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Baltimore/Inner Harbor

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The U.S.S. Constellation, a part of the Maritime Museum

The Inner Harbor is the heart of Baltimore, and the standard-bearer of its industrial and maritime heritage. In the 1950s, the area became an industrial wasteland and the buildings were eventually replaced with parkland for public uses and events. In the decades that followed continued investment in the area has renewed the harbor. It now contains the lion's share of Baltimore's tourist attractions, and accordingly, its tourists.

Understand

Get in

By car

The most direct route to the Inner Harbor area from outside the city would be from I-95. Take exit 53, which dumps you on to Howard St. Parking can be messy and/or expensive, and garages will be the only option available. If you want to park on-street, you could try Fells Point to the east, which will leave you with about a 15-20 minute walk to the Aquarium.

By light rail

Light rail [1] lines stop at Camden Yards, running north through Downtown and Lexington Market, and on to Penn Station; south to BWI airport.

By Circulator bus

The Circulator has two relevant routes. The orange line [2] will take you east on Pratt almost to the edge of Fells Point, with a quick stop in Little Italy, before returning west on Lombard and running to the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The purple line [3] runs south on Light St to Federal Hill and north on Calvert St to reach Charles St through Mt Vernon and Midtown.

By water taxi

Ed Kane's Water Taxi, [4] +1 410 563-3901, stops at the Rusty Scupper, the Science Center, Harbor Place, the Aquarium, Pier 5, and Harbor East, with connections to popular tourist stops in South Baltimore, like Fort McHenry, as wells piers in Fells Point and Canton to the east. Day passes, adults: $9.00, kids under 10: $4.00. May-December only.

By bus

Visitors to the city don't really use the bus system, but if you are feeling intrepid, there are a handful of useful routes.

#11 [5], if you pick it up on Pratt St on the harbor, will take you east to the heart of Fells Point, and then on to Canton. If you take it from Lombard St (one block north of the harbor), it will take you north up Charles St through the heart of Midtown and on to Johns Hopkins' main campus. The northern route returns to the Inner Harbor from Midtown via Cathedral Ave. #1 [6] runs south on Light St through Federal Hill and on to Fort McHenry via Fort Ave.


See

The Inner Harbor is packed full of attractions, and is Maryland's destination number one for sightseeing. The most popular is without question the National Aquarium, which is almost an obligatory stop, but the ships and the Maritime Museum are a close second. The Maryland Science Center is a fantastic place to spend a half day with children, and the American Visionary Art Museum is an intriguing and unique gallery for anyone with the remotest interest in the arts.

