Travel Weekly assistant editor Kimberly Scholz visited
Baltimore with her sister, Allie, for a weekend of sports and
waterfront activities. Her report follows:
BALTIMORE -- Forty years in the making, the rejuvenation of the
Inner Harbor here, at a cost of $200 million, provided a busy and
fun-filled weekend for two of this city's 4.6 million annual
We caught a ball game at Oriole Park, boarded a tall ship for an
afternoon at sea, did a lot of sightseeing and some shopping, and
sampled a variety of culinary treats -- all in just under 48
Our visit started with the Top of the World sightseeing tour,
which is touted as the "lazy man's tour of Charm City." For this
"tour," we took an elevator up to the observation floor at the
World Trade Center, the tallest pentagonal building in the world at
Elevators travel to the 27th floor in a matter of seconds, and
as soon as we stepped out, floor-to-ceiling windows provided a
breathtaking view of the entire city. A guide offered a bird's-eye
tour and revealed little-known facts and personal glimpses into the
history of Baltimore. The museum also features several interactive
A midmorning sail and lunch on Clipper City, a replica of an
1854 schooner, revealed more of the sights and sounds of Baltimore.
On board, passengers were asked to volunteer to hoist the sails,
and after the crew provided a short lesson on how to raise and
lower the sails and tie the correct types of knots, the volunteers
were on their own.
The vessel has an upper deck with limited seating; a snack bar
serving hot dogs, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages; seating
under the sails, and a lower level that can be reserved for private
parties. The Clipper City, complete with the musical sounds of the
Caribbean piped throughout the schooner, sails roundtrip through
Baltimore's inner and outer harbors on a two-hour tour.
Sports fans and nonsports fans alike should make it a point to
visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards to catch one of the Baltimore
Orioles' 84 home games. The walk from the Renaissance Harborplace
Hotel takes about 12 minutes and passes numerous stands selling
peanuts, a staple for baseball fans; soft drinks, and Orioles
memorabilia. The MARC train and light rail trains also make stops
at the ballpark.
I have only been to one other professional baseball game in my
life, about 15 years ago, so I relished the chance to see an
interleague game between the Orioles and the Atlanta Braves at the
venerable Camden Yards.
The experience was well worth it, if only for the atmosphere
(the Orioles lost the game, 10-3). The main focal point is the
B&O Warehouse, a former railroad warehouse stretching 1,116
feet along West Camden Street. A souvenir shop and a bar/lounge are
located on the ground floor of the warehouse and the members-only
Camden Club is on the eighth floor.
Seating at the ballpark is available for 48,876 people,
including standing room-only facilities. Make sure to wear
sunscreen, though -- only a portion of the seats are covered by a
Baseball isn't the only professional sport played at the Camden
Yards sporting complex. Set to begin their second season in the
city, the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens play two
preseason and eight regular season home games at the 69,000-seat
The year-old arena is every sports fan's dream -- it has an
extra-wide concourse; eight public elevators and two escalators; 66
restrooms; a vast variety of concession stands; surround-sound
speakers, and one of the largest scoreboards in any sports venue in
The stadium is serviced by MTA Park-and-Ride and by a Light Rail
stop that drops off riders at the stadium, just outside Gate B. For
dining entertainment, Baltimore offers a plethora of themed
Power Plant is the renovated building that housed a former power
generating station for the city of Baltimore. Current tenants
include ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore and a Barnes and Noble
ESPN Zone, a 35,000-square-foot interactive dining complex, is
separated into three areas: the Studio Grill restaurant, the
Screening Room and the Sports Arena. The restaurant is designed as
a television studio with seating available at individual tables or
the news desks; placemats are printed daily with updated scores and
other sports news.
The Screening Room is set up with restaurant booths, 13 giant
television screens and 10 lounge chairs with built-in trays for
food service. For a more hands-on experience, the
10,000-square-foot Sports Arena contains interactive activities and
games for all ages.
For the music-minded visitor, ESPN Zone's neighbor is Hard Rock
Cafe Baltimore, a hall of fame, so to speak, for musicians from the
beginning of the rock 'n' roll era to present time. Like all other
Hard Rock Cafe venues, this one features a vast collection of rock
memorabilia as well as the site-specific Soul Library, dedicated to
soul and blues artists.
If visitors to Baltimore have been to any other Hard Rock Cafe,
then the restaurant does not have to be on the must-see list, yet
it still remains a popular place for the young adult crowd,
especially on weekends.
Also in the Inner Harbor is the year-old Planet Hollywood
restaurant, located in the Harborplace Pratt Street Pavilion. The
restaurant features memorabilia from movies from around the world
as well as movies and television shows shot on location in Charm
City, including "The Accidental Tourist," "Avalon," "Cry Baby" and
"Homicide: Life on the Streets."
Bohagers Bar and Grill is a good choice for visitors who want a
more traditional Baltimore eatery. Tables at the Fell's Point
outdoor crab house are set with paper tablecloths, a roll of paper
towels, a mallet, a knife and a bucket.
The restaurant does offer a decent selection of noncrab choices
as well, from chicken and burgers to other seafood and ribs. Crab
meals are served with corn-on-the-cob, salad and soup. The crabs,
measured in dozens, are dumped right on the table. The restaurant
turns into a dance club after 10 p.m. on weekends.
Our trip to the Inner Harbor would not have been complete
without a visit to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The aquarium
features daily dolphin shows, a shark tank and several exhibit
areas, including the Atlantic Coral Reef and the South American
Rain Forest exhibits.
New this season is the "Coastal Connections: Dolphins at Our
Shores" exhibit, which made its debut March 12. The exhibit
spotlights dolphins native to the East Coast.
Also of particular interest is the second in a series of
changing exhibits, "Venom: Striking Beauties," on display through
January 2000. It showcases more than 40 species of venomous land
and sea creatures.
Baltimore Area Visitors Center
Phone: (800) 282-6632 or (410) 837-4636