Baltimore Inner Harbor
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a nice place for a day trip if you’re close enough. It is also a good place for a longer visit. There are many places to visit at the Inner Harbor and more places to visit that are close by. What you can do on a visit depends on time and your budget. The Inner Harbor has sights and activities for people of all ages. The Inner Harbor is right off Interstate I-95. This article will focus on the Inner Harbor but has a capsule that gives passing mentions of other nearby places. Anyone who has gone to Inner Harbor is encouraged to give input. There are many parking lots, the rates vary. Generally, the lots closest to Inner Harbor are more expensive than those a block or two away. Some lots charge by time while others charge a flat rate. The Inner Harbor area has its share of panhandlers. Baltimore has the 4th highest crime rate of U.S. cities so exercise caution when visiting.[i]
[i] In 2017 there were 1,780.44 violent crimes per 100,000 people. World Atlas, The Most Dangerous Cities in The United States, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-united-states.html, last accessed 7/7/2018.
The National Aquarium
The Inner Harbor is best known for The National Aquarium. Inside the front entrance there is a waterfall that flows into a tank of full of trout. Before stepping through the entrance proper some employees ask to take your picture so you can buy a reminder of your visit. There is an escalator that leads to the Australia exhibit. The exhibit has native Australian fish and reptiles, in tanks, and birds and bats that fly free.[i]
Inside the museums entrance there is a theater where you can watch a 4D movie, the movie costs extra. A walkway leads to the exhibit Dolphin Discovery. There is a large seating area where the Aquarium staff gives dolphin information and demonstrations, with the aid of the aquarium’s dolphins. On the floor below visitors have a below the surface view of the dolphin tank and its dolphins. This section also has Jellies Invasion. Here the aquarium displays its jellyfish collection. It is an amazing and safe look at sea creatures people wisely avoid in the wild.
The main part of the aquarium begins with the Blacktip Reef exhibit. This Association of Zoos and Aquariums recognized this exhibit as a Significant Achievement in Exhibit Design. This exhibit replicates an Indo-Pacific reef. It has a large array of Pacific sea creatures including a sea turtle. The sea turtle was rescued from being entangled in a fishing net. One of its flippers was badly infected so it had to be amputated. From Blacktip Reef there are escalators to the other four upper levels of the section. These levels have sea life in many different habitats. There is a touch pool where children can gently touch horseshoe crabs and jellyfish. The top floor replicates a tropical rainforest. Here they have flora and fauna found in a tropical rainforest. Monkeys and birds roam free. From the 4th level visitors can enter what could be described as a people tank. It has 4 levels. The visitors walk on the inside and are surrounded by circular fish tanks. The lowest level is Shark Alley. The Shark Alley exhibit has sharks and their relatives. This exhibit leads to a sub-level where visitors get a below the surface view of Blacktip Reef.
Hours vary by month and day of the week. It is best to check the aquarium’s web site.[ii] As of July 2018 ticket prices are; $39.95 for 12 and up, $24,95 for 3-11, $34.95 for 65 and over, children under 3 are free. Tickets for the 4D files are $5 per person. There are special tours and experiences available, prices vary. Entrance is controlled by time. The advantage to buying tickets online is you can choose your entry time ahead. You may enter the aquarium after the ticket’s entry time. Buying tickets on site can mean having to wait a considerable time before being allowed to enter.
[i] I had the unfortunate experience of being hit by bird droppings on two consecutive visits.
The World Trade Center in Baltimore is at the Inner Harbor. It has 27 floors and is the tallest pentagonal building in the world. Hours vary by season and day of the week. The ticket price is $6 for adults and $4 for children (3-12), under 3 is free. There is a $1 discount for seniors, 60 and over, and military. Outside this World Trade Center is a memorial to the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11/01 and a mangled beam from one of the destroyed World Trade Centers.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not has an Odditorium. It contains over 350 exhibits and artifacts. It has a moving 4D theater and a 2,000 square foot mirror maze. Ticket prices start at $17.99. It is open 365 days a year. The Odditorium opens at 10 AM.[i]
Baltimore Visitor’s Center has over 200 brochures, visitor guides, and maps. It’s staffed by people who can provide visitor information, reservations and ticketing services. The center had free WI-FI and mobile device charging stations. It also displays works of art from Baltimore’s museums and galleries. The center is also a contract postal unit. The center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. In January and February, it is open 6 days a week. The rest of the year it is open seven days a week. Special events can affect the center’s operating hours. The Baltimore Visitor’s Center is free.
