A Stroll Around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

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By John Cowgill

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has become one of the city’s main attractions.  Thousands of people visit the Inner Harbor every year. Not that long ago, this area was known for its run-down warehouses.  Now there are restaurants and merchants surrounding this little inlet, and there’s a lot more to see and do.

One of the main attractions is the National Aquarium.  It is the most visited attraction at the Inner Harbor, with visitors from around the world.  With sea life from all over the world, visitors walk through the museum and can look down into the stingray tank and watch the rays swim around.  At the top is the Rainforest Jungle, with fish and birds from the Amazon region of South America.  From there, visitors walk down a circular walkway in the middle of a fish tank all the way to the exit.  Please note that there is an admission price to enter the aquarium, and due to crowd control, you may be held to enter at a specific time.

The harbor’s lighthouse, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, is just a few blocks east of the aquarium.  Now a museum, you can climb into the lighthouse and see the living quarters of the lighthouse keeper.  Admission is free, but the lighthouse is not handicapped-accessible.

Why not see a few ships while you’re visiting a harbor?  The lightship Chesapeake served as a floating lighthouse in dangerous areas where there was not light.  The U.S.S. Torsk is a submarine that patrolled the Japanese coast during World War II and is responsible for the Navy’s sinking of the last enemy ships during the war.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ship Taney is the last remaining warship still afloat that fought in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  (It was anchored in Honolulu Harbor during the attack.)  An older ship, the U.S.S. Constellation, was a sailing warship that protected merchant ships in the West Indies. It was also used in the War of 1812, although it was not in Baltimore during the attack on Fort McHenry.  These are the Four Historic Ships of Baltimore; visitors can see each ship individually or pay one admission for all four ships.  Please note that the ships are within three blocks of each other.

How about getting a great view of the harbor?  Climb to the top of Federal Hill!  It is easy to find; it’s the big hill on the south side of the Inner Harbor with the American flag posted on top.  This original observation spot for ships entering the harbor is now a city park with great views.

The centerpiece of the harbor, the World Trade Center, has an even better view.  This five-sided structure has an observation floor at the top of the building, with spectacular views of the harbor and of the city.  There is also a memorial to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  The paid admission includes an express ride to the top and great views of the city.

Closer to the ground, you can visit the Maryland Science Center.  This is a museum and an interactive center plus an IMAX Theater and a planetarium.  The American Visionary Art Museum is on the east side of Federal Hill.(The museum is located behind the Rusty Scupper restaurant not visible from the harbor.)  Both museums require admission.  The Maryland Science Center (mdsci.org/) has one admission for the museum, plus extra admission for the planetarium and IMAX theatre.  The American Visionary Art Museum (avam.org/) has one admission for three buildings for of visionary art.

While strolling around the harbor, one can visit the main mast from the ‘Pride of Baltimore,’ which sank in the Caribbean Sea during a tour.  Located below Federal Hill, the mast is a memorial to those who lost their lives in the sinking.  There is no admission or hours to see this memorial. Sometimes, visitors see the ‘Pride of Baltimore II,’ a ship built to replace the original ship, sailing through the harbor.  Like the original, it has sailed to many ports around the world.  If the Pride II is not in the harbor, visit pride2.org/ to see their upcoming events. This ship is truly a sight to see.

Along with the museums, attractions, shops and restaurants, there are also boat tours of the Inner Harbor. Some of the tours go all the way to Fort McHenry, where you can see the flag flying over the fort, the site that inspired America’s National Anthem.

There is so much more much to do at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor than shopping and eating.  If you like seafood, treat  yourself to a crabcake lunch or dinner.

 

John Cowgill (johnbcowgill1@gmail.com) loves to visit historic places to include lesser known sites.  He loves taking road trips, and he loves railroads.

 

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