17 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
There’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. With a rich history and plenty of vibrant cultures, it’s no surprise that this is one of Baltimore’s top destinations for both tourists and locals alike.
In the 18th century, the Inner Harbor put Baltimore on the map as a major U.S. Seaport. Unfortunately, the shallow water of the Harbor was not conducive to larger ships which began to appear in the early 1900s, and over time the warehouses, power plants and piers surrounding the Harbor were abandoned and fell into decay. In the 1950’s a revitalization of the inner harbor began, and over the decades that followed an incredible transformation took place.
Today, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is at the heart of the city. Here you’ll find everything from family-friendly attractions to fantastic restaurants to one-of-a-kind shops, all located right on the water. Here are 17 of the best Baltimore Inner Harbor attractions to check out on your visit.
Top Baltimore Inner Harbor Attractions
1. Historic Ships of Baltimore
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is home to one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world. There are several historic ships available to visit here, spanning over 200 years of Maryland’s maritime history. Hours vary based on ship and time of year, so confirm opening hours as you plan your visit.
The USS Constellation is one of the most popular historic ships, as it was the last sail-only warship designed and built by the U.S. Navy. She was constructed in 1854 and is now preserved as a museum ship in the Baltimore Inner Harbor and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The ship’s artifact collection includes nearly 50,000 objects, photographs and documents, many of which were donated by former crew members and their families. General boarding passes range in cost from $7-15 and guided tours start at $8.
A single-day pass will get you aboard each historic ship. Other prominent ships include the LV116 Chesapeake, which guided traffic along the Chesapeake Bay from 1930-1964. Additionally, the USS Torsk patrolled and torpedoed enemy ships off the coast of Japan during WWII. A third ship to check out is the USCG Cutter 37, which was built in 1930 and used for law enforcement, search and rescue and patrol missions.
2. National Aquarium
There’s no way we could leave the National Aquarium off of our list of things to do at the Inner Harbor. The Aquarium is home to over 20,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals. With so much to explore, there’s no wonder it’s Maryland’s largest paid tourist attraction.
Inside you’ll find dozens of unique exhibits with animals from all over the world. Explore everything from Australia’s Blacktip Reef to an Amazon River Forest to a full dolphin show and experience. You won’t want to miss the iconic Jellies Invasion, where you can get up close with nine different species of jellyfish.
Want to up the ante? Try a private reptile encounter, a group dolphin training experience or an insider’s tour. There are plenty of family-friendly experiences to try, as well as events for adults. Whether you have an hour or a day, we highly recommend a visit to the Aquarium.
3. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks
Of all the things to do at the Inner Harbor, grabbing a bite to eat is probably on everyone’s list. McCormick & Schmick’s serves some of the Harbor’s best seafood, steaks and cocktails, all within a warm, sophisticated atmosphere overlooking the Inner Harbor.
Their sustainable seafood program allows McCormick and Schmick’s to incorporate locally and sustainably sourced farm-fresh ingredients into their menu. Plus, they are known for their creative mixology. You’ll find plenty of delicious cocktails using only the best fresh ingredients as well as an extensive wine and beer menu.
If you’re on a budget, McCormick and Schmick’s offers a weekday happy hour with plenty of affordable snacks and drinks. They also offer special menus for the holidays. Whether you’re grabbing a cocktail and calamari during happy hour, or sitting down to enjoy steamed mussels and a signature fish dish, you won’t be disappointed at McCormick & Schmick’s.
4. The Maryland Science Center
There is so much to see and do at the Maryland Science Center, you could easily spend an entire day here. It features interactive exhibits for kids of all ages, combining hands-on experience with learning and of course fun!
Visit Newton’s Alley where you can play a stringless harp, touch a cloud and see sound. You can also head to the SciLab, where you’ll don lab coats and safety goggles before conducting scientific experiments. Don’t forget to stop by the Planetarium and Imax theater to get a peek at some other fascinating science!
