Keeping kids entertained and occupied is not difficult in Baltimore. In fact, it is difficult to choose from among hundreds of fascinating museums, parks, and activities. They will be able to learn about Maryland’s railroad history and see huge locomotives at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum. On a nice day, a stroll through a massive Fort McHenry National Monument is like a trip into the past.
1.Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens
The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore is located in Druid Hill Park in northwest Baltimore, Maryland. It was designed by George A. Frederick and opened to the public in 1888 with the Victorian Palm House and Orchid House. The conservatory today contains five areas: the Palm House, Mediterranean House, the Orchid Room, Tropical House, and Desert House. There are 35 flowerbeds growing in the surrounding 1.5 acres within Druid Hill Park. The conservatory gives visitors an opportunity to see plants from different parts of the world in conditions near their natural environments. For example, the Mediterranean greenhouse copies dry summers and foggy winters of the Mediterranean and southern California. The Orchid Room is home to over 30,000 species and over 100,000 registered hybrids.
3100 Swann Dr, Baltimore, MD 21217
© Cheryl Nemazie/stock.adobe.com
Opened in 1876, Maryland Zoo is one of oldest zoos in the country, providing home to more than 2,000 animals. This wonderful 135-acre animal sanctuary is located in Maryland’s historic Druid Hill Park. It offers a unique chance for urban kids to see polar bears, elephants, penguins, and much more. The zoo is well known for its efforts in conservation of animals in danger of extinction and for its penguin breeding programs. Besides a fascinating African safari exhibit, the zoo also has an area with the animals living in Maryland. The area includes artificial streams, life-size caves and submerged archways, housing bog turtles, snakes, river otters, and bats. The zoo also has a farmyard where kids can pet domestic animals and some rare animals such as Cotswold sheep African pygmy goats.
1 Safari Pl, Baltimore, MD 21217, Phone: 410-396-7102
The National Aquarium, or the Baltimore Aquarium as it was called when it opened in 1981, is a public aquarium located on Pier 3 of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Spread over two hectares, the Aquarium provides home to more than 17,000 animals from 750 species living in tanks that hold over 2,200,000 US gallons of water. The National Aquarium's goal is to promote conservation of aquatic habitats and species through conservation, science, and educational programs. The aquarium is divided into a number of exhibitions such as the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, the Atlantic Coral Reef, an open shark tank, and a popular Australia: Wild Extremes. The aquarium also provides movies and videos in a 4D Immersion Theater.
501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202
© Port Discovery
Port Discovery is a fascinating Children’s Museum located in the historic Fish Market building in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. With three floors of interactive, hands-on educational exhibits and constantly changing programs for children, Port Discovery is considered one of the best kids’ museums in the country. There are areas like Tot Trails where toddlers can crawl through, while Kick It Up is the exhibit where children can learn how to get healthy. In Wonders of Water they can splash and swim and at the Royal Farms Convenience Store and Fill’er Up Station they can pretend to shop and pump gas. In Tiny’s Diner they can cook and serve food and in KidWorks, a 3-story tree house, they can climb and slide through.
35 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202, Phone: 410-727-8120
5.The Walter Art Museum
© The Walter Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum is a public museum located in Mount Vernon-Belvedere neighborhood of Baltimore, opened in 1934. Most of the museum's collection was amassed by major American art collectors, a father and son William Thompson Walters and Henry Walters. Henry Walters occasionally allowed the Baltimore public to visit his father's and his collection at his West Mount Vernon Place mansion in the late 1800s, and in the early 20th century he built nearby a lavish stone palazzo to store his growing collection. The collection includes priceless artworks from ancient Egypt, large Greek sculptures, Roman sarcophagi, Renaissance bronzes, illuminated manuscripts, Old Masters and 19th-century European paintings, and Chinese bronzes and ceramics. Upon his death in 1931, Henry Walters bequeathed his entire collection of over 22,000 works of art and the buildings that housed them to the city of Baltimore.
600 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201
6.Baltimore Ghost Tours
© Tamara Harding/stock.adobe.com
Baltimore Ghost Tours is a locally operated walking tour of the city’s spooky and haunted spots. Established in 2001, Ghost Tours has entertained thousands of thrill-seekers with spellbinding tales of Baltimore’s haunted history. The most popular of a number of available tours is the original Fell’s Point Ghost Walk Tour. Imagine Fell’s Point as a rowdy seaport town, with streets full of foreign sailors and adventurers, anxious immigrants, and painted ladies. They left a few ghosts behind, and the Ghost Tours take its guests through haunted taverns, shops, and residences searching for them.
