Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
You could say that Baltimore is a city designed for Senior leisure. The hop on and off water taxi around the bay is an ideal way to see a lot of the area’s attractions with a minimum of exertion, as it stops at many attractions. The minimal fee is good for the entire day. The small boat captains are eager to answer area questions as to where to eat and museum times. Note, many museums and attractions are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Of course it stops at historic Ft Mc Henry – famous for the inspiration of the Star Spangle Banner composition. (www.nps.gov/fomc) You have to change boats to go the extra distance, but worth the convenience, when you think of the inconvenience of getting a taxi or uber to take you to the far out bay point. The preserved and reconstructed brick fort is informative if you have never visited a fort of this generation. It’s humbling to stand in the area that inspired America’s Anthem.
Once there it’s always good to schedule your visit with a tour by a park ranger for details of the fort. If not the film is always inspiring, if not a bit nostalgic ,when at the end of the movie, a curtain opens to let you view through a large picture window the Fort in the background as the National Anthem plays.
Back in the downtown area is the Flag House where the American garrison size flag was created. Besides the history of the flag you can take a self-guided tour of a small period house, complete with furniture and staging of the time.
For pure entertainment, although you can’t help but learn something, is the national aquarium centrally located at the base of the Inner Harbor. (www.aqua.org) All levels of this multilevel aquarium is easily accessible with riding the multiple escalators, or if needed there is an elevator. Hosting over 20,000 aquatic animals with a Backtip Reef and Living Seashore, and a couple of large screen animal related movies, and a live dolphin show, make the aquarium one of the Inner Harbors best attraction. Of course they host a extensive gift shop with snack bar.
When you’ve got to eat, Baltimore with its vast seafood menus offers many venues. The off the beaten track funky Little Havana Bar and Grill offers many seafood based foods along with an extensive bar and their famous large Mojito.
Phillips Seafood (www.phillipsseafood.com) is a Baltimore tradition. They offer an upscale indoor or outdoor dining experience with reservations recommended. Their 8 ounce Crab Cake Extreme with Mac and Cheese, made with pure Jumbo Lump Crab with no fillers, is served in a skillet, and guaranteed to fill your Crab Cake desires. ($50.00)
If you plan to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art, be sure you check its times, as it is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. While it was closed the days I was in Baltimore I made sure I dined at Gertrude’s, where the Museum of Art display of culinary arts, under the expert guidance of owner, John Shields, is a must. Shields is a veteran TV host, and author and is called the “Culinary Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay” with the restaurant’s opening in 1998. Gertrude’s is Shield’s tribute to his grandmother, Gertie. Shields is a personable entrepreneur and you may want to pickup one of his cookbooks including the 25th anniversary, “Chesapeake Bay Cooking.” Many menu options looked appealing but I chose the Irish Salmon, flown in to Gertrude’s several times a week. This is an example of the attention paid to the high standards that has made John Shield’s reputation.
An evening dining cruise aboard the Spirit of Baltimore, is a relaxing way to see more of the bay’s landscape while enjoying a buffet and beverages served by congenial staff. The cruise departs from the west wall of the harbor and cruises the Inner harbor along the Patapsco river, and includes glimpses of Fort Mc Henry. Come prepared for a casual and enjoyable evening, mixing with other tourist and those celebrating special occasions. (www.spiritcruises.com/Baltimore)
While visiting the Fells Point area of the harbor you may want to stop in to the upscale Sagamore Hotel for a respite and beverage, of if your budget allows overnight accommodations. For a budget minded traveler the Days Inn Inner Harbor (www.daysinnerhrabor.com), about 3 blocks away from the harbor, and near the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Ravens Stadium, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, can fulfill your travel needs.
As you can guess there is much more to discover in Baltimore than I could cover in just two days, so historic and friendly Baltimore may require repeat visits. (http://baltimore.org/)