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12 Family Adventures in Charm City, Part 2

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If you’re looking for a destination with multiple daytrip opportunities for your young family, consider checking out downtown Baltimore, MD.  Whether you’ve got toddlers or teenagers, you’ll find plenty to do in ‘Charm City.’  Many of the activities are within walking distance of one another – you may just find yourself spending several days exploring them all!


Below is Part 2 in our two part series of family adventures in downtown Baltimore.  The entire series features 12 awesome activities, with six venues shared in Part 1 and six different venues shared in Part 2.

12 Family Adventures in Charm City, Part 1, by Jody Spertzel Arneson, was published on January 28, 2020.


© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Historic Ships of Baltimore

Historic Ships of Baltimore is a maritime museum located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is a good way to remember that the Inner Harbor for 200 years was – and still is – a major east coast port.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Historic Ships in Baltimore is a collection of military vessels spanning the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s. Located within easy walking distance of each other, the USS Constellation, the US Submarine Torsk, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, and the Lightship 116 Chesapeake exhibit life at sea for over 100 years. In addition, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, which marked the entrance to the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor for more than 130 years, is part of the entry ticket to the maritime museum.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

If you don’t mind getting wet as you walk from ship to ship, this would make a good, summer, rainy-day activity.  Several exhibits on the ships specifically cater to kids and their imaginations.  This is a great activity for kids aged 8 and older, but teenagers may also find themselves interested in the historic ships!

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Tickets may be purchased at 301 East Pratt Street.  I highly recommend checking the website for specifics, as hours vary according to season for each ship and the lighthouse is closed during the winter season.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

The Maryland Science Museum

You and your kids can explore our universe, from the age of the dinosaurs, all the way through the age of space exploration at the Maryland Science Center.  Located at 601 Light Street, this awesome museum is all about kids and science.  They truly teach kids by making it simple and fun.  Here, kids can explore ideas and concepts over several floors of exhibits. Your kids won’t even realize they’re learning as they sift through sand to find a dinosaur bone or lie on a bed of nails and learn about physics.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Although the theories are serious, the experiences are fun and imaginative, calling on kids to creatively problem solve, suggest their own ideas, or just be open to the wonder that surrounds them. There are lots of hands-on, interactive displays that will get them doing things that explain the concepts being presented. They can explore what our bodies are made of and see what a cold virus looks like, magnified and enlarged a billion times. They can literally see weather swirling around a globe of the earth.

Not to be missed is the planetarium, featuring a variety of programs offered throughout the day, as well as the age-appropriate experiment rooms.  Many kids, from toddlers through early middle school, will benefit from this incredibly immersive environment.  Open hours vary by season, so please check the website.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Urban Pirates Cruise

Departing from Fells Point, this interactive, swashbuckling adventure cruise of the Inner Harbor is fun for families, especially those with younger kids.  Located at 911 South Ann Street, the Urban Pirates Cruise includes kid-friendly games, songs, blasting of the water cannons, and treasure!  The kids love it!

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

The crew is engaging and energetic and there’s lots of interaction, from dancing to story-telling to shooting water canons on an ‘attacking pirate.’ Think Pirates of the Caribbean rather than Blackbeard – that’s the sort of ‘pirates’ we’re talking about here.  “Arrrrrrg!”

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

During the cruise, you’ll learn some key pirate-like words and phrases (“ye scurvvy dog,” etc.). Pirate sword fights are acted out and the children are taught how to dance like a pirate.  Our kids had fun and the adults were in stitches over their antics.

Please note that parking is limited to on street, metered spots.  The cruise operates mid-April to October, so check website for tour times and availability

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

Living Classrooms’ Paddle and Electric Boats

Scotland may have its iconic Nessie, but only in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor can you paddle on the water in the Chesapeake Bay’s version of this iconic monster. Have fun and get a good workout by paddling around in a ‘Chessie’ paddle boat. The pedal-powered boats seat up to 4 passengers each and have become a popular destination for family day trips during warmer months.

Proceeds from ticket sales support Living Classrooms and their hands-on education and job training programs.  From April to November, head to 301 East Pratt Street for daily rides, weather permitting.

