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The Inner Harbor in Baltimore is contained within the Baltimore National Heritage Area. The city played a pivotal role in the war of 1812 and our national anthem was written here. My daughter and I spent a long weekend here with my sister and nephew on what turned out to be the hottest weekend of that summer. We spent our first day in town at Fort McHenry (to be covered in a separate post.) Below are the highlights of our visit.
Historic Ships in Baltimore: We didn’t tour the ships, just took pics of them from the outside. We had two hot cranky children with us who never would have been patient enough to tour the ships and the tickets were not cheap. The seven foot knoll lighthouse on a nearby pier is part of this organization but is free to explore and has AC inside. It was a nice, brief stop and good photo ops from the top.
Baltimore National Heritage Area Visitor Center: We waited here for our trolley tour to begin on a day that was almost 100 degrees. The staff was extremely helpful, one lady even tried to cheer up our cranky 2 year old. It was a great place to stop so everyone could use the restrooms, there were some fun interactive exhibits that kept the kids occupied for a bit. If we’d had a longer visit planned, we would have arranged some other tours at the front desk. They also have discounted aquarium tickets.
The building itself is a beautiful modern design with great photo ops of the inner harbor right outside their back door.
Baltimore Trolley Tour: This a great way to see all the points of interest in the city. The Park Ranger (all of Baltimore inner harbor is technically part of the National Parks System) who guided the tour was very knowledgable and kept us interested the entire 90 minutes.
National Aquarium: Not a heritage site, but how can you visit Baltimore without spending a day at the National Aquarium? I have been to a lot of the major US aquariums and each has something that makes it unique and special. This aquarium is on a pier in the Inner Harbor, so do not expect outdoor attractions like sea lions or penguins. And strollers have to be checked at the front so plan for that if needed. The things we liked best about the National Aquarium were
- Friendly, helpful, informative staff
- Calypso the 500 lb, three finned turtle…seems to be thriving in the new Black tip reef exhibit
- The Australia exhibit…staff member entertained the kids by demonstrating how the Archer fish ‘spit’ to knock insects into the water.
- We also enjoyed the dolphin show, jellyfish exhibit, shark helix and watching the puffin feeding.
Location: Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Designation: National Heritage Area
Date designation declared: 3/30/2009
Date of my visit: July 2013