Fun, interesting, challenging and active: Baltimore's things to do with kids



The Baltimore area has memorable, unique places for kids of all ages and interests. Our city's attractions aren't generic, either; rather, the history, waterways and characters of the region infuse our places of interest. Whether your kids love learning about the past, the arts, marine life, watching sports, playing sports and even country life, Baltimore shines. Much of the area has been lovingly preserved to retain colonial and Civil War era buildings.

If you only have one day in town, the Inner Harbor has several venues within easy and safe walking distance, including the National Aquarium, Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Maryland Science Center, Geppi's Entertainment Museum and Orioles Park at Camden Yards. There are lots of places to rest and eat between them.

A few minutes' car drive, one water taxi trip or free Circulator bus trip away will take you to Ft. McHenry – site of the flag that inspired the authorship of our national anthem – as well as the American Visionary Art Museum and the Walters Art Gallery.

Our suburbs are wonderful places for kids to really run around and be, well, kids. Ripken Baseball is arguably the world's finest destination for kids' baseball, including camps and tournaments. Milburn Orchards in Elkton has corn mazes, a petting zoo and famous apple cider donuts.

 



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National Aquarium
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is quite the popular tourist attraction; as such, strollers are not allowed inside the aquarium due to the crowds.If you do bring a stroller, Aquarium staff will store it for you and provide a back or front child carrier. The higher vantage point will also provide your children with a better view of many exhibits.

The First Saturdays & Sundays program allows all visitors with disabilities and their guests to enter 30 minutes before the Aquarium opens on the first Saturday and the first Sunday of each month, for a leisurely, crowd-free visit.

In their brand-new exhibit,Living Seashore, you can touch sea creatures like moon snails and jellyfish. At their shark tank, visitors will feel like they are part of the resident sharks' habitat as they walk inside.


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Geppi's Entertainment Museum


 

This museum is located within Camden Yards, so make a full day of it with the kids before attending an Orioles game! Pop culture, comics, animated characters . . . they've evolved over the period of our country's history. The owner, Steve Geppi, has himself evolved to own most of the distribution of the major comics in the US.

There are comics and pop culture characters from every era since Colonial times, which makes it fun to visit with people of all ages. Your childhood memories are different from grandma's, after all!

The museum is arranged generally by chronology – with some special exhibits, such as Baltimore heroes.

Your kids will learn that even animated cats, smiley faces and other pop icons had and have political and social lessons to give . . . as well as making you happy.


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American Visionary Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

The Banner Route of the Circulator – whose route was just saved from the budget guillotine by neighborhood activists – can take you to the AVAM for free. It's next door to historic Federal Hill and its park for the best photo opportunities in the city. That's especially good, as there's no photography permitted inside the museum.

The main building's facade is a mosaic of mirrored glass. Unique and curious sculptures fill the grounds, including the gigantic "Cosmic Egg."

You'll see contemporary art from artists who are self-taught. This is distinguished from traditional folk art, which is taught "at the knee" in an identifiable tradition.

Their gift shop has some pretty groovy things for kids of all ages, too.


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Plumpton Park Zoo
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

At most busy municipal zoos, with the buses and lines, you sort of feel you're the animal on display. With the cacophony and crowds, they're simply not conducive to sharing a special time with your child or grandchild. And yet, learning about different animals can stoke conversations about biology, geography, ecology and sociology. Seeing animals in person – if you will – is fun!

For a most unique experience, head to Plumpton Park Zoo! This little-known "roadside zoo" is less expensive than most municipal zoos and so much more intimate. You can actually get next to many of the jungle and woodland wild animals!

If it could be said that the zoo has a mascot, it would be celebrity-popular Jimmie the giraffe, now 20 years old.


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Ripley's Believe It or Not Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

You're going to go to the Inner Harbor, of course. Before the eat-a-thon or if it starts to downpour or broil, do something fun that invites conversation! Those with a quirky personality, love of trivia and history will be amazed at the weird and exotic exhibits.

While not totally about Baltimore, some locally themed items give this museum (a franchise) a unique feeling. People of all ages will find themselves gasping, giggling and sharing stories to their friends.

Besides the exhibits, the other parts include a 4D movie that feels like an actual amusement park ride, as well as ahe mirror maze will have you running around and dancing.


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Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

You can tour this magnificent facility, considered one of the best in the country. The traditional design speaks to the nostalgia of America's Game.

The Junior Orioles Dugout Club is the official Kids Club of the Baltimore Orioles. Kids ages 14 and under who join the Club will receive a membership card, a lanyard and ticket holder, a subscription to Orioles Kids magazine, an Orioles hat, tickets to 10 pre-selected Orioles games, and more, all in a team duffel bag! Friends and family members of Dugout Club members can purchase tickets on Dugout Club days for as low as $6 each. Fans can upgrade to lower level seats.

The Kids' Corner – near Gate C – features entertainment for younger fans, including a moon bounce, speed pitch, climb and play area, a batting cage, larger-than-life Oriole Bird bobbleheads and more.


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Maryland Science Center is part of the Inner Harbor complex of attractions and has an IMAX theater.

Davis Planetarium, part of the center, has exhibits to appeal to kids of all ages. A current show incorporates Big Bird. During special astronomical events, locals love The Sky Live! They get expert advice in identifying stars, constellations, planets and other wonders. Then, take home a Star Map and test your new skills as you look for familiar formations in your own backyard.

Crosby Ramsey Memorial Observatory is their rooftop urban observatory with a computer controlled telescope that lets guests view planets and stars, along with other astronomical events. The observatory is open free to the public on Friday nights.

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.


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Milburn Orchards
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

Get out there and enjoy the fruits of life! Elkton's Milburn Orchards is a top venue in the region for families. They call the area for kids the Big BackYard and it's perfect for city kids who are lacking just that.

There's plenty of room to be a kid in the great outdoors, with corn mazes, hayrides, a petting zoo, plus lots of opportunities to jump and climb – including a straw jump and a tractor tire tower.

Fall weekends are run like a party, with paintball, remote control derby and horse rides by famous Fairview Farms.

The food at Milburn Orchards' fests include their award-winning apple cider donuts and Maryland Ice Cream Trail's Kilby Cream.


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Ripken Baseball
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman


 

How fitting that the man considered the Pride of Harford County – the Orioles' own Ironman – Cal Ripken, built a beautiful facility for kids in his hometown of Aberdeen.

This is a world-class venue for kids' tournaments, baseball and softball camps and the Cal Ripken World Series, where the best 12-year-olds compete in a division of the Babe Ruth League.

There are seven fields, including three that are junior sized replicas of real baseball fields, including Baltimore's, Chicago's and Boston's. These happen to be the the three finest, classic baseball fields in the country. Whether or not your child goes onto a more advanced baseball career, The Ripken Experience Aberdeen Powered By Under Armour – the full, tongue-twisty name for the venue – gives an opportunity to feel like he or she is playing in the major leagues.


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Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
Photo courtesy of RoCK


 

Don't let the 3 seconds your history teacher spent on the War of 1812 color your decision about Ft. McHenry. The continued war against England was complicated and doesn't lend itself to an easy narrative. US Park Service rangers at Ft. McHenry breathe life into the battle and how Baltimore safeguarded the freedoms we all enjoy today.

Summer is an especially good time to visit the fort, with daily ranger talks and weekend living history. . . you may see just one reenactor during the off season. The Fort McHenry Guard performs drill, musket and artillery demonstrations. It's interesting to see people wearing the uniforms they did, acting as they did.

Fort McHenry was where the flag was still flying that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.


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