  • American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, +1 410 244 1900, [7]. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. The most eclectic and interesting collection of contemporary art from non-professional artists, with many works of beauty, some of paranoia, and a fair share of sheer obsessive personality disorder! Adults $14, discounts available for seniors, children and large groups.
  • Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, 901 W Pratt St, +1 410 752 2490, [8]. M-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Located in a beautiful historic railroad roundhouse is a large collection of locomotives and railcars dating back to the very earliest railroads of America. Train rides are sometimes available. Very kid friendly. Admission $14, discounts for seniors and children available.
  • Baltimore Maritime Museum, 301 E Pratt St (Piers 1, 3, and 5 at the Inner Harbor), +1 410 396 3453, [9]. Daily 10AM-5PM, seasonal hours vary. At the piers of Inner Harbor are a collection of four different historic ships from Baltimore's maritime legacy, which have been decommissioned and converted into museums that you can tour on your own. Ticket prices range from $8-$16 and are based on how many ships you want to tour (one, two or four), with discounts available for seniors and children. Admission to the lighthouse is always free.
    • USS Constellation, (Pier 1), +1 410 539 1797, [10]. The last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy and the only Civil War-era vessel still afloat. Pay attention to the ship's schedule for the day; Civil War reenactors may be on hand to demonstrate shooting a cannon!
    • USS Torsk, (Pier 3). A World War II era submarine.
    • USCGC Taney, (Pier 5). A coast guard cutter that survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
    • Lightship Chesapeake, (Pier 3). A floating, mobile lighthouse painted in a vibrant red color; it was refitted for combat duty during World War II before returning to lighthouse purposes.
    • Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. The oldest surviving screw-pile lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street (south end of Inner Harbor promenade), +1 410 6855225, [11]. Su-Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 10AM-8PM. Great family outing, full of hands-on, interactive science exhibits for kids of all ages. General admission $16.70, discounts available for seniors, children and military.
  • National Aquarium, 501 E Pratt Street, +1 410 576 3800, [12]. Daily 9AM-5PM, seasonal hours vary. One of the best aquariums in the nation, the Baltimore Aquarium is famous for its tropical rain forest exhibit, its efforts to saving marine mammals, and its large shark tanks. Well worth the price of admission, it's a draw for marine scientists and civilians alike. Due to its popularity, expect to be in long lines to purchase tickets and then have to wait to enter several hours later, especially during weekends or vacation times; to avoid this, plan ahead and purchase tickets early or online. General admission $25-$30, discounts for seniors and children available.
  • Top of the World, 401 E Pratt Street, +1 410 837 VIEW, [13]. Summer hours: M-Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su Noon-6PM; non-summer hours: W-Su 10AM-6PM; last admission one half hour before closing. An observation deck on the 27th floor of the I. M. Pei-designed 31-story "World Trade Center," the tallest pentagonal building in the world and located directly on the waterfront. It provides amazing views of downtown, the inner harbor and bay, and all of the surrounding neighborhoods. Admission $5, discounts available for seniors, children and military.
  • Baltimore Civil War Museum, 601 President Street (cross street Fleet, east of Pier 6 Concert Pavilion), +1 410 385 5188. Sa-Su, 10AM-5PM. Housed in the historic President Street Station, the Civil War Museum is a look at Baltimore's vibrant and important role in the mid-19th century American Civil War. Formerly run by the Maryland Historical Society, the museum is now staffed solely by volunteers and open only on weekends. Free.

Do

Panorama of Baltimore Inner Harbor. The tall building on the right is the Baltimore World Trade Center. The glass building in the middle is the National Aquarium. Between them are ships in the Baltimore Maritime Museum. The brick building holds an ESPN Zone and a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
  • Baltimore Heritage Walk, +1 443 514-5900, [14]. Guided and self-guided three-mile tours departing from the city's Visitor Center [15], and covering territory through Downtown, and historic Jonestown, Little Italy, and Fells Point. Free guided tours, 1 May-2 November, departing 10AM.
  • Urban Pirates, [16]. A swashbuckling adventure on a pirate ship in the Inner Harbor! As you might expect, this is very popular with younger kids.

Events

  • Otakon, [17]. One of the largest and longest-running anime conventions in the United States, held over a three-day weekend in July or August (varies depending on the year). Even if you are not into anime, you'll get to see throngs of Japanese cartoon-inspired costumed attendees (cosplayers) take over the Baltimore Convention Center and Inner Harbor during the convention.
  • Baltimore Comic-Con, Baltimore Convention Center, [18]. Fall weekend, every year. Not quite as big as the Comic-Con held in San Diego, this comic book convention has grown since its humbler beginnings in 2000. It currently hosts the Harvey Awards presentation ceremony, honoring the best comic book professionals as voted by their peers.

Music

  • Rams Head Live!, 20 Market Place (located in Power Plant Live!), [19]. Concert venue for rock bands, comedians, and many more.

Buy

  • Harborplace & The Gallery, 200 E Pratt St, [20]. Broken up into 3 different nearby buildings. Essentially the same stuff that you would find in a normal big mall, but still decent. Nice view of the harbor from some of the restaurants.

