Baltimore, MD

Destination Location

  • 39.290385, -76.612189:primary
  • 39.175278, -76.668333:secondary

Overview

After landing in Baltimore, your first stop might be one of the city's famed seafood restaurants. Here you'll find some of the best blue crab dishes anywhere. From crab cakes and soufflés to soft-shell crab sandwiches, the choices featuring the official Maryland state crustacean are sure to wet your whistle. If crab is not your thing, you can also find rockfish, scallops and oysters in other Chesapeake Bay cuisine. Whatever you choose will set the stage for a sensory visit to the city.

Once you've satisfied your appetite, a wide variety of activities await you. You might head to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, one of the most photographed parts of the city. History buffs should note that the harbour has been one of the major seaports in the U.S. since the 1700s and in the last few decades has become the cultural centre of Baltimore. You could easily keep yourself entertained for a day or more with the many harbour side options. Visit the observation level of the World Trade Center for panoramic views of the city's skyline or go down to sea level for a harbour cruise. Wander past street performers or get back to stimulating your senses with a visit to the Maryland Science Center.

Since you're by the water, maybe you want to spend some time in The National Aquarium. Featuring everything from sharks, rays and tropical fish to a walk-through rain forest and a live dolphin show, the aquarium offers a great experience in this seaside city.

If you're more of an art lover, Baltimore is not short on museums either. The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to a renowned collection of 19th-century, modern and contemporary art. Peek into history at the Walters Art Museum, where you'll find 55 centuries of art from around the world. Or take your kids to Port Discovery Children's Museum, which was ranked among the top five children's museums in the U.S. by Child Magazine.

Sports fans could easily ditch all of the above and spend a whole visit cheering on the local sports teams. Baltimore is home to professional baseball, football and soccer teams, and college sports teams in the area will win your allegiance as well. With names like the Maryland Terps and the Goucher Gophers, how could they not?

This guide to Baltimore could go on and on, but the short version is this: Go. You'll have fun!

To plan your action-packed trip, check out the official Baltimore tourism site at Baltimore.org.

WestJet is pleased to offer service to this destination through our code-share agreement with our great airline partners.

Destination basics

When you head to Baltimore, pack for any weather. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 3 C (37 F), though subtropical air can bring in periods of spring-like weather. Summers in Baltimore can be humid, with temperatures in July averaging 28 C (82 F). Bring your umbrella, though. This area gets its fair share of rain, which is spread fairly evenly throughout the year and averages 75 to 100 mm (3 to 4 inches) per month. If you're a storm watcher, you might get lucky as thunderstorms are frequent in the spring, summer and fall.

The Chesapeake Bay takes its name from a Native American phrase for "Great Shellfish Bay." So it's no wonder that Baltimore, nestled along the bay's north shore, developed a hometown cuisine dominated by crustaceans. The blue crab, in particular, has become a city staple. In Baltimore, you'll find moist crab meat stuffed inside Chinese dumplings, sprinkled over linguine and wrapped in fajitas. Perhaps the ultimate crab meat dish, and certainly the one Baltimore is most famous for, is the crab cake. You'll find these delightful crab meat patties served in scores of bars and restaurants all over the city.

Wherever you decide to go for crab cakes, there are a few terms you should be familiar with. The first is Market Price. Crabs are both seasonal and in short supply, and thus the price varies even during the prime crabbing months of June through September. You should also know the terms Special, Backfin, and Jumbo Lump. These are the three grades of crabmeat, and rank the size of the pieces from smallest to largest. All three grades have the same flavor, and crab cakes made with Special or Backfin are usually much less expensive than those made with Jumbo Lump.

Inner Harbor
Once you've sampled the local delicacy, you'll want to take on the rest of the city's culinary treats. A great place to start is the Inner Harbor, which is in many ways Baltimore's showpiece. This dockside expanse is home to numerous educational and tourist attractions, hotels, stores, and enough restaurants to allow you to dine-out happily for weeks. For fine dining, Fleming's is a Steakhouse and wine bar with plenty of labels, as well as seafood options, to choose from. Little Havana serves seafood as well but with a Spanish and Cuban touch. They also have space for parties and can provide catering. By far the best seafood restaurant in Inner Harbor is the famous McCormick& Schmick's.

