Baltimore is a Great Place to Meet in Any Season
As the spring flowers begin to bloom, Baltimore’s season of exciting special events kicks into high gear. Throughout the summer months, there is something exciting and often unexpected happening every day of the week, and, in the fall, the curtain goes up on another season of music, theater and special exhibitions throughout the city. As the holidays approach, our neighborhoods – all easily accessible from the Baltimore Convention Center and our convention “campus” – are excellent destinations to stroll, shop and dine.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
The centerpiece of downtown Baltimore is the world-famous Inner Harbor, the vibrant and beautiful waterfront. The Inner Harbor is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops and is just steps from the Baltimore Convention Center and the stadium complex.
In just a few city blocks, you can get up-close-and-personal with dolphins, jellyfish, sharks and other creatures from the deep at the National Aquarium – which recently opened its new exhibit, Blacktip Reef –discover an expansive collection of dinosaurs at the Maryland Science Center, submerge yourself in the courageous journey of African Americans at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, or wander through pop culture icons of years past at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. A wealth of other not-to-be-missed attractions are also nearby, including Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium in Harborplace, Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and the fleet of Historic Ships in Baltimore, including the USS Constellation.
But wait! Your Baltimore experience only begins at the Inner Harbor. Hop on the Baltimore Water Taxi to catch a beautiful view of downtown from the water as you motor to other neighborhoods, board the fast and free Charm City Circulator hybrid buses or lace up your walking shoes and head off in the direction of your next adventure.
East of downtown lies Canton, a charming neighborhood settled in the late 19th century by Polish immigrants working at local canneries. What were once factories are now condominiums, artists’ studios, offices, restaurants and stores. A quaint and lively village square rimmed with eclectic restaurants, pubs and shops along O’Donnell Street is the heart of this waterfront neighborhood. Wander down the blocks surrounding Canton Square to see painted screens, window shrines and classic marble stoops in front of brick and formstone row houses.
Nearby is Patterson Park, once the country’s largest urban park, the expansive Canton Waterfront Park, Greektown, Butcher’s Hill and the Highlandtown Arts and Entertainment District, also known as ha!, which is home to the innovative Creative Alliance.
Charles Street Scenic Byway
As you head north along the Charles Street National Scenic Byway past the Mount Vernon Cultural District, you will land in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Just steps from Amtrak’s Penn Station, the neighborhood is undergoing a transformation, as new arts groups, galleries and restaurants occupy its storefronts and a collection of murals by international artists grace its facades.
The Baltimore Museum of Art, featuring the world’s largest collection of works by Henri Matisse, as well as the kid-friendly Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in Druid Hill Park, greet you farther north as you continue along Charles Street out towards the Johns Hopkins University campus. In the Johns Hopkins/Homewood area, you will find several historic homes and museums that offer programs and concerts throughout the year.
The best view of the Inner Harbor and downtown skyline is found on Federal Hill, which, in 1788, hosted 4,000 patriots who celebrated Maryland’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution with a picnic and fireworks. It also played a role in the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 as citizens watched the “bombs bursting in air” over Fort McHenry, and during the Civil War, as batteries perched upon the hill aimed at the divided city below.
Today you can enjoy everything from sushi and locally brewed beers to fine dining in the popular neighborhood. Boutiques mingle with a wealth of pubs and restaurants, many within walking distance of Baltimore’s pro-sports venues. While in the area, don’t miss the neighboring, one-of-a-kind American Visionary Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Come for the view, stay for ... well … everything!
Named for the Englishman who founded a ship-building company here in the early 1700s, Fell’s Point is a spirited waterfront community in perpetual celebration of Baltimore’s British nautical roots. Enjoy 18th‑ and 19th‑century homes and storefronts found along streets with names like Shakespeare and Fleet, or walk the Belgian Block streets and explore unique shops on Thames Street and Broadway. Chesapeake Bay cuisine is at its best here, whether you crave oysters on the half shell at a local pub or upscale seafood at a charming restaurant.
Seasonal walking tours make Fell’s Point a great place to explore. To learn more about the history of Fell’s Point, stop by the Fell’s Point Visitor Center on Thames Street, where you will find a wealth of information about the neighborhood and the Baltimore region. Through 2015, the center will host “Bearden & Billie,” a series of exhibitions, installations, musical events and action-learning experiences that explore African American heritage and culture through the lives and work of Romare Bearden and Billie Holiday. Fell’s Point also hosts a number of fun-filled festivals throughout the year, so check the calendar to see what’s happening.
Following Broadway north from Fell’s Point will lead you to the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, the only wax museum of African American history in the nation.
