Operating as the minority in my Courier News, Home News Tribune and Daily Record newsroom, I am not a sports fan. I probably couldn’t name 10 professional athletes, I have never had a proclivity toward a certain team and I’ve been hopelessly bored at every game I have ever been to.
For this reason, my co-workers were confused when I told them that I was taking a weekend trip to Baltimore, which is widely known for its long and storied sporting history.
Was I heading to Camden Yards, they wanted to know? Were the Ravens going to be home? Would I be checking out any sports museums?
All of this talk made me nervous. Would there be enough for a nonsports fan to do in a city where one co-worker drove over four hours there and back in a single day to see an Orioles game?
Luckily for a nonsports fan like me, Baltimore has a lot more to it than a few games.
Baltimore is a hub of American history, and it is also the site of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, which was the home and business place of Mary Pickersgill, who sewed the garrison flag Francis Scott Key witnessed flying over Fort McHenry that inspired him to write our national anthem.
Check out the house, which was built in 1793, from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and hop on a self-guided tour for $8.
According to the belief of some, Carminantonio Iannaccone, owner of Baltimore’s Piedigrotta Bakery, is the inventor of tiramisu, making it a must visit for those with a sweet tooth. Iannacone said that while he was living in Treviso, Italy, in 1969, he opened a restaurant, also called Piedigrotta, and created a dessert based on the “everyday flavors of the region” — coffee, mascarpone, eggs, Marsala and ladyfinger cookies.
Piedigrotta, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays until 6 p.m., started business in 2002 in Baltimore’s Little Italy and remains a popular stopping point for dessert lovers visiting the city.
If you’re looking to get a taste of the wilderness while still staying in the city, then head to the National Aquarium, which features a living collection of more than 20,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living in award-winning habitats, along with periodic talks and shows held throughout the day.
Through October, the Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, but hours change seasonally. Adult tickets cost about $40 a person and reservations are recommended.
The largest city in Maryland is crazy about Edgar Allan Poe, who called Baltimore home at both the beginning and end of his life. Besides countless restaurants, bars and trinkets adorning the city featuring Poe’s likeness, including Annabel Lee Tavern, which celebrates the author with a kitschy flair, fans can visit his home and museum in the city.
The National Historic Landmark, which is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends from May 23 through Dec. 27, costs $5 and features a self-guided tour that takes visitors through the celebrated writer’s home. They can also head to his grave site at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in the city.
The city districts that cater to tourists, such as the Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point and Little Italy, are very walkable areas, but there is also a much more interesting way to get around — the Baltimore Water Taxi. Even if you’re more than happy to wander, grab an $8 single ride ticket or a $14 all-day pass to travel to 13 stops on the Water Taxi’s trail to get a different view of the surrounding area.
Plus, just as they have been doing for the past 35 years, the Water Taxi employs locals who can give you the insight that you need on what to do, where to stay and where to eat during your visit.
Baltimore may be known for its sports, but it’s got a lot more under its baseball cap — including American history, a famous horror author, lots of sea animals, a trip around the Harbor and the world’s first tiramisu.