Pack up the kids and head to Baltimore, a city with a rich history and beautiful waterfront views. Whether you’re looking to get outside and away from the computer screen to stimulate minds with arts and culture, or to enrich their knowledge of our nation’s history, there is no shortage of activities for the whole family to enjoy. From animals and science to sports and culture, Baltimore has all your family’s interests covered.
Embrace the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, home to more than 1,500 exotic mammals, birds and reptiles. The staff offers special programs designed to teach children about the animals while engaging in interactive activities, as well as hosts special events throughout the year, like the “Breakfast with the Animals” series, “Zoo Snooze” sleepovers and more. The zoo’s newest exhibit, Penguin Coast, is a state-of-the-art habitat that offers an up-close-and-personal experience with North America’s largest breeding colony of African penguins. Kids can view the birds playing on land and gliding through the water from inside the Penguin Education Center, check out the dump tank water feature that periodically releases a surging waterfall, or enjoy a special penguin encounter in the Penguin Embassy Building. The National Aquarium offers a more hands-on experience with the new “Living Seashore” exhibit, featuring a touchpool where guests are encouraged to feel horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, stingrays, moon jellies and more. Also among its most breathtaking exhibits is Blacktip Reef, a coral-filled exhibit replicating Indo-Pacific reefs. A must-experience is the floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window that allows visitors to virtually come face-to-face with the blacktip reef sharks, many species of tropical fish and the exhibit’s resident sea turtle, Calypso.
Bring the kids to the Maryland Science Center, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with special events and activities throughout the summer. The Science Center feature multiple exhibits that teach visitors about everything from outer space to the human body, as well as drop-in classes and activities where students take science into their own hands by conducting experiments and completing DIY projects. Port Discovery Children’s Museum stimulates kids’ imaginations while keeping them moving, like in the three-story urban treehouse and Miss Perceptions’ Mystery House, where guests must find clues to find a missing family. The museum also features a host of exciting and educational visiting exhibitions throughout the year, as well as special events great for little ones. If you’re looking for something a little zanier, head to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! to see world oddities like shrunken heads and toothpick sculptures.
Celebrate America’s pastime and cheer on the Orioles at retro-style ballpark Oriole Park at Camden Yards while enjoying gourmet concessions like crab mac-and-cheese hot dogs, Korean BBQ and bacon on a stick. Babe Ruth fans can’t miss the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, housed in the row home where Babe was born. See dozens of artifacts on display that once belonged to the baseball legend, like his catcher’s mitt and jersey from grade school.
Arts and Culture
The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Museum both offer free admission as well as drop-in art activities for kids and their families that allow them to create and take home their masterpieces, in addition to vast collections of art spanning centuries. The BMA’s Family Audio Tour – narrated by Henri Matisse’s dog, Raodi, and his friends and available via iTunes – offers the perfect opportunity to explore art with kids. The American Visionary Art Museum prides itself on showcasing unique artists and their work, as well as the kinetic sculptures that kids are sure to enjoy. The museum’s truly one-of-a-kind gift shop, Sideshow, is also a must-visit and features original art, jewelry, fun toys, novelties and more. At the Creative Alliance, you’ll find music performers, art shows and free family drop-in art programs for kids and adults of all ages.
History and Heritage
Learn about Baltimore’s history outside the traditional museum experience. At Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, experience live military reenactments, musket and artillery demonstrations from the Guard and earn the Junior Ranger badge from the knowledgeable and dedicated Park Rangers. This summer, be a part of the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration along the scenic byways and historic trails and in Baltimore’s exciting parks. “Find Your Park” with special events at Fort McHenry and throughout the city all season long, culminating with the NPS Centennial in August. Explore the Historic Ships in Baltimore, like the USS Constellation, as they dock at the harbor. Baltimore’s four military ships and one lighthouse contain exhibits and tours that teach the public about life on the ships during war.
Other must-visits are Baltimore’s various African-American heritage attractions and museum, including The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, featuring more than 150 life-size and lifelike wax figures and the only museum of its kind dedicated to the African American experience. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture – the East Coast’s largest African American museum – highlights the history and accomplishments of Maryland’s African American community, while the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Parkrecounts the history of Frederick Douglass, Isaac Myers and the first black-owned shipyard in the United States. Here, visitors can engage in hands-on activities, like boat building, and more. Many of the museums boast annual calendars featuring interactive and fun-filled events for children and families; for example, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum hosts storytelling, art workshops and educational programs on select Saturdays each month in its Saturday’s Child series, as well as family fun days and museum celebrations during holidays and in conjunction with special exhibitions.
On the Water
Delve into the swashbuckling life of a pirate with Baltimore’s Urban Pirates, offering pirate-themed family adventure cruises. Once aboard the Fearless, visitors learn how to talk, dance and play games like a pirate as they search for stolen treasure and blast water cannons. Urban Pirates also offers birthday parties for kids and pirate story times. For adventurous families, Seadog Cruises offer entertaining, narrated sightseeing tours of the harbor paired with thrilling speedboat rides. Witnessing all that Baltimore has to offer also means taking time to explore each of its one-of-a-kind neighborhoods. Hop aboard one of the Baltimore Water Taxi’s fleet of 17 blue-and-white boats and enjoy one low price for all-day, unlimited, on-off service to 30+ attractions throughout the city.
Baltimore features world-class dining, in addition to a plethora of family-friendly restaurants, cafes and eateries. Children of all ages can enjoy smaller plates, inventive kid-friendly dishes, hands-on activities and play areas at several popular restaurants in the Inner Harbor and throughout Baltimore’s many charming neighborhoods. From unique and delicious kids’ menus, to items like build-your-own sundaes and pizza, as well as interactive and educational touchscreens for kids to play with, there are a variety of fun things at our restaurants that will keep kids entertained while the whole family enjoys a delicious and memorable meal.
Experience Family Fun for Less
Visit Baltimore offers exciting and affordable ways to visit many of our top-notch attractions located in the Inner Harbor and beyond. The Harbor Pass offers discounted admission to four attractions of the visitor’s choosing. There are four options, which include different combinations of the following attractions: the National Aquarium, the Top of the World Observation Level, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. The Legends and Legacies Heritage Pass offers discounted admission (a 20% savings) to Baltimore’s three most celebrated African American attractions – the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum and the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. Find more information about both passes here. Both can be purchased at the Baltimore Visitor Center, by phone or online.