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Baltimanual

Tourist Attractions

We present to you a list of things to Get in on. Sights and attractions, historic destinations and places to enjoy watching fish, animals and the great outdoors.

Photo: Chris Rhodes, License: N/A

Chris Rhodes

National Aquarium

Photo: Frank Hamilton, License: N/A

Frank Hamilton

The Walter Sondheim Fountain at Harborplace


Apparently, back in 2006, the city unveiled a new slogan to entice visitors: “Get in on it.” Problem was, it wasn’t exactly clear what they meant, and the vague possibilities the phrase implied left everybody feeling a little lukewarm (or downright irritated, like former mayor/governor William Donald Schaefer, who said, “I’ve seen some dumb ones in the past, but this is the dumbest.”) Well now, we present to you a list of things to get in on, so get going.

Sights and Attractions

Yeah, Harborplace (200 E. Pratt St., [410] 332-4191, harborplace.com) is the place to be if you’re a tourist, but if you’re the sort that wishes to break free of the typical Baltimore to do list, you still might wanna give a it chance. There’s plenty of food and shopping for sure, but you could also while away an afternoon watching boats go by, strolling the length of the harbor, and enjoying a cool breeze.

We’re going to be totally honest here, watching sports isn’t something that immediately comes to mind for us when it comes to planning a fun outing. That said, an evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (333 W. Camden St., [410] 333-1560, baltimore.orioles.mlb.com, prices vary) was a highlight of last summer, what with the food, the being outside, and the fact that it’s totally acceptable to yell should you get the urge.

Wanna see Baltimore all at once? The World Trade Center (401 E. Pratt St., [410] 837-8439, viewbaltimore.org, $3-$5 for the observation level) offers you the chance to scope the city from 27 stories up.

First off, be warned, this is sort of a hike. You’re definitely going to need a car to get to the new Maryland Live! Casino (7002 Arundel Mills Circle #7777, Hanover, [855] 563-5483, marylandlivecasino.com, free to enter), a hub of glitz, gambling, and indulgent drinking/dining options. Should your time in Baltimore prove a little too wholesome, you might want to head out and kick it like a modern day Dionysus.

History

Since 2012 marks the 200-year anniversary of the War of 1812, Fort McHenry (2400 E. Fort Ave., [410] 962-4290, nps.gov/fomc/planyourvisit/index.htm, $7) should be starred, highlighted, and placed atop any visitor’s list of destinations. It is, after all, the birthplace of Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner, plus the country’s enlistment of many Baltimore-based privateers at the time earned the city the seriously stone-cold title of “a nest of pirates,” and Fort McHenry braced itself for British retaliation because of it. The fort boasts activities for kids, a nature trail, and historical exhibits, so there’s plenty to entertain people of all ages.

While you’re in town, you might want to check out the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum (203 Amity St., [410] 396-7932, eapoe.org/balt/poehse.htm, according to their web site, “there is a small charge for admission”), where Poe once lived and wrote several short stories and poems. Although several cities claim some sort of tie to the famed writer, Baltimore was his final resting place. You can visit his grave yourself at Westminster Hall (519 W. Fayette St., [410] 706-2072, westminsterhall.org/Westminster_Hall/Welcome.html). The Poe Toaster, a mysterious cloaked figure who would raise a glass of cognac at Poe’s grave on the anniversary of his birth, may have retired, but it’s interesting to see where a creepy/classy 75-year tradition went down.

Should Fort McHenry fan your flame for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” get over to the Maryland Historical Society (201 W. Monument St., [410] 685-3750, mdhs.org, $4-$6) and see the earliest existing manuscript of it. Plus, you can see their exhibit Inventing a Nation: Maryland in the Revolutionary Era, which has “swords, uniforms and other personal items of America’s Revolutionary heroes” and even personal items that belonged to America’s first head honcho, George Washington.

The Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Hwy., [410] 727-4808, thebmi.org, $6-$10) features relics from the city’s rich industrial past, like a 1922 Linotype machine (a typesetting machine invented right here), a wooden gas pipe laid by the country’s first gas company, and the whole collection from the defunct Mount Vernon Museum of Incandescent Lighting.

