Blake Walsh

23 Best Things to Do in Inner Harbor, Baltimore

  • Published 2022/10/26

Famed as one of America’s oldest seaports, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is home to several spectacular attractions seasoned by time.

As soon as you walk into Inner Harbor, you’ll find historic warships anchored to the dock and well-maintained museums that tell its deep historical glory and heritage.

Some of the city’s best attractions include Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, and the scenic Harborplace.

The place has plenty of open areas and parks with breath-taking views you’d surely want to take memorable pictures of.

You’ll be out in the sun a lot when visiting Inner Harbor so it’s best to bring a sporty hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Check out the best things to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor!

Start Your Visit at the Baltimore Visitor Center

Exterior of Baltimore Visitor Center

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Known for its wavy roofline, the Baltimore Visitor Center sits at 401 Light Street on the west shore of Inner Harbor.

Here, you’ll get the best tourist information and reservation services from the most welcoming and highly-trained counsellors of this facility.

Designed to be a one-stop shop, the Baltimore Visitor Center has over 200 brochures, guides, and maps.

The grounds of Baltimore Visitor Center

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What’s even more amazing is that visitors can use their state-of-the-art and interactive touchscreen kiosks that help you decide which attraction, restaurant, or hotel to go to when visiting in Inner Harbor.

The center offers free public Wi-Fi and mobile device charging stations for all as well as a post office and a gift shop filled with souvenirs and specialty items.

Marvel at the Pavilions of the National Aquarium

Exterior of the National Aquarium

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Ever wondered what the largest attraction is in all of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor?

Reserve a spot for the National Aquarium!

Located at E. Pratt St., the aquarium has been lauded by over a million visitors every year for having the best habitats in the industry that they won numerous awards for it.

View of National Aquarium's entrance

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See the aquarium’s Indo-Pacific reef and its awe-inspiring South American tropical rainforest to indulge your marine life imaginings!

You’ll also find an open ocean shark tank, a 4D immersion theatre, and pavilions with the most playful bottlenose dolphins, stingrays and other sea lives.

You’ll never run out of things to see with your friends and family at Inner Harbor’s National Aquarium.

Stingrays in the National Aquarium

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Take in City Views at Federal Hill Park

A canon on the grounds of Federal Hill Park

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Federal Hill Park is a welcome sight for anyone walking to south shore of the Inner Harbor.

During the War of 1812 and the Civil War, Federal Hill Park served as a defensive stronghold where military outposts stood atop the namesake’s hill.

Now, you will find brick row homes that speak of history and lots of shops and restaurants well-managed by Inner Harbor’s locals.

Welcome sign of Federal Hill Park

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Visitors here can stroll on the paths of this 10-acre park and enjoy each other’s company while taking in a dramatic view of Baltimore’s cityscape.

Even if you’re a solo-traveller looking for some alone time to just chill or read, all is good at Federal Hill Park.

Paved pathway at Federal Hill Park

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Indulge in a Legendary Treat at The Cheesecake Factory

Entrance door of The Cheesecake Factory

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Located at 201 E. Pratt St., the Cheesecake Factory is only three minutes away from the National Aquarium if you’re going by foot.

Once you walk into The Cheesecake Factory, the dessert display will tempt you to indulge in their incredible homemade pastries.

Notably, their crab cakes with mashed potatoes and red velvet cheesecake remain well-loved by its patrons.

It’s best to book a reservation before visiting because The Cheesecake Factory is a popular spot for Inner Harbor’s tourists and locals alike.

If you weren’t able to, you can ask the Factory’s friendly staff to recommend one of their high-top seating so you can get a splendid view of the Harbor.

Climb Aboard a Submarine at the Historic Ships of Baltimore

Daytime view of the U.S.S. Constellation

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Are you looking for your next historic maritime adventure in Inner Harbor?

Tied up along the edges of E. Pratt St. are the Historic Ships of Baltimore and its floating museums.

In essence, this attraction gives salutation to industrial workers and how essential their role is in progressing a port city to the thriving Baltimore it is now.

Nurture your inner empath and climb up to a lighthouse that dates back to 1855.

Front view of the U.S.S. Constellation ship

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You’ll find four landmark ships including the U.S.S. Constellation which is the only surviving ship from the Civil War.

Several other ships and submarines are permanently docked at the sides of Inner Harbor — all of which detail the marine experiences of those who fought in the late 1850’s.

If you buy a viewing ticket for more than one ship, you might just be able to avail of their discounts.

