One of the great things about Baltimore besides its plentiful offerings of steamed crabs is the variety of activities for travelers to the city. Whether it be business travel, solo travel or family travel, the history and activities in just the Inner Harbor area alone will keep minds, cameras and feet busy. Baltimore has an eclectic list of things to do in the immediate downtown area, ranging from shopping to dining to historical attractions to family-friendly activities to art and museums. The National Aquarium is Maryland’s most profitable attraction and worth a visit for anyone staying in the city. Children of all ages will be entertained there as well as at the other popular family attractions in the Inner Harbor: Port Discovery and The Maryland Science Center. For the history buff traveler, Ft. McHenry, the USS Constellation and the B&O Railroad Museum provide a great overview of Baltimore’s contributions to our national history. For a little unwinding on or near the water visitors have their choice of sightseeing by foot or hanging out at the Power Plant for coffee.
10 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum
Following the collapse of its roundhouse roof in a snowstorm, the B&O Museum may have remained closed forever. But through perseverance and hard work, not only did the museum reopen, but it got better. The beautiful roundhouse is thoroughly renovated and showcases an amazing variety of interactive exhibits, plus a number of historic engines and some fascinating railroad equipment. A must see for railroad buffs, the museum was not only the first of its kind admitted to the Smithsonian Affiliates program, it was the first in Maryland to do so as well. Souvenirs, videos, books and clothing are available at the gift shop, and there is a caf� as well. (410-752-2490)
9 Geppi's Entertainment Museum
Located in Camden Station at Camden Yards, Geppi's Entertainment Museum is a quirky specialty museum which shows the influence of pop culture on our everyday lives through its displays of toys, comic books, posters, and memorabilia, With over 8,000 items, the collection spans over three centuries dating back to the 1700s. (410-625-7060)
8 USS Constellation
Located in the Inner Harbor, the USS Constellation is a massive vessel that was instrumental in cutting off illegal slave routes to the area. The Constellation is one of three ships that make up the Historic Ships collection in the Harbor. The Constellation displays the sleeping quarters, eating quarters, medical quarters along with countless military artifacts within its bowels. (410-539-1797)
7 Baltimore Museum of Art
Located near Johns Hopkins University, the Baltimore Museum of Art is home to 90,000 works of art and the Walters Art Museum. Admission to both museums has been free since 2006 as a result of grants by Baltimore City and Baltimore County. BMA has an extensive and impressive collection of American Art dating back to colonial times. It is also one of the first museums in the country to display exhibits of African American artists. (443-573-1700)
6 Baltimore Basilica
The Baltimore Basilica is formerly named the The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States. Its construction lasted from 1806-1821 and is not only a religious institution but also a cultural one. The Basilica is an impressive architectural masterpiece and is a National Historic Landmark. (410-727-3565)
5 Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
Built on a peninsula, Ft. McHenry play a crucial role in one of the battles in the War of 1812. It is also marked as the birthplace of the National Anthem where Francis Scott Key was moved to write the lyrics as he watched the fort's bombardment. When a new flag is designed, it flies over Ft. McHenry first. It is currently the only site in the United States to be designated as both a National Monument and a Historic Shrine. (410-962-4290)
4 American Visionary Art Museum
Located on Key Highway, just 3 minutes from the Inner Harbor, the American Visionary Museum displays works of artists not formerly trained, which begs the question, "What makes one an artist?" Many exhibits leave the viewer wondering about the thought process and vision of the creator. The museum holds drawings, paintings, as well as sculptures of "Visionary" artists. (410-244-1900)
3 Port Discovery
Located a few short blocks from the Inner Harbor, The Science Center offers interactive educational displays within its three floors of exhibits. This attraction's best and most popular exhibits include Outer Space Place where the Hubble Space Telescope National Visitor Center and Space Link are housed; DinoQuest; the IMAX theater and the Davis Planetarium. (410-727-8120)
2 Maryland Science Center
Located a few short blocks from the Inner Harbor, The Science Center offers interactive educational displays within its three floors of exhibits. This attraction's best and most popular exhibits include Outer Space Place where the Hubble Space Telescope National Visitor Center and Space Link are housed; DinoQuest; the IMAX theater and the Davis Planetarium. (410-685-5225, 410-685-2370)
1 National Aquarium
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is Maryland's number one tourist attraction. As a testimony to their popularity, strollers are not allowed inside the aquarium due to the crowds. Visitors will feel like they are part of the resident sharks' habitat as they walk inside the donut-shaped shark tank. Dolphin presentations always draw a crowd at the Marine Mammal Pavillion and it's best to reserve your seat when you purchase your tickets. (410-576-3800, 800-551-7328)
About Tawanna Browne Smith
Tawanna has had a wanderlust spirit since she was 13. A dozen or so addresses later, she now resides in Maryland with her husband and two sons.
Tawanna is the founder and creator of Mom's Guide To Travel, a family travel blog. She's also a contributor to the Travel Channel.
If she's not traveling somewhere out of state, she's either shopping or searching for the best crabcake or the best cupcake in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Read more about Tawanna Browne Smith here.
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