The Ultimate Guide To Port Discovery Children’s Museum In Baltimore
Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, MD is a fantastic place where kids will spend hours having oodles of fun!
You know a place is awesome when you keep going back to it, year after year… and your kids never get bored.
When your kids love it as much when they are 6 years old as they did when they were 2 years old.
And then, that awesome place makes major renovations and it transforms into something truly spectacular.
Welcome to Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore.
I know, I know.. I am gushing. But honestly, why not? Our daughter has grown up playing and learning at Port Discovery and we truly love it. If you live nearby and have kids.. go! If you are thinking about visiting Maryland… go! Are you planning a trip to Washington DC? Port Discovery is absolutely worth a day trip!
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
In honor of Port Discovery’s new renovations, I wanted to share this Ultimate Guide with you because, well.. we are kinda sorta experts on how to maximize your fun here!
16 Reasons Why You And Your Kids Will Fall In Love With Port Discovery Children’s Museum In Baltimore!
The SkyClimber is one of three new major additions to Port Discovery and I can tell you it will absolutely be your kid’s favorite! The idea is basic but the execution is total fun. Kids age 5 and up (for real, don’t let your toddler try this) climb 4 stories up a netted climbing structure up, up, up to the top of the atrium where they are literally in the clouds!
Then, the only way down is to slide…. 4 stories down a twisty, turny metal slide.
Oh my goodness this slide is so much fun.. and fast! It is totally fast. Your kids will go crazy for the climbing and the sliding.
As a parent you will love it for a few reasons– 1. There is only one way to go. Unlike Kidworks (which we also adored), you can’t get off at random places. The only place you can get off is.. the slide. 2. 4 stories of climbing! Your kids will want to navigate the SkyClimber multiple times.. which means they will come home tired. Good and tired.
2. The Port
The 2nd major addition to Port Discovery, and probably the most noticeable (as in, this will now be the iconic face of the museum for sure) is The Port. The developers went to great lengths to make this “port” as kid-friendly realistic as possible.
Kids can figure out how to get the boat running in the engine room, steer the boat’s wheel, signal to other ships with the flags, and take turns being the captain.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. The SS Friendship is just part of The Port. The rest of the exhibit features port activity. Loading and unloading packages, scanning packages, and generally learning how cargo gets on and off the ship.
It’s so much fun your kids won’t even realize they are learning!
Pro-Tip: Every 15 minutes (on the 1/4 hour) the dock “unloads” the cargo. It is definitely worth sticking around to see your kid’s expression when this happens.
3. Chessie’s Grotto- Toddler Play Area
The 3rd new addition to Port Discovery is geared mainly for kids too young to try the SkyClimber. This is awesome because Mom and Dad can stay and play with preschoolers and toddlers while their older siblings climb and slide.
Everything in Chessie’s Grotto is gorgeous. Our favorite is the color changing bubble machines. It is such a soft and inviting play space, with plenty of seating for parents and caregivers.
Port Discover Also Updated Existing Exhibits!
That’s right. The major renovations did not stop with the new exhibits. Port Discovery went through existing exhibits and fixed or freshened them up. This is a continual process so don’t be surprised if you see more changes over the next few months!
4. PD Presents
The Percussion Garden was always a semi-permanent exhibit and not always open. However, with the renovations complete, the percussion garden also got a refresh.
I love the fact that it actually looks like.. a garden; albeit a garden you and your kids can bang on… loudly… as loud as you want!
5. The BGE Studio Workshop
This exhibit tends to get overlooked and it really shouldn’t. We always stop in here to create art and it is always so much fun! Typically there are multiple projects kids can work on (and take home).
Along with the rest of the renovations, this art studio has also been re-imagined. While there will still be art projects, kids will have more opportunities to to make messy art– you know, make the mess at Port Discovery instead of making the mess at home. Love it!
6. Kick It Up!
Play is so important for kids and active play is even more important. Kids will love joining an impromptu game of soccer or keep away.
The balls are basically beach balls, which means younger kids won’t get beamed in the head or anything.
7. Adventure Expeditions
When our daughter was super young (2 or 3 years old), we never visited Adventure Expeditions because we figured it was mostly for older kids. Now it is one of our favorites!
Your kids (especially age 3-6) will love the mystery. It is very exciting and can be a little scary, but not in an overwhelming way. The mystery surrounds an expedition to the tomb of ancient Pharaohs.
Adventurers have to figure out the clues to find the lost tomb. But watch out for alligators and mummies!
8. The Oasis
The Oasis is exactly what it sounds like– a place of calm. This is a great space for kids who are experiencing sensory overload. It is meant to be quiet (most of the time), with tons of bean bags, quiet games, and books. A favorite activity here is rock painting… painting with water though, so no mess!
