Welcome to Baltimore
From massive pro sports arenas to intimate seafood diners on the water, from live Shakespearean theatre to world-famous electronica just blocks away, Baltimore is a city tightly packed with so much to see and do that you’ll see a week’s worth action just walking from your accommodations to the first stop on your exciting night on the town. Known as Charm City, Baltimore does just that, thanks to neighborhoods filled with eye-catching Victorian architecture, great museums and entertainment, and a picturesque waterfront background. In this blog, we give you the rundown one of our favorite neighborhoods and what there is to do there. Ready to explore? Let’s escape to the Charm City's best!
Inner Harbor Neighborhood
A visit to Maryland isn’t complete without some time on the water, and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor delivers. The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport with a great surrounding neighborhood – an all-day-wanderable tourist attraction in itself, and it’s also Baltimore’s biggest local landmark. Many of the city’s top attractions can be found in the Inner Harbor neighborhood.
Along with being home to museums and science centers galore, plus great pubs, restaurants and nightlife, the harbor is within walking distance of major music and sports venues like Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. And, for even more fun, Inner Harbor water taxis connect you to great live music venues, art galleries, and other attractions in nearby neighborhoods like Fells Point, Canton, and Fort McHenry.
Yeah, Inner Harbor is all that. Here’s the complete rundown on great stuff to do and see in the area. Anchors away!
Inner Harbor Historic Sites, Museums, and More
From historic ships to aquarium sharks, planetariums to dinosaurs (well, full-size fossils), Inner Harbor, Baltimore’s best site-seeing locale, has no shortage of cool things to check out. Home to Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, and the Top of the World Observation Level’s panoramic Charm City views, it’s hard to beat Inner Harbor as a destination neighborhood. Here are some major sites and must-sees.
Experience a bit of nautical history at the Historic Ships in Baltimore exhibit, which features retired military boats, a submarine, a museum and a 130-year-old lighthouse on the mouth of the Patapsco River. Kids and budding naval historians alike will love boarding the impeccably maintained, 1850s-era USS Constellation, and enjoy hearing about life on the USS Torsk submarine. The museum also houses intriguing marine artifacts, materials, and stories illuminating over 200 years of naval and maritime history. Truly a boatload of fun!
Who isn’t interested in sea life? Inner Harbor’s National Aquarium is home to nearly 800 different species of fish, mollusks, sharks, jellyfish, aquatic plants, and more. The most-visited tourist attraction in Maryland, the aquarium encompasses 250,000 square feet and exhibits more than 17,000 animals, including birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals living in state-of-the-art habitats.
If turfier or even non-terrestrial science is more your thing, the harbor’s Maryland Science Center is sure to please. The center offers a fantastic five-story IMAX theater, a planetarium, and 14 full-size dinosaur skeletons. An exhibit exploring a day in the life of the human body looks at all sorts of cool bodily functions, and discusses the corporal effects of a bed of nails. Ouch!
Another one of Baltimore’s most acclaimed cultural sites is the American Visionary Art Museum. The building itself is a work of art with a jaw-droppingly curvy facade, and things get even cooler inside, where the museum specializes in outsider, or intuitive art, also known as raw art or art brut, with fascinating exhibits like drawings of imaginary relatives by an only child to holocaust survivor art. Very worth a visit!
Explore Maryland African American history at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which permanently exhibits over 400 years of history in the areas of industry, leisure, politics, sports, the arts, and more. Rotating exhibits feature anything from craft workshops to close looks at African American life today through current issues.
The harbor is great to look at, but how about a cruise across it? Watermark Cruises offers harbor trips on their iconic 65-foot red boat, with trips ranging from 45-minute narrated tours to (pssst, couples…) hour-long, Saturday night city lights floats. Other cruise options include Baltimore Spirit Cruises, Seadog Cruises , (by regular boat and speedboat!) and Baltimore Water Taxi, which is both a great way to see the harbor and to just get around to the best Inner Harbor sites.
Inner Harbor Arts & Entertainment
Baltimore is home to some world-class arts and entertainment venues that alone are worth a visit. On a date, out with the squad, or flyin’ solo, Baltimore has plenty of live performances to keep you busy.
While the Inner Harbor is dotted with plenty of great spots (great dining on one side of the street, live music on the other),Power Plant Live! combines entertainment, dining options and more in just one venue, a block from the harbor. Enjoy great food at Joe Squared, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or Mex Tequila Bar. Grab an alfresco brew at Leinie Lodge and Beer Garden. Or, if you’re up for some Baltimore boogie or a game of billiards, hit up one of several nightclubs including Angels Rock Bar, Mosaic Nightclub & Lounge, or Howl at the Moon, all very unique, high-energy clubs boasting top live performers from around the country. On a budget? Power Plant Live! also hosts a free live-music series weekly, May through October.
