Our family loves to visit the East Coast. Washington DC is one of our favorite spots, but we have yet to spend much time in nearby Baltimore. After reading Sara’s ideas below I can’t wait to plan a trip. If you are living in or visiting the Baltimore, my friend Sara from Sunshine Whispers has some perfect must visit ideas for families.
There may be snow on the ground still but if you are like me, you are likely already planning your family fun for the spring and summer. There are so many fantastic options for family travel. The biggest problem seems to be time. You can’t do everything, so how do you choose the most fun places to visit with your family? The obvious winners are the U.S. National Parks, amusement parks, and iconic U.S. destinations like Washington D.C. However, I would like to recommend an often overlooked family travel treasure: Baltimore, a.k.a.—Charm City.
Yeah, I know you are cringing at the thought of taking your kids to the city that served as the backdrop for The Wire. Baltimore is more than just one TV show though. If you have young children, Baltimore could very well be the option because there are so many young-child friendly fun options. Here is the scoop on six of them.
6 Must Do Things for Families in Baltimore
1. The Maryland Zoo
This is a smaller zoo but perfect for families with younger children. It is very walkable, the kids can get really close to the animals, and there are tons of great play areas. Some of our favorite animals and animal encounters at the Maryland Zoo include the penguins, the polar bear, feeding the giraffes, getting close to the elephants, seeing the ostriches, zebras, and rhinos coexisting, brushing the goats at the petting farm, and watching the chimpanzees swing in the chimpanzee forest.
2. Port Discovery Children’s Museum
I cannot say enough great things about this children’s museum. It can be a little scary for younger kids (and parents) because there is a three-story jungle gym in running up the center of the museum. However, I have to say that our daughter has been climbing on that structure safely (but with supervision) since she was 2 years old. In addition to the climbing structure, younger kids absolutely love hanging out in Toddler Trails, Waterworks, Tiny’s Diner, the play car at the convenience market, and quieter areas where they can build things, make simple crafts, or participate in storytime.
3. Maryland Science Center
Don’t overlook this Science Museum if you have young kids. It is almost as young kid friendly as Port Discovery. Young kids will especially love going on a dinosaur dig, creating a mini tornado, fiddling around in Newton’s Alley, seeing Big Bird and Elmo at the Planetarium, and spending a long time at the area specifically designed for kids under 5 years old.
4. B&O Railroad Museum
Not far from the Inner Harbor is a super fun railroad museum. Kids can climb aboard a few train cars, dress up like a train driver, play with Thomas the train, ride a train carousel, play on a train playground, and even pay a little extra to go on a short train ride!
5. National Aquarium
The National Aquarium is a little pricey, but it is really worth the cost if you are looking for a unique family vacation destination. There are touch pools where kids can get really close to manta rays and jelly fish (!!!), habitat areas for the Australian outback and Amazon jungle, the jellies invasion, a dolphin encounter exhibit (no official dolphin show though), and the biggest draws—an enormous multi-level aquarium that houses gigantic turtles, tons of species of fish and marine wildlife, and a very spooky but very cool Black Tip Reef shark aquarium where you can literally see every little detail of very ferocious sharks.
6. Historic Ships
If you are in the Inner Harbor to see the other sites (the Aquarium, Children’s Museum, and Science Center are all located in the Inner Harbor), you could easily round out your day with a trip to one of the historic ships that make the Inner Harbor their home. The USS Constellation is probably the biggest hit. However, there is also a submarine and a cutter that you can visit.
Eating in Baltimore with Kids
A best bet for breakfast is Miss Shirley’s. There are so many kid friendly food options at this brunch restaurant. Also, it is located in the Inner Harbor.
For dinner you will definitely want to meander over to Little Italy (a short walk from the Inner Harbor) and eat some great Italian food. My personal favorite place for Italian dinner is Amicci’s. Everything on their menu is yummy and they are cozy enough to be very kid-friendly.
Staying in Baltimore
So, I live about 15 minutes from the Inner Harbor, so we have never stayed in Baltimore. However, if you picked a hotel in the vicinity of the Inner Harbor you would be well situated to see many of the sites listed above, as well as a few other Baltimore highlights.
More Ideas for Baltimore
Bonus! There are even more things to do in Baltimore! Yep, I had to add these fun options to the list because well, you should just plan on coming to Baltimore for a vacation this year! Here are a few other Baltimore Travel Bucket List items:
American Visionary Art Museum (very quirky and fun… young kids would really dig this museum)
Walters Art Gallery (small and free art museum with a great walk in art program)
Ft. McHenry National Monument—yep, where the National Anthem was penned.
Take in an Orioles game at Camden Yards!
I hope I have convinced you to check out the Charm City because I know you will leave… charmed. (I had to go there).