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Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland is situated along the shores of the vast Chesapeake Bay nearly 200 miles (over 300 km) inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located approximately 35 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington DC and 75 miles (125 km) southwest of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. It is one of the great eastern coast seaports of the United States with extensive facilities for container shipment and for the transport of automobiles via roll-on roll-off cargo vessels. It is an older city with plenty of character and many historically significant attractions.

Fells Point on the Baltimore Harbor © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Fells Point, a small shipyard community located about 3 miles east of downtown along the harbor basin, has been revived as a shopping and entertainment center.

The Inner Harbor

The old inner harbor basin located at the heart of downtown Baltimore has been refurbished and converted to a large entertainment and shopping area. The docks and streets surrounding the inner harbor now house museums, restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and hotels. The National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children's Museum, and the World Trade Center of Baltimore are all located around the basin. Docked along the Inner Harbor piers, you will also find: the USS Constellation (the last all-sail war ship built by the navy); the USS Torsk (a World War II vintage submarine); the lighthouse ship Chesapeake and the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney. They are all open to the public for tours. The Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a very colorful and historically interesting place to visit.

The Harbor Shops are located right on the Inner Harbor basin downtown. They contain a variety of shops, a fast food mall and an assortment of nice restaurants. You can buy a souvenir of Baltimore and sit down to feast on some genuine Maryland crab cakes while enjoying the harbor scenery. You can stroll along the esplanade to the nearby Science Center or the Aquarium or can tour the USS Constellation and the other museum ships. Water taxis depart from the pier just behind the Harbor Shops to take you to Fells Point, Little Italy or Fort McHenry. All-day tickets on the water taxis cost about $6.

The Old Neighborhoods

The city of Baltimore has many old ethnic neighborhoods. A few of them have been restored and refurbished into interesting shopping and dining locales with plenty of character. Little Italy is located just a few blocks east of downtown. It offers many Italian restaurants, groceries and pastry shops. It is only a 15-minute walk, a five-minute cab ride or a 10-minute water taxi ride from the center of downtown.

USS Constellation tall masted sailing ship at Baltimore Inner Harbor © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
You can stroll along the esplanade to the nearby Science Center or the Aquarium or can tour the USS Constellation and the other museum ships.

Fells Point, a small shipyard community located about 3 miles east of downtown along the harbor basin, has been revived as a shopping and entertainment center. The old central markets still offer a variety of meats, produce, ethnic delicacies and seafood. The surrounding shops have been beautifully restored and converted to bars, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and antique shops. On weekends, live music and entertainment attract a lot of young folks. You can get to Fells Point via a 10-minute taxi ride or a 15-minute water taxi voyage.

The Federal Hill district of Baltimore lies just south of the Inner Harbor Basin. Its most prominent feature is the low hill situated directly south of the harbor. From its summit in Federal Hill Park, you get a great panoramic view of the entire city.

You can reach it by walking south along Light Street past the Maryland Science Center. It is less than a mile. The surrounding neighborhood is composed of neatly refurbished brick and stone fronted town houses, with a nice selection of small shops, restaurants, stores and neighborhood bars. The Cross Street Market offers a nice selection of meats, produce, seafood, pastries and flowers. This is a place where the residents of Baltimore go to shop and to eat.

Sports, Entertainment and Culture

Baltimore has an American League baseball team, the Orioles, who play their games at the beautiful Camden Yards stadium just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor. They also have a NFL football team, the Ravens, that play in a stadium just south of Camden Yards. They also have an Indoor soccer team, a professional lacrosse team and a women's football team. There are two thoroughbred horse racing tracks nearby including the famous Pimlico Race Course, home of the world famous Preakness. There are plenty of opportunities to see some great sports matches in Baltimore.

Baltimore has a symphony orchestra and an opera company. It has several theater venues in the area including two dinner theaters. There are dozens of art galleries and museum in the city including some unusual and interesting places like the National Cryptology Museum, the Antique Toy Museum, the Museum of Dentistry and the Nanny Jack collection of Afro-American memorabilia.

Getting to Baltimore

You can drive to Baltimore from New York City or Philadelphia by taking Interstate route 95 south. It is only four hours from NYC and only two hours from Philadelphia. From Washington DC it is less than one hour north on Route 95 or a bit longer if you take the Baltimore Washington Parkway or old Route one. You can fly into Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) which is only a half-hour drive south of downtown. There are plenty of public transportation options from BWI to downtown Baltimore. You can take the MARC trains, the light rail, the AMTRAK passenger trains, the super shuttle vans or the taxis.

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Route 95 skirts around Baltimore along a circular beltway known as route 695. Many hotels, motels and modestly priced accommodations can be found along route 95 or near the major exits from 695. Other accommodations are concentrated near BWI airport and along route one south of the city. Some of the finest hotel accommodations are located on or near the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore.

Accommodations

There are hundreds of hotel options in Baltimore, with prices ranging from moderate to more expensive.

Shopping

Likewise, shopping centers are clustered near route 95 and route one and near some of the major exits from 695. The Towson Town Center Mall and the White Marsh Mall are located in the northern suburbs and the huge Arundel Mills Mall with nearly 200 factory outlets is just south of the city in Hanover Maryland. There are also some upscale malls and boutiques near the Inner Harbor area in downtown including Harborplace and the Gallery at Harborplace.

Nearby Attractions

Annapolis, capitol of the state of Maryland and one of the oldest cities in the USA, is located just 25 miles southeast of Baltimore. It is a lovely little city located in a picturesque setting on the Chesapeake Bay with some of the best preserved 18th and 19th century architecture in the country. It is home of the US Naval Academy and home of St. John's College, originally founded in 1696. This historically significant attraction is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Baltimore and it offers many interesting attractions.

Ellicott City is a charming village with a restored historical district located just a few miles south of the 695 beltway around Baltimore. The central business area has a selection of quaint shops, art galleries and restaurants.

Washington DC, our nation's capitol, is less than a one-hour drive south of Baltimore. You can take the MARC or the AMTRAK trains to Union Station, you can drive to one of the park and ride lots in the DC suburbs or you can drive all the way to downtown Washington. There are so many monuments, museums and historical attractions in the city that I will not attempt to list them all. It is one of the best tourist destinations in eastern USA.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: Baltimore, Maryland is situated along the shores of the vast Chesapeake Bay.