Mount Vernon
Heading uptown from the Inner Harbor on North Charles Street, you'll soon come to the lovely neighborhood of Mount Vernon. Here, in the shadow of a 178-foot monument to George Washington, you'll find a number of great places to dine. One of the city's absolute best, Tio Pepe is located here. Relative newcomers like Brewer's Art, which serves creative German-styled fare, also thrive here. Finally, it's also home to an array of fine ethnic restaurants such as Akbar, which serves Indian dishes.

Federal Hill
Just south of the Inner Harbor is Federal Hill. A touch funkier than Mount Vernon, it's also host to a wide range of places to eat and drink. Foremost among them are Matsuri, one of the city's many fine Japanese restaurants, and the One World Café, a bohemian-flavored coffeehouse that serves great food and offers lots of vegetarian and vegan choices.  

Little Italy
Just to the east of the Inner Harbor lies Little Italy, one of Baltimore's culinary treasures. At last count, this 12-block expanse was home to over 20 fine Italian restaurants. It's really not fair to name just a few, but Sabatino's, provides fine example of what the area offers.

Fells Point
On weekends, this maritime district is swarmed with college students and young professionals looking for fun in the area's many nightclubs. The neighborhood is also a favorite haunt of Baltimore's bohemian folk, who frequent the area's coffee houses. Then there are those places like Bertha's, an illustrious seafood restaurant. There are also plenty of places to hear live music, including The Cat's Eye Pub, which features Irish music. And finally, it's also home to two of the towns best new four-star restaurants, The Black Olive and Kali's Court.

Canton
To the northeast of Fells Point is Canton, one of Baltimore's recently refurbished neighborhoods. Formerly an industrial area, it's now home to a number of upscale cocktail bars. There are also several cozy, friendly neighborhood eateries, like Nacho Mama's.

Many other great restaurants are scattered throughout the rest of Baltimore's many neighborhoods. The East Baltimore neighborhood of Greek Town is, as its name implies, host to many excellent Greek restaurants, Ikaros foremost among them. In the midtown neighborhood of Charles Village you'll find Niwana, a great Korean and Chinese eatery. Just to the north, in the Govans neighborhood, lies the marvelous Café Zen. To the west, Hampden is home to Café Hon. Up in the quiet neighborhood of Mount Washington, located in northwest Baltimore, you'll find several charming eateries including The Desert Café.

Indeed, you can count on always being able to find something good to eat, no matter where you go in Baltimore. And remember, when in doubt: order the crab cakes.

Economically, geographically and culturally, Baltimore is an amalgam. One of early America's busiest seaports, it was also home to the country's first important railroad terminal and was a leading manufacturing center, renowned for shipbuilding as well as airplane production.

Baltimore's air of acceptance inspired waves of Polish, German, Irish, Italian, Greek and other immigrants. The various enclaves these newcomers established made Baltimore a collection of diverse neighborhoods.

Inner Harbor
Any tour of Baltimore should start with the Inner Harbor. For years the area was at the heart of Baltimore's port facilities. As the city's shipping business declined in the post-war years, the Inner Harbor did too. By the mid-1970s, it was a long stretch of dilapidated docks and abandoned warehouses, but the end of the 1970s saw the start of a concerted effort to revitalize Baltimore. A key part of the plan was the creation of Harborplace, a three-acre retail and entertainment complex that anchors the Inner Harbor. Today, the Inner Harbor's attractions include the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the U.S.S. Constellation, and the Pier Six Concert Pavilion. In addition, there are a number of excellent hotels, including the four-star Harbor Court, many fine restaurants and two very busy marinas. The Inner Harbor's renovation was vital to Baltimore's renaissance, and it remains the key draw of the city's approximately $625 million-a-year tourist industry.

