Free Things to Do in Baltimore

A trip to Baltimore, Maryland is an exciting vacation for someone traveling solo or an entire family. Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and was founded way back in 1729. Known for the role it played in the forming of the United States, Baltimore is probably best remembered for the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812 when U.S. militia protected the harbor from the invading British, this battle is memorialized in the famous Star Spangled Banner by a witness to the event, Francis Scott Key. Many more battles would follow as the harbor city was a key entrance to the powerful east central United States, but eventually the harbor would almost fall to ruin, it’s not until recently that its value has once again been realized and a revitalization effort has begun.

In addition to Baltimore’s historical significance, it’s also a great town for sports fans as it is home to both a noted professional baseball team and football team, in addition to other, not so popular, professional sports.

If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Baltimore, Maryland, pack your wallet and make sure you’ve got room on that credit card as Baltimore can be a pricey city to visit. If you’d like to see the sites and take the tours but you’re on a budget, use the following guide of free things to do in Baltimore, Maryland to help you find the best deals on free tourism activities.

Washington MonumentCreative Commons License photo credit: gavinmusic

Washington Monument at Mount Vernon

Washington Monument and Museum

In the heart of Baltimore is an area known as Mount Vernon Place and jutting into the sky is the first large-scale monument built to George Washington. The monument is a 178 foot Doric column designed by Robert Mills and built in 1829. Originally the design was meant to be much more elaborate that its current presentation, but financial restrictions and many years or work forced Mills to scale down his grand design. If you’re up for the challenge, you can climb the 228 steps to the top for what is unfortunately an obscured view of the four parks that surround the monument. For those less inclined to climb, the base of the column features a small museum with some interesting photos and etchings. If you’re looking for an additional activity in the area, take the time to explore the four surrounding parks and enjoy a picnic or a game of Frisbee.

uss constellation baltimore maryland Creative Commons License photo credit: sherseydc (steve)

USS Constellation in Baltimore Inner Harbor

One of the United State’s oldest harbors, Inner Harbor has been in operation since the 1600’s. As of late, the harbor has found a niche in the modern world as modern travelers are using it as a port of entry. There is a lot to see around the harbor and it’s easy to spend a day wandering around and taking in the sights. If you plan on going into any of the attractions at Inner Harbor you’ll be paying a bit more than you would outside of this area as it’s a heavily trafficked tourist destination. But for nothing at all you can soak up all the sights and sounds while wandering through the harbor. Be prepared, part of the rejuvenation of the harbor was the installation of simply divine shopping options, so if you have a shopper in tow they’re bound to find something to take home.

Federal Hill Park

Speaking of the War of 1812, Federal Hill played an important part in that war as the lookout point over Inner Harbor. Noted early settler, Captain John Smith was one of the first people to make note of Federal Hill and it was originally referred to as John Smith’s Hill by the first Baltimore settlers. The name changed, oddly enough, after a great party and some riled up partygoers absconded with a ship. The party started as a celebration of the ratification of the United States Constitution organized by a naval hero of the Revolutionary War, Commodore Joshua Barney. A 15 foot replica of the Federalist was paraded through town and left atop the famed hill, but after much food was consumed and much beer and hard cider was drunk, Commodore Barney and his cohorts decided to take the Federalist for a little jaunt and they rolled it down the hill, launched it from Inner Harbor and sailed to Annapolis. With this colorful story it’s easy to see why the name suddenly changed names. Now the hill is much more tame as it serves mainly as a park to visitors, but it still provides an incredible view of the city and the harbor.

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp

This 100 acre sanctuary gives visitors an idea of what the region would have looked like more than 100,000 years ago when cypress swamps were common across the southern parts of the United States and wooly mammoths roamed the land. The quarter mile boardwalk is a fairly easy walk for all people and gives an excellent glimpse of what the world once was. In fact, cypress trees can live to be more than a 1,000 years old, so some of the giants you’re walking under have been in place since before the United States saw it’s first ship in the harbor. Once you’ve finished the walk, take time to tour the nature center to learn even more about what the region of Baltimore was before it was Baltimore. Check their schedule as the Calvert County Natural Resources Division provides several special programs throughout the year.

The Baltimore Basilica

The Baltimore Basilica was built between 1806 and 1821 and earned the honor of being the first cathedral built in the United States. The building itself is a true testament to neoclassical architecture and music lovers will thrill at the sights and sounds of the 17th century organ. Free tours are offered daily, Monday through Saturday and visitors will get to explore all areas of the cathedral, including the undercroft and the crypt.

In addition to the highlights mentioned above there are a number of free attractions to visit in Baltimore, Maryland that are free to the public. Some of these include; Edgar Allen Poe Gravesite and Memorial, Sherwood Gardens, Harmony Hall, Patapsco Valley State Park, the Holocaust Memorial and Sculpture, the Baltimore Basilica and many more. Take the time to explore the free attractions in Baltimore and you’ll be glad you did.