Interior dining hall of the U.S.S. Constellation ship

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Learn About Dinosaurs and Astronomy at the Maryland Science Center

Exterior of the Maryland Science Center

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The Maryland Science Center is a three-level museum located across Inner Harbor in Light Street.

You and your family can start your tour by watching a 30-minute show about the cosmos at the planetarium.

Steps leading to Maryland Science Center's entrance

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You will love the hands-on parts of the museum especially The Shed and the Science Lab for older children.

Every detail about the Maryland Science Center just goes to show how passionate and committed the employees were about making the museum and interactive with guests.

Welcome sign of the Maryland Science Center

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Know about the Stories of Maryland’s Black Community at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Located in the outer limits of Inner Harbor, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum spans up to 82,000 square feet.

The museum has a collection of over four centuries of Maryland’s African American history.

Among their displays are objects and art dating from 1784 to the present day.

You’ll see deeper into stories of accomplishments and hardships as you stroll through their exhibition spaces, two-story theatre, classrooms, and outdoor terrace.

Enrich your visit to Inner Harbor by delving into knowledge in the areas of industry, politics, leisure activities, sports, media, the arts, education, the military and more at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Climb Aboard a Paddle Boat at Inner Harbor’s Pier 1

Are you looking for a more leisurely activity that will reconnect you with Inner Harbor‘s delightful coasts?

Make your way to the boats managed by Living Classrooms Foundation at Pier 1.

The foundation operates the paddle and electric boats in Inner Harbor which have grown to be a favourite to many.

They take the initiative of arranging training programs for local youth and adults before employing them into the foundation.

You’ll surely not want you and your family to miss the chance of riding a dragon on the waters of Inner Harbor.

Enter a World of Fun at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Exterior of Port Discovery Children’s Museum


Nurture your inner child at the especially family-friendly neighbourhood of Inner Harbor’s Port Discovery Children’s Museum.

The museum measuring over 80,000 square feet has three floors of truly educational and interactive exhibits and receives more than 265,000 visitors per year.

Interestingly, Port Discovery Children’s Museum was formerly a fish market building where locals and visitors haggled with dealers over prices.

Today, the museum pays homage to this history by adding a Port-themed feature exhibit among its plethora of attractions.

You’ll find the famous four-story SkyClimber, a giant pretend cargo ship, and an indoor sports court perfect for little kids who want an extra level of activity and fun in one place.

Once you’ve done all these, you can slow down a bit at one of their interactive art studios and cap off your visit with a theatre performance or a musical exhibit.

Admire Mosaics at the American Visionary Art Museum

Exterior of American Visionary Art Museum

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At 800 Key Highway of downtown Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, you will find the mosaic-filled gallery of the American Visionary Art Museum.

This hidden gem is chock full of unique and innovative art that make it more than worth a visit.

The museum highlights the visionary perspectives of self-taught individuals who collaborate in this space to combine art, science, philosophy, humour, as well as social justice and progression.

Design of American Visionary Art Museum's building

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Artists here are farmers, housewives, the disabled, and the homeless who create art pieces with materials from roots to toothbrushes transforming their dreams, loss, hopes, and ideals into visionary artworks not influenced by the mainstream art world.

If you are in for a higher level of liberal enlightenment, visit the visual and thought-provoking gallery of the American Visionary Art Museum.

Duck sculpture at American Visionary Art Museum

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Join a Music Festival at the Power Plant Live!

Exterior of Power Plant Live!

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Power Plant Live! is a festive entertainment complex for young professionals and tourists alike.

Located two blocks north of the Inner Harbor, it is Baltimore’s number one source of entertainment and nightlife.

The whole complex is full of bars altogether and you could walk around with your beer in a plastic cup and hop over next door to the other bar.

The Power Plant Live! features a well-loved escape room called “Kraken Axes and Rage Room” perfect for those who want to get into the competition and thrill of indoor axe-throwing.

Over 150 annual events are hosted here every year and if you’re lucky, you can catch a music festival featuring Baltimore’s local and national bands.

Enjoy a 360-degree view of Baltimore from the World Trade Center’s Top of the World Observation Level

Exterior of the World Trade Center

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World Trade Center is famous for being the tallest pentagonal building in the world.

Head up to the 27th floor to reach the Top of the World observation deck where you can get a 360-degree view of miles of Inner Harbor’s skyline, harbour, and beyond.

