November 24, 2017

Best Bets: Baltimore with School-Age Kids


Kate Inside the USS Torsk

East coast readers, it’s hot isn’t it? Oh my gosh, I took my older girls, Clare and Kate (ages 8 & 7), to Baltimore on Saturday and the temperature may have topped out at 100 degrees. Quite the escape from Washington, DC where it was at least as hot, but worse, since we had a bad thunderstorm here, leaving nearly one million residents without power (fortunately, we did not lose power). Makes you want to kiss your air conditioner, yes?

So, back to Baltimore, we had a great stay. We arrived around noon on Saturday, just in time for lunch in the Inner Harbor, which has loads of kid-friendly restaurants, and is central to family favorites, like the Maryland Science Center and National Aquarium (not to be confused with the National Aquarium in Washington, DC, which is just a fraction of the size).

Living so close to Baltimore, we’ve been many, many times, but this was my first time going with just Clare and Kate, so I had more of a chance to think about the attractions, and what was worthwhile and what was not. So, here are four of my suggestions if you plan to visit with school-age kids.

Visit the Historic Ships & Buy the Two-Ship Pass. One of my favorite features of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the historic ships that sit in the water for all to see. However, if you have school-age kids, I suggest buying a two-ship pass ($14/adults, $6/kids) and hopping on board.

USS Constellation

The USS Constellation is the grandest of the ships, and they offer a Powder Monkey Tour on weekends, enabling you to learn about the lives of young recruits. We were the only people on the tour, so we had the tour guide to ourselves. I’d also check out the USS Torsk, a submarine that served in World War II. There are two other ships, but you’ll probably see all you need to see with the USS Constellation and USS Torsk.

Clare Looking into a Microscope at the Maryland Science Center

Take in the Maryland Science Center, But Maybe Not at Naptime. We arrived at the Maryland Science Center around 2 pm on Saturday. We started on the third floor and worked our way back down to the entrance. I’ll tell you, my kids could not get enough of Your Body: The Inside Story. Another favorite was BodyLink, which had loads of hands-on activities, including one where you had to guess how many vials of fat were in different types of foods. Ick.

They also loved the planetarium show. We went to the 3 pm show, and per usual, the dark room and comfortable chair did me in. I’m sure I wasn’t the only adult to fall asleep during the show, right? Clare kept pointing out different parts of the show. I pretended like I wasn’t asleep but my eyelids were…so…heavy.

Clare Laying on a Bed of Nails

An Aquarium is an Aquarium is an Aquarium. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love aquariums. I love the dolphin shows. I love the sea turtles. I love everything about the National Aquarium, but if you’ve been to a big aquarium in another big city, you might want to check out other attractions in Baltimore.

Needless to say, we did not visit the aquarium on this trip, but next time I take the younger kids in our family, the aquarium will be near the top of our list. For school-age kids, there are just too many other things to check out, like the Maryland Science Center, Fort McHenry, and of course, the aforementioned historic ships and the submarine (which by the way, is painted like a shark!).

Avoid The Fudgery. As I was looking for neat activities for the girls, I came across The Fudgery, and had read about how the “cast members” sing and dance as they make fudge. I even saw this YouTube video of a cast member engaging an audience as he made fudge, but it wasn’t like that.

Clare & Kate in Their Tent at the Hotel Monaco

The Baltimore location of The Fudgery is very, very small, and when we first walked by I didn’t even realize it was The Fudgery. There were two ladies working there, and one was kind of singing as she offered us free samples, but they weren’t putting on any kind of show.

On this trip to Baltimore, we also stayed overnight at the Hotel Monaco, which was just a few blocks away from the Inner Harbor. They’re offering a “Camp at Fort Monaco” package through the summer, and the girls got to sleep in a tent in our room (they also got canteens and flashlights)! It was very cool, but look out for more on that later this week!

If you plan to visit Baltimore, you may also want to check out 10 Free Family Activities in Baltimore and these 20 Free Things to Do with Kids in Baltimore. So, what are your favorite things to do in Charm City?

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