Sidewalk Outside Max's Sidebar, 731 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, Phone: 877-293-1571
© The Charmery
The Charmery is a homestyle ice cream parlor in Baltimore's trendy Hampden neighborhood, opened in 2013 by married duo Laura and David Alima. The parlor is known for its super-premium ice cream flavors, crafted from ingredients sourced from local farmers whenever possible. An ever-changing seasonal ice cream menu combines traditional favorites like malted vanilla or chocolate mint chip with Baltimore-specific concoctions such as Old Bay caramel, Maryland Mud, and Otterbein sugar cookie. Visitors can enjoy flavors in classic sundaes, oversized cone scoops, hand-spun milkshakes, or house specialties like chocolate egg cream sodas. Additional stores are also open in Towson and at the Union Collective.
801 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211, Phone: 410-814-0493
8.B&O Railroad Museum
Located in Baltimore's historic southwest neighborhoods at the site of the historic Mt. Clare Shops, the oldest railroad station in the country, the 40-acre B&O Railroad Museum showcases the development of trains in America. This National Historic Landmark and the birthplace of American railroad travel contains almost 200 locomotives, a display of model trains, a huge collection of railroad memorabilia, a mini model railroad, and a fully operating replica of the Tom Thumb, the America’s first locomotive, built on the site. The museum offers tours through seven of its buildings and train platforms and seasonal train rides. The museum’s Kids’ Zone is located in the roundhouse and offers weekend Story & Activity times, a chance to hear a real railroad story and take part in a fun educational activity.
901 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223
9.Baltimore Museum of Industry
© Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore Museum of Industry is located in an old cannery in Baltimore and features exhibits on industry and manufacturing in the early 20th century. There are also hands-on sections where visitors can try to use various tools, working equipment, and other artifacts. A series of galleries recreate sections of a cannery, a garment shop and machine shop from 1900, a print shop, Dr. Bunting's Pharmacy, and interesting exhibits on the Baltimore food industry. The Milestone wall In the Decker Gallery features inventions and important processes discovered in Baltimore and Maryland. The museum’s library contains more than 5,000 rare and historic books. There is also a collection of manuscripts as well as a collection of photographs. The museum offers guided tours and hands-on activities for children. Kids can become workers in a garment loft and in the cannery to experience life at the end of the 19th century.
1415 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230
10.Black Cherry Puppet Theater
© Black Cherry Puppet Theater
The Black Cherry Puppet Theater is a charming nonprofit community-based association of artists and performers located next to Hollins Market in southwest Baltimore. For the last 27 years Black Cherry has presented thousands of puppet-making workshops and performances for kids and adults all over the Mid-Atlantic region. Puppeteers use a marionette stage and pre-recorded soundtrack indoors or outside, depending on weather, to tell a story. Kids love the handmade puppets the puppeteers bring out after the show for a close viewing. The theater also offers workshops for children in classrooms as well as live music evenings hosting local musicians.
1115 Hollins St, Baltimore, MD 21223, Phone: 410-752-7272
11.Maryland Science Center
Established in 1976, the Maryland Science Center is located in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and it has been voted the best place to take kids in Baltimore as well as one of the country’s best science centers. It consists of exhibits on three levels, an observatory, and a planetarium. With a large addition in 2004, the modern hands-on exhibits also include over two dozen dinosaur skeletons. Dinosaur Mysteries is one of the center’s most popular exhibitions. Newton's Alley exhibition features hands-on demonstration of a number of physical science processes such as "Bernoulli blower" and "inertia table." Your Body exhibition takes visitors on a tour of the human body. Our Place in Space shows the galaxy, the solar system, and the universe using a revolutionary new technology called Science on a Sphere. This exhibition also includes the Davis Planetarium.
601 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230, Phone: 410-685-2370
12.Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum
© Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum
Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum is located in a former shipyard in Baltimore that was converted into a heritage park. It features a gallery that exhibits and honors African-American maritime history. As an African American heritage site, the park and the museum tell the story of the first black-owned shipyard in the States and its owners Frederick Douglass, Isaac Myers, one a former slave and the other a free-born black man. The museum offers a range of hands-on activities such as boat building, which kids particularly enjoy. The park and museum are the campus and the headquarters of the Living Classrooms Foundation. This non-profit organization promotes hands-on education or “learning by doing,” job training, and cultural preservation.
