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5 Things to see on Charles Street, a National Scenic Byway

National Scenic Byway

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina / Washington Monument, Baltimore / Flickr

When you’re looking for things to do and see during your visit to the Baltimore area, be sure to check out Charles Street, a National Scenic Byway. This street runs 12 miles through the city and consists of a nearly unbroken series of local and National Register historic districts.

In addition to monuments and museums, Charles Street also has plenty of places to eat and shop. Several public greenspaces are located along Charles Street, as well. Whether you walk or drive the corridor, you’ll quickly discover why it was designated as a National Scenic Byway by the National Park Service.

What is a National Scenic Byway?

A National Scenic Byway is a road that has been selected by the Federal Highway Administration to be preserved and enhanced. Roads are selected based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. It’s interesting to note that Baltimore’s Charles Street is reportedly one of only four national scenic byways in an urban setting!

Top 5 Things You’ll see on Charles Street

The following is a list of the Top 5 things you’ll see on Charles Street. There are many more, but this will get you started!

  1. Washington Monument

This Washington Monument, located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, was the first planned architectural monument to honor the first president of the United States. This statue was designed by Robert Mills in 1815 and it was built between 1815 and 1829. The monument stands 178 feet tall and features a museum on the ground floor. Be sure to climb the steps to the top of the monument where you will be rewarded (after climbing 228 steps) with a beautiful view of Baltimore.

The monument is undergoing a $5.5 million renovation and will reopen July 4, 2015 in celebration of its bicentennial. A big celebration is planned, including a rededication of the monument and an old-fashioned country fair, complete with crafts, historical reenactments, old-fashioned games, live music, concessions and more. Admission is free.

  1. Station North Arts & Entertainment District

The Station North Arts & Entertainment District spans several neighborhoods in Baltimore and is a diverse mix of artist live-work spaces and galleries, along with rowhomes and businesses. There are plenty of things to do when you visit this arts and entertainment district, including peruse art galleries, visit gallery/bars, grab a bite to eat at a locally owned restaurant, or just sit back and enjoy a happy hour beverage. If you’d like to take in a show, check out Charles Theatre and the Mercury Theater.

  1. Basilica of the Assumption

Also called “America’s First Cathedral,” the Basilica of the Assumption is one of Baltimore’s top tourist destinations. The historic church was built between 1806 and 1821. Guided tours are offered Monday-Friday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please check the website for details on Saturday and Sunday tours, as tours may not be available if an event is planned. You may also take an unguided tour 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  1. Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art is located on Charles Street and is home to the largest collection of words by Henri Matisse in the world. The museum was founded in 1914 with a single painting, and the collection has grown to include more than 90,000 works of art including 19th century, modern and contemporary art collections. Peruse the artwork at your leisure, or take a guided, or self-guided tour, to get in-depth information about the museum and its collections.

  1. The Maryland Zoo

Kids of all ages will enjoy visiting the Maryland Zoo. Open daily, except for a few holidays, the Maryland Zoo offers an animal collection with more than 1,500 birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, representing nearly 200 species. Animals are displayed in natural settings replicating their native habitats.


If you’re planning a trip to Maryland soon, let the Wayside Inn serve as your home base during your visit. Our Ellicott City bed and breakfast is a romantic retreat from everyday reality. The Wayside Inn is the perfect place for you to escape. After a day enjoying Charles Street, come back to The Wayside Inn where you can relax in one of our six beautiful, quaint rooms. Wake up refreshed and enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast that you’re sure to love.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina / Washington Monument, Baltimore / Flickr