 acres of one of America’s oldest landscaped public parks. Featured on the National Register of Historic Places, Druid Hill Park boasts miles of trails and green expanses and is home to the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens, where you can enjoy the scenery inside, too.
Get a Panoramic View from Federal Hill Park
Park yourself on a bench atop Federal Hill Park and drink in the sprawling vista of the Inner Harbor. Whether you’re enjoying your lunch on the green expanse or taking your kids to the park’s playground, you’re sure to witness a gorgeous panorama of the city. Once a well-known lookout point during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the historic park lies on the south side of Baltimore.
Where can you find an open-air, rooftop observatory in the middle of the city? Just head to the Maryland Science Center, where every Friday from 5:30-9 p.m. you can stargaze like an astronomer with the help of the center’s 10-foot telescope. Fun fact: The refurbished telescope was built in 1927!
Carroll Park Bike & Skate Park
Get geared up to throw down on ramps, rails and stairs at the Carroll Park Bike & Skate Park, located just behind the Carroll Park Recreation Center on Bayard Street. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.
Fourth of July
Enjoy nearly 20 minutes of firework bliss at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration! Enjoy musical performances at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater and free public docking until 11 p.m.
New Year’s Eve
Start the evening with the sweet sounds of live music at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater during Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular! Then turn your head to the heavens at the stroke of midnight for the region’s largest fireworks display! And you don’t have to be at the Inner Harbor to enjoy the show — you can watch the display from any downtown neighborhood, from Harbor East and Fell’s Point to Federal Hill.
Fairs & Festivals
Celebrate Culture and Heritage at the African American Festival
Held annually in June or July, the African American Festival is a free family celebration of life, music and culture. Attendees can enjoy live music, educational and historical exhibits, an interactive children's area, crafts and more.
The Baltimore Book Festival
It’s a non-stop, three-day literary explosion held every year in September that brings together hundreds of authors, exhibitors and booksellers. Get your favorite book signed, listen to one of the nonstop readings on Center Stage (or any of the other four stages for that matter) or join a workshop or panel discussion. These activities and more await you at Mount Vernon Place during the festival, a crowd-pleaser for adults and kids alike.
Fell’s Point Fun Festival
Enjoy carnival rides, live music and the Fun Fest Flea Market at the Fell’s Point Fun Festival every year in October. With an Arts & Craft Row, Fun Fest Flea Market, six music stages, countless food vendors and carnival rides, the festival provides two days of nonstop fun for all ages!
Explore the Inner Harbor
Hop Across the Inner Harbor on the Scenic Water Taxi
This free connector service operates weekdays along the city's Inner Harbor from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A free route departs from the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Museum in Fell's Point and travels to the Tide Point Pier in Locust Point, just a short walk away from Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. You can also connect from Tide Point Pier to the Canton Waterfront Park and from Harborview to Harbor East.
Bump, Set and Spike at Rash Field
Check out "Baltimore Beach" and its seven volleyball courts made up of 1,000 tons of sand, located at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. This is a great place where locals and visitors – from beginners to experts – can meet and play organized games.
Party the First Friday of the Month in Hampden
A frequent setting in John Waters' films, Hampden still celebrates the bouffant and grilled-cheese charms of Charm City. Come "down to Hampden, hon" for First Fridays when participating merchants stay open late to host events, parties and special sales.
Challenge Locals in a Match of Bocce Ball in Little Italy
Get a real flavor of the "old country," on Stiles Street, as residents and visitors are welcome to partake in a game on the two well-lit sandy courts in the evenings.
Become an Urban Explorer on the Charm City Circulator
The Charm City Circulator is your fast, friendly, free and green shortcut to Baltimore's hotspots seven days a week. With connections throughout many of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, you can hop from one neighborhood to another quickly and without breaking the bank.
