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5 Free Things to Do in Baltimore

Visit America’s first cathedral The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the

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Visit America’s first cathedral

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first metropolitan cathedral in the United States. Constructed from 1806-1821, the cathedral offers services, concerts, lectures, and a unique museum. Among its artifacts are letters from former presidents to archbishops.

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Pay your respects at Edgar Allan Poe’s grave

The writer Edgar Allen Poe was one of Baltimore’s most infamous residents. If you don’t want to pay the admission fee of the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum, you can see his grave for free. The 80-inch memorial, decorated with a bust of the poet, in the Westminster Hall cemetery records his birthday incorrectly as January 20th, 1809 (It was January 19th, 1809). Look for the Poe Toaster, an anonymous stranger who places three roses and a bottle of cognac on the grave each year on the anniversary of Poe’s death. Poe fans can also visit a statue of Poe for free at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

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Wander the Heritage Walk

Starting in the Inner Harbor, this free, guided 90-minute walking tour takes visitors off the beaten path and deep into Baltimore’s history. You’ll visit the nearby neighborhoods of Little Italy, Jonestown and downtown, passing Baltimore’s World Trade Center (the tallest pentagonal building in the world), the Baltimore Maritime Museum, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, and the Jewish Museum of Maryland, among other attractions.

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Explore Druid Hill Park

Druid Hill Park is one of the oldest landscaped parks in the country (just one year younger than New York’s Central Park), encompassing 745 acres in the center of Baltimore since 1860. There’s no charge to walk or bike along the reservoir, examine the many statues (including Scotland’s William Wallace, of Braveheart fame) or admire the ancient fountains. It’s a perfect place for a picnic, too.

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Visit the Baltimore Museum of Art

Home to the largest Matisse collection in the world, the Baltimore Museum of Art is a major cultural destination. Its 90,000 works encompass 15th- to 19th-century contemporary and modern art. One highlight is Henri Matisse’s “Purple Robe and Anemones” (1937), one of the artist’s 500 paintings displayed in the museum. The BMA is free for everyone, every day, so that great art is accessible to all.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest