We started the day at Fort McHenry. We’ve been to Baltimore many times as a family and I’ve been many times before kids, but for some reason I’ve never been there. It ended up being a really enjoyable day for all of us. The boys had learned a little bit about the fort and its connection to the Star Spangled Banner through our recent reading. They also participated in the Jr. Ranger program, which was a fun way of learning more about what we were seeing. (I first heard about the Jr. Rangers from Mary.) And Ruth? She was just happy to be outside running around on a beautiful spring day.
The fort is a great place for a family visit. It’s a bargain at $7 for adults (kids under 16 are free) and free parking. (You only have to pay to actually go in the fort; you can walk around the park and the visitor center for free.) The standard visitor center movie was actually really well done and engaging for the kids. The location is lovely, right on the water, and it was just a perfect sunny spring day.
After visiting the fort, we drove to Fells Point, a waterfront neighborhood full of funky little ethnic restaurants and as many locals as tourists. It’s too well known to be off the beaten path but it’s much less commercialized than the Inner Harbor and much more pleasant. There are a ton of restaurants that looked great (not all kid friendly though), but somewhat by chance we ended up at Vickie’s Diner inside The Broadway Market. It was one of those decisions made quickly as everyone was getting hungry and a little cranky. We chose wisely. We enjoyed really good burgers (and a crabcake for H.) at great prices.
You can ride a Water Taxi in Baltimore for $12 for an all day pass. The boat ride itself is a thrill for our kids, regardless of the destination, so we had this be the second part of our day. We did briefly get off in the Inner Harbor, but the crowds and long lines for the paddleboats drove us away. Mostly we just enjoyed the round trip boat ride.
Back in Fells Point, we got snowballs and soaked up a little sunshine. Snowballs are shaved ice with syrup. I grew up calling them snow cones and they came in about five flavors in a little paper cone. In Maryland they come in a cup and are called snowballs and there are about 30 different flavor choices. You can also get them topped with marshmallow creme, which seems rather vile to me. ( I know all this because of frequent arguments I used to have with my Baltimore-bred college roommate about the correct terminology and approach to shaved ice desserts.)
Fells Point is full of bars and has a fairly hopping night life. During the day, however there are dogs and kids on scooters and people playing the guitar and families eating snowballs. A nice place to hang out with a very laidback vibe. Also a nice place for Ruth to play her favorite game of the moment, hide and seek. You can’t find her? Here’s a hint…look behind the tree.
After that, we headed home (with a brief stop at Ikea for dinner and home furnishings of course). Day trips like this can be a little tiring with small kids, but they are always worth it. This was a rare spring Saturday without baseball for us, so we seized the opportunity and went. How about you? Where have you been lately?