[i] Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Baltimore, https://www.ripleys.com/baltimore/, last accessed 7/22/2018.
The Maryland Science Center
This center is geared to children. It covers all manner of science. It has 14 permanent exhibits. These exhibits include many hands-on experiences. Visitors can learn about astronomy, biology, ecology, math, physics, and more. Admission is; $24.95 for adults, $23.95 for those over 62, and $18.95 for children 3-12. IMAX tickets are an additional $4.
Baltimore Maritime Museum
The Inner harbor has four ships and one lighthouse as part of its maritime museum. Visitors can tour these ships and the light house. The easiest to spot is the USS Constellation. The keel was laid for this sloop of war in 1854. It was the last sail-only built for the United States Navy. It has some of the materials from the original USS Constellation. This caused some confusion. For many decades Congress, the Navy, and the City of Baltimore erroneously claimed this ship was the original USS Constellation.
The USS Constellation captured three slave trading ships, The bark Cora, and the brigs Delicia and Triton. The Cora had 705 African slaves onboard.[i] While the USS Constellation saw little action in the Civil War its service shows naval action during the conflict wasn’t just along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. The USS Constellation blockaded the CSS Sumter that was under repairs at Gibraltar. It also prevented the Confederate Navy from taking the SS Southerner in Italy. It served as a training ship for midshipmen from 1871-1893 then it was decommissioned.
USCGC Taney is a block away from the Aquarium and relatively out of the way. The Philadelphia Navy Yard laid the Taney’s keel on May 1, 1935. It is 327 feet long with a beam of 41 feet. Its original displacement was 2,000 tons. Its original armament was two 5” guns and two 6-pounder saluting guns. It was originally equipped to carry a Grumman JF-2 “Duck” float plane. The Coast Guard commissioned the Taney on October 24, 1936. On December 7, 1941 the Taney was part of the US Navy’s Destroyer Division 80 but with a US Coast Guard crew. It was tied up a Pearl Harbor’s Pier 6. After the attack the Taney began anti-submarine patrols off Pearl Harbor. It continued anti-submarine patrols until the fall of 1943. In July 1943 a Kawanishi H6K “Mavis” attacked the Taney. Taney fought off this patrol bomber and carried out its mission of taking a US Navy survey party to Baker Island. After a refit Taney served in the Atlantic as a convoy escort.[ii] On April 20, 1944 the Luftwaffe Ju-88s attacked its convoy, UGS-38. Taney dodged two torpedoes. Other ships were not so fortunate. The attack sank the destroyer USS Lansdale, SS Paul Hamilton, and SS Royal Star and damaged the SS Samite and SS Stephen T. Austin.[iii] Over 600 sailors died in this action.
In 1945 Taney returned to the Pacific Theater. During the Okinawa campaign Taney was in 119 separate engagements. The US Navy credited Taney with shooting down 4 Kamikaze planes and a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber. After the war Taney supported the evacuation of Allied POWs.[iv]
Taney got the nickname “The Queen of the Pacific”. During the Korean Conflict Taney carried out plane-guard duties off Midway Island and Adak, Alaska. In April 1960 Taney hosted French President Charles de Gaulle on a tour of San Francisco harbor. By the end of the 1960s Taney was the last United States ship that saw action during the Pearl Harbor attack that was still in commission.[v]
Taney served in the Vietnam War. It interdicted enemy supplies and arms off the Republic of Vietnam’s coast. Taney fired over 3,400 rounds in support of American and South Vietnamese troops. Taney provided medical assistance to over 5,000 Vietnamese civilians.[vi]
Taney carried out Ocean Weather Patrols from 1973 to 1977 200 miles off New Jersey’s coast. This area was known as Ocean Weather Station Hotel. Taney also carried out “hurricane hunting” patrols and has a Doppler weather radar installed for that purpose. In September 1977 the Coast Guard closed out Ocean Weather Station Hotel and Taney was the ship to close it out.[vii]
From 1977 to 1986 Taney made 11 major drug seizures including the largest marijuana seizure in US history, 160 tons. The US Coast Guard decommissioned Taney on December 7, 1986.[viii]
