Arts, Music & Culture

Baltimore has a wide variety of art museums, from those celebrating classical masterpieces to those chronicling the history of tattoo art. Be sure to check out the American Visionary Art Museum, a glass-encrusted Baltimore fixture that includes both permanent exhibits – including the winners of the annual Kinetic Sculpture Contest – and rotating offerings based around a single theme, such as the role of technology in our lives. Other offerings are free, including the Walter’s Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art. If you have a bit more time, be sure to check out the studios of visual and literary artists at the top of the 15-story Bromo Seltzer Tower, stop at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, or celebrate photo-realism in body art at the Baltimore Tattoo Museum. The Tattoo Museum includes a fully functional tattoo studio, so you can bring home a permanent, one-of-a-kind Baltimore souvenir.
Baltimore offers music to satisfy the most diverse of tastes. For classical music, a stop at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a must. The orchestra is conducted by the brilliant Marin Alsop (a Yale alum), and her pre-concert talks should not be missed. On the other end of the spectrum, death metal fans will prefer to visit Baltimore the weekend of Death Fest, the largest death metal concert in North America. For those of us who find ourselves in the middle, Pier Six Pavillion hosts concerts from pop stars and golden oldies, though the best seating may be for free on the surrounding piers; larger venues include the First Mariner Arena and Ravens Stadium. Live music is also common throughout the city at numerous bars and other private spaces, including a rich music scene at local bars in Fells Point. Jazz lovers will find myriad offerings through the Baltimore Jazz Alliance.
Baltimore’s greatest charm is its unabashed quirkiness, which its residents wholeheartedly embrace. The city hosts numerous festivals celebrating ethnic groups, Baltimore Hons (à la Hairspray), and the Renaissance. You can embark on an urban pirate cruise, partake in the monthly Friday night bike parties, try your hand at duckpin bowling, or cheer on the home team at a baseball or football game. Pick up a free book (or a dozen) at BookThing; join a Bocce ball league in Little Italy (or sand volleyball at Rash Field); go stargazing at the observatory; play a round of Frisbee golf. There’s always something to do in one of Baltimore’s many neighborhoods.