One Day in Baltimore

Very recently I had a free day to spend in Baltimore, Maryland–a city I had never visited. My plane was arriving at 8:30 AM and I had until early evening to occupy myself.

I arrived, picked up my bag, then followed the sign for the Maryland Transit Authority’s light rail service. For $3.50 I bought a day pass, since I wasn’t sure how much I’d be using it. I probably could have gotten away with a one-way fare, so if you’re interested in saving a buck or two, look into which option will be the best for you.

Unfortunately, the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) does not provide lockers for baggage storage due to security concerns and I was afraid I’d be stuck lugging my carry-on bag with me all day. My first stop in Baltimore was Baltimore’s Penn Station. I asked at the information desk if there were any storage lockers and was told that I could check my bag for 24 hours for $3. Wu-hoo! I was relieved to hear that.

I then caught the very convenient and free Charm City Circulator that has three routes throughout the city. This ended up being my preferred mode of transport the rest of the day. I first took the purple route to the Mt. Vernon neighborhood. As I admired the beautiful Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, a gentleman tending to the plantings said I could see inside by ringing the bell of the building to the east. I was greeted by a very kind mad who happily gave me a private tour of the church and its smaller chapel. He told me about the interior walls being painted to appear like masonry and the piece of trivia that it was here, before the current building was built, that Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star Spangled Banner” passed away on January 11, 1843. I signed the guest book and left a small donation before receiving friendly directions to my next stop: the Baltimore Basilica. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to follow my guide’s suggestion that I visit the library of the Peabody Conservatory across the street.

The Baltimore Basilica was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1806 and is a National Historic Landmark that underwent an extensive restoration in 2004-2006. I was there in time for the 11AM guided tour. Unfortunately for me and a half-dozen other tourists gathered at the “guided tour” sign, being Easter weekend, the guides had apparently been given the day off. It was still nice to wonder the quiet building and take in the beauty of its architectural wonder. If you visit, be sure to visit downstairs for a museum/exhibit space and to see beautiful catacomb arches.

Before leaving the area, I stepped into the Enoch Pratt Free Public Library across the street. It’s well worth a peek to see the beautiful interior.

I once again hopped onto the purple route and headed towards the Inner Harbor, a must-see destination catering to tourists. Located on the Chesapeake Bay, visitors can catch boat tours of the bay or see the harbor via water taxis. I was determined to have some crab cake while in Baltimore. A very friendly worker for the Visitor’s Center said that if I had time to get there, Mo’s was the place to go. Since I didn’t have much time, I went into the food court and ordered a basket of mini crab cakes at Phillips Seafood Express. If I hadn’t been alone, I might have splurged to sit outside the main Phillips restaurant, but instead I opted to take my lunch and find a bench to gaze at the bay. After lunch, I walked around the inner harbor, people watching and photographing the historic ships.

Alas, it was time for my day in Baltimore to come to an end. I caught the bus back up to Penn Station, picked up my checked bag, and caught the next train to Washington, D.C. There were lots of things I wish I had had time to see in Baltimore. At the top of my list: Fort McHenry, and Edgar Allen Poe’s house and grave. There’s always next time!

If you have more than a day to spend in Baltimore, you might want to check out a guide book. Moon Baltimore (Moon Handbooks)is rated highly.


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