Stretching out along Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is an exciting place to visit, with enough to do for an entire vacation itinerary. It’s the happening place for history buffs, art enthusiasts, foodies, families and anyone who enjoys being around the water.
Learn About Historic Ships
In the early 18th century, it was an important maritime trading port, essential for colonial growth. In the 1790s, it was the center of shipbuilding in the fledgling nation. To see historic vessels produced here, be sure to take a tour through the USS Constellation on Pier 1. This ship, which is actually the USS Stoop of War Constellation reconfigured to resemble the original which was launched from Sterrett Shipyard in Fell’s Point in 1797, is fascinating. Visit other Historic Ships on Pier 3 and 5 and the oldest Chesapeake Lighthouse still in existence on Pier 5.
While Baltimore today is best known for its blue crabs, in the mid-1800s the harvesting of oysters from nearby oyster beds led to a thriving waterfront canning industry. Beginning in 1893, both shipbuilding and seafood harvesting and canning were downsized by the boom of steel production which increasingly dominated the waterfront and surrounding area. Baltimore prospered and grew through steel, however the industrialization of the downtown and the waterfront created a blighted area. In the 1950’s, business and city leaders realized the potential of the waterfront for tourism, initiating a redevelopment plan to save downtown and the deteriorating harbor. The result is what visitors and locals enjoy today – a thriving, exciting Inner Harbor and interesting mixed-use waterfront neighborhoods such as trendy Harbor East and charming, hip and historic Fell’s Point.
Start your Baltimore vacation with The Inner Harbor. Explore historic ships, go on harbor tours, ride the water taxi, visit museums and attractions. Dine on tasty fresh seafood, shop for souvenirs and go to vibrant nightlife spots. Venture out to waterfront communities just beyond the Inner Harbor, just a walk or water taxi ride away.
See National Monuments
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day using Baltimore Water Taxi to get around to the attractions around Inner Harbor and to experience the nautical charm of Fells Point, tasty local seafood in Canton, trendy East Harbor and Locus Point. For visitors interested in history and old forts, taking the water taxi to Fort McHenry National Monument is a must. The historic fort which saw action during the War of 1812, and where the Star Spangled Banner was written, is a wonderful experience. Getting around by water taxi is not only convenient, it’s a blast and an important part of the Baltimore experience. The reasonable all-day unlimited ride ticket for any of its five color-coded routes with multiple stops at scheduled times gets you to landmarks and attractions you want to see.
Cruise The Harbor
While the water taxi is a convenient novelty, a boat excursion tour is a panoramic way to see the skyline and the harbor from unique perspective. Several types of vessels offer harbor tours –For those who enjoy a leisurely cruise around the harbor, The Spirit of Baltimore’s large, climate-controlled yachts with panoramic viewing windows on multiple levels are top-of-the-line. The 2 most popular options are the Inner Harbor Lunch Cruise and Weekend Dinner Dance Cruise.
Interact With Science
Inner Harbor has numerous attractions to explore, whether you get there on foot or by water taxi. There’s something for everyone. If you have kids in tow, take them to be awestruck by the marine life in spectacular National Aquarium and to interact with exhibits in Port Discovery Children’s Museum (for little kids up to 10 years old).
In the Federal Hill area, get a taste of Baltimore at Rusty Scupper. Take the family to get hands on with wonderful exhibits at Maryland Science Center. Don’t miss a true Baltimore gem, the American Visionary Art Museum, nearby. Filled with unusual outsider art, it’s a funky, fun place to take creative teens and millennials as they really get in to art that is outside of traditional expression.
Celebrate Our National Pastime
Catch a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the baseball-only facility just a 12-minute walk west from the Inner Harbor. Visit the Birthplace of Babe Ruth, baseball’s most legendary figure, just two blocks away. While in the Camden Yards area, don’t pass up Gippi’s Entertainment Museum, a hidden gem filled with amazing American pop culture exhibits the whole family can relate to, especially teens and millennials.
Eating Seafood Is A Must
Fell’s Point is a wonderful not-so-hidden gem. It has an authentic feel and vibrant energy. Plan to spend at least a half day in the colonial-era maritime community established in 1726, where more than 600 ships from the colonial era through the Civil war were built. A mixed-use community of restored colonial-era houses and rustic cobblestone streets where immigrants from all over the world and African Americans found work in the shipyards, it is quaint, quirky, busy, historic and hip. Walk along the waterfront Promenade, browse through the antique market or farmers market if they are happening while you are there. Check out eclectic shops; find vintage vinyl at music stores.
Have lunch or dinner in family-owned eateries serving tasty ethnic food – German, Polish, Mexican; sample Chesapeake Bay faves –crab cakes in cozy Pier Point; Eggs Benedict at Sip & Bite; oysters and great lobster rolls at Thames St. Oyster Bar; mussels at Bertha’s. A great way get to really get to know the history, culture and the food of Fell’s Point is on guided Fell’s Point Food Tour offered at a discount prices through Trusted Tours & Attractions. Venture into six unique family-owned eateries to sample their specialties and experience the friendly vibe during the 3.5 hour walking tour. If you stay into the evening, nightlife at Fell’s Point is all about beer, drinks and great atmosphere at over 100 local pubs and bars.
Blue Crab Awaits
Maryland blue crab purists always go to Canton, a waterfront community adjacent to Fell’s Point with an old Baltimore ambience. Get there by car our water taxi to find funky local hangouts serving the best crab steamed in the traditional way or done up using simple ingredients. Prepare to get messy at Captain James Seafood Place near the water taxi stop, at Bo Brooks near Lighthouse Point, at Canton Dockside surrounded by great views and hand-painted sea-side murals.
And… Don’t leave Baltimore’s Inner Harbor without ordering the city’s summertime signature drink: Baltimore Orange Crush – fresh orange juice, crushed ice, vodka, triple sec topped off with lemon/lime soda.