No neighborhood says “Bawlmer” quite like Hampden, a 19th-century mill town that has evolved into the epicenter of hipster Baltimore kitsch. Famous for its starring role in John Waters’ films and long known as the place where everybody calls you “hon,” Hampden centers on 36th Street. Here, along “The Avenue,” you’ll find dozens of unique shops and an eccentric array of cafés and restaurants. Honfest is an annual spring street festival brimming with beehive hairdos and cat’s‑eye glasses, and there’s the holiday lights extravaganza, known as the Miracle on 34th Street, which can be seen from space.
A short walk from the Inner Harbor, trendy Harbor East beckons with its growing list of shopping and dining options. An array of unique local and national retailers and restaurants — all steps from a variety of hotels — offer everything from shoes to sushi and furniture to fine wines. Here, you’ll also find Baltimore-based Under Armour’s first retail store. An upscale movie theater, spa and health club, as well as a supermarket round out the Harbor East experience.
Whether you want to grab a taco between shops or linger over an elegant five-course meal at one of America’s top-rated restaurants, you’ll find that Baltimore’s newest destination is also one of its finest.
Let intoxicating aromas of garden-fresh basil and garlic-laden tomato sauce lead you to this authentic Italian neighborhood, which is home to more than a dozen cozy, family-owned eateries located only a few steps from the buzz of the Inner Harbor. Whether your tastes tend toward traditional and casual or innovative and upscale, rest assured that you’ll find a meal that is both homemade and heavenly.
After dinner, relax over cappuccino and tiramisu and watch locals engaged in a heated game of bocce just like generations of their forefathers. On Friday nights during July and August, residents and visitors alike pull up lawn chairs to enjoy outdoor films. But, in any season, Little Italy brings a touch of Europe to downtown Baltimore.
As you continue on your way out to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, you’ll pass through Locust Point, a charming neighborhood that is home to Under Armour’s global headquarters in Tide Point.
In 1706, the peninsular Locust Point — then called Whetstone Point, after a park in London — was established as a port of entry by the Maryland Colonial Assembly. Whetstone Point and the future South Baltimore peninsula were annexed by the City of Baltimore in 1816 and later renamed Locust Point because of the locust trees growing on the peninsula. Since 1868, when the first immigration station opened in Locust Point, immigration has been an important part of its history. The neighborhood once served as the center of Baltimore’s Polish American, Irish American and Italian American communities.
Aside from Fort McHenry, Locust Point also offers a great view of the Domino sugar plant and its massive neon sign, an iconic feature of the Baltimore skyline.
Just north of downtown rests the city’s cultural heart, Mount Vernon, which was once home to Baltimore’s Gilded Age elite. Let the impressive architecture and manicured public gardens transport you to a bygone era. The nation’s first monument to George Washington sits proudly at the center of Mount Vernon Square. What once were grand mansions belonging to Baltimore’s 19th-century industrialists are now museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
View masterpieces by Raphael, El Greco and Bernini as well as Greek and Roman antiquities at The Walters Art Museum, stroll across the street to see the spiraling heights and ornamental ironwork of the Peabody Library’s grand cathedral of books or enjoy a concert at the famed Peabody Institute. You can also visit America’s first Catholic cathedral, meticulously restored beyond its original glory, or take a walk through the monumental Enoch Pratt Free Library – and don’t miss its Poe Room. The Maryland Historical Society, one of the jewels of the Mount Vernon Cultural District, features special exhibitions commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Within walking distance of Baltimore’s stadiums and vibrant sports scene is historic Pigtown, also known as Washington Village. The name “Pigtown” dates back to the 1800s when the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad released its cargo of pigs to run through Ostend and Cross streets on their way to slaughterhouses in South Baltimore. The community housed many of the railroad workers from the B&O.
Each year, residents gather for the annual Pigtown Festival, featuring live music, crafts, food and drink, kids’ activities and most notably, the Running of the Pigs, an area tradition. Pigtown’s rich history also includes such sites as Carroll Park, home to the Mount Clare Museum House, a 1760 colonial Georgian mansion built by Charles Carroll, Barrister, one of Maryland’s leading patriots and one of the state’s first senators.
Currently undergoing transformative redevelopment, the neighborhood has now been designated the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District. Near where Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and other world-renowned African American entertainers performed at local nightclubs on Pennsylvania Avenue, modern theatergoers can catch Broadway’s finest touring productions at the France‑Merrick Performing Arts Center at the Hippodrome Theatre, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the brand-new Everyman Theatre. The area is also the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, buried at Westminster Hall Burying Ground, and home to Lexington Market, the nation’s oldest continually running public market. At the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, visitors can see dozens of historic locomotives and rolling stock, including many from the Civil War era that are part of the special exhibition, “The War Came by Train.”
Nestled between Federal Hill and the Westside is the stadium complex. Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the first of the downtown retro ballparks to be built. Catching the O’s is a great way to spend the evening or a Sunday afternoon and soak in the all-American atmosphere. The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens play at nearby M&T Bank Stadium.
With all there is to see and do in Baltimore and beyond, we hope you’ll continue to meet or host an event in our charming city for years to come.