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Baltimore is a popular tourist destination in Maryland, in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States of America, near Washington (D.C.). It is perhaps most famously known as the city where Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner, and today has become a major center for tourism and travel.
It lies on the juncture of the Chesapeake Bay. With continuous nightlife, temperate climate, and plenty of hospitality, any time of the year is a great time to visit.
Downtown Baltimore on a beautiful October day.
Baltimore has a very long and rich history. It is perhaps most well-known for being the site of the historic Battle of Baltimore. During this battle, the British invaders bombed Fort McHenry with rockets as Francis Scott Key wrote the American national anthem. Baltimore was also the site of the first casualty of the American Civil War.
It has a large African-American population that has played an important role in its history. African Americans have had a major presence in Baltimore since the Revolutionary War. During that time they were brought to Baltimore as slaves from Africa. Baltimore was also one of the hotbeds during the American Civil Rights movement and famous African-Americans such as Thurgood Marshall and Kweisi Mfume have made Baltimore their hometown. R&B artists such as Tupac, Dru Hill and Mario have also emerged from Baltimore. Currently, African-Americans form a majority (within the city limits) at 64%.
Baltimore lies in an arm of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the world. The eastern two-thirds of the metropolitan area lie on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, between 15 and 50 feet above sea level, and contain many peninsulas jutting out into the bay. The western third of the city slowly rises into rolling hills, and leads to the piedmont region. It is located about 40 miles from Washington (D.C.), and approximately 100 miles from Philadelphia. The Atlantic Ocean lies about 2 hours to the southeast.
Baltimore's climate is primarily affected by three factors: its proximity to a warm marine estuary, its low elevation, and the wall of mountains to the west and northwest. These factor's make the area's climate milder and less extreme than other U.S. cities at this latitude. Summers are humid and hot, but not extremely so, with highs reaching the 80-90°F and lows in the 60-70°F. Winters are cool and moist, with highs in the 40-50°F and lows in the 30-40° F. Temperatures in the winter will wander into the high 10°F on a rare occasion, and it is almost never below 10°F in the city proper. Light snow can sometimes fall in winter, although some years there is no significant accumulation and once every 4 or 5 years a coastal storm can dump over 8 inches on the city. Spring and fall bring pleasant temperatures in the 50s-70s(°F), and southern breezes.
Greyhound serves most major cities, and the stop in Baltimore's downtown is a few blocks south of the Inner Harbor
Also check out Apex Bus if you're travelling from New York. They offer pretty competitive rates especially if you are travelling on a shoestring budget.
Car parking is expensive in the inner city, roughly $5/hr around the harbor area. The 395 turn-off from the I95 will take you right into the harbor area, but traffic can be slow in the center of the city at rush hour and on game days.
Amtrak offers frequent services into Baltimore.
The main station (Penn Station) is on Charles Street in the center of the city, but a considerable distance from the harbor area. However, a spur of the light rail system connects to the train station,
and you can ride it to the convention center, three blocks from the harbor. Some Amtrak trains also stop at the BWI (airport) station which is a few miles south of the main Penn Station.
The MARC train system provides inexpensive service between Baltimore and Washington (D.C.) (and from Washington to Frederick, Maryland and Martinsburg, West Virginia). It is, however, meant to be a commuter system, and runs mostly during work days/hours. Check to be sure it is available when you need it.
The Baltimore-Washington International Airport is located a few miles outside of the city and is accessible by car or light rail. Shuttles
connect BWI to an Amtrak train station just off the airport grounds.
BWI has a somewhat unique car rental system. Car rental facilities are located in a centralized facility located away from the airport. Airport shuttle buses must take travelers to and from the facility and it is advisable to plan an extra 10 to 15 minutes to get out of the airport. Also, if heading to Washington DC, the signage from the airport's car rental facility is very poor and confusing, especially to Route 495. However, all roads ultimately lead to highway access in either direction (North or South).
Public transportation in Baltimore is nothing spectacular. The buses are slow and unreliable, and the light rail system is meager. However, most sights you'll probably be seeing can be walked to.
The light rail system is far more useful for getting into the city than getting around it. You may wish to park outside the city (for free!) and take the light rail in.
There is also a single line subway which runs from Johns Hopkins hospital, through downtown, and out to the northwest suburbs of Pikesville and Owings Mills.
Parking is plentiful near all major sights, usually with pay lots and garages charging parking rates commensurate with most major cities. The harbor area and the public transportation systems are safe and patrolled.
One of the most popular (and unique!) modes of transportation in Baltimore is the water taxi system. The water taxi is an especially nice way to get around during the warmer months, and offers unique views of the Baltimore skyline. $8.00 buys you unlimited rides all day long, and you can hop on and off at any of the stops throughout the harbor area (which covers areas like Fort McHenry, Fells Point, Little Italy, the Science Center and Aquarium). Hours of operation vary throughout the year; check the schedule