Traveling with kids can be fun, but it can also be stressful and expensive. When you travel to a mid-size city like Baltimore, especially in the summer months, there's no shortage of things to do with the family. However, hitting up some of the more popular attractions can put a dent in your wallet if you don't research and plan accordingly. The great news is that there are plenty of free and low-cost activities around town to keep the family entertained while exploring all that Baltimore has to offer. This itinerary will get you started on how to have a budget-friendly fun-filled day for families.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! costs a family of four at least $60 — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
If you were to take your family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids, over 3 years old) to the Maryland Science Center, the Baltimore National Aquarium, Port Discovery, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not! while you were visiting Baltimore, it would cost you roughly $280.00 before tax. Once you add on additional experiences, like the IMAX theater, at any of these attractions, you're looking at another $48.00 and more in admission prices.
So what can you do for free in Baltimore? Before you leave the Inner Harbor to venture off and explore the city, take the family on a walk around the pier. There are lots of free things to see without ever having to open your wallet. The Ripley's Believe it or Not! attraction has three awesome exhibits in the open that kids can marvel at, and it won't cost you a dime.
The U.S.S. Constellation — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
The USS Constellation offers some early Baltimore maritime history and makes for a great photo op. It's one of three historic ships open and available to the public. If you want to board and tour it to learn about its history, it will cost your young family of four anywhere from $22 to $32, depending on the age of your children. If that's too steep for your pockets, admission to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is free to the public.
When you're ready to see a little more of the city besides the Inner Harbor, hop on a bus that will take you around the neighborhood. The Charm City Circulator bus is free transportation for getting around Baltimore. You can tour just about every neighborhood in the city that has a major attraction.
The bus has 5 different routes; you can take it from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry, or visit Fells Point, Federal Hill, Johns Hopkins, Harbor East and a few other neighborhoods. If you want to travel by boat, hop on the Harbor Connector. Before 7:00 pm and on weekdays, this water taxi will transport you for free between Maritime Park in Fells Point, Canton Waterfront in Canton and Tide Point.
If you decide to stop in Federal Hill, keep the kids entertained and let them run free at the park. Federal Hill Park is a neighborhood favorite but visitors are also welcome. The park is both historical and recreational - a large canon points towards the harbor while a couple of monuments sit within its center. It offers a great view of the Inner Harbor along with the open space that kids crave.
Hampton National Historic Site — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
If you have a car and don't mind driving, venture out into Towson, a nearby suburb of Baltimore, and learn about one of the largest plantations in the Baltimore area, Hampton National Historic Site. It's one of the most well-preserved plantations in the country and offers free tours, given by historic reenactor Angela Roberts Burton.
Hampton Reenactor, Angela Roberts-Burton — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
This tour will take you back in time and show you a different side of Baltimore that you may not have been expecting.