25 Reasons to Love Baltimore

Susan Elnicki

As Marinalife kicks off its 25th year, we’d like to pay homage to our hometown of Baltimore and show our pride in being part of this vibrant community. To match our quarter- century celebration, we’re touting 25 of our favorite attractions around Charm City and encouraging you to visit these local treasures.



Perched on a grassy knoll along the Patapsco River, this pentagon-shaped fort has safeguarded Baltimore Harbor from 1798 to World War II. Its claim to fame harkens back to the War of 1812 when American defenses outsmarted the British at the Battle of Baltimore and inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the Star-Spangled Banner. As a national park, McHenry treats guests to stellar waterfront views, green space for picnics and historic tales of U.S. military might.


Opened in 1911 by Emerson Drug Company as the city’s timekeeper and tallest building until 1923, the clock tower promoted a popular remedy for headaches, heartburn and too many Natty Boh beers. The clock still runs, and its 15-story tower now houses studio space for visual and literary artists, and a collection of vintage Bromo Seltzer bottles.


With a gamut of outdoor amenities, such as playgrounds, swimming pool, dog park, tennis courts, open fields and more, Patterson Park has been the epitome of urban green space since 1827. These 137 acres of high ground on Hampstead Hill are also home to the “Pagoda,” an observatory tower that reflects the Victorian penchant for Asian architecture. Climbing to the top of the 60-foot-tall structure unveils a 360-degree view of Baltimore, the Patapasco River and points beyond.


In Baltimore, history is not confined to textbooks and lecture halls. Its maritime legacy comes alive, floats in the harbor and travels around the globe. The topsail schooner, Pride of Baltimore II, was built in the style of a Baltimore clipper to honor the city’s war history and resilience. She has sailed to 200 ports in 40 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia, logging 270,000 nautical miles in 35 years. Inner Harbor offers a safe port to four grand vessels: USS Constellation sloop of war, LV116 Chesapeake lightship, USS Torsk Navy submarine, and USCG Cutter 37 law enforcement ship. To get a glimpse at America’s nautical past, come aboard vessels and take a tour.

Fells Point Credit Alexa Zizzi


With cobblestone streets and buildings dating back to the mid- 1700s, this waterfront neighborhood has been a hub of maritime and shipbuilding traditions for centuries. A faded sign on a brick wall defying Prohibition serves as a reminder that the pubs have poured refreshments for thirsty patrons since George Washington’s days. The roster of 100+ small businesses includes ethnic restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, galleries and markets. Broadway Pier offers a safe harbor to U.S. Coast Guard and Navy ships, towboats, and historic sailing vessels, and the nearby upscale Sagamore Pendry Hotel building (formerly Recreation Pier, circa 1914) has lived many lives from the shipyard’s working pier to a social dance hall and set for the TV show Homicide, Life on the Streets.


When you stroll through the public park past replica cannons on top of Federal Hill, it’s easy to see how it was a strategic military overlook during the War of 1812 and remains an ideal vantage point to gaze down on Baltimore Harbor. Rising 80 feet above the waterfront, this historic neighborhood bustles with brick rowhouses, bars, diverse eateries, markets, retail shops, museums, galleries and churches. Sports bars are aplenty, adding to a robust nightlife in close walking distance to M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards.



As a recently designated federal Tech Hub, Baltimore’s tech economy is growing with over 500 startups, 54 capital providers, and 11.3% of our workforce. Our Tech Hub is uniquely Baltimore: every Tuesday, the tech community — from tech veterans to newcomers — comes together at UpSurge, Baltimore’s Equitech Tuesday. Founders, investors, corporate and institutional leaders, economic development experts, and government officials are all aligning around an inspiring vision: to build an Equitech city, a new model for American innovation and economic prosperity.


For 125 years, Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point facility led the world in building ships and manufacturing steel and iron used in expansive efforts from the Golden Gate Bridge to military armament in both World Wars. A few years after the steel mill shuttered in July 2012, new owner Redwood Holdings began transforming the 3,300-acre site into a massive industrial revitalization project where companies could access the deep-water port, train rail and interstate highway systems. The growing development is now home to distribution centers for global companies such as Amazon, FedEx Ground, Home Depot, Volkswagen, McCormick, BMW, Royal Farms and more.


Locals feel a sense of hometown pride when they walk down the street wearing Under Armour apparel, knowing those shirts and shoes were created by Baltimore native Kevin Plank. What started as a unique fabric designed to keep athletes dry has grown into a world-wide sportswear giant headquartered in the redeveloped Port Covington area along the Patapsco. At its sprawling campus, the company makes outdoor attire for everyone from little league baseball hopefuls to Olympic athletes and major league teams.