1417 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231, Phone: 410-685-0295
13.CALS – Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steamers
© CALS – Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steamers
Every second Sunday from April to November, the Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steamers or CALS for short, operate miniature trains around Leakin Park. After the trains leave the shop, they run through the park and pull up to the station inviting everyone to hop aboard. The train runs a large loop around the park before returning to the station. The trains are one-eighth the size of normal trains and they run 3,400 feet on a seven and a half inch track. The trains are pulled by steam locomotives as well as diesel locomotives – a great copy of the normal locomotives we see on the main lines. The train rides are free of charge but donations are appreciated to help cover the costs of maintaining the trains. You can ride as many times as you wish and you can bet that the kids would ride them the whole day, but the last train arrives at 3:30.
Leakin Park, 4921 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, Md. 21207, Phone: 410-448-0730
14.Carrie Murray Nature Center
Carrie Murray Nature Center is located in the 1,216-acre Gwynns Falls Leakin Park, the largest urban wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. The center was established in the mid-1980s in order to allow local children and adults the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of nature. The center contains live animal exhibits, three classrooms, a lodge with a fireplace, and a large kitchen. Visitors are invited to participate in a range of nature programs and activities such as nature hikes, presentations on native animals, owl prowls, animals and plants identifications, watershed/stream conservation, and summer Nature Camp. The park around the center has 20 miles of trails that run through magnificent old forests and flowering meadows, along cool streams, and by scenic picnic areas.
1901 Ridgetop Rd, Baltimore, MD 21207, Phone: 410-396-0808
15.Baltimore's Miracle on 34th St
© Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
Baltimore, Maryland, has its own Miracle on 34th Street. Every year since 1947, from late November to late December, most of the homes on the 700 block of 34th Street between Chestnut Avenue and Keswick Road in the Hampden neighborhood celebrate Christmas with a magical display of holiday lights. The display involves most of the houses on the block – three-story row houses on the north side and two-story houses on the south side, with bay windows on the second floor. The display includes Christmas trees of all styles, animated figures, trains, Walt Disney cartoon characters, menorahs, artwork, Santa, Frosty, reindeers, and many other cheerful symbols of the holiday season. Coming to see the beautiful bright display became one of Baltimore’s traditions, creating quite a lot of additional traffic.
700 W 34th St, Baltimore, MD 21211
16.The Book Thing
© The Book Thing
It is difficult to call The Book Thing of Baltimore a bookshop. It is true that the large warehouse-type building near Johns Hopkins campus is packed to the rafters with books. But, the books are not sold – they are free to anyone who wants them. In fact, customers are forbidden from paying a cent for anything they find on the shelves. This book lovers’ heaven was founded in 1999 by Russel Wattenberg and is operated entirely by volunteers. The store has an extensive collection of books and magazines, and new ones are constantly added through a system of donations. The Book Thing has only a few rules: visitors are not allowed to pay for books, they can choose whatever book they want, and they are absolutely not allowed to resell them.
3001 Vineyard Ln, Baltimore, MD 21218, Phone: 410-662-5631
17.Druid Hill Farmers Market
Every Wednesday afternoon from June to October, the lawn of the beautiful Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore’s Historic Druid Hill Park is the place to come for fresh produce, jams, fresh baked goods, local eggs, freshly prepared foods, local crafts, live music, movies, yoga classes, and much more. It is the place where friends meet, families hang out, neighbors exchange news, and everyone gets to meet their local farmers and food makers. The Druid Hill Farmers Market is organized by the Friends of Druid Hill Park and supported by the Rawlings Conservatory & Botanical Gardens and Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks.
3100 Swann Dr, Baltimore, MD 21217, Phone: 443-281-3538
Originally part of the huge Mount Clare estate owned by the 18th century barrister Charles Carroll, Carroll Park is one of the oldest parks in Baltimore. During the Civil War, the park was the site of Camp Carroll. In 1890, the city bought 20 acres from the estate to form Carroll Park, and they hired the Olmsted Brothers to design a master plan. Based on their recommendation, the park was build respecting the historic aspect of the west side of the property while providing facilities for sports on the east side. Today, Carroll Park has a range of athletic fields, an outdoor skating facility, a kids’ playground, a natural area, a skateboard park, and a nine-hole golf course.
1500 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230, Phone: 410-685-8344
19.Druid Hill Park
Druid Hill Park is one of the oldest big American public parks and the first municipal park in Baltimore. It is spread over 745 acres in northwest Baltimore, and it was officially inaugurated in 1860. In the heart of the park is Druid Hill Reservoir. Also part of the park are the Baltimore Zoo and the Howard P Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens. The popular Jones Falls trail meanders through the park’s “back hills” of Druid Hill while providing hikers and bikers with a lovely view of the shady woodlands. Druid Hill Park has a range of athletic fields, picnic areas and pavilions, historic monuments, and a disc golf course.
