Guide to Baltimore – Inner Harbor
Baltimore, Maryland – Inner Harbor
Baltimore, Maryland is an East Coast city known for it’s harbor area and delicious crab. The metropolitan area has nearly 3 million residents making it a fairly populated city with a lot of diversity and unfortunately in some areas, a lot of crime. However, if you plan ahead and know where to go you, Baltimore is a great city to visit on vacation. If’s also a short ride from Washington DC if you plan to make a longer trip out of your visit. Top employers in Baltimore include the well-respected Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital. If you’re interested in history, there is also a lot of great places to see around the city; about a third of the buildings in the city are considered historic.
The most well-known part of Baltimore is probably the Inner Harbor, which is the area I stayed around when I recently visited. It’s a heavy tourist area but also fairly safe. I was traveling to visit some friends that were also traveling to the area and since I was there for a short period and visiting on my own, I decided to stay around the harbor. Perhaps I will venture further out next time!
How to Get to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Of course getting to Baltimore depends where you’re coming from. But, I can share the options that I had coming from NYC and most of these options will apply to other cities as well. The map below shows the route from the Baltimore airport to the Inner Harbor by public transit (light rail) if you choose to arrive by plane.
- Flight to BWI airport
- Car Rental from your city
- Bus: Greyhound, Megabus
Greyhound Review: Personally I decided to travel by Greyhound. It was about $50 round trip from New York City out of the Port Authority bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan. On the way out I left on a very early bus (7am) and the bus was clean and quiet with the exception of the guy behind me snoring. The bus wasn’t very crowded and I didn’t have to sit by anyone. It took just under 4 hours from terminal to terminal. The Greyhound terminal in Baltimore is about 1.5 miles from the Inner Harbor. I recommend just taking a taxi or Uber/Lyft from the station because I opted to walk and it’s not very walk-friendly.
Where to Stay in Baltimore
Unfortunately, Baltimore is not known for being a very safe city. That being said, it’s important to be somewhat cautious about where you choose to stay. Staying close to the Inner Harbor is the best bet since that area is very touristy.
Check out the crime map as you book.
Originally I booked a bed with Hostelling International which is about a 15 minute walk to the Inner Harbor. The area is decent and it is walkable to shops and restaurants. I’m not sure if I would walk around at night alone, but that’s general common sense in most large cities.
Where I stayed: I ended up staying with friends at Home2Suites which is actually nearby the hostel. It was fairly dark at night and there weren’t a whole lot of people out when we returned to the hotel around 10. However there was also no one bothering us or causing trouble so we felt safe.
What To Do in Baltimore
The most popular area to visit in Baltimore is the Inner Harbor. There are a bunch of cute little shops along the harbor, along with various restaurants. The harbor has boats that offer cruises if you’re looking to spend more time on the water.
Other points of interest:
- National Aquarium
- Camden Yards (baseball)
- Harborfront concerts
- Fort McHenry
- Walters Art Museum
What I did: I visited the National Aquarium which is definitely worth a visit! It was $40 for the entrance fees for an adult but it filled hours of the day and probably could have spent more time there but I had to grab lunch and catch my bus home. There are sharks and fish from all over the world, a 500+ pound turtle, and tanks where you can touch sting rays and jellyfish which I had never done before!
How to Get Around Baltimore
I didn’t rent a car in Baltimore but it seemed to be fairly busy and difficult to find parking. If you plan to be in Baltimore for awhile and want to travel to areas outside of the Inner Harbor more than once, it is probably worth renting a car. Make sure to check with your hotel about parking availability and pricing. If you plan to keep your stay around the harbor then no vehicle is necessary. You can take an Uber or Lyft if you want to venture further away at all. Prices are very reasonable!
Within the harbor there are a few different routes for water taxis. For $14 you can get an all day water taxi pass and hop on and off the different stops. Even if you just want to get out on the water to enjoy a ride, I think it’s a reasonable price to get around. I bought a water taxi pass one day so that I could get way across the harbor to a restaurant I wanted to try. I got on the taxi at stop 2 in the harbor and rode around to stop 9, which probably took about 1/2 hour. It was a peaceful ride and not too crowded on the taxi on the way out, but a bit more crowded getting back to the harbor after my lunch.
What to Eat in Baltimore
Crab! Eat some crab. Sadly, because of my last minute decision to go to Baltimore and poor planning-ahead, I didn’t get to eat straight-up crab. I did enjoy myself a crab cake though. I got lunch one day at L.P. Steamers, a place that is probably better to go with a few friends and order a bunch of fresh, steamed crab.
I also ate a meal at Ryleigh’s Oyster. Mediocre food I would say (sorry).
Restaurants to consider on your visit:
- Loch Bar – a new oyster bar on the harbor with live music and an outdoor patio
- Ekiben – wish I tried this one! In the Fell’s Point area of the harbor, this is an asian-influenced restaurant known for steam buns.
- Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood – known to be one of the best places to get delicious seafood including sushi and a raw bar.
- Rusty Scupper – “great food with a great view” but definitely on the higher end of dining if you’re looking for a nice dinner.
Baltimore Fun Facts
- The first dental school in the world was in 1840 in Baltimore
- It was the first city to implement 311 as the non-emergency line
- BWI (airport) is the first (+only) U.S. airport with a trail for hiking and biking
- There are >220 neighborhoods in Baltimore
- Baltimore was the second greatest immigrant entry port (1800s)
- Who is from Baltimore? Michael Phelps, Babe Ruth, Billie Holiday
*Please PIN me!*
Have you visited Baltimore yet?