Domino Sugar Sign in Baltimore, MD | Credit Jon Bilous on Shutterstock


In 1922, Domino Sugar plant opened in Inner Harbor among many other manufacturing companies. Today it’s home to the only remaining smokestack from that industrial era. The 120-foot-tall sign was installed in 1951, becoming an iconic image. In February 1922, the old neon light was turned off, dismantled and replaced with a LED light replica during a $2 million restoration project. Some of the old letters were donated to local charities, but the “D” was too corroded with rust to salvage, so its metal was pressed into souvenir medallions and given to employees and the Baltimore Museum of Industry.


When Harry Tsakalos and Steve Paterakis left Greece and arrived in Baltimore, they started a bakery that became an embodiment of the positive impact that immigrant families bring to America. Founded in 1943, the bakery’s big break came in the 1970s with a deal to supply sandwich buns and English muffins to the fast-food behemoth McDonalds. The business has since expanded to seven states with 30 distribution centers, but the family-owned bakery remains in Harbor East playing a major role in the neighborhood’s revitalization and donating to health and food-related charities such as University of Maryland Hospital and Baltimore Hunger Project. The adult grandchildren of the Paterakis family created Atlas Restaurant Group, an emerging hospitality company with 30+ bars, restaurants and entertainment venues across the county.



When the Colts slinked out of town in 1984, Baltimore fans felt shocked and abandoned by their beloved football team. But when an NFL franchise returned to the city for the 1996 season, the team was named after a poem by local literary icon Edgar Allen Poe, and the Ravens resumed play at M&T Bank Stadium with gusto. In the past 25 years, they won the Super Bowl twice (2001 and 2013) and fought their way into the playoffs 15 times, thanks to talent such as Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Ed Reed and Lamar Jackson.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards | Credit Alexa Zizzi


Since 1954, the Orioles have played baseball in Baltimore, and in 1992, their achievements were rewarded with a beautiful new stadium called Camden Yards. The team won the World Series three times (1966, 1970 and 1983) and produced Hall of Famers such as Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Earl Weaver. Outside the stadium stands a statue of hometown hero, Babe Ruth, who was born nearby. Follow the 60 baseballs painted on the sidewalk for three blocks to discover a museum that honors the slugger and archives local sports paraphernalia.


When heroes emerge from unlikely places, their success feels so much sweeter. So, it’s no surprise that Michael Phelps holds a special spot in Baltimore’s heart. Born in 1985 in Baltimore and raised by a single mom in nearby Towson, he is considered one of the world’s greatest athletes after winning 28 Olympic medals (23 golds!), making him the most decorated Olympian of all time. Upon retirement from competitive swimming, he focuses his foundation’s efforts on programs that make families and kids more confident in the water and in life.



As you cruise around Baltimore, it’s not unusual to smell Maryland steamed crabs before you see them. Their briny aroma tugs at your nostrils, and before long, you’re sitting at a table covered with brown paper and waving a wooden mallet to release tender meat dusted in Old Bay or J.O. Seasoning. Harvested from Chesapeake waters, these irresistible crustaceans invite you to taste them steamed to crimson perfection, rounded into plump cakes or blended into creamy dips.


In the 1960s, Inner Harbor sagged with run-down warehouses and dilapidated buildings. But then- mayor, William Donald Shaefer and local developers envisioned a rebirth of the harbor and wanted an anchor restaurant to attract visitors. They courted the Phillips family who had supplied Baltimore with seafood since 1914 and ran a crab house in Ocean City. The restauranteurs shared the vision of a resurrected waterfront and opened Phillips Harborplace in 1980. The iconic eatery remains at the bustling waterfront along with other seafood havens such as Mo’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Captain James Seafood Palace and Thames Street Oyster House.


Known as a foodie paradise, Baltimore offers cuisine from ethnic dishes to innovative culinary creations. Two markets stand out as places where boaters can dock and dine while having a bite of history. Broadway Market in Fells Point was established in 1786, and major renovations in 2019 gave a refreshed space for vendors offering seafood, ice cream, pizza, Polish pierogies, and more. Atlas Restaurant Group’s Choptank specializes in Chesapeake crabs and oysters, and Saturday flea markets stir up a lively vibe. Cross Street Market, built in 1846, houses 22 independently owned businesses in Federal Hill. Guests peruse stalls filled with coffee, crepes, tacos, BBQ, seafood and other treats. On the rooftop, another Atlas restaurant, Watershed, mixes cocktails with fish dishes and live music.


