The Light Raillink and Metro Subwaylink in Baltimore

In Baltimore, the Light Raillink and Metro Subwaylink operate a total of four lines with service to a combined 47 stations. The light rail runs above ground, while the subway is mostly subterranean. Both are run by the Maryland Transit Administration. Together, they serve more than 20 million passengers annually.

Fortunately for tourists, many of the Charm City’s main attractions are conveniently located near a light rail or Subwaylink station. Here are nine Baltimore attractions you can easily visit without a car.

A similar version of this post first appeared on Matador Network.

Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

Star-Spangled Banner Flag House


graffiti alley

Lexington Market


Washington Monument

Inner Harbor

If you only know one thing about Baltimore, it’s probably Inner Harbor. The Maryland Science Center, Historic Ships, Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, and the famous National Aquarium are all located within a five-minute walk of one another in this compact area along the Patapsco River. Like neighboring Little Italy, Inner Harbor is very family-friendly, but it’s also extremely touristy……and fun. They even have a beach volleyball court near the Rusty Scupper ferry stop.

Many first-time visitors to the Charm City use this area as a base, which is not a bad idea at all. In addition to the nearby light rail and subwaylink stops, there are also three ferry terminals at the harbor. The area is one of the most well-patrolled in the city as well.

Inner Harbor meets Federal Hill at Federal Hill Park. The park is just a few blocks from the Maryland Science Center. Before you leave Baltimore, grab your camera and head to the top of Federal Hill Park (near the Memorial to Armistead) at sunset or sunrise for some of the best photo ops of the harbor. It’s also perfect for timelapse videos.

As of this writing, the Historic Ships are temporarily closed. They plan to reopen on April 1. 

Nearest Light Raillink station: Camden

Nearest Subwaylink station: Charles Center

Lexington Market

One of the oldest public markets in the United States, Lexington Market, has been operating since 1782. It’s the main attraction on Baltimore’s Westside. Don’t expect many health food options here, beyond fresh fruit and a couple smoothie vendors. If you’re looking to replace your acai bowl and turmeric tea with some Korean fried chicken and snickerdoodle cake, this is the place.

One of the first things you are likely to notice when you enter the Lexington Market is that many of the stalls have Korean surnames. But there’s little, if any, traditional Korean food on offer. Instead, you have stalls like Park’s Hamburger’s, Cho’s Sea Garden, and Park’s Fried Chicken. Even the stalls without Korean surnames are run by Koreans offering unique twists on traditional Maryland and southern dishes. At Dudley’s Fries, you can try old bay chicken wings, fried Oreos, or kimchi fries. The Creative Potato offers old bay-infused baked potatoes, with names like Japan Cheesesteak and New Orleans Po Boy.

Berger’s Cookies and Cakes has two adjacent stalls in the market. They were one of Oprah’s go-to spots before she left for Chicago. Andrew Zimmern has filmed at the market and featured the half-chocolate, half-shortbread Berger Cookies on a few of his shows. Berger’s chocolate yellow cake has also received numerous accolades, so make sure to stop there for a treat.

Dining inside is currently not allowed, except for the Faidley Seafood corner, which you must enter from Paca Street on the west side of the building. The walls of this exclusive-feeling corner of the market are lined with vendors selling exotic fish and meats, as well as tools of the trade, including crab and oyster knives. There’s also a small shrine near the gate that closes off Faidley from the rest of the market. It includes accolades from the likes of USA Today and The New York Times. While the alligator, muskrat, raccoon, and turtle meat is only available frozen, you can buy Maryland staples like crab cakes and Chesapeake Bay oysters fresh. Both are an essential Baltimore experience, so if you’re looking to try signature Maryland dishes without going to a restaurant, Faidley is a convenient option. If you decide that one or two of their nearly 3-inch-high crab cakes are not enough, they do ship to the lower 48.

