A Day Out in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

by Miriam Chernick
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Originally a major commercial and passenger port, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is now mostly a destination for Washington, D.C., and Chesapeake Bay daytrippers looking for good museums, shopping and entertainment. There are so many things to see, you'll have trouble choosing. Indoor options include the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center, shops, and a huge variety of restaurants. Outdoors, you can tour an historic boat, take a ride in a paddle boat or watch street performances by magicians, dancers, jugglers and comedians. For sports lovers, Camden Yards, the Sports Legends Museum and M&T Bank stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens) are close by. Museum, sports and entertainment hours vary depending on the season, so stop by the Visitor's Center located right on the harbor for more detailed information.

Reviewers:

Miriam and her children Sydney (13), Hannah (11) and Ben (8)

Why families love it:

There's something for everyone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. With picturesque views, historical sites, boats, restaurants and entertainment, it's a wonderful way to spend a day outside.

How to get there:

From New York, New Jersey and points north via I-95

Take I-95 south to Baltimore and go through the right tube of the Fort McHenry Tunnel. Once through the tunnel, stay in the right lane and take Exit 53, marked Downtown I-395. On I-395, stay in the center lane until you come to Pratt Street. Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be on your left. Turn right on Pratt Street. The Inner Harbor will be to your right.

From Washington, D.C., and points south via I-95

Take I-95 north to Baltimore. Take Exit 53, marked Downtown I-395. On I-395, stay in the center lane until you come to Pratt Street. Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be on your left. Turn right on Pratt Street. The Inner Harbor will be to your right.

Miriam's Baltimore's Inner Harbor picks:

1. Historic Ships in Baltimore

Piers 1, 3 and 5 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor 
301 Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

A must see among Baltimore's attractions is the group of four historic ships docked right in the Inner Harbor. The Constellation has a separate kids' audio tour (which comes with the price of admission) and a variety of fun hands-on activities. You can haul the rope or "brace" that controls the ship's mast and sails, or help use a "capstan" to lift a barrel out of the water. There's a special program about young boys who served as "powder monkeys" during the Civil War and every day at noon they shoot a real cannon. 

2. Phillips Seafood Restaurant

301 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

There are tons of restaurant choices in the Inner Harbor, but if you're in the mood for seafood, head straight to Phillips Seafood. Phillips is a great place to try the famous Maryland blue crab (in soup, on a sandwich or as a crabcake). Other excellent choices are the fresh fish, the lobster and the oysters. The desserts are good, too — particularly the chocolate cake and the homemade bread pudding. 

3. Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

216 Emory Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

A short drive (or a long walk) from the Inner Harbor are two museums that will be the highlight of any sports fan's trip to Baltimore. At the Sports Legends museum next to Camden Yards, you'll see the "real deal" of Maryland greats from Michael Phelps to Johnny Unitas. If you follow the path of 60 baseballs from the painted statue of Babe Ruth, you'll arrive at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum t. Here you'll see the room where Babe Ruth was born, learn how he got his famous nickname and read about his rags to riches story. 

4. Paddle Boats and Electric Boats

Pier 1 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor
301 Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Why not experience Baltimore's Inner Harbor from the water? Have fun and get a good workout by paddling around either in a regular paddle boat or in the more popular "Chessie" paddle boats. If you don't want to paddle but still want to get out on the water, sit back and just steer an electric boat instead. On sunny summer days the water gets crowded, so be careful to steer clear of other boaters! 

5. Rita's Ice

Harborplace and The Gallery
301 Light Street Visitor Center
Baltimore, MD 21202

Just outside the Baltimore Visitor Center on the Inner Harbor is a stand alone kiosk selling my family's new favorite dessert - Rita's Ice. Their signature Italian Ice is my son's favorite (especially with the fresh fruit) but the girls prefer the Old Fashioned Custard or the Gelati, a combination of Italian Ice and Frozen Custard. Once we've made our selections, we like to sit on the benches just behind the kiosk and watch the dancing fountains. .

Children's writer Miriam Chernick enjoys spending time with her family discovering new places in and around Washington, D.C.

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