The location of the first received telegraph message (“What hath God wrought?”), the B&O Railroad Museum (901 W. Pratt St., [410] 752-2490, borail.org) is rich in American history, featuring both original locomotives and reproductions. Kids (and adults) can take a spin on the train carousel, while toddlers can board the Choo Choo Blueville for a tour through a fictional town with 12 model buildings, running water, and life-like sounds. The Baltimore Streetcar Museum (1901 Falls Road, [410] 547-0264, baltimorestreetcar.org, $5-$7) offers a glimpse into the past with rides on what used to be the dominant mode of public transportation in the city.

Should feet be your preferred mode of transportation, Heritage Walk (heritagewalk.org, free) gives participants the opportunity to trek to 20 historic sites in the city. From April through October, take a guided 90-minute tour (covering about 1.5 miles) or just grab a map and embark on a self-guided tour.

Reading about people that have changed the course of history is one thing, but being feet from them is another thing entirely. At Green Mount Cemetery (1501 Greenmount Ave., [410] 539-0641, greenmountcemetery.com, free), you can see the final resting places of both the venerated (Johns Hopkins, Enoch Pratt) and the vilified (John Wilkes Booth).

Named Maryland’s first National Historic District, Fells Point (fellspoint.us) grants visitors access to the last remaining pre-Revolutionary War coffee house in the country, bumpy cobblestone streets, and Baltimore’s oldest surviving residence. Soak up some history just by strolling around.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum (830 E. Pratt St., [443] 263-1800, africanamericanculture.org, $6-$8) charts the history of African-Americans in Maryland with permanent collections like Building Maryland, Building America or special exhibitions like Among Poets: Maryland’s Poet Laureate Lucille Clifton. For a powerful, life-like trip through African-American history, visit the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum (1601 E. North Ave., [410] 563-3404, greatblacksinwax.org, $10-$12), where you’ll see important figures through time recreated in wax.

Since Baltimore is the birthplace of Babe Ruth, you’d be remiss not to spend a little time immersing yourself in some sports history. Luckily, the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards (301 W. Camden St., [410] 727-1539, baberuthmuseum.com, $4-$8) and Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum (216 Emory St., baberuthmuseum.com, $3-$6) are within blocks of one another. While you’re there, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (301 W. Camden St., [410] 625-7060, geppismuseum.com, $7-$10) is a pop culture explosion, squeezing collectible comics, toys, and art under one roof.

Opened to the public in 1878, the George Peabody Library (17 E. Mount Vernon Place, [410] 234-4943, free) was built by George Peabody “for the free use of all persons who desire to consult it.” The rows upon rows of books from the 19th century offer some insight into the interests of the time, and the building that houses them was once described as a “cathedral of books.”

America’s first Roman Catholic cathedral, Baltimore Basilica (409 Cathedral St., [410] 727-3565, baltimorebasilica.org, free) was built just after the adoption of the Constitution, when it became more feasible to embrace one’s religious freedom. Now, you can tour the building yourself, but since the cathedral is a fully-functioning church, you might want to check their worship schedule first.

Nature

The National Aquarium (501 E. Pratt St., [410] 576-3800, aqua.org, $20.95-$29.95) offers guests a glimpse into an entire world they’d never get to see otherwise. From above, scope stingrays floating effortlessly, then twist down their corkscrew ramp (the thing makes a multi-story descent) to view deep sea dwellers up close.

Sometimes you just gotta coo over animals that don’t deserve it (because yeah, polar bears are cute, but they’re actually terrifying beasts), so the Maryland Zoo (1876 Mansion House Drive, Druid Hill Park, [410] 396-7102, marylandzoo.org, $10.50-$16.50) lets you do that with the delicious safety of a fence between the two of you. Of course, there are also more interactive activities like giraffe feeding, puppet shows, and craft-making as well.

When you think of Baltimore, greenery might not immediately come to mind, but there are plenty of options for those seeking to escape all the bricks and concrete. The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore (Druid Hill Park, 3100 Swan Drive, [410] 396-0008, baltimoreconservatory.org) holds rooms of plants from across the globe, nurtured to maturity with just the right climate and conditions. In addition to its standard rose gardens and trails, Cylburn Arboretum (4915 Greenspring Ave., [410] 367-2217, cylburnassociation.org, free) has a butterfly garden for those looking to make tiny new friends, plus a garden of the senses that invites visitors to touch and smell the plants. Should all your trucking around town leave you exhausted, head over to Patterson Park (pattersonpark.com) to plop down and stare sleepily at the lake (chances are good there will be ducks in it). And if you get a chance, don’t forget to see the view of the city from atop the park’s Pagoda.

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