Characterised by its abundant waterways and coastlines, the Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland – and in particular the metropolis of Baltimore – are brimming with fun things to do.
Laying claim to producing the most blue crabs anywhere in the United States, Maryland attracts huge numbers of fishing boats that lend its lengthy coastal areas oodles of character. But there’s far more to the region than this – not least, the city of Baltimore, perpetually pulsating with energy and a major historic trading port, baseball power and birthplace of the American national anthem, no less. If you’re coming to Maryland and would like to check out some of the most fun activities and attractions in Baltimore and beyond, here’s your starter for ten.
Explore a wildlife wonderland
With its wild waters churning ceaselessly against the jagged cliffs and sandy shores, Assateague Island National Seashore is one of Maryland’s most magnificent natural attractions. It’s also full to the brim with fun things to do – primarily revolving around the area’s abundance of wildlife. Eagles make their nests in tall trees, while wild horses gallop along the coastline. If you catch a break, you might even spot a pony taking an afternoon dip. Other popular activities here include camping, kayaking, hiking and biking.
7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin / 24 hours
Soak up some unusual arts culture
If you like your culture to come with a dash of the ‘quirky’, then the American Visionary Art Museum will definitely be for you. A world away from a traditional museum experience, the renowned Baltimore landmark features works by self-taught artists, including farmers, mathematicians, prison inmates, and people with mental illness – all designed to challenge the notion of what it means to be a professional creative in the realm of art. Featuring a curious architectural layout with curved hallways, stairwells, rounded gallery walls and mirrored mosaic facade, works on display include embroidery, graffiti, diorama, sculpture, and film, each created from unusual mediums such as toothpicks and household condiments.
800 Key Highway, Baltimore / Weds-Sun 10am-5pm Closed Mon-Tues
Visit a world class aquarium
Attracting more than 1.5 million visitors per year, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is regularly named in lists of the world’s best aquariums – and for good reason. An architectural masterpiece, the huge complex houses everything from small tide pools to gigantic arched tunnels that invite you to experience the thrill of walking underwater. Kids in particular will love it as sharks swim over your heads, jellyfish follow your movements with their ethereal tendrils, and fish dart all around as you move from hallway to hallway. As well as its marine creatures, the aquarium also contains thousands of birds, bugs, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
501 East Pratt Street, Baltimore / Mon-Thurs & Sat-Sun 10am-4pm Fri 10am-8pm
Take a walk along a buzzing boardwalk
With its huge, kaleidoscopic entrance gate looming large over its wooden pier, Ocean City Boardwalk is one of the most distinctive attractions anywhere in Maryland. Found in the Atlantic resort town of Ocean City, the boardwalk offers more than three miles of shops, restaurants, games, rides, arcades, bars and hotels all packed into a single walkable stretch. Carnival games and rides including carousels, roller coasters and Ferris wheels will keep the little ones entertained, while adults are catered for with museum tours, pub crawls and outdoor concerts.
Take a sightseeing cruise
To get to know Baltimore, you really need to get up close and personal on its gritty urban streets. But for a different perspective on the city, head out into the water by joining an Inner Harbor sightseeing cruise. During the one-hour trip, you’ll sail along the coastline and listen to the onboard narration as it points out famous landmarks such as the John W Brown Liberty Ship, the USS Constellation, and more, before traversing the Inner Harbor, one of America’s oldest seaports. Enjoy vantage points on both the indoor and outdoor observation decks, and relax onboard with snacks and drinks as you go.
Hit the rides at a fun-packed theme park
Home to more than 100 thrilling rides, as well as hosting a busy programme of shows and other attractions, along with the largest water park in the region, Six Flags America attracts both locals and tourists alike. Among the most popular rides are the flying roller coaster BATWING, and the 200-foot tall hyper-coaster SUPERMAN: Ride of Steel, while the water park includes one of the world’s largest wave pools. Little ones are also catered for by two children’s areas packed with smaller rides.
13710 Central Avenue, Bowie / Mon-Sun 11am-7pm
Join in a historic annual celebration
Created to commemorate the day settlers disembarked from two small sailing ships onto Maryland soil, Maryland Day is a legal state holiday centred around learning, fun, and discovery through events and activities based on exploration. In schools, students learn about the history of the state, while in St. Mary’s City, the first colonial capital of the state, ceremonies, pageants, and re-enactments are held. However, the biggest and most well-known celebration of this holiday is the annual Maryland Day Weekend celebration that takes place at 20 venues across the state.
Venues across Maryland / March-April each year
Delve into the world of Steampunk
Curious about Steampunk? Then attend the annual Telltale Steampunk Festival located in Hunt Valley, about 20 minutes north of Baltimore). Best described as an alternative history of the Victorian era that emphasises creativity, the festival features authors, workshops, and panel discussions in a family friendly atmosphere. Try Tea Dueling, enter the Costume/Regalia competitions, bid in the silent auction, and enjoy the evening’s musical entertainment. A roomful of vendors will tempt you with artisan and handcrafted wares from some of the best in the md-Atlantic area. www.telltalesteampunk.com.
Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley / April each year
Book yourself onto a haunted city walking tour
Every city has its spooky side – and Baltimore is no different. Visitors can get under the skin of its creepy tales and dark history by booking themselves onto a haunted walking tour. Taking place in the Fell’s Point neighbourhood, guests will stop at several pubs and saloons, a cemetery, and a hotel, where your expert guide regales you with stories of their eerie past. Highlights include learning about the spirit of Edgar Allen Poe and his mysterious death, and visiting The Admiral Fell Inn, routinely cited as one of the most haunted hotels in America.
Discover a world of wonderous water features
With its abundance of mountains, lakes and trees, Maryland is a nature lover’s paradise, and one of the jewels in its crown is the Great Falls. Situated on the border of Maryland and Virginia, the attraction is actually a series of water features along the Potomac River, where waterfalls gush over rocks and whitewater rapids rush down mountain valleys. Quite simply, it’s a stunning place to experience the power of nature up close. Whether it’s hiking, climbing, kayaking or rafting that gets your heart pumping, this is the place to head for all lovers of the great outdoors.
Marvel at the wonders of the universe
Located within Baltimore’s acclaimed Maryland Science Center, the Davis Planetarium is both a mesmerising spectacle and an educational experience that will captivate anyone with an interest in the wonders of the universe beyond earth. Visitors will see day turn to night as thousands of stars and planets light up the dome of the theatre during regular daily showtimes. Be sure to check out the rest of the venue during your visit, where there are immersive science-themed exhibits, plus an IMAX cinema.
Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street, Baltimore / Tues-Fri 10am-5pm Sat 10am-6pm Closed Mon
Get a taste of Baltimore on a food tour
Baltimore has a rich and diverse culinary scene and visitors can discover it for themselves by joining a guided food tour. Over the course of four hours, you’ll traverse the city’s Mt. Vernon neighbourhood on foot and in the company of an expert guide, enjoying the sights, learning the history of the industrialists and the impact they left on the city, and stopping to sample multi-ethnic cuisine from around the world. In total, you’ll visit four restaurants, all inspired by the funky cultural mix of communities in the area. Chinese dumplings, Turkish Mediterranean kebabs, Afghan specialities, and fusion cuisine are all on the menu for a dynamic foodie experience.