Most visitors patronize the World Trade Center for the wealth of views alone, but it actually offers so much more.

Building sign of the World Trade Center

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A beautiful and moving memorial to the local victims of the 9/11 attacks is open as part of your entry fee.

What’s more, stationed binoculars and photo-map guides are available to help you learn more about local attractions, hotels, sites, and neighbourhoods.

Marvel at Industrial Inventions at Baltimore Museum of Industry

Exterior of the Baltimore Museum of Industry

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry sits in one of Inner Harbor’s old cannery at 1415 Key Highway.

Built in 1977, the Baltimore Museum of Industry is a fun place to visit for adults and families.

Tourists flock to see their star attraction: the oldest surviving steam tugboat called the “Baltimore” which was constructed in 1906 and made of riveted iron and wood.

The young ones can enjoy guided tours with hands-on activities and they can pretend to be workers in a garment loft from the 19th century.

The museum’s library has over 5,000 volumes of rare and historic books — most of which tell of the industrial history of downtown Baltimore.

Dine and Shop at Harborplace Mall

A clock in Harborplace Mall

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Just four minutes away from the National Aquarium at E. Pratt St., you will find Inner Harbor’s Harborplace Mall.

It was built around the midst of the 1980’s by The Rouse Company as a centrepiece of the revived downtown Baltimore.

Back then, it was considered as both a tourist destination and a strong contributor and significant economic driver for the city.

This delightful marketplace on a gentle rise looking toward the distant coastline is full of retail and dining options.

Shops nestled along the Light Street and Pratt Street pavilions are always bustling with shoppers and diners both locals and tourists alike.

You’ll never run out of things to see and places to dine in when at the Harborplace Mall.

Cruise Around Inner Harbor on the Baltimore Water Taxi at Harbor Boating, Inc.

A Baltimore Water Taxi on the waters

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Operating for more than 40 years, what’s there not to love about the Baltimore Water Taxi?

This fun water taxi offers a sightseeing and transportation services to specific points along Inner Harbor making your stay one of the most curated of experiences.

You’ll be certain to up the excitement factor when travelling with your friends and family around the Harbor.

People riding a Baltimore Water Taxi

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Not only that, you’ll be sure to cut travel time and avoid traffic when you opt to travel on a Baltimore Water Taxi.

Be sure to check their website for the most updated routes, stops and special group or individual offers before stepping off the promenade and starting your Inner Harbor vacation.

Experience Inner Harbor from a uniquely nautical perspective on the Baltimore Water Taxi.

A person climbing out a Baltimore Water Taxi

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Catch an Orioles Game at the Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Exterior of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

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The Oriole Park at Camden Yards (OPACY) is home to the Baltimore Orioles, one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball.

The opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards ushered in a new era for Major League Baseball.

Although the park is brand new, it has an old-fashioned feel.

It’s state-of-the-art yet quaint and charming.

Stadium of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

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The stadium is beautiful, with its red brick facade and traditional design.

The Orioles are known for their passionate fans, creating a lively game atmosphere.

There’s always something happening at Camden Yards, whether it’s a game against a rival team or one of the many special events that occur throughout the season.

Baseball game in Oriole Park at Camden Yards

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Walk along Historic Pratt Street and See Some of Baltimore’s Best Architecture

Aerial view of Pratt Street

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Pratt Street is one of the most historic streets in Baltimore, and it is home to various architectural styles.

Charles Pratt, the Earl of Camden, was one of Baltimore’s most prominent citizens during the 18th century.

The street is named for him and runs along the Inner Harbor.

Power plant building at Pratt Street

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He worked tirelessly to repeal the Stamp Act, which would impose a tax on the colonies.

Pratt Street is a great place to start your tour if you’re interested in architecture.

Some notable buildings on Pratt Street include the Baltimore Sun, the Equitable, and the Maryland State House.

Pratt Street pavilion mall at Pratt Street

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Visit Fort McHenry and See the Birthplace of the “Star-Spangled Banner”

Aerial view of Fort McHenry

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Fort McHenry is a historic fort located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland.

Today, Fort McHenry is a national monument and historic shrine.

The fort’s defense of Baltimore Harbor inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Key was detained aboard a British ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

American flag at Fort McHenry

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He was so moved by the sight of the American flag flying over the fort that he penned the now-famous poem.

In addition to being an essential piece of American history, Fort McHenry is also located in a beautiful setting.

The fort overlooks Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, making it a great place to enjoy scenic views.

