Weekend in Charm City: Top things to do in Baltimore with kids
We live near Raleigh and our family lives near Philadelphia, so that means lots and lots of trips up and down I-95! In all those drives, we never really made time to explore Baltimore, despite saying, “We should stop sometime!”
So, when I got the chance to spend a weekend in Baltimore, aka Charm City, I jumped at it! I was so excited to learn the top things to do in Baltimore with kids. (Or without.)
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Baltimore Family Weekend (3 days)
I only had two days, a quick weekend in Baltimore. I thought that was enough until I visited! Families should plan three days to experience all the Baltimore, Maryland attractions without being too rushed.
Where to stay
I also recommend you stay at one of the many Inner Harbor hotels, because just about everything you’ll do is in walking distance. I stayed at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court, which was in the perfect location (request a Harbor View room to see the sunrise). While the hotel is a bit pricier than traditional chain hotels nearby, they do offer specials, large bathrooms and a prime location. Chain hotels like Radisson, Sheraton and Hilton Garden Inn are nearby, though you might have to step outside to see the gorgeous sunrise over the Inner Harbor.
Baltimore Weekend Itinerary
- Check into your hotel and enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants on the waterfront and then step out to experience one of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor attractions.
- My top pick is to explore Baltimore’s Inner Harbor by paddleboat (summer months) at Team Chessie. Just look for the dragon boats!
Day One (Especially if a weekday or rainy day):
- If your hotel offers complimentary breakfast, enjoy that. If not consider breakfast at Miss Shirley’s. Miss Shirley’s has been featured on the Food Network. Portions are huge — most can share. And, they take allergies seriously, which is great news for families like mine with food allergies!
- Visit the National Aquarium. Plan to spend a minimum of three hours here, though I recommend going in the morning, taking a break for lunch at a local restaurant, then returning for the afternoon. You still won’t see it all! (Click here for a guide to visiting the National Aquarium)
- Head back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.
- Enjoy dinner and shopping at Harborplace, near the National Aquarium.
Day Two in Downtown Baltimore:
- After breakfast, head to the American Visionary Art Museum (an easy walk from most places in the Inner Harbor — allow 10-15 minutes). This museum is NOT your standard stuffy museum. Even the building’s exterior suggests that something unusual is about to happen. Be sure to visit all three buildings and the Whirligig Patio honoring artist, Vollis Simpson. I recommend three hours to explore the museum.
- Lunch at Encantada, in the American Visionary Art Museum, second floor. Food here is fresh and fun — great for families. You can skip the museum and get lunch here (though it’s a really cool museum).
- If the weather is nice, head up to Federal Hill Park — behind the art museum — for a birds-eye view of the city!
- If traveling with adventurous kids April-October, take a Seadog Speedboat Sightseeing Tour, one of the more energetic Baltimore attractions. The tour promises high-speed fun as you learn interesting stories about Baltimore’s history as well as views of many of Baltimore’s most famous sites.
- If traveling with younger kids (up to age 10) spend the afternoon exploring the Port Discovery Children’s Museum on the Inner Harbor. With a number of exhibits geared for different ages and interests, kids can explore and play creatively — learning without knowing it!
- Enjoy dinner at a restaurant on the Inner Harbor before returning to your hotel to relax for the night.
Day Three means more Baltimore Sightseeing:
- After breakfast and hotel check-out (leave your car at the hotel though), tour the USS Constellation and/or the other Historic Ships of Baltimore. Depending on interest, you can select how many ships you tour. I personally love the exciting history of the USS Constellation, but all the ships in the Harbor have exciting stories to share — like the USS TORSK, a submarine from WWII.
- While you’re at the harbor, enjoy a 2-hour lunch cruise. Use this discount link to purchase, and gratuities are included.
- Explore Fort McHenry before heading home. Fort McHenry is most famous for Francis Scott Key, who penned our national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger program and explore the park, which gets those wiggles out before a drive home! Pick up Junior Ranger booklets at the Visitor Center when you arrive; explore the park and then take the booklet back to the Visitor Center to get a badge and certificate!
Budget tips for Baltimore
The city of Baltimore, Maryland has so much history, culture, and adventure that kids will love it — no matter what you decide to do. Use these money saving tips and parents will love it, too. Spend less, do more!
- Explore historic Baltimore the fun way with an amazing scavenger hunt adventure. This interactive scavenger hunt uses a smart phone to take you on a treasure hunt of iconic sites in Baltimore, kind of like Amazing Race. You’ll learn a lot while having fun on this economical self-guided tour of the town! (It’s one of our favorite ways to explore new places!)
- Purchase the Harbor Pass — This money-saving package bundles admission to four Baltimore attractions for one low price. Purchase online.
- Savor dining deals! Many local restaurants have partnered with Visit Baltimore to offer discounts and deals so you can save. If you live in or near Baltimore, these deals work for you, too!
- Hotel Packages — Hotels throughout Baltimore offer vacation packages. With a variety of price points and experiences, you’re bound to find one that works for you!
- FREE public transportation! The Charm City Circulator provides four routes throughout the city. No need to drive through the city, just hop on the bus and head where you want to go. Check the website for routes and schedules. NOTE: Baltimore also has a metro system which does charge a fee — it’s not hard to tell which bus is which, though.
There you have it! Spend a few days in Baltimore and make memories for a lifetime!