Downtown
In 1729, about 60 years after the first colonists settled in the area, Charles and Baltimore streets were built. Today, the intersection of these two roads is at the heart of Baltimore's business district, where you'll find the city's financial and banking institutions, international trade organizations, medical research companies, as well as law, engineering and architectural firms. A grid of roughly 25 blocks, the business district is easy to navigate and is within walking distance of most of the downtown hotels.

To the North
Walk up Charles Street about 10 blocks and you'll find Mount Vernon, one of the city's loveliest neighborhoods. Its chief feature is a park of shrub-lined lawns and flowerbeds, laid out in the form of a cross. The 178-foot tall monument to George Washington stands at the park's center. Mount Vernon is also home to the Peabody Institute, the Walters Art Gallery, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and several excellent restaurants, including Tio Pepe.

Just above Mount Vernon is Bolton Hill. Known as the "Gin Belt" during the 1920s, this area was home to the city's Jazz Age bohemian community. F. Scott Fitzgerald made his home here for a while, and Tender is the Night was published during his stay. Today, the area is home to the Maryland Institute College of Art, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the University of Baltimore.

Still farther up Charles Street lies well-groomed Charles Village, home of Johns Hopkins University. Just next door is Hampden, a funky blue-collar/alternative district made famous by independent film director John Waters. Continue north, and you'll find Guilford, which features Mount Washington, a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood with lots of great restaurants, like The Desert Café.

To the South
Just south of downtown is Federal Hill. One of the most popular residential areas in the city, its streets are lined with stately 19th century row homes, and peppered with great restaurants like The One World Café. The neighborhood is also home to the Cross Street Market, where a variety of vendors sell a vast array of fresh and prepared food items, and the American Visionary Art Museum.

To the East
Immediately east of downtown is Little Italy, one of the city's most cherished neighborhoods. Settled in the 1840s by Italian immigrants seeking work on the city's railroads, the area is now known for its many restaurants. At last count, the 12 square blocks of Little Italy had 20 restaurants, from old favorites like Sabatino's to newcomers like Aldo's.

Just past Little Italy is Fells Point. This was once the chief Colonial shipbuilding center, where frigates known as Baltimore Clippers were launched. Today Fells Point is known for its craft and antique shops, restaurants, bars and coffeehouses. During the weekend the neighborhood is jammed with college-age revelers who flock to the many party-oriented dance clubs. Young urban professionals enjoy dining at restaurant Bertha's.

Just above Fells Point is Butcher's Hill, an area once home to dozens of butchers who sold their wares at Fells Point's Broadway Market, and farther north is Old Town, a neighborhood settled by German and Irish immigrants in the early 1800s.

Just to the east lies Canton. Originally an industrial area populated by Welsh, German, Polish and Irish immigrants, Canton today is a lively residential area known for its friendly eateries like Nacho Mama's. To the north of Canton is Greek Town, a quiet residential neighborhood famous for its restaurants, Ikaros foremost among them.

To the West
A quick trip west from the Inner Harbor will take you into Pigtown, originally an area of stockyards manned by German and Irish immigrants. It's now a residential neighborhood, filled with classic Baltimore-style rowhomes with marble steps and formstone facades. Pigtown is now home to the B & O Railroad Museum, and the area's most famous son is memorialized at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.

Baltimore offers endless entertainment options, from live music and museums to stage, screen and sports events. Visitors often begin their stay in “Charm City” with a trip to the Inner Harbor, which offers a wonderful preview of all that Baltimore has to offer. The area is home to many restaurants, shops and museums, as well as the waterfront Pier Six Concert Pavilion.

Music
For classical music, of course, there is always the Baltimore Symphony and recitals, opera, and new work at the Peabody Institute. In the summer, the Symphony performs at Oregon Ridge Park in suburban Cockeysville (Baltimore County). The outdoor venue offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to enjoy great music in a serene atmosphere. Visitors who enjoy opera will love the historic Lyric Opera House, home of the Baltimore Opera Company.

Live music on a smaller scale is easy to find in bars and restaurants around town, or on summer nights by the Harbor. If you don't like the music, just walk through Fells Point until you find what you want; it's there somewhere, in one of the many bars along the cobblestones. At Bertha's, in the heart of Fells Point, you're likely to find a live jazz or folk band playing. There's also plenty of Irish music performed at other restaurants in the neighborhood, if you want something lively but not as loud.

