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Explorin' & Tourin'

September 25, 2015
  • Fun in Charm City
  • Festivals
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A Curious Traveler’s Guide to Charm City

Welcome back!  I hope everyone’s having an awesome autumn thus far!

Now that we’re all back in school mode - it’s time to fall back into the rhythm of the semester.   Whether you’re a freshman, a senior, a grad student, whatever! - it’s time to get out and enjoy the land of pleasant living!  Even with the mountains of homework, the multiple club meetings, the countless parties, and the occasional Netflix marathon, there are still plenty of opportunities to take a break from campus life and discover the charms of this great city. 

Venturing off campus can be a little daunting when you don’t know what you’re getting into, and that’s why I’ve decided to create this neighborhood guide!  It’s easier to organize the next adventure when you have a game plan right?  Right.

So let’s get started!   We’re going to begin our tour down by the water at *drum roll please* …. the Inner Harbor!

But first – some history! 

Much more than a tourist trap, this celebrated waterfront has been 

home to several different industries since 'in the 18th century when it was America’s

#1shipbuilding site.  The Port of Baltimore started off as an access point for the tobacco trade between Maryland and England; and as the port grew it developed trade with China, South America, and the West Indies.  For more Port of Baltimore history, click here

The Harbor was not only a major port of trade, but immigration as well.  The Locust Point Immigration Center (the nation’s second largest after Ellis Island – (fun fact!)) was a major point of entry for European immigrants in the mid-1800s.  The first settlers established themselves in Fell’s Point after traveling from Ireland and Germany.  The construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a huge draw for newcomers (to learn more visit the B&O Railroad Museum http://www.borail.org).  Baltimore immigration was averaging 40,000 per year up until the center’s closure in 1914.  The building was then transformed into a military hospital during World War I.

The Harbor went through a serious makeover during the 1950s-1980s.  Old, rotting warehouses and piers were torn away to make way for green space and new office buildings.  Thus, the beautiful centerpiece of our city was born.  Today, the Inner Harbor still serves as a major port of trade, industry, and tourism - housing major producers like Domino Sugars, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and the world’s four largest container shipping companies: CMA-CGM, Evergreen, Maersk, and MSC.  

Cool, huh?  Now if there’s ever an Inner Harbor category on Jeopardy, you’ll rock it!

Okay, back to our tour.  The Harbor is much more than just a pretty place to take pictures; it has fantastic eateries, funky places to shop, and countless attractions to explore.   Now, I love Urban Outfitters and the Cheesecake Factory as much as the next millennial, but I also enjoy going into the Harbor for some out-of-the-box activities.  Here are a few of the top spots to check out on your next trip (or first):

  • Historic Ships
    • USS Constellation – Pier 1 – was built in Baltimore in 1797, and is now a permanent tenant in the Harbor
    • Submarine USS Torsk & Lightship 116 Chesapeake – Pier 3
    • USCGC Cutter Taney – Pier 5 – “The Last Survivor of Pearl Harbor”
  • Dragon Paddle Boats a workout and sightseeing all in one
    • Price: $20 per half hour, boat fits up to four people 
  • Spirit Cruise Stylish and swanky
    • Price: prices rage from $15.32 for a harbor tour to $29.99 for the After Dark Moonlight cruise to $71.90 for the fancy-pants dinner cruise. 
  • Seadog zoom around the Harbor with speed and style 
    • Price: $21.95 – Speedboat and sightseeing tour
  • Pier Six Pavilion – enjoy a rockin’ concert in a venue unlike any other in the city.  Tunes with a water view, what could be better? Click here for upcoming shows and ticket options: http://www.piersixpavilion.com 
  • Ripley’s Believe It Or Not  - What do shrunken heads, a 12 ft. Transformer made rom scrap metal, and a mermaid a;; have in common? .... They all call the Baltimore Ripley’s Odditorium home, of course!    Roam around marvel at all things funky, fun, and just plain freaky! 
  • World Trade Center - this 31-story focal point of Baltimore’s skyline is the tallest pentagonal building in the world and was designed by I.M. Pei (world-renowned architect who’s work also includes the Louvre Pyramid and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
    • Top of the World – get a spectacular view from the observation deck and check out several traveling art shows
      1. Current exhibit:  “Turtle Island” The Original Artwork of Kevin Sherry,” an art exhibition from children’s author and illustrator Kevin Sherry  
    • Price: $6 entrance fee
  • Festivals - Baltimore has a beaucoup of outdoor art, music, and food festivals. Keep track of all them with BOPA (Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts) 
    • Happening Now Baltimore Book Festival!  - September 25-27, 11am-7pm 
      • Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Baltimore  ook Festival! Since their move from Mt. Vernon to the InnerHarbor the celebration has grown byleaps and bounds, and this year it will feature over 100 exhibitors and booksellers, readings of multiple stages, street theater, live music, and much MORE!
      • Price: FREE admission 

Now, let’s talk transportation– because of course a big part of any trip is “how are we gonna get there!”  So, there are a few different options to consider:

Charm City Circulator (it’s fo’ FREE!): Take the Orange Line to Stop #222 (Inner Harbor, E. Pratt Street & S. Calvert Street) or Stop #223 (National Aquarium 501 E. Pratt Street) 

  • Uber/Lyft/Taxi:  You can always hail a cab or order an Uber or a Lyft for door to door service.  Some popular landmarks for easy drop off include:
    • National Aquarium, 501 E Pratt Steet
    • Harborplace and The Gallery, 201 E Pratt Street
    • Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street
  • Drive yo’self! – parking garages in the area:

……… But wait, there’s more!  That’s the beauty of living in this city, there’s always more.  So once you’ve exhausted all of my suggestions, or if my list doesn’t strike your fancy, be sure to take advantage of all the resources you have at your fingertips:

Well, that concludes this portion of Explorin’ & Tourin’ – my next addition to the series will feature Station North, so stay tuned!

Photo Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

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