Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

An Intergenerational Delight

By Corrine Luthy

My sister and I recently decided that it was time to make our semi-annual trip from North Carolina to Baltimore to visit our 85-year-old Dominican great-grandmother. Since our younger siblings, who are 9 and 13, had never seen that city, we also decided this would be the perfect opportunity to enlighten their youthful minds on the place where our mother grew up. I also knew that this education wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Inner Harbor. So, getting up bright and early one morning we made an impromptu trip to the Inner Harbor, a place my great-grandmother loves and had been unable to go for quite some time.

Visitor’s Center

Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center on Light St. to pick up our passes for the day. We had four V.I.P. passes which gave us entry to almost everything a wondering mind could dream of visiting in the Inner Harbor (with the exception of the National Aquarium). There was entry to several museums, free water taxi rides, tickets to dinner theaters, and several other attractions in the downtown area. Also available for purchase at the Visitor’s Center are “Baltimore Harbor Passes”, which for a flat fee of $49.95 for adults, $37.50 for kids (if you preorder them) gives the holder four days of access to the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Top of the World Observation Level, the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, and your choice of the American Visionary Art Museum or the Port Discovery Children’s Museum.

Top of the World—World Trade Center

Since this was a hot day in mid-August, our grandmother decided walking around the Harbor all day would not be beneficial to her health, but was more than content to buy a ticket to the Aquarium and revisit the place where she spent so many years as a volunteer (in the air conditioning). Meanwhile the four North Carolinians made the World Trade Center their first stop of the day. Although we got in for free, for a charge of $5 for adults and $3 for children, anyone can easily and affordably take the elevator to the 27th floor for a panoramic view of Baltimore from the top of the tower. From the top floor one can see the Camden Yards and the M&T Bank Stadium, high-rise financial buildings, luxury condos, a wide view of the harbor, and several other landmarks.

Maryland Science Center

From the top of the World Trade Center we spotted our next destination: the Maryland Science Center. Having been there a few times, I knew that this was a place my younger brother and sister would love. The Science Center could be a day’s trip in itself. The traveling exhibit that day was Chinasaurs, an exhibit of dinosaur fossils from China. The Science Center also has an IMAX theater, which shows everything from nature documentaries to Harry Potter.

The highlights of our visit here were the human body exhibit and Newton’s Alley. The great thing about the Science Center for children (and adults) is the number of interactive activities to do.
What if we didn’t have bones?

In the human body section we learned about the senses and bodily functions by being treated to such displays as optical illusions, lying on a bed of nails, and trying to guess what objects were just by the feel or smell of them. Downstairs, in Newton’s Alley, the interactive exhibits demonstrated different properties of physics. Although we enjoyed the entire Science Center, these interactive exhibits were what made the trip really memorable and fun, one of the best ways to learn.

Five Guys—Burgers and Fries

For lunch, we met back up with our great-grandmother. Finding a place that we could all agree on turned out to be easier than we thought. On the second floor of the Pratt Street Pavilion (Harbor Place) was Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and none of us will turn down a good burger. Although it may not be the most authentic Baltimore experience, the food was quite delicious.
Five Guys Menu

* hamburger
* cheeseburger
* bacon burger
* bacon cheeseburger
* little hamburger
* little cheeseburger
* little bacon burger
* little bacon cheeseburger

ALL TOPPINGS FREE:

* Mayo Relish*Onions*
* Lettuce Pickles Tomatoes Grilled Onions Grilled Mushrooms
* Ketchup Mustard Jalapeno Peppers* Green Peppers
* A-1 Sauce* Bar-B-Q Sauce* Hot Sauce*

The burgers are made to order with a variety of toppings available in any combination for no extra cost. We also ordered two large fries, which between the five of us turned out to be way more than enough. (I recommend Cajun style for anyone who likes a little bit of spice). The burgers were also a good size, and if your appetite isn’t too big, the “little” burgers they offer are plenty. The prices were fair, the service was fast, and overall this was a pleasant dining experience.
Ride The Ducks

After lunch we had tickets to take a land/water tour of Baltimore with a tour group called Ride the Ducks. Using vehicles made during WWII that were capable of traveling by both land and sea, we took an interesting expedition of the downtown Baltimore area. We saw many historical buildings whose significance might have been lost on tourists who didn’t know what they were looking at. We passed the courthouse, Edgar Allen Poe’s gravesite, rode through Little Italy, and got unique water views of the Domino Sugar factory and other harbor-side buildings.

The tour operator also provided us with trivia and songs to “quack” along to with the complimentary duck-calls given out during the tour. I even caught my great-grandmother quacking along to YMCA.

According to the Baltimore Sun online, Ride the Ducks of Baltimore has closed so the company can invest money on its tours in other states.

One day in the Inner Harbor really wasn’t enough to do it justice. We didn’t get to see any of the museums we wanted, take a cruise, or go to a dinner theater. However it was a good introductory experience for my younger siblings, and a wonderful way to spend the day for all of us.

If you go:

Baltimore Area Visitor’s Center
100 Light St. #12
Baltimore, MD 21202-1153
(800) 282-6632

Top of the World Observation Level
401 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-837-VIEW

Maryland Science Center
601 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
24 hour recorded information: 410-685-5225
Operator, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm: 410-685-2370

Five Guys Burger and Fries
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
201 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-244-7175

Ride the Ducks
(other locations nationally)
5445 Triangle Parkway, Suite 200
Norcross, GA 30092
1-678-993-1900

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