One of the anchors of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the Maryland Science Center. We had resisted taking Sweet Pea to the Science Center because we just assumed it was more appropriate for older kids. Boy we were wrong. The Maryland Science Center should definitely be on the top of any family’s list of Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore. We spent almost the entire day here with Sweet Pea, who is only 2 1/2 years old, and we only experienced half of the museum! Read on to see why this great museum should immediately go on your family field trip to do list!
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore: Maryland Science Center
How to Get There
The Maryland Science Center is located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, directly across the harbor from the National Aquarium. There are a few convenient parking garages nearby. We used the Arrow Parking Garage, located at 11 E. Lee Street between Light Street and Charles Street. It is literally right across the street from the Science Center. This parking garage is cash only but with a voucher from the museum, you only end up paying $9 to park, which is really not bad at all.
Dinosaur Mysteries and TerraLink
The first area of the museum we checked out was Dinosaur Mysteries. Really, this section is hard to miss because it is located adjacent to the ticket desk and it is full of huge dinosaurs and dinosaur skeletons. I really think Sweet Pea could have spent all day here.
Kids can go on an archeological dig, play in sand with dinosaur feet, sit in the dinosaur nest, stomp around in dinosaur feet, and many other cool educational, hands-on activities.
Next to Dinosaur Mysteries is TerraLink– a small side exhibit that packed a big punch. The highlight for Sweet Pea was watching a tornado form right before her eyes. I thought the tornado was pretty cool too!
We had about 30 minutes to kill so we headed to the second level and played around in Newton’s Alley. Of course 30 minutes was not nearly enough time. Newton’s Alley is jam-packed with physical science exhibits. You can touch a cloud, play a harp with no strings, work the contraption shown below that uses balls and levers to play music. You can use pulleys to pull yourself up about 10 feet while seated in a chair. You can create your very own vortex. Newton’s Alley excels in making physics fun. Sweet Pea, who won’t take physics for at least another 12 to 13 years, was enthralled.
Planetarium and Spacelink
The next highlight of the day was a visit to the Planetarium. The Maryland Science Center runs numerous planetarium shows that appeal to a broad range of audiences. We chose One World One Sky: Big Birds Adventure. There was a rumor floating around that Elmo would make an appearance. Well, Sweet Pea loved it! This was a perfect star-gazing opportunity for a 2 year old! Elmo did make an appearance and then he went with the Chinese version of Elmo (yes, space and Chinese culture to boot) on a trip to the Moon.
Since Sweet Pea’s Daddy is an aerospace engineer and all around space fanatic, we could not resist the opportunity to visit Spacelink. Sweet Pea loved sitting at ground control.. and pushing buttons. Clearly she didn’t know what she was doing but it was cute. Older kids tried on space suits and played space-related games on the ground control monitors.
Last, but certainly not least, we checked out the Kids Room. The Kids Room is a hands-on exhibit space that is specifically geared for kids age 0 to 8. Wow, we could have spent the entire day just here! The Kids Room is closed off from the rest of the Science Center, so you don’t have to worry about your toddler running off. You can just let them roam (supervised) and explore this fantastic exhibit!
Sweet Pea loved the submarine and grotto area. I am short so I could squeeze in there with her. Daddy– not so much. She had a blast pretending she was part of a submarine crew.. and then pretending she was a mermaid.
On top of the undersea adventure, kids can explore the life of a fisherman. Hop inside a boat, look through a telescope, man the helm, and of course– go fishing.
From the higher vantage point we saw kiddie catnip– aka, the water play area.
This water play area is certainly smaller than the one at Port Discovery, but it is no less fun. The museum provides lots of cups, tubes, scoopers, and other tools so the kids can splash around and learn how water works.
The Kids Room had many other activity centers that Sweet Pea loved– dress up, legos, playing with pulleys, toddler and young kid appropriate building materials, stuffed animal adventures, balls to play with, doorbells to ring. Every square inch of this place had something fun to try out!
What We Didn’t Even Get to See!
We stayed almost the entire day at the Maryland Science Center and didn’t even see half of the museum. Other exhibits and features of the museum include:
- An IMAX Theater
- Life Beyond Earth which deals with Space Exploration
- Cells: The Universe Inside Us
- Your Body: The Inside Story
- The Shed– an interactive laboratory program which gets kids actually doing science
- SciLab– similar to the Shed
- Power Up– an exhibit about electricity
- The Crosby Ramsey Memorial Observatory (featuring the Clark Telescope) which facilitates both sungazing and stargazing activities
Logistics and all that Stuff
We had an absolute blast at the Maryland Science Center and I can’t wait to go back! When you go, here is some additional information you need to know:
- Hours of operation– M-F: 10AM-5PM. Saturday: 10AM-6PM. Sunday: 11AM-5PM
- Cost- Admission prices (which include one planetarium show but not the IMAX) are $18.95 for adults and $15.95 for kids age 3-12. One IMAX movie adds $4 per ticket.
- Is a membership worth it? If you live in the Baltimore-DC area and foresee going to the Maryland Science Center more than once in a year? Absolutely! Memberships are for a set number of people, kid or adult. As long as one of the main ticket holders is present, anyone can be part of the number (so grandparents and friends). We joined the Discoverer level for $150, which covers 6 people.
- Accessibility- The Maryland Science Center strives to make their exhibits accessible. Other than the observatory (where special accommodation can be made), all exhibits are wheelchair accessible.
- Stroller accessible- There is a stroller parking area inside the coat room. If you want/need to keep your stroller with you, most of the main museum is stroller friendly. Strollers are not allowed inside the theaters, but stroller parking is available outside the theaters.
- Food: You can pack your lunch. However, Beakers Café was pretty nice. They offered a lot of kid friendly food and the prices were not too high.
Again, you will not be disappointed if you visit the Maryland Science Center. It is literally fun for all ages and kids from 1 to teenagers will find plenty to love about this museum.
Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to find Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore!