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Baltimore’s East Coast location is already a huge selling point, but add its proximity to a major international airport and its kid-friendly attractions, historic monuments and cool museums, and you’ve got a perfect setup for a family vacation.
Everyone knows that neighboring cities Boston and Philadelphia have played important roles in our country’s history, but Baltimore carries historical significance, too. It is home to Fort McHenry, which during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, provided inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner.”
In addition to a visit to this famous fort, families should head to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where Mary Pickersgill famously sewed the flag that inspired Key. And to bring the story full circle, the actual flag can be viewed in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., which is only about an hour’s drive from Baltimore.
If parents have animal-loving children, suggest they visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which is home to more than 20,000 animals, including several species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals.
The aquarium is also known for its award-winning habitats, such as the coral-filled Indo-Pacific reef exhibit with floor-to-ceiling viewing windows and an interactive Living Seashore exhibit. The latter features touch pools full of stingrays, starfish and even moon jellyfish, with carefully supervised touching.
The National Aquarium also houses two walk-through biomes: a tropical rainforest and an Australian river gorge that was awarded Top Honors in 2008 from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
Or, if families have young sports fans, suggest catching a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Even in the off-season, tours of the ballpark provide informative and entertaining explanations of its history and traditions.
“We studied old ballparks — Boston’s Fenway, Chicago’s Wrigley and Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field,” said Bob Feldman, a tour guide at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. “We wanted to take the best of the old ballparks, add modern things and create a ‘new old’ ballpark.”
Because of that, Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built downtown, similar to old ballparks. In fact, Eutaw Street, a real city street that runs through Baltimore, also travels through Oriole Park between the ballpark and the Camden Yards Warehouse. One unique feature of Oriole Park is that home runs that land on Eutaw Street are marked right on the pavement; there’s approximately 90 of them.
GETTING THEREBaltimore is easily accessible by plane, train or automobile. The Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is about 10 miles from downtown.
In addition, Amtrak offers service from Baltimore Penn Station on its route along the Northeast corridor. For visitors traveling by car, Baltimore is located off I-95 — within a day’s drive from many major U.S. cities.
WHEN TO GOAs an East Coast city, Baltimore experiences four distinct seasons. The average daytime temperature in July rises to a high of nearly 90 degrees, and the average temperature in January dips to a chilly low of 23 degrees.
WHERE TO STAYKimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor Known as a “Past-Meets-Present Baltimore Hotel,” the 202-room property is located in the historic 1906 B&O Railroad Headquarters near the Inner Harbor. This boutique and pet-friendly hotel offers a perfect downtown location near the National Aquarium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and many other Baltimore sights.
The hotel’s spacious Pullman Suites are particularly great for families, as they feature a separate bedroom for the kids with bunk beds and their own television and Xbox 360.
WHERE TO EATJimmy’s Famous SeafoodBaltimore is famous for crab cakes, so, naturally, every restaurant in town claims theirs are the best. But for truly great Baltimore crab cakes, there’s no better place than Jimmy’s Famous Seafood. Though the restaurant is located about 8 miles from downtown, Jimmy’s award-winning crab cake recipe — as well as award-winning, creamy crab soup — is definitely worth the trip.