Courtesy Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association

Baltimore embraces its eccentric side — the quirky architecture, character, and style made famous by John Waters’ movies such as Hairspray and Cry-Baby — which serves as a unifying source of pride to the city’s 631,000 residents.

This year the Remodeling Show returns to Baltimore’s refurbished Inner Harbor, where — with an array of fine dining, shopping, and entertainment options — the city puts its best foot forward. You’ll find a host of local tourist attractions here, including the famous National Aquarium and many others highlighting the harbor’s historical significance in early America.

For a taste of authentic Baltimore, venture just beyond the Inner Harbor into the surrounding neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor and feel.

Just south of the harbor, and within walking distance from the Baltimore Convention Center where the Remodeling Show is being held, is Federal Hill, known for its rehabbed Revolutionary War-era row houses and the block-long Cross Street Market (see “Local Fare”).

Head slightly north of the Inner Harbor and you’ll fi nd Mount Vernon, the city’s arts and cultural district. This hip neighborhood is home to dozens of ethnic restaurants, antiques stores, and art galleries, as well the original Washington Monument.

A short drive east (also accessible by water taxi) , is the historic seaport neighborhood of Fells Point. This quaint waterfront community is best known today for the shops, restaurants, and bars (often featuring live music) that line its cobblestone streets. And neighboring Canton, just a bit further east, also offers fantastic waterfront restaurants and entertainment.

Read on to find out which Baltimore hotspots are a must to visit while you’re in town, including recommendations from local area remodelers.

Things to Do

Much of Baltimore’s historical and cultural significance stems from its role as a major port city in early America, and there’s no shortage of tourist attractions illuminating this part of the city’s history. Though you may not have time to see them all, be sure to visit at least a few of these local attractions before heading home.

Fort McHenry

Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner after he saw the American flag flying over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry following a fi erce British bombardment during the War of 1812. Accessible by water taxi, come tour the battle site and the many related exhibits at the Star Fort museum. (2400 E. Fort Ave., 410.962.4290)

Star-Spangled Banner House

Relive a bit of history at the former home of Mary Pickersgill, the woman who sewed the flag that would become the inspiration for our national anthem. (844 E. Pratt St., 410.837.1793)

Baltimore Maritime Museum

Composed of three historic ships and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, the Maritime Museum offers visitors a look into the city’s pre-World War II nautical landmarks. (802 S. Caroline St., 410.396.3453)

USS Constellation Museum

Built in 1854, the USS Constellation is the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy, and the last Civil War-era vessel still afloat. (301 E. Pratt St., 410.539.1797)

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Home to more than 660 species and 16,500 specimen, the aquarium is the harbor’s premier attraction, featuring interactive dolphin shows and a new 4-D Immersion Theater. (501 E. Pratt St., 410.576.3800;

Maryland Science Center

With three levels of exhibits on topics from the human body to dinosaurs to outer space, the Science Center has something for everyone looking to indulge their inquisitive side. In addition to the regular rotating exhibits, the Center features an Imax theater, observatory, and planetarium. (601 Light St., 410.685.2370;

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

Opened in 2005, this museum honors the accomplishments of well-known fi gures such as Frederick Douglass and Billie Holiday, and celebrates lesser-known achievements of artists, politicians, and activists. (830 E. Pratt St., 443.263.1800; www.african

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Billed as the nation’s “leading museum of regional Jewish history, culture, and community,” the museum interprets the Jewish experience in America while focusing on Jewish life in the state of Maryland. (15 Lloyd St., 410.732.6400;

Baltimore Museum of Industry

Step back in time and interact with the technologies — from the fi rst steam roller to the world’s fi rst typesetting machine — that forged the Industrial Revolution and shaped our nation. (1415 Key Highway, 410.727.4808;

Top of the World Observation Level, World Trade Center

Located on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center, the observation deck offers one of the best views in the city, overlooking the Inner Harbor and historic Federal Hill Park. (401 E. Pratt St., 410.837.8439)

B&O Railroad Museum

Come see the oldest, most comprehensive American railroad collection in the world, and learn more about the impact the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had on an industry that left a permanent mark on American culture. (901 W. Pratt St., 410.752.2490;

Westminster Hall

Long a Baltimore icon — the city’s football team, the Ravens, is the namesake of his famous narrative poem — Edgar Allen Poe and his wife are both buried at the Westminster Burial Ground, the catacombs located below Westminster Hall (Fayette and Green streets, 410.706.2072; www.westminster You can also visit the legendary writer’s former home just a few blocks away. (203 N. Amity St., 410.396.7932)

Museum Discounts

Purchase a four-day Harbor Pass for discounted entry to local attractions, including the National Aquarium, Science Center, and American Visionary Art Museum. The four-day Heritage Pass will earn you discount admission to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, USS Constellation Museum, Baltimore Maritime Museum, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture, and many more.