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.
Take in City Views at Federal Hill Park
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.
With a collection of more than 20,000 animals representing more than 700 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, a 4-D immersion theater, a tropical rainforest, a glass pavilion with Australian wildlife, and a mammal pavilion that holds Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
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.
Dine at Harborplace and the Gallery
The two-pavilion complex full of retail and dining options in the Inner Harbor is known as Harborplace and The Gallery. Inside is a mix of local and national restaurants and stores. When the weather is nice, bands play along the waterfront.
Learn about the Maryland Blue Crab
Three levels of exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater draw crowds to the Maryland Science Center but don't miss the exhibition covering a local favorite, the blue crab. Additionally, kids will love learning about physical science, space, Earth science, and the human body.
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. Cruises on the Bay offers a 2.5-hour "Legends & Sights of Baltimore" cruise aboard their yacht, Raven. The cruise includes history on Edgar Allen Poe's time in Baltimore, the development of the Clippers, and facts about our country's flag and national anthem.
Get a Bird's Eye View of Baltimore
See Baltimore from above at the top of the city's World Trade Center, a skyscraper with an observation deck on the 27th floor that provides a 360-degree view of the city. A memorial to the victims of the September 11th attacks is located on the pedestrian promenade outside the building.
Let Kids Play at Port Discovery
Port Discovery is a children's museum designed explicitly for kids under ten years old. The star attraction inside the historic Fish Market Building is a three-story jungle gym, but kids will also find attractions that stimulate their brains and creativity.
You can't miss Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in Baltimore: a two-story green serpent with steam coming out of its nose wraps around the upper-level of the museum. Inside the museum are more than 8000-square-feet boasting Ripley's trademark "oddities" in seven different galleries, plus a mirror maze and a 4-D movie theater.
Admire Artists’ Work at the American Visionary Art Museum
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.
Discover the Stories of Maryland's African-American Community
Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum is dedicated to preserving the stories of the state's African-American community, past and present. It includes exhibits on slavery, African-American art, and more. The museum, which is the largest of its kind on the East Coast, is located on the outer limits of the Inner Harbor.
Relive Baltimore's Industrial Revolution
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.
Power Plant Live! is an entertainment complex with bars, clubs, and restaurants, plus some arts attractions, located two blocks north of the Inner Harbor. Although the children's museum Port Discovery is located in the complex, Power Plant Live! really comes alive at night when all of Baltimore's young professionals come out to play.
Get Recommendations at the Baltimore Visitor Center
You can get some personalized recommendations at the city's Visitor Center. This building just north of the Maryland Science Center and has touch-screen kiosks that tell visitors where to go, as well as staff who can help clue you into events happening in the city. There are also public restrooms inside.