Charm City Secrets: Exploring Baltimore’s Inner Harbor & Beyond

Thinking of exploring Baltimore with the kids? Whether you’re just a train ride away or you’re coming to this unique, historical city for the first time, you’ll find thriving culture and amazing history around every turn. For families, we love the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It’s close to an array of family-friendly attractions but is also just a quick jaunt away from other neighborhoods you’ll love, too. Read on to get the scoop on the top six things to do in and around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor with kids. 

photo: Amber Guetebier 

Where to Stay: Staybridge Suites Inner Harbor

Hidden gem: One of Baltimore’s newest hotels, we highly recommend staying at Staybridge Suites, Inner Harbor. You’ll be within walking distance to everything this neighborhood has to offer, and if you want to explore other parts of the city, they have a shuttle that can drop you (and pick you up!). 

photo: Amber Guetebier 

The rooms are all appointed with kitchenettes and are either studio or 1 bdrm. style (at the time of our visit, 2 bedrooms were in the works). You’ll find a full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and plenty of utensils, plates, glasses and mugs. They even have a lobby store that offers a selection of snacks and frozen meals for late night hangries (because you know, they weren’t hungry at dinner). Breakfast is included and has everything the fam needs: yogurt, cereals, pastries, eggs, sausage, coffee, etc. Tank up before you hit the town! The best part might be how comfy the beds are! After a long day of exploring, it’s just what the family needs. 

photo: Staybridge Suites  

This Staybridge is especially unique because it’s located within a historic property, so you’ll find lots of character. Basically, you get a lot of the charm of higher end properties at an affordable, very clean and family-friendly hotel. There’s even a (free) laundry room in the lower level!

Online: ihghotels/staybridge/baltimore 

Don’t Skip These 6 Spots with the Kids:


photo: Amber Guetebier 

1. Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Just a 5-minute walk from the hotel, you’ll find the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Frequently ranked as one of the best children’s museums, kids ages 10 and under can go on adventures, weave art onto walls, move giant tangrams and more.


2. National Aquarium

Also about a five minute walk you’ll find the National Aquarium, a place worth planning your entire trip to Baltimore around. Think 17,000 specimens, five floors of themed displays, and endless opportunities to educate children about the life aquatic. Check out our insider guide to learn more tips and tricks for you visit. 


3. Maryland Science Center

Learn about physics, biology and more in this hands-on museum that is only about a 15 minute walk from the Staybridge Suites Inner Harbor hotel (about 10 minutes from the National Aquarium). Be sure to check out their events calendar for sing-along sessions, planetarium shows and more.


photo: Amber Guetebier 

4. Hidden gem: American Visionary Art Museum 

Head a little farther afield (about 5 minutes from the Science Center) and  you’ll find a museum unlike any other. Discover a curation of innovative and, indeed, visionary art by self-taught artists from around the world. With rotating exhibits that include themes like climate change and the human struggle, this museum somehow manages to shine light on the positive without suppressing the truth about global issues. It is at once whimsical and serious, inspiring and awe-inspiring. There are actually three buildings that make up the museum and lots of sculptures and outdoor art in between. Hands-on, drop-in arts and crafts take place frequently on weekends and the gift shop alone will occupy your senses for hours.

Don’t miss: The Fart Machine! In the main building on the lower level, in between the two bathrooms (of course) is a fart machine!


photo: Amber Guetebier 

5. Insider tip: Eat at Cross Street Market 

Not far from the American Visionary Art Museum, in the Federal Hill neighborhood, you’ll find the Cross Street Market. Built inside a 19th century historic marketplace, an array of vendors cooking up some of the best Baltimore has to offer: from burgers to Haitian cuisine, wood-fired pizza, urban vegan and more, let everyone in the fam figure out what sounds good to them and then convene at a communal table to fuel up.


6. Hidden gem: Edgar Allan Poe Gravesite

Under 20 minutes from Inner Harbor, near the University of Baltimore campus, you’ll find the the Westminster Burial Grounds and Catacombs. On the corner of West Fayette and N Greene St. you’ll find Edgar Allan Poe’s memorial gravesite. (His original burial site was in another part of the churchyard, but when the bones were moved to the current “corner lot” a stone was erected to mark that site as well. Well, approximately. Many say the original site was lost during transition and so the current marker is close, but may not be exact.) He may be one of the only famous writers who has not one, but two graves in the same churchyard. 

The history of the church and cemetery itself is fascinating: Westminster Burial Ground, once known as Westminster Presbyterian cemetery, was established in 1786, but in 1852 a church was built…on top of the graves! It actually rests on brick piers, but does not cover up any of the graves. In 1852, the church was constructed on brick piers above the graves, creating remarkable catacombs. 

photo: Bruce Emmerling via Pixabay

Quite a bit further afield is the Edgar Allan Poe House Museum, a tiny museum that was once the home of famed poet Edgar Allan Poe for a period of time. The museum is very small and while there’s a few interesting things to look out, smaller kids might not get much out of it. It’s worth considering to get a feel for what life was like in Baltimore for this master of the macabre. Learn more about Poe’s history in Baltimore at

—Amber Guetebier

This trip was hosted in part by IHG Hotels but all opinions expressed here belong solely to the writer. 

Looking for more things to do in Baltimore? Check out these stories:

Under the Sea: Family Fun at the National Aquarium 

Charm City Getaway: What to Do in Baltimore with the Kids

A Long Weekend in Baltimore: 17 Things You Have to Do 


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