Nearest Subwaylink station: Lexington Market

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley was once to Baltimore what Extra Place was to Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 2005, Graffiti Warehouse moved in and transformed this L-shaped alley into a safe haven for local graffiti artists. The junkies and prostitutes have been replaced by gawking tourists posing for photos in front of the ever-changing murals. Even the ground and trash cans are works of art. While you can find more detailed murals in other parts of the city, graffiti alley is a must-visit for any fan of street art. The murals are visible from North Howard Street and continue from West 19 1/2 St. to Maryland Ave.

Nearest Light Raillink station: North Ave.

Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House dates back to 1793. The building shares a city block with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture in the southwest corner of Jonestown. The flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sewn inside this late 18th-century building, which has been a museum since the late 1920s. A fragment of the original flag is on display.

The main building includes the ticket counter, main exhibits, and a small movie theater. The exhibits on the lives of Mary and John Pickersgill are in the main building, which you can see from Pratt Street thanks to the large American flag, which takes up the entire side of the building. Tours of the house are self-guided. All you need is a mobile phone. Most of the artifacts in the house have numbers displayed, which you press when you dial into the museum number. 

It’s best to visit the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House before Fort McHenry in order to put the flag into proper context.

Nearest Subwaylink station: Shot Tower

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

Reginald F. Lewis was the first African American to lead a billion-dollar company and the first to found a law firm on Wall Street. Before his untimely death at age 50, he wanted to support a museum dedicated to African American culture. Less than ten years after his death, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture opened in the southwest corner of Jonestown.

The 82,000 square foot facility is as striking from the outside as it is engaging on the inside. There’s a café serving soul food, a small bookstore, and a theatre. The three permanent exhibits are on the third floor and cover 400 years, starting with the slave trade in Maryland. The other two focus mostly on African American history in Maryland. There’s a small exhibit on Reginal F. Lewis, but his numerous accomplishments are not the museum’s main focus.

There are two temporary exhibits: Make Good Trouble and Freedom Bound.  The former will be there for a while, while the latter will be leaving soon. Currently, they have capacity restrictions in place. You can purchase timed admission passes here, although walk-ins are accepted as well.

Nearest Subwaylink station: Shot Tower

Little Italy

This hexagon-shaped Italian-American enclave east of Inner Harbor is one of the Charm City’s cultural gems. It’s also the southernmost Little Italy in the eastern United States. If you exit the Subwaylink at Shot Tower, you’ll be two blocks north of the northwest corner of Little Italy. The majority of the restaurants and bakeries are located on Albemarle and High Streets between Eastern Ave. and Pratt St.

It’s best to start your walking tour by heading south on Albemarle once you hit Pratt. On your left, you’ll see Casa di Pasta and Vaccaro’s, which is the main pastry shop in the area.

In terms of sit-down restaurants, there are roughly a dozen different options, each with a different twist. Most are well-established and multi-generational. La Tavola is known for its Maryland crab-centric pasta dishes. In 2020, their Spaghetti Neri al Granchio received the Daily Meal award for Best Pasta Dish in Maryland. Sabatino’s has been a haven for local athletes since at least the 1980s. Back when they were open until 4 AM, professional wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant used to head directly to Sabatino’s after their shows at the then-Baltimore Arena. From there, the word got out. Even today, this three-floor family-owned restaurant is a favorite of Baltimore Ravens, Orioles, and especially wrestling legends like Jim Cornette and Ric Flair. On the higher end, La Scala has a more seafood-centric menu with an indoor bocce court. This intimate, 13-table local favorite has been named Best Italian Restaurant in Baltimore multiple times by Baltimore Magazine.

But there’s more to Little Italy than multi-generation restaurants and bakeries. If you’re looking to get the most out of the neighborhood, it’s best to visit during one of the local festivals held between June and early October. Check the official Little Italy website for exact dates and times. You can also take Italian cooking or language classes at the Pandola Learning Center. One block west of St. Leo’s (one of Baltimore’s oldest Roman Catholic churches), you can catch a bocce game in D’Alesandro Park. 

