It came as a surprise to me that Baltimore is very very photogenic! This was an unexpected delight. I hadn’t done any research before going on photo opportunities but they just kept presenting themselves and before I knew it I had a couple of weeks’ worth of Instagram posts! From Sherwood Gardens to Pierces Park to the Paper Moon Diner there are opportunities galore. Here are my 10 most Instagram worthy Baltimore Tourist Attractions:
1. Baltimore Graffiti Alley
I love a bit of street art – so photogenic! For Baltimore graffiti artists there is only one area of the entire city where it is legal for them to practice their trade – otherwise, they face up to 3 years in prison or a $2,500 fine. Graffiti Alley is located a bit north-west of Penn Station behind The Motor House Theatre.
This is not the most fantastic area so I suggest getting an uber to the Motor House Theatre and then the same thing to exit when you are done. Prior to its renaissance as Graffiti Alley, this area was best known for heroin addicts and prostitutes.
When you get out at the Motor House Theatre Baltimore Graffiti Alley is literally behind the theatre. Head onto the main street and walk down and on your right, you will see a gate (which won’t be locked) and what is very obviously a large amount of Baltimore Graffiti.
The area was purchased by Graffiti Warehouse and it was their decision to allow the area to be a haven for local artists. The entire L shaped area is regularly repainted and everything from the floor to the rubbish bins are covered in graffiti.
As someone from Melbourne, this reminded me a lot of Hosier Lane – but there were far fewer tourists! I got some great shots here and highly recommend giving it a visit.
Formerly a blue-collar community Hampden is now the hipster place to be. It has some gorgeous streets with super cute brick rowhouses. I started my visit at the fantastic Artifact Coffee. It is a little tucked away to find (thank goodness for uber!) but was well worth it as the coffee was brilliant!
From Artifact, I then did the 15-minute walk to “The Avenue” or West 36th street which is the main thoroughfare of Hampden. There are loads of super cute shops, cafes and interesting murals in this stretch.
Don’t miss some of the fabulously names shops like a Ma Petite Shoe. Over the yoga studio is one of circa 30 “Love” Murals that are throughout Baltimore. Four separate hands spell out the letters of love.
Café Hon is one of the best-known spots on the street due to great food and its giant pink flamingo adornment. As you head down west 36th you will see the Charmery on your right, a deliciously upmarket ice cream store. Walk down the road it is on the corner of and you will see these gorgeous blue walls and a well known local mural “Stay Humble Baltimore”.
3. The Painted Ladies Baltimore
Charles Village is a lovely Baltimore neighborhood and the home of the world famous John Hopkins University. The majority of the area is 2 and 3 level row houses. In 1998 residents of the area were given the challenge to paint the facades of their homes in unusual colours and within 5 years more than 100 “painted ladies” appeared in the neighborhood.
The entire thing was actually a competition which finished in 2003 but the Painted Ladies Baltimore remain and hopefully, the competition may happen again!
The Painted Ladies appear throughout the area, particularly in the sub-area of Charles Village known as Abell and on Guilford and North Calvert Streets. I took all my shots on North Calvert between 26th and 30th streets – do let me know if you find a more prime patch!
4. American Visionary Art Museum
This is a hard museum to describe! Let’s start with the fact that it is in a rather extraordinary building. The home of the American Visionary Art Museum is a mix of mosaics and bricks and glass and stunning features and wow there is just a lot of stuff going on – including a glass tree on the sidewalk!
Once inside there are multiple insta worth exhibits from glass bunnies to the helpful I think duck in a tie to mae west to my favourites – the amazing over the top floats of the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race (May 5).
5. Sherwood Gardens
I was lucky enough to visit in the spring and gosh was the Sherwood Gardens Baltimore in bloom! This is Baltimore’s Keukenhof! The gardens are a privately owned community park and free to visit. They are best known for their spring tulips but also do beautiful plant things all year round.
The Sherwood Gardens are surrounded by stunning homes which can add to your photos! I visited late April and I can’t imagine it gets better in terms of capturing the blossoms and the many many stunningly gorgeous tulips.
