Whether you are on a budget or just looking for some inexpensive ways to spend your time, this list of free things to do in Baltimore is sure to give you some ideas on exploring Charm City on the cheap.
Located on the south side of the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill Park is one of the best spots to scope out Baltimore's skyline. The grassy hilltop is where 4,000 patriots celebrated Maryland's ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788. Nearby is the American Visionary Art Museum, which features wacky kinetic sculptures and a glittery mosaic exterior. The museum is definitely worth a look—even if its just from the outside.
Fort McHenry National Monument: Known as the "birthplace of the National Anthem," Fort McHenry is where Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the "Star-Spangled Banner." A perfect place to take the kids, there are plenty of activities and storytellers at the historic site. Stop by at 9:30 a.m. or 4:20 p.m. to see a daily changing of the flag ceremony. Although it is free to roam the grounds, entering the fort will cost a small fee.
Edgar Allan Poe Memorial: Pay homage to one of Baltimore's most celebrated residents, Edgar Allan Poe, by visiting his gravesite and memorial inside Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. For a small fee, you can also seek out the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, which is located in a home where Poe once lived.
Museums and Galleries
Visitors to The Baltimore Museum of Art will be pleased to find a museum full of works from the 19th century to contemporary times. The collection of over 90,000 pieces of art includes the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world, as well as pieces by Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, and much more. The museum has free admission year-round, with the exception of some special exhibitions. Don't forget to take a stroll through the sculpture garden, which is set on nearly three landscaped acres.
The Walters Art Museum features a collection of treasures that includes ancient art, Asian art, Islamic art, medieval art, Renaissance and Baroque art, and work from the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum, which is free to the public with the exception of some special exhibitions that require a ticket, is located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, near the Washington Monument.
Scattered throughout the campus of the Maryland Institute College of Art are several galleries that showcase a variety of work made by up and coming student artists (and many times, established regional, national, or international artists). With a hodgepodge of buildings that runs the gamut from neoclassical to modern, the campus itself can be considered a work of art.
Lace up your hiking shoes or hop on a two-wheeler and head to the Gwynns Falls Trail, which was recently expanded to 15 miles. The trail begins at the I-70 Park & Ride and meanders along the Gwynns Falls stream to end at either the Baltimore Visitor Center or in Middle Branch Park at the southern edge of the city. Along the way, you'll catch a glimpse of 30 neighborhoods and many Baltimore attractions, including M&T Bank Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Federal Hill.
Encompassing 207 acres, the Cylburn Arboretum is a nature preserve within city limits. A Victorian mansion filled with watercolor paintings is surrounded by woodlands with trails from which native and non-native trees, plants, and flowers can be found. Some of the most favored flora among the collection includes beeches, hollies, Japanese maples, magnolias, and Maryland oaks.
The oldest antique district in the United States is located along N. Howard Street, which dates from the 1840s and has become known as Antique Row over the years. Taking a stroll and browsing the stores full of collectibles is free, but odds are you'll find a treasure worth spending some money on.
Once an encampment for Union Troops during the Civil War, Patterson Park is now a public playground with an ice-skating rink, swimming pool, lake, pagoda, and plenty of room to roam. Activities are offered year-round, but pick up in the summer.