Some of best spots in Baltimore, Maryland are the hidden ones: the hole-in-the-wall eateries, the low-key hiking trails, the parks nestled among the residential areas. Book a stay at a Baltimore vacation rental nearby, and enjoy a vacation that you’ll fondly remember. While the waterfront and downtown areas are popular with tourists, check out these incredible hidden gems.

1. BWI Trail

The BWI Trail starts in Linthicum Heights, a neighborhood in southern Baltimore, and runs for 11 miles around the airport, and through the Hanover, Severn, Glen Burnie, and Ferndale neighborhoods before connecting back where it started. This nearly rural trail boasts woods, fields, and meadows for an oasis of nature not far from the city center while being overlooked by the majority of visitors. If you get a vacation rental in one of the bordering neighborhoods, you can hop on the trail (via bike or your own two feet) at a moment’s notice for some natural R&R. For a longer ride, hook up with the B&A Trail to the southeast of the BWI Airport at Stewart Avenue. However, the BWI Trail doesn’t have bathroom or water facilities except at any parks you might be passing through, so be sure to take a break at Andover Park and the Amtrak Station.

2. The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum, located in the heart of the city, isn’t the go-to attraction for art — most tourists opt for the Baltimore Museum of Art or the American Visionary Art Museum — but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for in sheer spunk. It boasts exquisite masterpieces spanning thousands of years from ancient American relics to delicate Russian faberge eggs. Plus, with all the traveling and circulating exhibitions, you never know what treasures you’re liable to see. There’s even an interactive museum exploration for children on every third weekend of the month.

3. Sherwood Gardens

Sherwood Gardens, which covers 6 acres in north Baltimore, bursts with flowers and flowering plants throughout the spring in summer. For instance, during the spring months, more than 80,000 tulips greet the world in a rainbow of colors, making it a favorite places for locals to stroll. Without gates or fences, people are encouraged to come and go at their leisure free of charge. Despite these myriad attractions, the garden’s almost unknown to tourists, probably due in part because the gardens are privately owned. You can get a vacation home in the same neighborhood and walk along the flowers often. Plus, you can explore the nearby Guilford Reservoir and walking paths while in the area.

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4. Annabel Lee Tavern

Baltimore is known for being the place where famous Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poet died and was buried, making the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum one of the most popular attractions. While you can certainly visit as well, head first to the Annabel Lee Tavern, an eatery and pub not on the regular must-see list that’s dedicated to the writer. The Poe quote over the front door, the Poe-inspired decorations, and the plethora of ravens make this the ideal place in which to revel in the long ago world of the tortured writer. The buffalo mushrooms, duck fat fries, and other house-made foods adds to its appeal. Visit during Halloween for an extra-spooky experience.

5. Jones Falls Trail

With Druid Hill Park and Woodberry Woods lying side by side, the latter doesn’t get much attention. However, the little-known Jones Falls Trail winds through the Woodberry Woods and along a stream, making this path a hidden gem with scenic views. If you really want to get into the experience, explore the entire 11 miles; the trail starts at the Baltimore Visitor Center and travels north to the Cylburn Aboretum. You can get off regularly to visit all the popular sites including the zoo while sticking to the road less traveled (literally).

6. Herring Run Park

Speaking of roads less traveled, the Herring Run Park is another hidden gem, though at 375 acres of woodlands, it’s not exactly hidden. However, tucked beside the more popular Clifton Park, Herring Run is available for exploration sans the crowds. The park runs from Lake Montebelow along the Herring Run river to I-895. It boasts fishing, picnicking areas, sports fields and courts, playgrounds, and hiking trails. Afterwards, stop by the 1840s historic church and spring for a little history after your outdoors fun.

7. B. Willow

B. Willow is in northern Baltimore a few blocks from Woodberry Woods and Druid Park, making the area a great place to get a vacation rental. B.Willow is part greenhouse, part education center. Walk among the plants, pick up a little something for the house, or join others in one of the many plant-themed workshops. Build a terrarium with the kids, learn how to grow cacti, or design the perfect bouquet. You can even join Boone St. Farm in a garden planning workshop. Even if you don’t have room for a vegetable garden, you can learn how to make the most of your space and grow a few essential plants for the kitchen.

8. R. House

R. House, just down the street from B. Willow, is an interesting take on food: instead of having separate restaurants, nearly a dozen chefs share a communal space, offering pizza side-by-side with Korean barbecue, Mediterranean street food, and tacos. The entire family can get what they want for dinner without having to visit several different locations. For dessert enjoy homemade Little Baby’s Ice Cream. With 350 seats in the food hall (think a cafeteria but with good food) and a hidden gem persona, R. House gives you the taste of local culture and cuisine you’ve been looking for.

9. Charlotte Elliott and the Bookstore Next Door

Charlotte Elliott and the Bookstore Next Door lies between Wyman Park and Druid Hill Park. After eating some good food at R. House, head over to this combination antique shop and bookstore featuring a range of eclectic items, each of which has an interesting story. Get a vintage piece for you home or pick up a book for those slow days of reading on the balcony of your vacation house or at the nearby parks. The offerings are always changing, so peruse and hang out at the shop often.

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