USS Torsk (SS-423) is adjacent to the National Aquarium. USS Torsk is a Tench Class submarine. USS Torsk made two wartime patrols in 1945. On August 11 Torsk rescued 7 Japanese survivors of a ship sunk by a U.S. aircraft. The next day she sank a Japanese freighter. The day after that Torsk sank the Kaiho Maru. On August 14 Torsk sank Coastal Defense Vessel No. 13 and Coastal Defense Vessel No. 47. These were the last two Japanese combatant ships sunk during World War II.[ix]
Torsk earned the Presidential Unit Citation for service during the 1960 Lebanon Crisis. During the Cuban Missile Crisis Torsk sent boarding parties to some Soviet merchant ships. Torsk earned the Navy Commendation Medal for these actions. The Navy decommissioned Torsk on March 4, 1968. During her career she made 11,884 dives.[x]
Lightship 115 Chesapeake is parked at the same pier as the Torsk. Chesapeake was completed in 1930. Her first assignment was the Fenwick Island Shoal. In 1933 she was assigned to the Chesapeake Bay. During World War II Chesapeake, as were most other lightships, was withdrawn from lightship service. This was done for security reasons. Chesapeake received a battleship gray paint scheme and was armed with two 20mm cannons. It was used to patrol and inspect vessels near the entrance of the Cape Cod Canal. It returned to lightship service in 1945 and served in the waters off Cape Henry, VA. In 1965 Chesapeake was sent to its final duty station at the approaches to the Delaware Bay and served there until 1970. The National Park Service acquired it in 1971.[xi]
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is at pier 5. It was originally manned by the US Lighthouse Service then later the US Coast Guard. The lighthouse was built in 1855 and is the oldest screw-pile lighthouse. It got its name because it was built on the Seven Foot Knoll in the Chesapeake Bay. Serving on it was not a popular duty and there was a turnover problem. In 1933 lighthouse keeper Thomas Jefferson Steinhise rescued the crew of a tugboat in distress. Five of the six crew members survived. Steinhise was the head keeper from 1930-1941. The lighthouse was automated in 1949.
[i] Historic Ships.org, USS Constellation Museum Honors Crew Member, Commemorates Abolition of Slave Trade, May 29, 2008.
[ii] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[iii] Randelhall Worldpress, History of UGS-38, https://randelhall.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/history-of-ugs-38/, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[iv] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[v] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[vi] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[vii] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[viii] Historic Ships.org, USCGS Taney, http://www.historicships.org/taney.html, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[ix] USS Torsk.org, http://www.usstorsk.org/history/423hist.htm, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[x] USS Torsk.org, http://www.usstorsk.org/history/423hist.htm, last accessed 7/15/2018.
[xi] Historic Ships.org, Lightship 116 Chesapeake, http://www.historicships.org/chesapeake.html, last accessed 7/16/2018.
Historic Ships Admission Prices
2 Ships + the Lighthouse
4 Ships + the Lighthouse
Seniors 60+, Teens & Students 15-20
Child 5 & under
Around the Inner Harbor
You can rent paddle boats, $12 for a plain boat and $20 for one shaped like a dragon. There are also electric “Pirate Ships” for $25-$35 depending on the number of people. There are boutiques, including H&M in the Light Street Pavilion. The Light Street Pavilion has a large food court on the second floor. It also has a Hooters, a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a Roman Delight Pizza, and Noodles & Company. The Pratt Street Pavilion, also known as Harbor Place, has a M&S Grill, The Cheesecake Factory, and an UNO Pizzeria & Grill. Many other restaurants ring the other side of Light and East Pratt Streets. The Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor is on Light Street. The Hyatt Regency has a shopping mall.
The Inner Harbor is close to The Baltimore Convention Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the M&T Bank Stadium. The M&T Bank Stadium is the home of the Baltimore Ravens. The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Caesars Entertainment are close by. Casino parking is free. There is a drop off area by the Baltimore Aquarium so if your group is a mixture adults and children an option might be to drop off those who can’t, or don’t want to, gamble while the rest of the group goes to a casino.
© 2018 Robert Sacchi