Sports
For sports, the city offers everything from biking and hiking to baseball, football and golf. The Baltimore metropolitan area also has horse racing at Pimlico Race Course on the city's northwestern border, indoor volleyball courts at Volleyball House in nearby Columbia and swimming at Arundel Olympic Swim Center in Annapolis.

There's major league baseball at the downtown Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. At nearby PSINet Stadium, fans of the National Football League can watch the Ravens play. Both stadiums are within easy walking distance of the Inner Harbor and downtown business district.

If biking or skating is more your style, be sure to take advantage of the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail in beautiful Anne Arundel County, about 20 minutes south of Baltimore by car. The 13-mile paved trail stretches from suburban Glen Burnie to Annapolis, affording bicyclists, skaters and walkers a respite from the hustle and bustle of Baltimore's encroaching suburbs.

Hikers will enjoy spending a day at the Earth Treks Climbing Center in Columbia (Howard County). It is the East Coast's largest indoor climbing center, featuring a state-of-the-art, 13,250-square-foot climbing surface that resembles a southwestern canyon with 44-foot high cliffs.

If you prefer to spend time outdoors, try golfing. You'll find a range of courses, from the city's Carroll Park Municipal Golf Course, a 12-hole, par 40 course, to the more challenging Diamond Ridge 18-hole, par 71 course owned and operated by Baltimore County.

Theater and Cinema
Film buffs will relish Baltimore's landmark theaters: The Charles Theater and the Senator Theater. The former has been a fixture of the city's cinema scene since 1939; the latter has been named one of the top four theaters in the country.

If stage performances are more to your liking, try to catch a performance at Center Stage in downtown Baltimore. This respected regional theater consistently offers high-quality productions on its two stages, the Head Theater and the Pearlstone Theater.

Museums and Galleries
The Baltimore region is home to many museums and art galleries. No matter what your interests—sports, western, Asian or African art, the Civil War or even dentistry—you're likely to find a museum in or near Charm City that's dedicated to it.

No trip to Baltimore would be complete without a visit to the Walters Art Gallery. This downtown gallery boasts a collection that spans nearly the entire history of Western art. The Walters also houses one of the largest collections of traditional Asian art in the United States. Fans of modern American artists will delight in the nearby Baltimore Museum of Art.

If African art peaks your interest, you won't want to miss the African Art Museum of Maryland in Columbia, a 20-minute drive from downtown Baltimore.

Civil War buffs will enjoy spending an afternoon at the Baltimore Civil War Museum. It chronicles the story of the first casualties of the Civil War, as well as Baltimore's role in the underground railroad.

Sports fans will love the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. It features Babe's boyhood bat, the score card from his first professional game and Orioles team memorabilia.

Visitors with more eclectic interests might enjoy visiting the National Museum of Dentistry, Mud and Metal, which sells alternative art objects, or the smaller art galleries in Baltimore. Many, including the Watermark Gallery and the Art Gallery of Fells Point display the work of local artists. The Baltimore Streetcar Museum and B & O Railroad Museum are also worth visiting.

Children's Attractions
Charm City is a wonderful place to bring the kids for a day of fun. Be sure to visit Port Discovery, where children can climb, crawl and slide through a treehouse or learn to make their own jewelry. A trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore is also sure to be a hit with the young and young at heart. Entertainment at this Inner Harbor attraction includes a simulated rainforest and regularly scheduled dolphin shows. The nearby Maryland Science Center will inspire curious children with interactive exhibits that focus on physics, marine biology and astronomy.

Baltimore

State:Maryland

Country: United States

Baltimore by the Numbers
Population: 622,100
Elevation: 480 feet / 150 meters
Average Annual Precipitation: 42 inches / 107 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 21 inches / 53 centimeters 
Average January Temperature: 36°F / 2.2°C
Average July Temperature: 81°F / 27.2°C

  

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-5

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 410

Did You Know?