Or if you’re looking for national and world-touring performances, head to the Baltimore Soundstage, a huge, arena-sized venue offering both club seats and general admission to performances from rap to metal to electronic music. Also a short walk from the harbor, Soundstage’s location lets you enjoy a waterfront stroll before the show!
A leading theater destination with several stages and genres to choose from, including everything from national Broadway musical acts in a Vaudeville venue to local interpretations of the hottest playwrights du jour, you don’t have to go far for great theatre in Baltimore. Hit up the lively Everyman Theatre to experience local talent with topnotch Marylanders performing classics and newer plays. Or, bask in some Baltimore Bard at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater, with exterior architecture rivaling the castle at Elsinore complementing the full gamut of comedies, histories, and tragedies the company puts on. Both theatres are just two blocks north of the Inner Harbor neighborhood and easy to walk to!
Inner Harbor Dining, Drinks, and Groceries
Though your kitchen at home is great for whipping up culinary creations and dining fun, escaping it for Inner Harbor’s tasty eateries and water-adjacent seafood options is likely a big part of the reason you came to Baltimore. From fried oysters to Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp and more, Inner Harbor boasts the best of Baltimore seafood-freshly caught right here. A bit of a Baltimore landmark, the Rusty Scupper Restaurant & Bar is an upscale spot serving freshly caught delights, and it’s located right on the Inner Harbor. Whereas the food alone is worth the stop, the fantastic view of the harbor makes it all the better. Let’s dig in!
Up late and just in time for brunch? Spoons is your spot. Spoons knows that a proper brunch of course means pancakes and granola. But hey, we’re still in the harbor, so pick from fried oysters and other seafood options, too. Maybe wash it down with a blackberry lavender mimosa to really get fired up for your day of adventures.
Good moooorning Baaaaltimore! Sorry, had to throw in at least one Hairspray reference. Especially when traveling, there’s nothing better than having nice people make you coffee, and 3 Bean Coffee is the perfect excuse to walk on by your hotel coffee maker in the morning. Just black, or in the form of their honey graham latte, 3 Bean does Baltimore right.
Inner Harbor for Kids
Along with kid-friendly sites like Federal Park Hill, Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, and the Historic Ships exhibit, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has plenty of other charms the young ’uns dig, too.
Kids large and small will love Ripley’s Believe It or Not’s Odditorium, where they can strike a pose with a T-Rex made from, of course, Pop Tart wrappers, or check out a freaky shrunken head. They’ll love getting lost (or finding themselves?) in the Marvelous Mirror Maze’s 2,000 square feet of endless passages. Or, buckle the kiddos up for a show in Ripley’s 4D moving Theater, which features motion seats and 4-D real effects.
Great fun for the under-10 set, the Port Discovery Children's Museum, located two blocks from the harbor, features exhibits that let kids explore the world of port operations, offering the wee ones hands-on fun operating a harbor crane (the heavy equipment, not the bird) or sitting on the bridge of a ship. There’s even a mini convenience store and kid-sized diner (with a cash register to play with!), as well as the “Oasis” play area where kids and adults can do puzzles or just chill.
Who likes heights? Kids will love the view from the Top of the World Observation Level in Baltimore’s World Trade Center skyscraper, a city and water panorama 27 stories up with 360-degree views of the Charm City and harbor. Look at the tiny boats floating about! And, yes, you can see your house from here!
If all the Inner Harbor fun has kids hankering for a treat, we fully endorse the Berger cookie, a chocolate-frosted delight, and Charm City’s staple snack since the 1800s! Pick up a box at any grocery store, and maybe another one for the hotel too!
Inner Harbor Live Sports
It doesn’t get any better than the Inner Harbor neighborhood when it comes to professional live sports. Whether it’s NFL Football or MLB Baseball, you’re first and goal or even an “easy walk” from two huge sports venues at Baltimore’s nearby Camden Yards. Catch Orioles baseball at Oriole Park mid-March through mid-September, or Ravens football at M&T Bank Stadium, September through February.
Feelin’ the Inner Harbor charm? Make your Baltimore stay the best by visiting the most walkable neighborhood around. (Oh, and make sure the trip is free of “oh [email protected]” moments with this convenient packing list.)
We hope you enjoy your trip to Baltimore to the fullest and get your fill of Charm City fun. If you're interested in staying in one of our Stay Alfred cities, give us a call at 1.866.232.3864. We're always happy to help!