Eat

Pirates coming from Domino Sugars

You'll find many chain restaurants in Inner Harbor, ranging from the cheap like Potbelly or Chipotle to the more expensive McCormick & Schmick's or The Capital Grille; American and Canadian tourists will pretty much know what to expect. Don't bother with the food at Power Plant Live! just north of the harbor, as it's more overpriced for the quality of food you get. The majority of the really good options will be east of the Aquarium in the burgeoning and uber-yuppie neighborhood of "Harbor East." Further north in the Downtown district, you'll find more local fare at Lexington Market, as well as one terrific local steakhouse. Going east to Fells Point and Little Italy is without a doubt the best option for dinner if you don't fancy the options here.

Budget

  • Bagby Pizza, 1006 Fleet St, +1 410 605-0444, [21]. M-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-8PM. A small, brick-walled, local pizza place, serving extra thin crust gourmet pizzas and pastas that could rival most anything you would find in Little Italy proper! $12-20.
  • Boheme Cafe, 400 E Pratt St, +1 410 347-9898, [22]. M-Th 6:45AM-4PM, F 6:45PM-3PM, Sa 8AM-1PM. A little breakfast and lunch spot, which gets a little edge over its competitors just north of the harbor (which often have better food) from its extremely convenient location on Pratt St by the hotels. $5-9.
  • Miss Shirley's Cafe, 750 E Pratt St, +1 410 528-5373, [23]. M-F 7AM-3PM, Sa-Su 7AM-3:30PM. A sunny little diner-esque eatery where you won't have trouble filling up on hearty Southern/Mid-Atlantic breakfasts and lunches. The menu is quite long, so anyone will find something they like. $5-20.
  • Rosina Gourmet, 300 E Lombard St, +1 410 244-1885, [24]. M-F 7:30AM-3:30PM. Smack dab in the most touristy section of town, this sandwich shop is all-local--geared towards people who work in the area, with really high quality ingredients at low prices. Great cheap, quick breakfast or lunch option. $8-12.

Mid-range

  • Talara, 615 S President St, +1 410 528-9883, [25]. M-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-10PM. Best known for its ceviche bar, with a good 100 possible combinations of sushi, Talara is an all-around great Nuevo Latino restaurant, with a fun, energetic atmosphere, tapas, and good mojitos. Monday nights see free salsa lessons! $18-30.

Splurge

  • Charleston Restaurant, 1000 Lancaster St, +1 410 332-7373, [26]. M-Sa 5PM-10PM. An elegant Charleston-style restaurant serving a seafood-heavy menu of Southern fine dining. Dressy, traditional, and impeccable service. Prix fixe menus run from three to eight courses. $30-60.
  • Chiu's Sushi, 608 S Exeter St, +1 410 752-9666, [27]. M-Th 11AM-3PM, 4:30PM-10PM; F 11AM-3PM, 4:30PM-11PM; Sa noon-11PM; Su 3PM-10PM. This sushi house has stylish atmosphere, high quality sushi by the touristy part of town, and inventive sushi rolls. For a bit of local flavor, look to the crab, lobster, and shrimp roll, which packs in a bit of spicy Maryland Old Bay seasoning! $20-40.
  • Fogo de Chao, 600 E Pratt St, +1 410 528-9292, [28]. M-F 11:30AM-2PM,5PM-10PM, F 5PM-10:30PM, Sa 4:30PM-10:30PM, Su 3:30PM-9PM. The Baltimore location of the national chain of Brazilian Charcuterie restaurants is big, and will serve you copious quantities of high-quality Brazilian meat. The gimmick consists of an all-you-can-eat fixed price dinner, where you raise a flag at your table to invite the server to come bring more meat, and lower it when you want to simply eat in peace. Knowing full well that not everyone in a group is going to want meat, Fogo also has an excellent salad bar at a reduced price. Lunch: $31.50 (salad bar only: $19.50), dinner: $48.50 (salad bar only: $24.50).
  • Roy's Restaurant, 720B Aliceanna St, +1 410 659-0099, [29]. M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Roy's is a trendy Hawaiian fusion restaurant, with a focus on seafood and local ingredients. Yes, it is a chain, but the food is too excellent to ignore. $30-60.
  • Vino Rosina, 507 S Exeter St, +1 410 528-8600, [30]. M-Th 11:30AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-1AM. A new, fashionable entrant to Harbor East's scene, this is a small restaurant and wine bar (12 tables), with great Contemporary American cuisine, but even greater atmosphere. A great place for a date, or even just a few drinks after dinner elsewhere. Reservations are a must. $20-35.
  • Watertable, (Inside the Renaissance Hotel), +1 410 685-8439. 6:30AM-11AM, 11:30AM-2PM, 6PM-10PM daily. The service and food are both excellent, if not the best in downtown Baltimore, but the clear reason to come is the magnificent view over the Inner Harbor. Great cheap deal on the lunch buffet! $22-40.