Free Ways to Enjoy Baltimore in Fall & Winter
Light Up the Holidays
Baltimore is full of free things to do thoughout the holiday season. Harbor East’s Window Wonderland kicks off the holidays as local artists dress up the windows of shops and restaurants. Then, take a stroll down 34th Street in Hampden, famous for its annual Miracle on 34th Street light show, when every house on the block displays amazing Christmas lights. Next, head to Power Plant for its Power Plant Light Show Spectacular, complete with a laser light show!
Free Fall Baltimore
Visit Baltimore in October for its city-wide arts extravaganza, Free Fall Baltimore which celebrates creativity. Visitors can enjoy a full month of special events highlighting art, dance and music at lectures, readings and workshops – all offered for free! Enjoy organized events at museums, theaters, city landmarks, parks and trails and much more.
Top Foodie Sites in Baltimore
Take in the Enticing Sights, Sounds and Scents of Baltimore's Public Markets
For no fee, you can enter Baltimore's Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Lexington Market near the Hippodrome Theatre and the Broadway Market in Fell's Point. Get a feel for what doing the food shopping used to be like as you watch butchers and fishmongers at work and smell wonderful food cooking.
Sample Local Flavors at Farmer's Markets
The Baltimore Farmers' Market offers the best deals on produce, herbs, flowers, fruit and more. The market, located underneath the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday and Saratoga streets, is open daily from early April to late December. This market is the largest producers-only market in Maryland. If you're lucky, you might just get some free samples! And while you’re at it, check out the Fell’s Point Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in season, located on the waterfront at Fell’s Point’s Broadway Square. Or, head to the Baltimore Museum of Industry Farmer’s Market, where you can find everything from ice cream to fresh-cut flowers, as well as enjoy free parking!
Free (and Quirky) Things to Do in Baltimore
Check Out the Ink at the Baltimore Tattoo Museum
Because the Baltimore Tattoo Museum focuses on electric tattooing in America, you'll see examples of traditional American and traditional Japanese tattoo artwork, black and grey work, portraits, photo-realism, flash designs and complete custom-drawn designs. And if you like something you see, the museum is also a fully functioning tattoo studio.
Enjoy a Kinetic Sculpture Race for the Ages
Who will be crowned the Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion? Each May, head to the American Visionary Art Museum for its Annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, where you can cheer on racers piloting custom-built kinetic sculptures over land, mud and water. Arrive between 9 and 9:30 a.m. for the opening ceremony and the “Blessing of De Feet,” then follow the race over its 15-mile course or camp out at any number of checkpoints, such as the uphill mud pit or not-so-quick sand pit in Patterson Park.
Hundreds of “hons.” That’s what you’ll find at Baltimore’s very own Honfest, a four-block-wide festival in Hampden where you can get your own beehive hairdo, enter a mashed potato contest and see who’s crowned Baltimore’s “Best Hon.” Celebrating the Baltimorean word “hon,” a term of endearment short for “honey,” Honfest is held every year in June.
African American History & Culture
Brush Up on History While Exploring the Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail
Take a self-guided stroll through historic West Baltimore's premier historic African American neighborhood. Uncover the stories of civil rights leaders, artists and musicians; visit historic African American churches; and relive the glory days of Pennsylvania Avenue. A free map and guide of the Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail is available at the Baltimore Visitor Center.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
You don’t need to enter Fort McHenry to understand how it inspired our national anthem. Visit the surrounding park to take in the grandeur of the fort, and stop in the Visitors Center to discover the history behind its walls. (It’s worth the entrance fee, though, just to stand atop the ramparts and check out the other exhibits at the star-shaped fort.)
Baltimore’s Civil War Museum
Step back in time at one of the nation’s oldest surviving big-city railroad terminals. President Street Station, once an important rail connection during the Civil War, now houses the Civil War Museum and its permanent exhibition focused on Baltimore during the Civil War. The museum also features exhibits focused on Maryland’s railroad history and President Street Station’s own role in the transportation of slaves escaping to the North.