Cannons overlooking the water at Fort McHenry

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Stroll through the Picturesque Little Italy Neighborhood and Enjoy Some Authentic Italian Cuisine

Shops at Little Italy

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In Baltimore, a neighborhood known as Little Italy is renowned for its excellent Italian restaurants.

The area’s name comes from its Italian heritage, which was solidified in the early 20th century when local farmers planted lemons and oranges to create a new export market.

A few examples of Little Italy’s renowned restaurants are Café Gia, with its recognizable mural and balcony; La Tavola, a top pick for exquisite cuisine; La Scala, which has an outdoor patio and complimentary shuttle access from downtown; and Sabatino’s—a favorite spot that’s been around for generations.

Aerial view of Little Italy

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The area also contains several art galleries, businesses, and historical sights.

Visitors can take a walking tour of the area and sample some delicious Italian cuisine.

If you take a leisurely walk through Little Italy, you might chance upon outdoor movies, evening bocce matches at D’Alesandro Park, or any number of Italian festivals during the year.

A church at Little Italy

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Explore and Take a Tour around the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

Exterior of the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

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The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is on the eastern side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, at Pier 5.

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was once manned by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and later the Coast Guard, but these positions were often vacant due to the resignation or appointment of new keepers or assistants.

Families also inhabited the lighthouse at times, but it wasn’t an easy life as they were isolated out at sea.

Despite all this, the lighthouse remained operational until 1948.

Today, the lighthouse includes an impressive collection of artifacts and information about lighthouses in the Chesapeake region.

The lamp of Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

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Approximately 50,000 artifacts, photographs, and papers are included in the lighthouse’s collection.

The 1856 structure is one of the few Chesapeake lighthouses standing from that era.

While at the lighthouse, don’t forget to take in the gorgeous view of Baltimore Harbor.

Far view of the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

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Skate Your Heart Out at the Rash Field Park

The grounds of Rash Field Park

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Rash Field Park, located on the south side of Baltimore, provides stunning views of the city’s harbor.

The park also contains Jake’s Skate Park, which has won awards for its design and layout.

Local professional skaters requested the skate park during stakeholder meetings and were instrumental in its design.

Jake Owen was a five-year-old skater from South Baltimore who tragically lost his life when a distracted driver hit the car his family was in.

In 2022, Jake’s Skate Park, named after Jake, received the prestigious Best of Baltimore’s Best Award by Baltimore Magazine.

Aside from skating, the park also features a nature park that features native flowers and birds, 35-foot wooden towers in the Adventure Park, and a pavilion where you can take a moment to slow down and enjoy the sunset over the city skyline.

Stroll at the Broadway Pier

The Broadway Pier at night

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Located on the south side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Broadway Pier is a wonderful place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The pier attracts visitors with its tranquil waters and beautiful views of the city skyline.

Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll or meditate by the water, it’s the perfect spot to escape city life’s hustle and bustle.

Broadway Pier has been rebuilt, and it is lined with thousands of engraved bricks that the Baltimore Harbor Endowment sold to raise money for building the pier and Waterfront Promenade.

Other things to do at the Broadway Pier include biking, running, fishing, and picnicking.

With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that this stunning park is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

The Broadway Pier is currently used by towboats, historic sailing boats, and the United States Coast Guard and Navy.

Say Hello to Mr. Trash Wheel

Daytime view of Mr. Trash Wheel

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Mr. Trash Wheel is a machine located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor that prevents trash from entering the Jones Falls river.

This vessel uses water wheels and solar cells for power.

The boat pulls trash from the harbor into a conveyor belt onboard the ship, which then routes it into the vessel’s dumpsters.

Mr. Trash Wheel was invented in 2008 by John Kellett.

Information board of Mr. Trash Wheel

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It was later replaced with an improved, larger vessel in 2014.

Since ‘this innovative trash collector’ was implemented, more than 1.5 million pounds of garbage have been intercepted from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Today, Mr. Trash Wheel is a beloved fixture of Baltimore’s waterfront and a testament to the city’s commitment to environmental sustainability and thoughtful design.

View of Mr. Trash Wheel's body

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Final Thoughts

Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, a delightful tourist destination, and a most important landmark of the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

This once-thriving shipyard is a worthy destination with scenic waterfront views and historical attractions.

Experience an excellent blend of history and artistic innovations by visiting Inner Harbor.

Pack in the best out of your Inner Harbor vacation today!

See also: Where to Stay in Baltimore

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