The Top 13 Things to Do in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Baltimore, Maryland, USA Inner Harbor Skyline Aerial
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One of America's oldest seaports, Baltimore's recently-renewed Inner Harbor is home to some of the city's best attractions, including the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children's Museum, and Harborplace. The neighborhood is also an excellent blend of Maryland's new and old history, with 19th-century ships in the harbor and modern attractions like Baltimore's World Trade Center, with a 27th-floor viewing deck overlooking the city. 

Read on to discover the top 13 things to do in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

01 of 13

Take in City Views at Federal Hill Park

Sunny day view of Federal Hill Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Dwight Nadig / Getty Images
Federal Hill Park, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA

On the south side of the Inner Harbor is Federal Hill Park, a former lookout during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Today, visitors can take in ​the dramatic view of Baltimore's cityscape from the top of the hill. The neighborhood around Federal Hill Park takes its name from the landmark.

02 of 13

Visit the National Aquarium

Torsk and National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images
501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
Phone +1 410-576-3800

With a collection of more than 20,000 animals representing 700-plus species, Baltimore's National Aquarium is the city's most-visited attraction. Exhibits include a multi-story Atlantic coral reef, an open ocean shark tank, 4D immersion theater, tropical rainforest, a glass pavilion with Australian wildlife, and a mammal pavilion that holds Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

03 of 13

Climb Aboard a Historic Ship

Return of the USS Constellation
Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images
301 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202-3134, USA
Phone +1 410-539-1797

Instead of a traditional maritime museum, several historic ships are permanently docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Visitors can climb aboard and experience four landmark ships: A U.S. Navy tall ship first launched in 1854, a U.S. Coast Guard lightship from the 1930s, a submarine that took two war patrols in Japan during World War II, and the last ship floating that fought in the attack on Pearl Harbor. There's also a lighthouse dating back to 1855. All of the vessels are operated by Historic Ships in Baltimore, and tickets can be purchased for more than one ship at a discount. The lighthouse is free to all visitors.

04 of 13

Dine and Shop at Harborplace Mall

Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images
200 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
Phone +1 410-332-4191

This two-pavilion complex in the Inner Harbor is full of retail and dining options. Both local and national businesses abound, including The Cheesecake Factory and H&M. When the weather is nice, bands play along the waterfront. The mall is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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05 of 13

Learn About Dinosaurs, Astronomy, and More at the Maryland Science Center

Tourists in the Maryland Science Center
Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images
601 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA
Phone +1 410-685-2370

Featuring three levels of exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater, the Maryland Science Center is fun for the whole family. Learn about DNA extraction and chemical reactions in the hands-on SciLab, "dig" for fossils and measure the length of a dinosaur's leg bone in the Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit, and watch a 30-minute show about the cosmos in the planetarium. However you spend the day, your kids will leave knowing a bit more about physical science, space, Earth science, and the human body. 

06 of 13

Get Out on the Water

Tour boat in the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland
Richard Cummins / Getty Images
555 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202-6011, USA
Phone +1 410-268-7601

One of the best ways to explore Baltimore's Inner Harbor and other waterfront attractions is by boat, and there is no shortage of vessels traversing the water. From dinner cruises to a pirate ship excursion, many different experiences can be had onboard boats in the harbor. For a brief introduction to the city, hop on Watermark's 45-minute Baltimore Harbor Cruise, during which you'll sail past neighborhoods and attractions such as Federal Hill, Fort McHenry, and Fell's Point.

07 of 13

Get a Bird's-Eye View of Baltimore

Maryland, Baltimore, World Trade Center, Top of the World, view over downtown
Jeff Greenberg/UIG / Getty Images
World Trade Center Baltimore, 401 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA

See Baltimore from above at the top of the World Trade Center, the tallest pentagonal building in the world. Head up to the observation deck on the 27th floor, where you can not only enjoy a 360-degree view of the city and harbor, but you can also browse rotating art exhibits. A memorial to the victims of the September 11th attacks is located on the pedestrian promenade outside the building.

08 of 13

Let Kids Play at Port Discovery

Exterior of Port Discovery
Tracy Brown Photography / Wikimedia Commons
35 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
Phone +1 410-727-8120

Port Discovery is a children's museum designed explicitly for children under 12 years old. The star attraction inside the historic Fish Market Building is a four-story jungle gym, but kids will also find attractions that stimulate their brains and creativity. Among these are Tiny's Diner—where kids can role-play as a server, cashier, or cook in a 1950s-themed diner—and a sensory wall.

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09 of 13

Admire Artists’ Work at the American Visionary Art Museum

Exterior of American VIsionary Art Museum.
Rick Gerharter / Getty Images
800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA
Phone +1 410-244-1900

At this mosaic-clad museum, visitors will find a collection of unique, innovative art. Self-taught individuals produce all art inside the museum, and throughout the year the museum hosts lots of fun events, like free outdoor movies and the Kinetic Sculpture Race. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

10 of 13

Discover the Stories of Maryland's African American Community

Baltimore Cityscapes And City Views
Raymond Boyd / Getty Images
830 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
Phone +1 443-263-1800

Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum is dedicated to preserving the stories of the state's Black community, past and present. The 82,000-square-foot space hosts rotating exhibits and a permanent collection covering topics ranging from slavery to African American art. The museum, which is the largest of its kind in Maryland, is located on the outer limits of the Inner Harbor.

11 of 13

Relive Baltimore's Industrial Revolution

Baltimore Museum of Industry
Romainbehar, Wikimedia Commons
1415 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA
Phone +1 410-727-4808

The Baltimore Museum of Industry, located in an old cannery, showcases the types of manufacturing and industry from the early 20th century. Much of the museum is dedicated to Baltimore's history; you'll learn about Dr. Bunting's Pharmacy, where Noxzema was invented, and the trials and tribulations of the food industry through Domino Sugar and McCormick. One of its star attractions is the oldest surviving steam tugboat, a National Historic Landmark called the "Baltimore."

12 of 13

Go Out on the Town at Power Plant Live!

Power Plant Live! - Baltimore.
peeterv / Getty Images
34 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
Phone +1 410-908-0650

Power Plant Live! is an entertainment complex with bars, clubs, restaurants, and arts attractions, located two blocks north of the Inner Harbor. Although the children's museum Port Discovery is situated in the complex, Power Plant Live! really comes alive at night when all of Baltimore's young professionals come out to play. The complex also hosts a wealth of events, including concerts, food festivals, and bar crawls; check the calendar to see the most up-to-date schedule.

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13 of 13

Get Recommendations at the Baltimore Visitor Center

Inner Harbor and Baltimore skyline, Maryland, USA
Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images
401 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202-1014, USA
Phone +1 877-225-8466

You can get some personalized recommendations at the city's Visitor Center. Located just north of the Maryland Science Center, this building has touch screen kiosks that tell visitors where to go, as well as staff members who can help clue you into events happening in the city. There are also public restrooms inside.

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The Top 13 Things to Do in Baltimore's Inner Harbor