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Must Visit Attractions in Baltimore

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Considered one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture, the Baltimore Basilica is the nation's oldest Catholic cathedral. Begun in 1806 and completed in 1821, the cathedral was designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol. With its six Corinthian columns fronting a grand portico, the cathedral resembles a Greek temple. Nine stained-glass windows fill the massive interior with light. Visitors in recent years have included Pope John Paul II and the late Mother Theresa.

The sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the 'Star Spangled Banner'. The fort is best known for the part it played during the War of 1812, successfully holding off an attack by the British Navy. When Scott Key saw the flag still flying over the fort after surviving the attack, he wrote the poem that became the national anthem. Today, the fort is a National Historic Park. The restored barracks hold exhibits of military and historical artifacts and a well-kept trail runs along the water's edge, affording spectacular views of ships entering and leaving the busy harbor.

Towering above Mount Vernon Place is Baltimore's Washington Monument. The marble Doric column towers 178 feet (54.25 meters) with a statue of George Washington at its crown. The reward for climbing the steep, winding 228 steps is a breathtaking, bird's-eye view of Baltimore. The base contains a small museum with exhibits chronicling the architecture and development of the monument, which took nearly 15 years to build (1815-1829).

This observation area, on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center, offers panoramic views of the Baltimore Harbor. There is also a museum that displays artifacts from Baltimore's past and a gift shop featuring the famous Maryland crab. Although school groups and tours are invited to schedule an appointment to experience the Top of the World Observation Level, the space may not be reserved for private functions.

This aquarium is perhaps the greatest attraction in Baltimore's celebrated Inner Harbor. The exhibits start small with samples of marine life from local waters, but visitors soon find themselves eye-to-eye with sharks, rays and other very large creatures. The simulated rainforest ecosystem is truly awe-inspiring. The regularly scheduled dolphin shows are very popular, especially with children.

Federal Hill Park is a pristine park offering spectacular views of the Inner Harbor and a wonderful, fenced-in play area for the kids, complete with slides, a sandbox and monkey bars. Dogs are also welcome. While you're visiting the park, take a moment to learn about one of Baltimore's most prominent citizens. A monument details the life of Major General Samuel Smith, who helped defeat the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812. He went on to become a Congressman, then president of the Senate and, finally, mayor of Baltimore.

Located along the Baltimore Harbor on the Patapsco River, Fell's Point is a charming and historic waterfront neighborhood. Famous for its maritime past and seafarer folk, this area has transformed into an entertainment and dining destination. With local boutiques, restaurants, pubs and coffeehouses doting the cobblestoned streets, this charming neighborhood sees a large influx of visitors on the weekends. Perfect for taking in the sights, scents and sounds of the historic side of Baltimore.

Inner Harbor has come to be a significant place in the city of Baltimore and considered a must-visit attraction. The small waterfront, which serves as a top destination, rose to prominence during the 1950s when it was revitalized for recreational and leisure activities along with grass-covered parks for its people. Over the next decade, parks and plazas, buildings and hotels, even corporate conventions and government units were added to the Inner Harbor. Places like Maryland Science Center, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not - Odditorium, are major attractions that delight people of all ages. The area still embraces its glorious history and the Baltimore Museum of Industry is an apt example. Admirers of the past can take a step back in time by visiting any or all of the five historic ships that are permanently stationed at the Inner Harbor. The elevated 27th floor of the World Trade Center situated in Inner Harbor allows a bird-eye view of the city of Baltimore.

Johns Hopkins University owns and operates this 48-room, 1850s Italianate mansion decorated with post-Impressionist paintings and sculptures, rare books, Tiffany glass and chandeliers, Chinese porcelains, Japanese netsuke and 17th-century Belgian tapestries. The impressive home contains Baltimore's only private theater designed by Leon Bakst, who is best known for Ballet Russes sets. Call for information on lectures, sculpture shows and other activities. Guided one-hour tours are offered on the hour. Closed major holidays.

The historic vessels and landmarks of this museum bring to life the history of American naval power. The US Coast Guard Cutter Taney (surviving warship in Pearl Harbor), USS Torsk (fired last two torpedoes in World War II), the lightship Chesapeake (served as floating lighthouse for 40 years) and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse (helped sailors navigate Chesapeake Bay for more than 100 years) all played a vital and heroic role in US military war and peacekeeping. Special student programs are also available at Historic Ships in Baltimore.

Babe Ruth is so much a part of New York Yankees lore, people forget that he was born, raised and introduced to professional baseball in Baltimore. This museum celebrates the Babe's Baltimore roots, displaying his boyhood bat, the score card from his first professional game. Artifacts from his father's saloon, which stood where Oriole Park is today, are also on display. The museum is also the official repository of Orioles team memorabilia.

Baltimore's World Trade Center - the world's tallest pentagonal building - is a must-see for anyone visiting Charm City. That's because the 27th-floor observation deck "Top of the World" - offers panoramic views of the Inner Harbor and Baltimore's historic waterfront neighborhoods. It's a great place to get a sense of the city. The observation level also contains exhibits about Baltimore and its economic renaissance.

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