Again – Sherwood Gardens is not the easiest place to visit so an uber in and out works well.
6. Pierces Park
I literally wondered across Pierces Park as I was walking the length of the Baltimore Harbor. I think it is mostly frequented by local families. When I visited Pierces Park there was a gorgeous silver horn sculpture (very photogenic) and what appeared to be other art installations in progress.
However, I most liked the fantastic outdoor giant silver xylophones or musical fence. There are actual “utensils” (I don’t know what to call them!!!) in little buckets under the fences and you are able to essentially play the fences. And you know what – even with no idea the sound is quite pleasant!
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7. National Aquarium
Like the American Visionary Art Museum, the National Aquarium is insta friendly inside and out. Let’s start outside. The buildings are stunning. A mix of strong primary colours and steel they can be nicely captured either literally in front of them and outside or from the opposite side of the harbour or water taxi. My favourite shots of the ones I took were literally walking around the harbour just underneath the buildings.
Once inside I found the jellies the most Instagram friendly of the animals. The blue background shots were taken holding the camera up on the glass. I also really liked the jelly display they had hanging over the cafeteria area. There are of course also dolpins etc and so much more at the National Aquarium but it was the jellies that really stood out for my camera.
8. Fell’s Point
Fell’s Point is a lovely neighborhood on the harbour just past the Inner Harbour area. It is filled with stunning red brick houses and a mix of local colour and cute shops. Head to Broadway Market to try Sofia’s delicious Pierogi – the pure cheese flavor was my favourite. Walk along South Broadway down to Thames street and take a left.
Everywhere you look will be gorgeous buildings, colourful and eclectic shops and interesting cafes. There were a few random street art installations whilst I was there which are always fantastic for photography! They were mostly located on Thames street.
9. Peabody Institute
What is the Peabody Institute? It is the oldest conservatory in America and part of John Hopkins University. This beautiful building is currently housing students and concerts but you can gain access to several areas. There are tours which can be pre-booked (3 days in advance is recommended). There is also a brochure that allows you to do a self-guided tour. The windows and staircases are particularly lovely.
10. Paper Moon Diner
The unusual and colourful Paper Moon Diner is not far from the Charles Village area. It is very close to the fantastic R.house which is warehouse housing about 10 different and interesting little food places. It is very easy to walk to the Paper Moon Café from R.house and then continue on walking to the Painted Ladies.
The cafe has a broad menu – everything from vegetarian and vegan options to meat feasts. Try some of their more unusual meal options like the Bacon Milkshake or Deep Fried Ravioli.
I am sure there are many more Instagram worthy opportunities around Baltimore Tourist Attractions. Please do email me if you find any more so I can add them in!
Plan Your Day Going Insta Mad with this Map of where everything above is across Baltimore:
Boutique Hotels in Baltimore
I had a wonderful stay in Baltimore at the fantastic Hotel Indigo. The hotel has a fantastic location in the Mount Vernon area – it was very easy to get everywhere. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the hotel itself offers multiple Instagram opportunities!
Other Boutique Hotel options in Baltimore include the Admiral Fell Inn and Inn at Henderson’s Wharf in Fell’s Point. For something different checkout Gramercy Mansion, a 1902 English Tudor house on 45 acres just outside Baltimore.
Getting to Baltimore and Getting Around
The main airport for Baltimore is BWI which is an international airport. However, there are other options. Penn station has easy connections to New York City, Washington DC and many others. It is also possible to use the main international airport in Washington DC as an entry and exit point but remember it is about 40 miles away so you will need to adjust for time.
Baltimore is quite walkable around the harbour area. Walking from the American Visionary Museum to the National Aquarium, for example, takes only about 15 minutes. However, once you are away from the harbour I used Ubers to get around.
Don’t forget to get take out travel insurance before you go – here are some great deals on travel insurance.
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Thanks very much to Visit Baltimore for helping me to plan and sponsoring my trip to fabulous Baltimore.
Also published on Medium.