In addition to exploring the exhibits, you can also check out the demo stage to check out interactive science encounters. Although many of the exhibits here are geared toward kids, the museum also hosts fun nighttime events specifically for adults.
5. Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore has always been recognized as a major industrial center, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry aims to showcase that legacy. It is located in an 1860s oyster cannery and situated right on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. You’ll find original historic details throughout the building that make this museum magical.
Things to do inside the museum include dynamic exhibits, live demonstrations, tours and activities. Every exhibit documents the stories of the workers and businesses that made Baltimore a manufacturing powerhouse for nearly a century. The Baltimore Museum of Industry has also become a popular event venue, so be sure to check out their calendar to see what’s on the horizon.
6. Catch A Baltimore Orioles Game
If you’re a sports fan, be sure to catch a Baltimore Orioles baseball game while you’re in town, especially when the weather is pleasant. Games are held at classic Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is known for its retro nostalgic design and views of the surrounding city.
Be sure to arrive early to explore the ballpark and the surrounding area. Enjoy delicious food and drinks at the onsite restaurants and visit the shops to purchase some classic local merch. Win or lose, an Orioles game is a must-do during your time in Baltimore.
7. Power Plant Live!
If you’re looking for things to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor after the sun goes down, look no further than Power Plant Live! Located in a redesigned coal-burning power station built for the United Railways and Electric Company in 1905, Power Plant Live has nightlife and entertainment galore.
Sharpen your sleuthing skills at the Charm City Clue Room or improve your axe-throwing prowess at Kraken Axes. When you’re ready for a bite, check out one of the culinary options such as Luckies Tavern or Underground Pizza. Wash down your meal at the Leinenkugel’s Lodge and Beer Garden before enjoying one of the many outdoor concerts held throughout the year. Entrance to Power Plant Live! is free, with the exception of Friday and Saturday nights which usually require a cover charge.
8. American Visionary Art Museum
A one-of-a-kind experience, the American Visionary Art Museum displays themed exhibits that combine arts, science, philosophy, humor and more to create statements on important topics woven into American culture. It features rotating exhibits from self-taught artists that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
This outsider or “intuitive” art museum is located in what used to be a copper paint factory and whisky warehouse. Within the 1.1-acre campus, you’ll find unique exhibitions, a sculpture barn and a wildflower garden.
9. Water Taxi
Make your way to all the Inner Harbor’s things to do and places to visit via water instead of on foot. The Baltimore Water Taxi has multiple lines with stops throughout the Inner Harbor as well as nearby waterfront neighborhoods. It offers beautiful views of Charm City and makes it easy to travel throughout the Inner Harbor in minutes. The Fort McHenry line even offers an audio tour where you can learn more about the area’s history. What’s not to love?
The downtown loop will take you from the Harbor to Fell’s Point, a charming historic neighborhood where you’ll find some of the city’s favorite waterfront bars and restaurants. It will also take you to Federal Hill, where you can go museum hopping and explore beautiful views of Baltimore.
If you’re ready to explore even more, you can take the Local Line, which runs from Fell’s Point to Locust Point and will eventually include a stop at Lighthouse Point. The Fort McHenry Line runs in the summer and will take you from downtown to the historic national monument.
10. Federal Hill Park
Among Maryland’s many historic sites, you’ll find Federal Hill Park. In addition to its historical significance, here you’ll find some of the best city views around. The area that is now the park was first identified by Captain John Smith in the early 1600s, before the birth of the United States. The name Federal Hill was adopted in 1788 as part of a celebration of our Constitution’s ratification.
Federal Hill Park is dotted with monuments commemorating the War of 1812 and historic cannons, which were used to protect the city when Federal Hill was a military outpost. In short, a trip to Federal Hill Park is a must for anyone looking for things to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, especially if you’re a history lover.
