Inner Harbor Guide

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    Baltimore's Inner Harbor

    Torsk and National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    ••• Hisham Ibrahim/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

    Baltimore's Inner Harbor is the city's premier tourist attraction and one of the city's crown jewels. The National Aquarium, Harborplace, Maryland Science Center and a host of restaurants and shops ensure that there's something for everyone at the Inner Harbor.

    It wasn't always this way. The Inner Harbor was once a rundown port area populated by sailors, dockworkers and other brave souls. Billie Holiday reportedly once worked in a brothel there. In the 1960s, when planning for the Inner Harbor's revitalization began, it seemed a pipe-dream that tourists would ever come. On July 1, 1980, Harborplace officially opened and Baltimore hasn't been the same since. Today the Inner Harbor is the city's center for attractions, hotels and restaurants.

    Visiting the Inner Harbor

    Spend the day just kicking around the Inner Harbor or take a more targeted approach and just visit one of the major attractions, like the National Aquarium. Whatever your plan, you may need information and ideas about:

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    National Aquarium in Baltimore

    ••• Photo courtesy of National Aquarium in Baltimore

    The National Aquarium in Baltimore is one of the top aquariums in the world. The three-building complex of glass, concrete and steel spans Piers 3 and 4 along Pratt Street, making a striking architectural statement. Its array of exhibits range from a lively dolphin show to a re-creation of Australia's Northern Territory.

    Save money with these aquarium tips, tours, and deals.

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

    The 82,000-square-foot Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture is dedicated to preserving history and retelling the stories of Maryland's African American community. Located on the edge of the Inner Harbor, the museum is the largest of its kind on the East Coast. Images, music and recorded oral history bring to life the museum's exhibits and collection.

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    Port Discovery

    A block north of the water in the Power Plant Live! complex, Port Discovery is a kid's paradise. Designed for children ages 2 to 10, the museum is dominated by a three-level climbing structure.

    Power Plant Live! is a collection of restaurants and clubs that offer a wide selection of food and entertainment options.

    Port Discovery is just one of many Baltimore Family Attractions

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    USS Constellation and World Trade Center

    Moving west along the waterfront from the aquarium, the USS Constellation, docked near Baltimore's World Trade Center, was the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy. Commissioned in 1855, the ship saw action in the Civil War. It sailed into the Inner Harbor in the 1950s and is now open for tours all year round.

    Towering over the ship, the world's tallest pentagon-shaped building offers a fantastic 360-degree view of Baltimore. The 27th floor of Baltimore's World Trade is an observatory.

    The Constellation is just one of several historic ships docked in the Inner Harbor.

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    Harborplace and the Gallery

    Harborplace is the retail and dining center of the Inner Harbor. It features a mix of local and national stores and a variety of restaurants. Made up of two buildings — Light and Pratt Street pavilions — Harborplace is connected by a skywalk over Pratt Street to The Gallery, a four-story mall with upscale retail establishments. At the corner of Light and Pratt streets between the two pavilions, an amphitheater hosts street entertainers and musical acts in the warmer months.
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    Baltimore Visitors Center

    Past the Harborplace's Light Street Pavilion, the Baltimore Visitor Center rises along the west side of the harbor like a wave. Browse the old-fashioned brochure racks or use the touch-screen kiosks to plan your day in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Friendly staff can help you purchase tickets for events and attractions, make a reservation at a Baltimore hotel, book a tour and learn about the city's history, arts, neighborhoods and shopping. The air-conditioned facility has public restrooms.

    Open daily from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
    401 Light Street
    Baltimore, MD 21202

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    Maryland Science Center

    ••• Photo courtesy of Maryland Science Center

    The Maryland Science Center anchors one end of the Inner Harbor. Aside from its science exhibits, the museum is home to an IMAX movie theater and planetarium. With a number of hands-on exhibits, the science center is a phenomenal attraction for kids, and is a must-see stop for tourists and locals alike.

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    American Visonary Arts Museum

    ••• Photo by Dan Meyers

    The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is home to a spectacular collection of beautiful, bizarre, and innovative art. What makes it unique? Not a piece in the striking Key Highway building on the edge of the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill was created by a formally trained artist.

    What of that term, "visionary art?" I'll let the museum, opened in 1995, speak for itself. "Visionary art as defined for the purposes of the American Visionary Art Museum refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself."

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    Baltimore Museum of Industry

    Relive the Industrial Revolution in an afternoon. On the western edge of the Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Museum of Industry tells the stories behind the businesses that built Baltimore. Its large complex, ample parking and waterfront patio and pavilion make the BMI a popular party venue too.