The birthplace of our national anthem, Baltimore is just a quick hour or so from our nation's capitol on the Chesapeake Bay. Known for its aquarium and dynamic neighborhoods and people, Baltimore is a popular tourist destination in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
WHAT TO DO
Critically acclaimed show The Wire is filmed on location in Baltimore. Although not always the most flattering depiction of the city (the show focuses on the rougher neighborhoods of West Baltimore, drug crime and housing projects) the show can be a good way for visitor to get acquainted with the city. While tourists to the city are highly unlikely to encounter the drug trade or crime, the show can introduce tourists to the character and climate of this city--from the horse-cart fruit vendors to local hip-hop to beautiful old row houses.
The National Aquarium is located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. One the best and largest aquariums in the entire country, this is a worthwhile stop for tourists to Baltimore who can admire the huge shark tanks and tropical rainforest exhibit.
There are a few neighborhoods that are great for tourists to explore. Federal Hill (named after the ratification of the Federal Constitution) is an historic neighborhood full of bars and great restaurants. Hampden should not be missed and is an eclectic area in North Baltimore with antique stores, restaurants and an ice cream soda fountain. Fell's Point, an historic maritime neighborhood bordering the harbor, also is chock-full of bars, shops and restaurants.
The Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is a major hub for many of the United States' largest carriers. This makes flights to Baltimore both easy to find and also very affordable. In fact, flights into Baltimore are often cheaper than nearby airports in Washington D.C. and is a great place to get a cheap flight before exploring the area. The airport is connected to Baltimore by light rail. which is a fast and easy way to get to the city. You can also take a train into Washington D.C. from the airport. If you are driving, reserving airport parking at Baltimore in advance can save you both time and money. Those looking for a posh way to travel into the city, can book a limo from Baltimore to their destination. Another option is a shuttle, which is an easy and affordable way to travel from the airport.
WHERE TO STAY
As a major tourist destination in the U.S., Baltimore is full of hotels. Most of the nicest hotels are located close to the harbor. These hotels in Baltimore are probably worth the slightly higher price tag to be close to all the best sightseeing opportunities (not mention harbor views). For those on a shoestring budget, there are a few hostels in Baltimore where travelers can stay for a fraction of the price, including one in the heart of town in a historic brownstone row home.