900 Druid Park Lake Dr, Baltimore, MD 21217
20.Autobahn Indoor Speedway
© Autobahn Indoor Speedway
Autobahn Indoor Speedway is a popular indoor go-kart racing track providing everyone from professional racers to novices the opportunity to try something new. With the simple rule of “no speed limit,” the Autobahn offers a fast-paced thrill for all ages in a safe, fun, and comfortable environment. To ensure the ultimate experience, they provide the best possible karts, the safest barriers, experienced and highly trained professional staff, and an advanced timing system. The Speedway is also a perfect venue for unique company events, parties, and meetings. It is a one of a kind facility where teams are built, tested, and strengthened. Junior kart drivers must be at least 8 years old and 48" tall. Adult racers must be at least 13 years old, 56" tall, and less than 300 lbs.
8251 Preston Ct, Jessup, MD 20794, Phone: 410-983-6226
Based in the Historic Savage Mill in Howard County, Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Terrapin Adventures offers incredible outdoor life experience that will challenge you physically and intellectually. You will zip, climb, swing, jump, and traverse at their Aerial Adventure Park. You can also kayak, bike, cave, hike, or geocache on their exciting local tours and trips. They organize unforgettable birthday, bachelor, bachelorette, or team building parties. Their experienced guides are trained to keep you safe, amused, and educated. They have several package options, some of them including catering. Most of their challenges are suitable for kids eight years old or older, but their most popular one-hour long Terrapin Explorer Ropes course is good for kids 5-9 or 10 years old, who must be at least 35 pounds. This adventure includes two levels with 20 challenging elements, including two zip lines, after which they have to tackle 20-foot high rock wall.
8600 Foundry St #2038, Savage, MD 20763, Phone: 301-725-1313
22.Chessie Paddle Boats
The best way to explore Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is from a paddle boat. Both the classic models and the colorful and flamboyant Chessie are a fun sight bobbing in the harbor to the delight of the kids. The favorite is, of course, Chessie, shaped like dragons and named for the Chesapeake Bay's mythical sea monster. The boats are available for rent at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, close to the World Trade Center and the U.S.S. Constellation. There is a limited roped area of the harbor where the boats can go. Both kids and adults enjoy paddling on the water but for those who are not in a mood for exercise, there are also Pirate Boats with a motor.
Pier 1 Historic Ships In Baltimore 301 E. Pratt St. Baltimore, MD 21202, Phone: 410-528-1060
23 Best Things to Do in Baltimore with Kids of All Ages
- Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Maryland Zoo, Photo: Cheryl Nemazie/stock.adobe.com
- National Aquarium, Photo: Florin/stock.adobe.com
- Port Discovery, Photo: Port Discovery
- The Walter Art Museum, Photo: The Walter Art Museum
- Baltimore Ghost Tours, Photo: Tamara Harding/stock.adobe.com
- The Charmery, Photo: The Charmery
- B&O Railroad Museum, Photo: elev8webdesign/stock.adobe.com
- Baltimore Museum of Industry, Photo: Baltimore Museum of Industry
- Black Cherry Puppet Theater, Photo: Black Cherry Puppet Theater
- Maryland Science Center, Photo: greenharmony/stock.adobe.com
- Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum, Photo: Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum
- CALS – Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steamers, Photo: CALS – Chesapeake and Allegheny Live Steamers
- Carrie Murray Nature Center, Photo: Dave/stock.adobe.com
- Baltimore's Miracle on 34th St, Photo: Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
- The Book Thing, Photo: The Book Thing
- Druid Hill Farmers Market, Photo: adisa/stock.adobe.com
- Carroll Park, Photo: mangpor2004/stock.adobe.com
- Druid Hill Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Autobahn Indoor Speedway, Photo: Autobahn Indoor Speedway
- Terrapin Adventures, Photo: Mediteraneo/stock.adobe.com
- Chessie Paddle Boats, Photo: fottoo/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
Canton Waterfront Park
Located between Boston Street and the Baltimore Harbor, the eight-acre Canton Waterfront Park is a scenic green space that offers wonderful views of the harbor and provides access to the popular recreational area. Across the water is massive Fort McHenry, providing a glimpse into the city’s past, as well as huge U.S. Navy ships docked in the adjacent Clinton Street Marine Terminal. The park is a popular destination for fishing and boating, with a large fishing pier and a boat ramp. Within the park is the Korean War Memorial, featuring a history of this war and containing the names of 527 Maryland residents who died in it.
3001 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21224, Phone: 410-396-7931