Baltimore Travel with Kids
Under 13 At the National Aquarium (501 E. Pratt St.), kids will love the Children’s Discovery Gallery on the upper level of the Pier 4 Pavilion. Another highlight is Dolphin Discovery, where Atlantic bottlenose dolphins captivate visitors. The dolphins always draw a crowd but you can stop in as many times as you like. (Tip for parents: Strollers are not allowed inside the aquarium.)
The interactive Children's Zoo at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (Druid Park Lake Dr. & Gwynns Falls Pkwy.), in Druid Hill Park , offers activities, animal encounters and playgrounds just for youngsters. And don’t miss Penguin Coast, home to a colony of more than 60 African penguins. The medium-size, flightless birds live in a natural environment that imitates their South African habitat.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium (301 Light St.) is a cool place to explore. The interactive displays feature optical illusions, puzzles, a giant kaleidoscope and a state-of-the-art 4-D Moving Theater.
Teens There’s plenty to see at the American Visionary Art Museum (800 Key Hwy.), but our fave is undoubtedly “Whirligig”—a 55-foot-tall, multicolored wind-powered sculptural landmark. This is no run-of-the-mill museum; many of the diverse works on display are by “visionary artists” usually without formal training and often self-taught. Don’t leave without visiting Sideshow; the museum gift shop is packed with kitschy and nostalgic items like retro magic kits, plastic army men, sock monkeys and wax lips.
In addition to savoring mouth-watering American cuisine at the Hard Rock Cafe (601 E. Pratt St.), teenagers will enjoy immersing themselves in rock history. The collection includes memorabilia from such rock legends as The Beatles, the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, and of course there is a display for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll—Elvis Presley. Be sure to visit the Rock Shop for limited-edition merchandise.
Teens could spend all day wandering around the Inner Harbor trying the many offerings of tasty junk food. For a break from noshing, however, they'll enjoy a trip to the Top of the World Observation Level (401 E. Pratt St.). Big windows offer panoramic views of the harbor and downtown Baltimore that are cool enough to commemorate using their iPhone.
All Ages Not only is the Inner Harbor (bounded e. and w. by President St. and Greene St. and n. and s. by Lombard St. and Key Hwy.) an active commercial port, it is also home to family-friendly museums and restaurants that will satisfy every palate. Kids and teens alike will enjoy visits to Historic Ships in Baltimore (301 E. Pratt St.) and the Maryland Science Center, IMAX Theater and Davis Planetarium (601 Light St.).
Deciding on places to eat can really be a dilemma in Baltimore. For a homey atmosphere and excellent Italian food, try Amicci’s (231 S High St.) in the heart of Little Italy. Then stop at Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop (222 Albemarle St.) for cannoli, gelato and tiramisu to go.
Francis Scott Key penned “The Star-Spangled Banner” after Fort McHenry survived bombardment by British forces all night. The next morning he saw his country’s flag was still flying. Take your family on a self-guiding tour of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Fort Ave. & Lawrence St.). See the barracks, uniform and weapons displays, a powder magazine and the 1814 guard house.
The Preakness Stakes , the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, runs the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course (5201 Park Heights Ave.). Musical concerts, the Frog Hop race, the Crab Derby and hot air balloon launches are among the fun things to do during the Preakness Celebration (various locations) held the week before the race.
The second weekend in June brings HonFest (1002 W. 36th St.), which gets its name from “hon,” short for honey, an endearment used by many Baltimore women. Fashion-forward kids will be surprised to see women rocking beehive hairdos, bright-blue eye shadow, spandex pants and leopard prints!
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Maryland's statewide sales tax is 6 percent. Baltimore has a 7.5 percent lodging tax; an 11.5 percent tax is levied on automobile rentals.
311 or (443) 263-2220
Greater Baltimore Medical Center, (443) 849-2000; Johns Hopkins Hospital, (410) 955-5000; MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, (443) 777-7000; Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, (410) 601-9000; University of Maryland Medical Center, (410) 328-8667; University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, (410) 225-8000.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), about 10 miles south of downtown, is reached via I-195 off I-95 or SR 295 (Baltimore-Washington Parkway).
Numerous automobile rental agencies maintain offices at the airport and downtown. Hertz, (410) 850-7400 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
Baltimore Penn Station is at 1500 N. Charles St., between Oliver and Lanvale streets. Baltimore is situated on seven Amtrak routes, including the Acela Express to New York City and Boston; phone Amtrak, (800) 872-7245.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal is at 2110 Haines St.; phone (410) 752-7682 or (800) 231-2222. Megabus offers service from the southern side of the White Marsh Mall parking lot, adjacent to Honeygo Boulevard; phone (877) 462-6342. (New York service is from the south side of the White Marsh Park & Ride lot.) BoltBus offers service from 1578 Maryland Ave.; phone (877) 265-8287.
Taxis are metered. The base fare is $1.80, $2.20 for each additional mile and 20c each 30 seconds of waiting time. A 50c surcharge is added for trips between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. An additional 30c-per-mile surcharge is added for trips beyond Baltimore. Among the larger cab companies are Diamond, (410) 947-3333; Sun, (410) 235-0300; and Yellow Cab, (410) 685-1212.
Baltimore's public transportation consists of buses, a subway system, light rail and MARC commuter trains.
Water taxis are available at the Inner Harbor.