Baltimore was established in the early 1700s to serve as an economic hub for Maryland farmers. Baltimore was also home to the first American umbrella factory in 1828.

In recent years Baltimore has gained a national and international reputation because of the television shows that are set there, such as Homicide, The Wire, and The Corner, along with feature films, notably by directors John Waters (Hairspray), and Berry Levenson (Avalon, Tinmen, Dinner, Liberty Heights).

Orientation

Baltimore sits near the Patapsco River estuary and the Chesapeake Bay and is one of the major urban centers of the Northeast. Baltimore is easily accessible to Washington D.C, New York City, and Philadelphia.

The most blue collar of American cities started as the most blue blooded. Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, hoped to reproduce England as perfectly as possible. But by the end of the 19th century, the city built as a seat for landed gentry had become a collection of fiercely solid working class neighborhoods.

Cecil appointed his brother Leo as the first governor, and, on November 22, 1632, the Ark and the Dove set sail from England with about 140 settlers, a mix of Protestants and Catholics. By March 25, 1633, the Feast of the Annunciation, they had established their first Maryland landing on the island of St. Clement's.

Maryland's early years were a rich time for landed gentry, with rolling estates, rich hunting and fishing, and a good port. Black slaves and indentured whites were doing the work and it was very much like Lord Baltimore's vision of an idyllic England, except that Catholics and Protestants were trying to live in harmony. This religious mix was highly unusual at the time--within a few years the religious tensions back in England would lead to civil war. During this period, in 1689, Anne Arundell Town was named Maryland's capital, but was renamed Annapolis in 1695.

In the colony's early years, 80 percent of the land was controlled by about 10 percent of the population. The town of Baltimore was chartered on August 8, 1729 as a place to put the colony's new customs house; eventually it became the chief port, and today it is the fifth busiest port in the United States.

By the 1750s, the main export crops were cereal grains and flour, ground in the new mills of Baltimore. Indentured servitude came to an end, and these new freemen opened a series of small farms across the state. Trade with the other colonies and with Europe was the principle industry of this seaport town, and the forces that propelled America into the Revolutionary War were keenly felt here. Baltimoreans raided British merchant frigates under officially sanctioned "privateering" laws.

Despite frequent skirmishes, progress continued. In 1808, Mother Elizabeth Seton opened a school for girls on Paca Street and in 1812 the University of Maryland was founded. Mother Seton was later canonized as the first American saint, in 1975.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Baltimore ships proved adept at skirting British blockades to supply France. Eager to take another crack at the ex-colonies, Britain declared war. During the War of 1812, the British burned Washington D.C. and General Andrew Jackson made a name for himself defeating the British in the Battle of New Orleans. Then, in 1814, British troops advanced on Baltimore, planning to burn the town and destroy the core of the American merchant fleet in the harbor. On Sunday, September 11, 1814, they attacked the harbor defenses at Ft. McHenry.

The battle raged for 12 hours. Eight miles away, aboard a British vessel, an American watched the bombardment. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer negotiating the release of a client when a British officer detained him for the duration of the battle. As evening fell, Key could plainly see the American flag, 80 feet long and 40 feet high, above the fort. The sight inspired Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," which was later declared the official national anthem of the United States. Though the lyrics are Key's, the tune comes from an old British drinking song.

By the end of the Civil War, Baltimore started to resemble the city it is today. The landed gentry of Lord Baltimore's time were long gone. The rising cities of New York and Boston and Philadelphia had become the new centers of culture, and many of the rich had moved on.

The end of the 19th century marks the beginning of baseball. The Baltimore Orioles was among the first teams. Babe Ruth was born here in 1895 and his father ran a pub on a spot in what is now Camden Yards. The Orioles' Cal Ripken, Jr., is a legend here, and everywhere that baseball is followed.

Modern Baltimore began at the end of World War II. As the new suburbs developed, downtown fell on hard times. By the 1960s, Baltimore faced the same sort of abandonment and blight as most American cities. This changed in the 1980s with the development of the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards, the new home of the Orioles.

Points of interest in Baltimore, MD

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