Opportunity abounds in the city of Baltimore for families of all interests and ages. The national aquarium is a staple of any itinerary, situated in the center of the Inner Harbor. The multiple levels of exhibits and the dolphin show offer children a multitude of varying experiences. I am not sure what was more amazing, watching the jellyfish majestically floating around their tanks, or watching my son’s face filled with awe and amazement as he stared at the tiny creatures. At one of the displays, my son and another boy began talking about the turtles in one exhibit. From that point on, the two of them went from tank to tank, pointing out each animal to each other, excitedly announcing when they had found each one. These are the experiences and moments that you don’t quickly forget and why it is important for families to put excuses aside and create memorable trips. Both of my children had the opportunity to touch horseshoe crabs and jellyfish on another floor of the aquarium, giving them a better appreciation for how delicate living things can be and why it is important for them to be protected. Yet, this enlightening encounter was contrasted by the dark walkway winding down through the shark tank. Children can also understand how small they are in the world compared to the mighty kings of the ocean and appreciate their magnificence and power.
Use the Inner Harbor as a springboard for many family activities around Baltimore. Paddleboard in summer for a differing perspective and family team-building. Take the water taxi to Fort McHenry for a better appreciation of the American flag and our national anthem. Stand with your children as the screen is raised after the historical video to see the flag flapping in the wind in all its glory. Salute the flag with your children to reinforce the patriotism that makes this country great. Visit a couple chain restaurants on the water like Bubba Gump Shrimp, Cheesecake Factory, or Hard Rock Café. Make sure to stop by the local favorite for breakfast, Miss Shirley’s Café. Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Maryland Science Center are conveniently located at the Inner Harbor as well.
A short distance from the Inner Harbor is the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. You will discover four floors of interactive excitement with the most incredible slide and climbing contraption at its center. Children can enhance so many developmental skills participating in the various activities. Dig in sand for dinosaur bones. Operate a boom, loading and unloading train cars. Splash in water and manage a system of locks. Kick a soccer ball or throw a football. All this while incorporating the vital skills of cooperation, teamwork, and sharing with other children. The children’s museum is a great stop for families with younger children as they expend an abundant amount of energy built up from travelling. Make this your first stop after arriving and dinner that night should be a little bit less hectic.
No stop in Baltimore would be complete without experiencing the culinary delicacies of the area. Leave the Inner Harbor to encounter some of the best seafood around. Crab cakes are a must, but seafood paella, oysters and lobster should be on your list as well. The best way for children to expand their palate and learn the cultural dishes on their travels is to watch their parents experiment with different foods themselves. Set the example that new foods aren’t scary, and children will be more willing to venture away from chicken fingers and French fries. I remember my daughter watching in astonishment as my wife cracked apart crab legs, ripping out the meat before dipping it in a cup of melted butter. If you are lucky enough to be visiting at the right time, wander through a local farmers’ market where the variety of unique choices will broaden your horizons and expose your children to new people and culture. Overall, Baltimore is a city filled with diverse experience for families to grow and build their relationships. Precious family time can be reinforced in Charm City.
Next stop – Sagamore Hill