Baltimore’s Historic Charles Street
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2009)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
- Length12 miles
The Baltimore Historic Charles Street National Scenic Byway features historical, cultural, and recreational attractions--from rural landscapes to the glittering Baltimore skyline. Begin in Lutherville on Charles Street and discover Maryland’s pubs, restaurants, and art museums and keep an eye out for some of Maryland’s most famous educational institutions. Honor history at the Mount Vernon Place National Historic Landmark or visit the National Aquarium.
Story of the Byway
Follow along Charles Street, Baltimore’s grandest and best-known artery, and begin a journey that will take visitors through some of the city’s most fashionable cultural, residential, and commercial areas. Visitors will stop to shop, dine, and discover world-class institutions while being surrounded by several institutions whose influence extends beyond Baltimore's border to the nation and the world. Visitors will begin their journey in the beautifully tree-lined community of Lutherville before heading south into Towson, where visitors can enjoy a myriad of upscale stores sure to satisfy any shoppers needs and visit the Hampton National Historic Site, featuring an 18th century Georgian mansion, slave quarters, and gardens.
As visitors return to Charles Street, they will have the opportunity to discover pubs, restaurants, and art museums in an area famous for its educational institutions. Visitors should especially make note of Friends School, founded in 1784 and Baltimore’s oldest school, Notre Dame of Maryland University, founded in 1895 and the nation’s first Catholic women’s college, Loyola University Maryland, a Jesuit institution established in 1852, and Johns Hopkins University, a world renown research institution that offers a look into the life of 18th and 19th century Baltimoreans. As visitors pass by Johns Hopkins University, they will enjoy visiting the admission-free Baltimore Museum of Art, which includes the world’s largest collection of works by Henri Mattisse.
Continuing along Charles Street to Charles Village, visitors will explore one of Baltimore’s first suburban neighborhoods, and music and art enthusiasts will enjoy a stop at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, which tells the story of Baltimore’s creative community. As visitors travel through the Mount Vernon Place National Historic Landmark District, they won’t miss the 208 foot tall monument topped by a 16 foot statue of George Washington, the first major monument to honor George Washington, or the Maryland Center for History and Culture, which contains national treasures such as the original manuscript of Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner.” Art lovers will enjoy visits to Walters Art Museum, the Peabody Institute, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, America’s first Cathedral, while those in search of other forms of entertainment will enjoy cultural attractions such as the Royal Farms Arena and the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.
Visitors will then enter the Inner Harbor area, Baltimore’s main commercial center, which is a hub for restaurants, shopping and waterfront attractions. The National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, and the American Visionary Art Museum offer fun for all ages. Guided Heritage Walking Tours are also offered, connecting 20 historic sites and museums. Professional sports fans will also want to visit Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, and M&T Bank Stadium, home to football’s Baltimore Ravens. If visitors are looking for a bite to eat, they should explore Cross Street Market, which sells fresh seafood and produce alongside a variety of unusual products such as pigs’ ears, pickled eggs, and oxtails. Those in search of a more traditional dining experience will discover a multitude of taverns, restaurants, and pubs, which line the streets.Visitors should be sure to visit the Baltimore Visitors Center to pick up a Harbor Pass for discounted entry to many of these attractions.
The byway begins at the Charles Street-Beltway (695) traffic circle in Lutherville and continues along Charles Street south to Baltimore. Visitors will pass through Towson, Charles Village, and Mount Vernon Place before entering the inner harbor area. Along the way, they will see historic educational institutions, upscale shops, and world-renown cultural institutions.
Points of Interest
Baltimore Museum of Art
The admission-free Baltimore Museum of Art houses a large number of world-renowned masterpieces, including the world’s largest collection of works by Henri Mattisse.
The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center
The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center uses a gallery, musical theater, and other features to tell the story of Baltimore’s creative community, with special emphasis on jazz great Eubie Blake and other artists such as Billie Holiday.
Washington Monument at Mount Vernon Place
The Washington Monument at Mt. Vernon Place was the first major monument to honor George Washington. Explore exhibits in the base of the monument and climb the stairway to the top.
A Cultural Adventure on Historic Charles Street
Begin your trip in the tree-lined community of Lutherville, and then head south into Towson. Briefly leaving Charles Street, Towson Town Center has a myriad of upscale stores sure to satisfy any shopper’s needs. Or sidetrack to the Hampton National Historic Site, featuring an 18th-century Georgian mansion, slave quarters and gardens. Back on Charles Street, where pubs, restaurants and art museums offer many pleasant diversions, you enter an area famous for its educational institutions. Visit the admission-free Baltimore Museum of Art, which includes the world's largest collection of works by Henri Matisse among its 90,000 pieces of art.
Following the byway, you will soon enter Charles Village, developed in the late 19th century as one of Baltimore’s first suburban neighborhoods. Music and art enthusiasts will enjoy a stop at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. A gallery, musical theater and other features help to tell the story of Baltimore’s creative community, with special emphasis on jazz great Eubie Blake and other artists such as Billie Holiday. Take advantage of other opportunities for music and cultural events at the Royal Farms Arena or the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.
Follow Charles Street into the Inner Harbor Area. The National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, and the American VIsionary Art Museum are great places to visit for people of all ages. Guided walking tours are also offered, connecting 20 historic sites and museums. Just south of the main harbor area is Federal Hill, where Cross Street Market sells the usual fresh seafood and locally grown produce along with a variety of unusual products like pigs’ ears, pickled eggs and ox tails. If you are looking for more conventional dining options, enjoy a nice meal at one of the many taverns, restaurants and pubs that line the streets. After dark, explore the energetic nightlife.
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