A few months ago we had a (surprisingly) free weekend to get away for a few days. We decided to spend the weekend in Baltimore Maryland because it’s only about 3 hours away and there is SO much to do with kids.
We stayed at the Renaissance Harbor Place Hotel which in my opinion is the BEST location for staying/visiting for a weekend in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It’s directly across the street from the Inner Harbor which means you don’t have to drive (aka worry about parking) or take a taxi (aka worry about car seats). We didn’t spend much time at the hotel but it was clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful.
We arrived for our weekend in Baltimore early on a Friday afternoon. Instead of going to the hotel we went straight to the Maryland Zoo. I was anticipating it being pretty busy with school trips but it was actually COMPLETELY EMPTY! There were so few people that I wasn’t even sure if the restaurants were open (they were). We were able to walk the entire park in about 2 hours and didn’t have to wait in any lines.
If you can get into the zoo on a weekday like we did, I highly suggest visiting!
Overall thoughts on the Zoo : It’s perfect for all ages so a good experience for everyone. I label it as a must-see (but then again I love the zoo!)
The second day of our weekend in Baltimore, we headed to Miss Shirley’s Cafe, a breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant with a 2-hour wait if you don’t get there early!
I read and heard so many great things about this restaurant so I was really excited to check it out. I LOVED that they gave each child an etch-a-sketch at the table! The novelty wore off quick but it was funny to see them look at it so confused LOL.
We all opted for pretty basic dishes but the options are endless. Take a peek at the menu below. Mike got the Chocolate Covered Pretzel Hot Cocoa and it looked a m a z i n g!
After Miss Shirley’s we walked to Port Discovery Children’s Museum. It’s a 4 minute (0.7 mile walk) so I suggest planning these 2 things together to kill 2 birds with one stone! The museum is filled with 3 stories of interactive games, activities and exhibits for young children. Some of the rooms include a Diner, Gas Station, Grocery Store, etc. The kids had so much fun running around and experimenting with everything. If you’ve ever been to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia it is VERY similar.
If you go on a weekend I suggest getting there when it opens. I read that it gets really packed so we got there before the doors opened. There was a line but we only had to wait a few minutes and the kids were able to enjoy themselves inside without it being too crowded. We were also able to enjoy watching them without the fear of losing them for 2 hours.
Overall thoughts on Miss Shirley’s : If you can get there early enough to not wait for hours then yes definitely go! If however you aren’t a big foodie and plan to order your usual bacon and eggs AND there is a long wait then no I definitely wouldn’t wait long.
Overall thoughts on Port Discovery : It’s a must-see if you have young children!
After Port Discovery and lunch we walked across to tour some of the historic ships at the harbor (less then 10 minute walk). Personally, if you have young children like we do I would skip the ships. Our 4 year old was scared the entire time (some are quite confined) and our 3 year old just wanted to run. It didn’t exactly create the most enjoyable experience.
We managed to fit the aquarium into our second day as well since it’s directly next to the ships. There are 3 important things you should know about the aquarium:
- It’s not that big
- It was CRAZY CROWDED
- It is dark AF in some areas.
It’s really nothing special in my opinion. Or maybe I’ve just been to some really great aquariums… But for $40 admission per person I guess I was expecting a bit more. Also, we went on a weekend but it was so crowded to the point where you couldn’t even get to the glass to see the fish. At every single step you were bumping into the person next to you and there were swarms of people everywhere.
I was also surprised that a REALLY large part of the aquarium is essentially pitch black. Not exactly fun (or safe) when you’ve got toddlers. Maybe I just have a narrow view because I’m a mom to 2 young kids but I always think of aquariums as being super child-friendly. It’s pretty hard to keep your eyes on a toddler who has ants in his pants when it’s pitch black.
Overall thoughts on Aquarium: I wouldn’t go back to the aquarium until the kids are older. I also don’t think it’s that great of an aquarium for the price.
Our last morning of our weekend in Baltimore, we hit the Blue Moon Cafe – another popular hit from “Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives”. We had been here before but before we had kids. It was just as good as we remembered with favorites like the Captain Crunch French Toast. Just a fair warning if you’ve never been – it is tiny. It’s not the kind of place where the kids can run around. If you have little ones who can’t sit still you might want to rethink your visit until they’ve outgrown the running for no reason phase. I wish I had remembered that before we went lol. If you stay at a hotel around the harbor there are tons of restaurants all over so you’re bound to find something you like. There is a Cheesecake Factory right on Pratt Street and they have everything, don’t they? lol
We also tried the Chessie Paddle Boats. Gia picked a purple Chessie Monster of course but we only lasted about 30 seconds. It was worth the try though. If you’re kids are a little bit older I think it would be really fun for them! For the smaller kids it’s a little boring since they can’t really help paddle the boat.
If you’re interested in some other great places to eat here are a few more we visited and would recommend: Bubba Gumps (Inner Harbor), Cheesecake Factory (Inner Harbor) (great if you need somewhere kid-friendly) Alexander’s Tavern (Fell’s Point), Rusty Scupper (Inner Harbor) (wouldn’t recommend for kids)
Overall thoughts on Blue Moon Cafe : If your kids will sit still then yes, go!
When walking the Inner Harbor there are always street performers which is one of my favorite things to watch! We saw a really funny performance and the kids had a blast having balloon animals made for them.
We had so much fun on our trip to Baltimore. I highly recommend going for a visit if you’re looking for a weekend getaway. It is so much fun for adults and kids alike.
Have you taken your kids to Baltimore? Do you have any other places you’ve visited and loved with your kids? We’re always looking for new places to visit so please drop a comment or send me an email if you have any ideas!
Find more family friendly restaurants and museums in Baltimore, Maryland here.
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