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AAA World Article

Baltimore for All Seasons

From sports and recreation to history and art, Charm City checks all the boxes.

By Stacy Tillilie

AAA World Article

Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

When it comes to major East Coast cities, Baltimore may not rank high among the largest metropolises—hence, the nickname Smalltimore—but it certainly goes big with diverse attractions that offer fun for the whole family. While anytime is a good time to discover the city’s iconic treasures, from Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point to the National Aquarium and Fort McHenry National Monument, be sure to squeeze in a few seasonal staples that reveal even more of the best of Baltimore.

Spring: Spectator Sports

Join thousands of baseball fans who’ll be cheering on the Orioles against the New York Yankees at the April 4 home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards stadium. Even if you can’t nab tickets for opening day, seeing the O’s take the field to play this spring (or summer) at “The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball” with its nostalgic early-20th-century design is a B’more bucket-list event.

Camden yards in Baltimore, Maryland
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Photo Courtesy of The Orioles

Horse racing roots also run deep here with the Preakness Stakes, the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Don your fanciest hat and flower lapel pin to dress the part for this year’s 144th event, May 16–18, at Pimlico Race Course. More than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the ticketed extravaganza, complete with cocktail parties serving up Preakness’ official drink: the Black-Eyed Susan, named after Maryland’s state flower; a girls’ day out at the track—with boutique shopping galore—on Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 17); and a concert (May 18) featuring everything from rock to hip-hop to country music performed by an A-list lineup.

For the ultimate in offbeat competition, check out the bizarre human-powered amphibious sculptures racing along a 14-mile track through the city—and into the harbor—during the American Visionary Art Museum’s Kinetic Sculpture Race, May 4. Enter the competition with your own creative concoction, or simply witness the spectacle that culminates with awards for finishing smack-dab in the middle and next to last.

Summer: Festival Fever

Baltimoreans know how to throw a party, and summer is their favorite season to celebrate all things fun.

Federal Hill, Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore's Federal Hill
Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

Another wonderfully wacky affair, HONfest, June 8–9, pays homage to the working women of Baltimore with a free street festival in the city’s Hampden neighborhood. Enjoy 36 music acts on three stages, a Baltimore’s Best Hon Pageant, and a bevy of beehives and bouffants in honor of the Hon trademark hair fashion and philosophy: “the higher the hair, the closer to God.”

Nicknamed “ The Best Backyard in Baltimore,” Patterson Park is the scene for the free Patterson Park Concert Series, presenting a wide-ranging mix of music performers on select evenings. And for a full day of live jazz and blues, head to the 18th Annual Federal Hill Jazz & Blues Festival, June 3.  

Art takes center stage when Artscape—America’s largest free festival—comes to town July 19–21. Some 150 fine artists, fashion designers and craftspeople will showcase their talents throughout a handful of vibrant neighborhoods, and festival-goers can take in music concerts on three stages, art exhibits, hands-on workshops, children’s street theater and more.

Artscape in Baltimore, Maryland
Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

Fall: A Free for All

The free-admission theme continues with Free Fall Baltimore throughout October. More than 300 gratis arts and cultural events—from concerts and festivals to workshops and lectures—throughout the city highlight its eclectic and historic neighborhoods.

Also in the spotlight is the fourth annual Light City Baltimore, November 1–10. America’s first “international light, music and innovation festival” brings a complimentary cornucopia of large-scale art installations, concerts, performances, children’s entertainment and more to a dozen-plus neighborhoods and a one-and-a-half-mile stretch of the waterfront.

Light City in Baltimore, Maryland
Light City Baltimore
Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

And what would a visit to Edgar Allan Poe’s old stomping grounds be without exploring the writer’s legacy? The 2nd Annual International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards, October 5–6, allows you to do just that for free with Poe-themed performances, art, books and more in Poe Park. 

Winter: Museum-Hopping

February is Black History Month and the perfect time to celebrate African American culture with a Legends and Legacies Heritage Pass, providing discounted (year-round) admission to The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, the first of its kind in the nation; the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, which delves into the exceptional accomplishments and struggles of African Americans throughout Maryland’s history; and the Frederick Douglass–Isaac Myers Maritime Park, which honors and interprets the significant contributions of African Americans to the city’s maritime heritage. 

Baltimore, Maryland
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore

Art aficionados will love the American Visionary Art Museum, America’s national museum of self-taught artistry; the Baltimore Museum of Art, housing an internationally renowned collection of 95,000 objects that includes more than 1,000 works by Henri Matisse and the famed Cone Collection of modern art; and The Walters Art Museum, with an impressive assemblage of some 36,000 objects from across the globe spanning more than seven millennia. To make the museum-going even sweeter, both the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Museum offer free admission


This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of AAA World

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