We just returned from visiting Baltimore's Inner Harbor for 3 days. This was our first visit to Baltimore and we were quite excited to arrive since we'd always heard so much about it. However, I have to say by the time we departed, we were very disappointed. It certainly was nothing like we expected. First of all, the whole Inner Harbor area was MUCH smaller than what we expected. I had heard the "shopping was great, lots of shops". We visited the entire area, including all the Inner Harbor malls, and found them to be nothing special whatsoever including the shops across the street at the connecting Renaissance Hotel. The shops were exactly the same ones you see in any mall. The restaurants were also the same way - exactly what we find in other towns - like Cheesecake Factory, etc. Many of the shops were touristy (Baltimore t-shirts, etc) and prices were high. We did not buy a thing, which is very unlike me! Also, the parking fees all around the area are outrageous. We had to pay $18 to park in the afternoon across from the Acquarium (for 4 hours of parking!), then when we went to our hotel, we had to pay another $27 + tax to park overnight at the hotel! So in ONE day we spent almost $50 on parking fees in this city. (at our hotel, the parking came to over $30 per day including the tax) These fees are ridiculous and they are robbing the tourists blind. We came to Baltimore from a week's vacation in Washington DC and we never had to pay fees like that in Washington! The only thing we truly enjoyed at the Inner Harbor was the boat ride. Go down to the water and there are numerous boat rides you can take and enjoy. We wish we had done the "water taxi" ($8 per adult and its good all day long, can take you all over!) - but we were leaving when we discovered it after 3 days. We did enjoy the Duck Boat Ride (land and water) which was about an hour and 1/2 long ... very entertaining and enjoyable ... especially if you have kids! Another disappointment we experienced was their very popular Acquarium. Again, we had often heard how "great" the Baltimore Acquairum was. We found it to be okay, but on a scale of 1 to 10, we would give it a 3. It was MUCH smaller inside than we expected. The exhibits were very small and extremely crowded, so much so, that often you could not see anything! You had to repeatedly stand and wait a long time at each one just to be able to see - and this is difficult for children. It was not worth this hassle at all! We have been to the Boston, MA Acquarium (known as the New England Acquarium) and found it much, much better and much larger than this one in Baltimore! Also, in all honesty, none of these Acquariums compare to the SeaWorld theme parks. If you really want to visit a true acquarium, visit SeaWorld in San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL or San Antonio, TX or Ohio - nothing compares. SeaWorld knows how to do it right, and even with major crowds, its a very comfortable place to view marine life. At SeaWorld you can physically touch and feel the sting rays and dolphins. At the Baltimore Acquarium, you can only "view" them and not get near them. All in all, I'm glad we visited the Inner Harbor/Baltimore to see it one time, but we have no plans to return ... and in fact, we would not recommend the trip to anyone either. It was very expensive to stay there (hotels in the $200+ range per night around the Inner Harbor area), plus with the insane parking fees of $50 for a day, it is just NOT worth the trip at all. I would say save your money and visit another area that is truly what it advertises - like go to Orlando and visit Sea World! Its much cheaper to stay in Orlando (major hotels in Lake Buena Vista or along International Drive near the theme parks with very competitive prices), you don't have parking fees at Orlando hotels (and even at the theme parks, parking is minimal: $7 for the entire day), and there will be much more entertaining things to do with your family - plus Orlando has many upscale new malls and 100% better shopping than Baltimore. If you visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor, be prepared to shell out the $$$ and don't expect alot of anything - there really wasn't much to see. Very overrated and its nothing more than a "tourist trap" in my opinion. Almost a waste of time. Stay on Interstate 95 and go somewhere else instead - like Washington, DC - where everything was free to do - Washington is outstanding!
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