A Baltimore Renaissance  

Nicknamed Charm City, Baltimore is the largest metropolis in Maryland. The city boasts a proud history dating back to colonial times, and throughout the centuries, Baltimore’s cultural institutions have thrived and new ones founded. 

Baltimore’s Fells Point and Sagamore Pendry Hotel. You can take a boat ride from the city dock.

The city has an array of niche museums you won’t find anywhere else, such as the American Visionary Arts Museum, Baltimore Streetcar Museum, the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, where you can see local artists at work and take a tour of this early 20th century clock tower. Select your favorites and allow time to explore. (pro-tip: Blk Swan in Harbor East)

Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is a unique historic landmark

Begin by strolling Fells Point. This National Historic District was founded in 1763 and resembles a European waterfront village. Today, the neighborhood consists of rowhouses, cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways. But Fells Point is best known for its vibrant nightlife. Many buildings were repurposed, including the uber-luxurious Sagamore Pendry Hotel. This 100-year-old Beaux Arts structure was once a recreation pier and served as a landing point for new immigrants. Snuggle inside the hotel’s plush guest room, surveying boats chugging along Baltimore Harbor. (pro tip: dine at Captain James Crab House)

A view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from the National Aquarium

Baltimore is a walkable city with several neighborhood worth exploring. Just a short walk from Fells Point is Baltimore Harbor, with its unique attractions and lovely views. Another of my favorite spots is climbing Federal Hill, a rise from which cannons were positioned to defend Baltimore during the Battle of 1812. Nearby Mount Vernon is a community of 19th century brownstones encircling landmarks like the Washington Monument and ornate Peabody Library. (pro tip: dine at Magdalena at The Ivy Hotel)

Inside the new Lexington Market in Baltimore
Baltimore’s Lexington Market was recently rebuilt and full of delicious local cuisine like crab cakes and fried chicken.

Baltimore’s big news this year was the reopening of historic Lexington Market, the world’s oldest continuously operating market. The city built a brand new building, across the street from the former market building, and is it a wonder! Lexington Market vendors specialize in hyper-local food, whether you’re looking for fresh-caught seafood, Old Bay seasoning, or famous Berger Cookies. (pro tip: try Super Fried Chicken)

While there are many family friendly activities, Baltimore is home to the magnificent National Aquarium, where you can observe the sharks and giant turtles, and wander through the newly renovated Tropical Rainforest exhibit.  

American Visionary Art Museum has a quirky collection of Folk Art

Just a 20 minute drive from downtown Baltimore is Hampton National Historic Site, a National Park and one of most beautiful estates built during the late 18th century. In 1875, a journalist wrote: “Country people saw in amazement at what was to them a palace rising in the wilderness.” This Georgian colonial-era mansion was built by Captain Charles Ridgely, who owned 24,000 acres in Baltimore County. His empire consisted of ironworks, crops, mining and thoroughbred horses. Daily ranger tours take visitors through the mansion, quarters where enslaved people worked and lived, a dairy barn, cemetery, stables, icehouse and gardens. The 63-acre parkland has views of Baltimore’s pastoral horse country and downtown Towson. (Pro tip: dine at Spice & Dice Thai Restaurant)

A view of Hampton National Historic Site in Baltimore County
The Hampton National Historic Site is hidden gem in Baltimore County.

While you’re in Baltimore County, don’t miss my favorite place to drink and buy local wine. Boordy Vineyards is the largest wine maker in Maryland and offers a first-class visitor experience. Take a tour of their high-tech production facility, sample their wines in the tasting barn, and maybe catch the occasional Shakespeare performance. Boordy farm dates back to the 19th century, but has become the top stop on the Piedmont Wine Trail.

Broody Vineyards is a historic property with first rate wines. The winery hosts outdoor markets, live music, and offers free tours.

art and architecture Baltimore family travel getaways History Hotels Maryland MidAtlantic Travel Road Trips Travel Vineyards

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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