As of this writing, indoor dining in Baltimore City is limited to 25% capacity. At least one Little Italy restaurant (Aldo’s) will remain closed until the capacity restriction is lifted to 50%.

Nearest Subwaylink station: Shot Tower

Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

George Herman Ruth, Jr. was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895. Although he later became one of the most famous American athletes of the 20th-century, his story began at 216 Emory Street in a neighborhood now known as Pigtown. The house blends in among the neighborhoods’ Baltimore-style brick façade row homes. 

Once inside the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, you’ll see red brick resembling Camden Yards on your right. Past the cashier, there’s a 25-minute documentary playing in the former living room. Rooms are fairly tight. Farther inside, there’s a small theater, with an even more interesting entrance. On the way in, the high walls are lined with a list of Ruth’s 714 home runs broken down year by year.

Upstairs you can see the kimono The Babe received during his 1934 visit to Japan. The man who got his nickname from his exuberance over ordinary things (like a babe in the woods) often wore the kimono at night. In the same room, you can also get in on the debate about whether or not Ruth called his shot against the Chicago Cubs on October 1, 1932, at Wrigley Field.

Nearest Light Raillink station: Convention Center/Pratt St.

The Washington Monument & Mount Vernon

The original Washington Monument predates the taller and more famous one in D.C. by 56 years. The Maryland version is both the main attraction and the geographic heart of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The 227-step journey to the top takes less than 10 minutes. From the lookout of this 178′ white marble Colossal Doric column, you can see as far as Inner Harbor. There’s also a gallery at the ground level.

Mount Vernon is also an ideal base if you’ve already explored Inner Harbor and want to experience the Charm City more like a local. If you do plan to stay in the neighborhood, consider staying at Hotel Revival. This 107-room, 14-story boutique hotel is located across the street from the monument. Nearly 1/3 of the rooms have a monument view, as does the aptly-named Topside Rooftop Bar & Eatery.

While Inner Harbor attractions are more grandiose, Mount Vernon’s tend to be more hidden. Baltimore School for the Arts (located at the southwest corner of Cathedral and Madison) counts Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur as former students. You can see Tupac’s likeness on a yellow wooden saltbox at that same corner.

Mount Vernon also has an under-the-radar marketplace at the southwest corner of Centre and Park. The Mount Vernon Marketplace is the yin to Lexington Market’s yang. Here, you can find gourmet dumplings, Korean rice bowls, street-style tacos, and even Neo’s Chesapeake pizza. Unlike Lexington Market, there’s plenty to drink at Mount Vernon. Neo’s sells beer and wine by the ounce. There are also soju and sake bars.

As of this writing, Topside is temporarily closed, but The Urban Oyster is operating out of the Revival kitchen. 

Nearest Light Raillink station: Centre St.

Jewish Museum of Maryland

The Jewish Museum of Maryland focuses on Jewish life in East Baltimore, also known as Jonestown, dating back to the mid-1800s. The visitor center is located between two historic synagogues. The admission price includes access to the visitor center exhibits and guided tours of the B’nai Israel and Lloyd Street Synagogues. The museum’s 12,000-plus artifacts include two Torahs saved from the European holocaust and the oldest documented Mikvah in the United States. You’ll have to cover your head when entering the B’nai Synagogue, which is still an active congregation.

South of the museum, along Lombard St., there are two well-established New York-style Jewish delis: Attman’s and Weiss. Try to time your visit so you can have lunch at one of these East Baltimore landmarks.

As of this writing, the museum is open from 10-12 and 1-3 on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Special events still take place on an almost daily basis. It’s worth looking into upcoming events when planning your visit. 

Nearest Subwaylink station: Shot Tower

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Pinterest Thanks to the Subwaylink and light rail, you can visit these Baltimore attractions without a car

All pictures were shot with my Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera.

Have you visited any of these attractions? Any that I missed? Have you used the Subwaylink or light rail? Leave a comment below!