For years, Baltimore has raised a glass to the most iconic image of local beer — the one-eyed, mustached Natty Boh. Founded on top of Brewers Hill in 1885, it ranked among the multitude of breweries inspired by German and other immigrants. A new wave of lager makers arose in 1995 when Heavy Seas worked with Maryland legislators to legalize craft brews in the city, and eventually grew its nautical-themed beer into Baltimore’s largest craft brewer. It’s now joined by scores of other breweries, who are celebrated each fall at the Craft Beer Festival with live music, food trucks and plenty of ales to try.


In 1910, Maryland’s 44 distilleries were the top shelf of rye whiskey producers, but when they converted to ethanol production for war efforts, Tennessee and Kentucky emerged as the kings of U.S. whiskey. A century later, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank decided to bring back the rye supremacy to Maryland and built Sagamore Spirits distillery along the Port Covington waterfront. Visit the five-acre facility for tours, tastings, Nineteen O’ Nine cocktail bar and summer concert series while sipping on locally crafted liquor.


View from Fells Point Courtesy of Jason Siemer Photography


Acclaimed American writer Edgar Allen Poe is heralded for his worldwide influence on gothic poetry and literary creativity. His final days spent roaming the streets of Fells Point made the historic Horse You Came In On Saloon famous for being one of his last stops leading to an unsolved death. Poe’s burial plot in Baltimore’s Westminster Church remains a hallowed place for fans of the macabre, and his home and museum on Amity Street presents a noteworthy array of artifacts from his life. The International Edgar Allen Poe Festival & Awards in October toasts his literary accomplishments with local vendors, music and Poe-themed events.


After fleeing slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the life of Frederick Douglass was a courageous journey from the Underground Railroad to New England abolitionists and eventually becoming a national spokesperson in the African American Civil Rights movement. This park at the Living Classrooms campus is located between Fells Point and Harbor East and honors the time when he worked in Baltimore shipyards before escaping to freedom in the north.


You might need to stay for more than a day to cover all the exhibits in this part of town. Young marine biologists and maritime historians alike are captivated at the National Aquarium, thanks to its vast collection of aquatic creatures and vintage vessels. Also on the waterfront promenade, Maryland Science Center helps everyone feel like a STEM expert, and Port Discovery Children’s Museum combines play with learning for young explorers. Pier 6 concerts bring cool tunes on warm summer nights.


Baltimore’s past, present and future are intertwined at a pair of special exhibition halls along the shoreline of Federal Hill. American Visionary Arts Museum dazzles visitors with unique works by intuitive, self-taught artists who stretch the limits of color, creativity and imaginative art. The Baltimore Museum of Industry puts on fascinating displays on the impact of 20th century businesses and labor on the region, including the workers, entrepreneurs and innovators who made the town a manufacturing powerhouse.


The neighborhood’s transformation from decaying warehouses left over from the shipbuilding era to busy metropolitan streets filled with high-end establishments has been instrumental in shaping the city’s culture. Discover 400 years of regional history, politics, sports, arts, media, military, etc. at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, which exhibits 11,000 artifacts that represent experiences and contributions of Black residents in Maryland.


Based in Baltimore and Washington, DC, this organization bolsters communities through hands-on experiences in education, workforce development, health and wellness, environmental awareness, and safety programs. Oasis Marinas currently serves as the marina management partner in Living Classrooms’ home ports. To deepen their alliance, Oasis CEO Kenneth Svendsen recently joined the nonprofit’s board with plans to serve as a gateway for workforce opportunities and hire graduates to work at Oasis marinas.


Inner Harbor Marina & Inner Harbor West

400 Key Highway, Inner Harbor 410-837-5339

Harbor East Marina

40 International Drive, Harbor East 410-625-1700

Living Classrooms Foundation Marina

Located at Harbor East Marina 410-685-0295

The Pendry Hotel & Dock

1715 Thames Street, Fells Point 410-552-5539

The Crescent Marina

951 Fell Street, Fells Point 443-510-9341

Lighthouse Point Marina

2780 Lighthouse Point E., Canton 410-675-8888

Clinton Street Boatel

1800 S Clinton Street, Canton 410-861-4188

Port Covington Marina

321 E. Cromwell Street, South Baltimore 410-775-8856

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