Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI)

A word that sums up Baltimore pretty well is “idiosyncratic.” An old saying goes it’s the “northernmost Southern city and the southernmost Northern city.” And any place that’s the setting for both television shows The Wire and Ace of Cakes isn’t going to be easy to pigeonhole. But one thing’s certain: this is a harbor city, and the harbor should be your focus if you’re visiting Baltimore for the first time.

One of the oldest seaports in America (it dates back to the 1600's), Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers a wide variety of cultural, entertainment and dining opportunities. Visit the National Aquarium, home to over 16,000 species of aquatic life. Tour Fort McHenry, credited with repelling a British assault in 1812 and inspiring Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” And just a few blocks away, you can try your hand at "bird watching" with Baltimore’s two beloved pro sports teams — the Ravens and the Orioles.

A Healthy Dose of Gothic

There’s a definite dark streak running through this town. It is here that John Wilkes Booth made his stage debut, recruited co-conspirators to kidnap Lincoln and ultimately was buried. History buffs can visit his grave at Green Mount Cemetery, ironically also the final resting place of Johns Hopkins and many other upstanding Baltimoreans. But it’s Edgar Allan Poe, whose death in 1849 is still shrouded in mystery, who seems to haunt this city like a ghost in one of his gothic yarns. Bibliophiles will love the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.

When it comes to food, don’t overthink it: B’more’s the place to savor the bay’s bountiful seafood, and the blue crab legs and crab cakes mustn’t be missed. Faidley Seafood, Koko's Pub and Mama's on the Half Shell draw local shellfish aficionados in droves, but all you have to do is throw a stone to hit a rock-solid seafood restaurant around here.

Hungry for more seafood served up with history? You might also want to explore Seattle or Philadelphia.