Family Vacations to Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland Inner Harbor Dragons
Inner Harbor Dragons (courtesy, Baltimore Area CVA)

Baltimore Highlights

  • Discover sharks, frogs, fish, turtles, pythons, and more at the National Aquarium.
  • Learn to fly through the air at the Inner Harbor's trapeze school.
  • Climb an urban tree house with your kids at Port Discovery.
  • See mummies, medieval armor, and masterworks at the Walters Art Museum.
  • Cheer on the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Baltimore, with its dazzling Inner Harbor, old-style baseball stadium, top-notch art museums, and ethnic neighborhoods, is very different—but no less alluring—than its neighbor, Washington, D.C., about 40 miles south.

Start at the Inner Harbor with its many family-friendly attractions, chief among them the National Aquarium. Along with Wings in the Water, one of the largest ray exhibits in the country, the Atlantic Coral Reef filled with rainbow-colored fish, and wall-sized tanks of sharks, the aquarium's two newest exhibits are intriguing and worthy additions. "Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes" features flying foxes, freshwater crocodiles, snake-necked turtles, pythons, and rainbow lorikeets. "Frogs! A Chorus of Colors" showcases these grunting, chirping, hopping critters in habitats ranging from tundra to rainforest to your backyard.

Enjoy 360-degree views of the Baltimore skyline from the 27th floor of the city's World Trade Center. Stationed binoculars and photo map guides help you get oriented. The USS Constellation, the only Civil War-era vessel still afloat, is docked at the Inner Harbor. Step aboard this majestic warship to explore the spar deck where the steering was done, the gun deck where a replica 20-pounder cannon is fired twice a day, and the berth deck where the crew slept in hammocks. Kids ten and older can take the Powder Monkey Tour on weekends, and experience hands-on how young boys served in the Civil War Navy. At the Maryland Science Center, on the south Inner Harbor, take in an IMAX movie or a planetarium show, then explore Dinosaur Mysteries, where you can touch a Triceratops skull, examine fossils, and ogle the life-size dino skeletons.

If you're in the city on a warm summer day, learn to fly through the air with the greatest of ease at Baltimore's edition of the Trapeze School New York. Reserve ahead for these two-and-a-half- to three-hour sessions, open to ages six and older. The centerpiece of Port Discovery, a museum aimed at kids from age two to ten, is an urban tree house where kids can climb, crawl through tunnels, and wriggle across rope bridges. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture highlights more than 350 years of history and accomplishments by Maryland's African American community.

Train lovers should visit the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, where they can climb aboard old passenger cars and even take a mile-long ride. The Mt. Vernon neighborhood, Baltimore's cultural heart, is home to the first-rate Walters Art Museum, whose collection boasts Egyptian mummies, medieval armor, a Monet, and a Carl Fabergé egg. Take a walk through Baltimore's Fort McHenry and get inspired just as Francis Scott Key was during the War of 1812 when he wrote the words to what became America's national anthem. This star-shaped fort provides a window into the lives of the men who served here. For another taste of true Americana, indulge the national pastime by rooting for the Orioles at Camden Yards, one of major-league baseball's most atmospheric stadiums.

Tip: With Baltimore's Harbor Pass (1-877-Baltimore), you'll receive discounts on several attractions—including the National Aquarium, where the pass entitles you to go to the head of the line for admission.

Recommended Side Trips: Annapolis, Washington, D.C., Alexandria (Virginia)'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 3 Oct 2007 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »