Where to Skip Town for July 4th: Baltimore’s African American Heritage Festival

What: African American Heritage Festival

When: July 3-5

Where: Camden Yards, Baltimore

Why: The biggest celebration of African American culture in the mid-Atlantic, last year’s AAHF drew more than half a million visitors, and this year’s partnership with the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association is sure to make the 8th annual celebration even bigger. In addition to the backdrop of fireworks from nearby Inner Harbor, festival draws include performances by En Vogue (remember them?!), Teena Marie, and Anita Baker as well as carnival rides, ethnic foods, a fashion show, and kid-friendly activities.

As part of this year’s particular focus on the health of underprivileged communities, Mayor Sheila Dixon is hosting a 1.5 mile walk and a 5K run on July 4; registration for both closes on July 2.

You can expand the weekend with a visit to The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to see the temporary exhibit East Side Stories: Portraits of a Baltimore Neighborhood Then and Now. More than 100 works by four photographers document Baltimore’s historically black east side, while also recognizing the cultures of other ethnic groups—from Europe, Asia, and Latin America—that have called the area home.

Cost: Tickets to the festival start at $5. Admission to the museum is $8.

How to get there:
Both Amtrak and BoltBus stop at Baltimore’s Penn Station, at 1515 N. Charles St. Check schedules and fares at amtrak.com and boltbus.com. The MTA’s light rail and buses both serve Camden Yards, just east of the Inner Harbor. The museum is at 830 E. Pratt St., on the opposite side of the harbor and is also served by the MTA.

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Herard