© Tracy Brown Photography

Port Discovery Children’s Museum

To call Port Discovery a museum is a little misleading, as it is an enormous activity center geared towards teaching children about the workings of a live port.  At the center of the museum and extending upward for several stories, are two cargo net tubes in the central atrium.  Children and their adventurous (and contortionist) parents can climb up to the top of this webbed funnel, and then rocket down to the bottom in a stainless steel spiral slide.  Its a lot of fun and some kids will spend all day “climbing the tube.”

© The Commoner

The surrounding floors contain a lot of fun activities.  For instance, kids can transport blocks that represent cargo containers over a series of conveyor belts.  In another room, kids can play with water, sending cargo ship models down through a series of canal locks.  There is a room for toddlers, a library full books, and an Egyptian archaeological dig.

© The Commoner

It is located at 35 Market Place, right next to the Power Plant Live! entertainment venue. This makes parking at Harbor Park Garage very convenient.  I also recommend purchasing the yearly family pass, which makes each visit less dependent on experiencing every corner of the museum.  A family of five only needs to visit more than twice in a calendar year for such a pass to start paying for itself.

© Mid-Atlantic Daytrips

American Visionary Art Museum

Located at 800 Key Highway, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is an unusual art museum. There are no Picassos, no Monets, no Chagalls to be found within its walls, but don’t let that stop you. Instead, you and your kids will find art made by ‘every day folk.’  These artists didn’t go to school or apprentice with another artist to learn how to express themselves – they are just like you and I.  Instead, they picked up a paint brush or started carving wood or reworked found objects into objet d’art.

Yes, the AVAM is a great place for kids but it is not specifically for kids – it’s for anyone who wants to explore their own vision and expression. It’s really a place of wonder, and both kids and adults can lose themselves in the exploration of art, and what it means for you.

Parking Tips

Parking can be the toughest part of planning kid-friendly daytrips while visiting Baltimore, as moving kids between multiple venues can be challenging.  Where available, I’ve noted on-site parking. A number of these kid-friendly destinations are near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  Parking for these are best at the public parking lots and garages near the Inner Harbor. The least expensive parking garage we found was $20 per day, next to the Baltimore Regency Hyatt across the street from Harbor Place, and that’s where we usually ended up parking.

There are various strategies to moving little people throughout the city from a centrally-located parking garage:

  1. Wear your walking shoes and bring a large stroller or wagon.  Baltimore is just like any other American city, whose downtown is relatively safe during the daytime and needs caution after dusk.
  2. Use one of the dockless scooter and bicycle services throughout the city, like Jump, Lime, Spin, or Bolt.  This is not recommended for younger children.
  3. Use a car service, like Uber, Lyft, or one of the many Baltimore area taxi services.
  4. Use the Baltimore Link local bus services.
  5. If you are close to the Inner Harbor, use the Water Taxi services.

No matter how you travel, convenience is sometimes worth the higher cost.  But with the myriad of fun activities in the downtown Baltimore area, its easy to feel like you’re still saving money.  Enjoy Baltimore!  ◊

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Looking for things to do in Baltimore? This is Part 2 of a series covering 12 fantastic, kid friendly activities for your next vacation to Charm City. From museums, the inner harbor and the National Aquarium, there's something to do in every season. The Commoner Magazine, full of USA travel tips from local experts. #Baltimore #Maryland #ThingstodoinBaltimore #Washingtondaytrips #DCdaytrips #USAtravel #Familytravel #travelwithkids #kidsactivities #USAeastcoast #eastcoasttravel

Looking for things to do in Baltimore? This is Part 2 of a series covering 12 fantastic, kid friendly activities for your next vacation to Charm City. From museums, the inner harbor and the National Aquarium, there's something to do in every season. The Commoner Magazine, full of USA travel tips from local experts. #BlueCrab #Baltimore #Maryland #ThingstodoinBaltimore #Washingtondaytrips #DCdaytrips #USAtravel #Familytravel #travelwithkids #kidsactivities #USAeastcoast #eastcoasttravel

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