11. Hard Rock Cafe
It’s impossible to miss the neon Hard Rock Café sign hanging upon another historic power plant building, high above the water. The Hard Rock moved into the Inner Harbor in 1997 and has been a favorite destination ever since. In addition to its food menu, the Hard Rock Cafe hosts plenty of live music and other performances, so be sure to check out its event calendar to see what’s playing.
Their unique menu features house-made entrées full of local flair, as well as plenty of classic drinks to suit every taste. Of course, the interior is covered with authentic, often historical, music memorabilia that are sure to tap into your sense of nostalgia. Wrap up your meal with a stop at the gift shop to commemorate your visit.
12. Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Its attractions like the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, which aims to promote life-long curiosity in children of all ages, make Baltimore one of the best family vacation spots in Maryland. The museum includes three floors of hands-on exhibits that encourage kids to think as well as use their imaginations.
Here you’ll find immersive play areas for kids ranging from infants to age 10, including sensory-friendly options. Additionally, the museum hosts kid-friendly events that will have you crafting, singing, dancing and more. You’ll also find several indoor play areas and a variety of experiences designed just for infants and toddlers, and they even offer nights with free and discounted admission.
13. The Gallery at Harborplace
A premier retail destination at the Inner Harbor, the Gallery at Harborplace is located at the gateway to the Waterfront Promenade. This stunning multi-story mall is known for its upscale shops and restaurant options, just steps from the waterfront.
The Gallery is home to a total of 32 retailers, including favorites like Pandora, Lamesa, Forever 21, Foot Locker and DTLR. You’ll find national chains and popular local options to choose from here.
14. Watermark Baltimore Cruises
Enjoy the sights of Baltimore by boat with a Watermark Cruise. Traverse the Inner Harbor and surrounding waterways to see stunning views of iconic Baltimore landmarks such as the Domino Sugar sign, the Key Bridge and Fort McHenry. Each cruise has a full bar and light snacks on board for your enjoyment.
There are cruise options for everyone, regardless of your interests. History buffs should check out the National Anthem Tour to take in sites and hear stories related to the War of 1812. If you’re in the market for a gorgeous sunset cruise, hop aboard the City Lights Cruise for stunning views of the Baltimore Skyline at twilight. These are just a few of the many cruises available.
15. Reginald F. Lewis Museum
Of all the things to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture is a must. The museum opened in 2005 and is the largest African American history museum in the state.
The museum offers a collection of 10,000 objects, special exhibits and educational programs. It recounts the significant accomplishments and struggles of African American Marylanders throughout the state’s 400-year history. The museum also features rotating exhibits focusing on art, history, innovation and more.
16. Top of the World Observation Level
If you want panoramic views of downtown Baltimore, it doesn’t get better than the Top of the World at Baltimore’s World Trade Center. This 27th-story observation deck offers views of the entire harbor as well as the Baltimore skyline and historic landmarks. For some of the most stunning views, visit during sunset hours.
17. Walters Art Museum
Baltimore has no shortage of incredible museums, and this historic art museum should certainly be on your list. Head a few blocks inland to Mt. Vernon neighborhood to check out Walter’s Art Museum, a multi-gallery attraction featuring art from all over the world.
Through the Walters’ massive collection, you’ll learn about art and culture throughout history. The installations rotate with each season, so there’s always something new to see here. The museum is spread across three historic buildings. The first building was constructed in 1909 and modeled after an Italian palace, while the second is a Brutalist structure built in the 1970s. The final building is a classic Baltimore townhouse.
Find Your Inner Harbor Stay at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve
Just a short drive from the Inner Harbor you’ll find one of the most uniquely luxurious boutique hotels in the area. With so many exciting Baltimore Inner Harbor attractions to explore, you’ll want a place to relax once you’ve checked them all off your list.
The Hotel at Arundel Preserve has everything you need to unwind after a day downtown exploring and enjoying the Harbor. A night in one of our perfectly appointed guest rooms or suites will leave you refreshed and ready to take on even more of Baltimore’s favorite Inner Harbor attractions and experiences.