The Oasis also hosts story time and other kid-friendly music performances.
9. Tot Trails
While the SkyClimber is reserved for kids 5 and up, Tot Trails is specifically designed for kids ages 3 and under. There are so many features in this area that parents with toddlers and babies will love.
There is a socks only area with soft play features, a sand digging activity, nature blocks, and a climbing area that will be challenging for crawlers and new walkers… but still very safe.
Tot Trails has a special door and even though the front walls are glass, inside this area it is actually very quiet. Tot trails has its own restroom and a brand new nursing mother’s room that is very inviting… and private.
10. Interactive Wall Space
One of the new features Port Discovery added are interactive wall spaces. These spaces are great for kids of all ages and abilities.
11. The Overlook
If you look closely you might recognize this as part of Kidworks. That’s because it is! This part of Kidworks was preserved but remodeled primarily to allow kids with limited mobility an opportunity to experience the feel of the SkyClimber.
I love how Port Discovery intentionally re-designed their Children’s museum to provide great experiences for kids of all ages and abilities!
12. Tiny’s Diner
Tiny’s Diner is always one of our favorites. Saddle up to the counter or sit in the booth and let your kids take your order.
Then your kids.. and all their new friends… will prepare and serve you. I hope you come hungry. It is likely you will end up ‘eating’ about 5 meals worth of pretend food.
Oh, and don’t forget about the jukebox. It. is. awesome! It totally works. We love picking out a favorite tune (mine is ‘Twistin’ the Night Away’) and holding an impromptu dance party!
13. Wonders of Water
Another kid favorite. There are a number of really fun activities in this water exhibit. Our daughter typically spends at least an hour in this exhibit alone. Kids can manipulate the water for toy ships and make a dam or lock. There is an activity that involves water and LEGO building, as well as a floating experiment.
The giant bubble maker is awesome… see how high you can make the bubble go before it bursts!
Your kids will also want a job as a window washer after they get to spray and then squeegee the windows.
And don’t forget the mega wet area. Put on a rain slicker and water shoes (Port Discovery provides Crocs) before you enter this area. Then you can either try your hand at the squirt gun drums (super fun) or build structures with PVC pipes to see how water flows.
14. Royal Farms Convenience Store
When you enter the museum, one of the first exhibits you will see is the Royal Farms exhibit. The centerpiece is the car. Kids can pretend to drive it or pump gas! Then grab a basket and go shopping!
15. Here We Grow
Port Discovery will continue to host special exhibits and traveling exhibits. Until the spring of 2020 though, that exhibit will be a kid favorite– Here We Grow– an opportunity for kids to learn about where food comes from, how it is produced, and how it makes it to our farmer’s markets and grocery stores.
16. More Fun Touches
Ok, these touches are just fun and whimsical. We LOVE these Hand Chairs.
And don’t miss the elevator.. just be careful not to get eaten by the monster!
Know Before You Go:
- Do you want to know exactly which exhibits are perfect for your kids? Check out this ‘Activities By Age’ page on Port Discovery’s website.
- Port Discovery is located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Here is a link to Google Map directions: https://goo.gl/maps/TVei6H8QDJ3F3e4X8
- Park at the Harbor Park Garage.Google Map directions here: https://goo.gl/maps/Woi7PMPMbcvbEp5S8
- There is an eating area with vending machines at Port Discovery but there isn’t an on-site restaurant. There are tons of kid-friendly food options in the immediate area though. Here are our favorite choices:
- Admission is $17.95 age 1 and up. Under age 1 is FREE. Port Discovery is open Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM and Sunday noon-5PM.
Make a day of it!
There is so much to do in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Families with even young kids could easily fill an entire weekend seeing everything. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- A short walk from Port Discovery is the National Aquarium (very short.. stay in the same parking garage). This is really one of the better aquariums in the United States and there is so much to love about it. Read our review of the National Aquarium here. Pro-tip– Visit Port Discovery first and time your Aquarium visit for the end of the day because after about 3/330pm the National Aquarium empties out and you have the entire place to yourself!
- Near both the National Aquarium and Port Discovery is a small but super fun playground called Pierce’s Park. This would be the perfect place to burn energy before heading home!
- Between Port Discovery and the National Aquarium is a great option for a snack. Lucky’s Ice Cream has hand-packed ice cream, soft ice cream, sundaes, and all kinds of other yummy treats!
- The Maryland Science Center is on the other side of the Inner Harbor but it is also so much fun for kids. Read our review of the Maryland Science Center here.
- If you visit the Maryland Science Center spend and hour or so at the American Visionary Art Museum. Don’t miss the fart machine on the ground floor (your kids will love this!).