Get out on the Water in Downtown Baltimore
It’s high summer here in Baltimore and when you’re a city located right on the Chesapeake Bay, that means one thing: it’s time to get out on the water.
One of the most charming features of Charm City is the ability to hop on a vessel right downtown and go for a cruise, see the sights, or tour a unique ship – or do all three in between other activities, like a visit to the National Aquarium, followed by dinner at Miss Shirley’s Cafe. In downtown Baltimore, there are tons of fun ways to get out on the water, both for families and for adults only. When you’re feeling the itch to get your sea legs, you have lots of choices; check out the list below to decide which one is right for you this summer – or schedule a few trips!
Rent a Boat
Families into hands-on activities will love renting a paddle boat or small electric craft to toddle around the waters of the Inner Harbor. Even better: the paddle boats are fun Chessie Dragons and the electric boats are pirate ships!
s, which have been part of the Inner Harbor seascape since 1975, are pedal-powered and can fit four passengers each. The pirate ships are newer – just introduced in 2018 – but are also a huge hit. They operate using lithium ion battery power and solar energy, and can hold up to six people in each.
Plus, the boats are operated by Living Classrooms Foundation and their rental functions as a Living Classrooms fundraiser.
Both boats are available for rental from April through November (weather permitting and hours of operation vary). They dock near the World Trade Center / Pier Three.
Tour the Historic Ships
It’s no secret that Baltimore is a hotbed of maritime history – and the Inner Harbor is a key spot to take in some of the most interesting tours in the city.
The Inner Harbor is home to four ships and a lighthouse that are all National Historic Landmarks; together, they are referred to as the Historic Ships. The USS Constellation, USS Torsk, USCGC Taney, Lightship 116 Chesapeake and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse are open for tours including hands-on activities and demonstrations that will keep every history buff enthralled.
Take a Cruise
Two different companies operate cruises on mid-sized ships out of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor; both offer regularly scheduled cruises and the option to rent boats for private parties.
Watermark’s Baltimore cruise options take place on the Annapolitan II, which has a climate-controlled lower deck and an open upper deck, so you can enjoy your trip regardless of weather. Regular cruise options include a Friday night cruise, a City Light cruise on Saturday evenings and free kids’ cruises on Mondays.
Spirit Cruise options include lunch or dinner cruises around the harbor, sometimes including fun events like DJs or bingo.
Hop on the Water Taxi
The Water Taxi is, without a doubt, the coolest way to hop around downtown Baltimore.
The taxi, which runs daily during the summer, stops at prime locations around the harbor, from Ft. McHenry in the southeast to Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor and Harbor East in the center of the city, to Fells Point and all the way over to Canton Waterfront Park on the northeast side of the harbor.
The taxi’s stops include several places right in the Inner Harbor: the National Aquarium, Harborplace and Pier Five are all located right downtown, making that area a great place to start a water-based jaunt around the city.
You can even reserve an entire water taxi for personal use, if you have an event planned.
Where to Park when You’re Headed out to Sea
Whether you’re off for a sunset cruise, geared up to tour some historic ships, or ready to head out on the town and hit hotspots all around Baltimore’s waterfront, it’s smart to choose the Inner Harbor as a home base. Even smarter? Making a plan for parking before you head out the door.
Harbor Park Garage, located at 55 Market Place in downtown Baltimore, is a great bet for parking. Conveniently located near the Inner Harbor, just steps from the water taxi stops at the National Aquarium and Pier Five, boat rentals, historic ships and more, the garage is also easily accessible from I-83 and other routes in and out of the city.
Harbor Park is well-lit and safe, and staffed 24/7 with one of the friendliest, most knowledgeable groups of people in the city – a crew that will always be happy to answer questions or point you in the right direction.