Drink

  • Power Plant Live!, 34 Market Place (one block north of Inner Harbor piers), [31]. Inner Harbor's nightlife venue with several bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from.

Sleep

Mid-range

  • Brookshire Suites, 120 E Lombard Street, +1 410 625-1300, [32]. Brookshire Suites is the perfect place to revel in the beauty and magic of Charm City. In the heart of the city’s famous Inner Harbor, Brookshire Suites is just steps away from many of Baltimore’s fabulous attractions, restaurants and the thriving business district.
  • Courtyard Baltimore Downtown/Inner Harbor, 1000 Aliceanna Street, +1 443 923-4000 (fax: +1 443 923-9970), [33]. Despite the purposefully misleading name, Courtyard is not located in the downtown area—indeed is not really within walking distance of the major business areas. It is, however, one block from the waterfront and right between the National Aquarium, Fells Point, and Little Italy.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Baltimore Downtown Inner Harbor, 625 S President Street, +1 410 234-0065 (fax: +1 410 234-0299), [34]. Another purposefully misleading name, located right by the Courtyard. It's in the extreme east of the district, but that does make it convenient for the same attractions listed for the Courtyard.
  • Homewood Suites Inn Baltimore Downtown Inner Harbor, 625 S President Street, [35]. Spacious suites and pet-friendly hotel at the same address as the Hilton.
  • Pier 5 Hotel, 711 Eastern Avenue, +1 410 539-2000, [36]. Pier 5 Hotel has an enviable waterfront location with impressive harbor views (if facing west/southwest), and modern decor.
  • SpringHill Suites Baltimore Downtown/Inner Harbor, 120 East Redwood St, 410-685-1095, [37]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. Suites with microwave, mini-fridge, large work area, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to lobby bar, self-coin-operated laundry, free hot breakfast, and fitness center. $180.

Splurge

  • Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor, +1 410 962-0202, [38]. Upscale chain in the west of the district, just north of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the M&T Bank Stadium (where the Ravens play), just a few blocks from the Convention Center.
  • Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, 700 Aliceanna St, +1 410 385-3000, [39]. The largest meeting room in Baltimore.
  • Hotel Monaco Baltimore, 2 North Charles St, +1 443 692-6170, [40]. Located in the historic B&O Railroad building.
  • Hyatt Regency Baltimore, 300 Light St, +1 410 528-1234 (fax: +1 410 685-3362), [41].
  • InterContinental Harbor Court, 550 Light Street, +1 410 234-0550, [42]. Great views over the harbor (on the east side).
  • Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, 202 East Pratt Street, +1 410 547-1200 (fax: +1 410 539-5780), [43]. About as centrally located as a hotel can get in Baltimore.
  • Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, 300 South Charles Street, +1 410 685-3362, [44]. Connected to the Convention Center and two blocks east of the Inner Harbor and west of Camden Yards.
  • Rachael's Dowry Bed and Breakfast, 637 Washington Boulevard (four blocks from the Inner Harbor, less than one block from Oriole Park at Camden Yards), +1 410 752-0805, [45]. Rachael’s Dowry Bed and Breakfast is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Historic Ridgely's Delight. This fully restored B&B is conveniently located one block from the Baltimore Convention Center Hotels, the Orioles at Camden Yards, and the University of Maryland

Contact

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