Two Family-Friendly Attractions Worth a Visit in Baltimore, Maryland
By Lincoln McElwee
Until recently, one of the only things I knew about Baltimore, Maryland is that it was the place to go for amazingly fresh seafood. I knew the crab cakes were legendary, and though I had never been, I could feel the hot fleshy morsels of crab meat dancing and melting their way across my tongue!
So when I was accepted last year to present a conference paper at Stevenson University on the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, I was thrilled at the fact that I would finally have a good reason to visit Baltimore.
With a little planning, I managed to book a stay at Pier 5 Hotel, which is located near Little Italy, Pier Six Pavilion and the Power Plant Live! entertainment complex. The Harbor Magic hotel also happens to share entrances to both Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks Restaurant.
The best part of visiting the city was getting to taste the legendary seafood and, most importantly, discovering what the city has to offer as far as family-friendly attractions are concerned!
One of the most rewarding sites to visit in Baltimore is the National Aquarium, a non-profit organization that helps to inspire conservation efforts for the world’s wealth of rich marine life. The aquarium sells general admission tickets, which are free to members, as well as special Immersion Tour tickets that involve encounters with dolphins and an up-close-and-personal look at sharks! Entrance into the aquarium is on a timed entry system, so the aquarium advises buying tickets online so as to receive the entry time that works best for your family.
Another wonderful feature of the National Aquarium is its unique dining experience. The aquarium runs a program called Fresh Thoughts, where visitors can learn about making ocean-friendly choices through the practice of sustainable seafood dining. With this seafood dining series, the National Aquarium, including its other facility in Washington, D.C., offers its visitors an amazingly interactive experience where families can better understand the steps involved with ensuring sustainable seafood practices and making the most informed choices when dining out.
Visit the aquarium’s website for more information and for original ocean-friendly recipes as well: http://www.aqua.org/care/conservation-initiatives/fresh-thoughts-sustainable-seafood
The National Aquarium also offers a very thoughtful way for families to care for their favorite reptile, mammal, shark, and/or bird. Through a fun animal adoption program that the aquarium calls Aquadopt, visitors can help take care of their favorite animal(s) with various donation packages that range in support from $50 to $250. With your support, you receive an Aquadopt bumper sticker for the car, a personalized adoption certificate, a photo and a number of fact-sheets on the animal you are helping to care for! The Aquadopt program is a really fun and invaluable way for families to learn together about the importance of caring and conservation!
After the National Aquarium, and after a group of friends and I presented our papers and were done with the conference, we decided to treat ourselves to seafood and steaks, and so made our way over to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, the very same place that many of the hotel guests had been touting as the place to go for premier steak dining.
We reserved a table for three and were seated in the downstairs dining room. The curtains were drawn so that natural sunlight made its way into the room and bathed the families, couples and various others groups of individuals that had gathered together to have a great time.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse even has a Youth or “Petit” Menu, where kids can choose from a variety of smaller portion items, such as mini slider burgers, penne pasta with marinara or alfredo sauce, chicken filets, baked macaroni and cheese, French fries, mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad.
Though mentally exhausted, my friends and I enjoyed a bottle of red wine and some of the best steak we had tasted in a long while. I ordered the 11 oz. filet – medium rare – with the 1b baked potato, while my friend ordered the petite filet with a jumbo lump crab cake and sweet potato casserole. The third person in our group, whom we met at the conference, ordered the stuffed chicken breast with a fully loaded baked potato.
Though our conversations were of the literary variety, the food and ambience of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse engaged in a conversation of its own as it swept us all off our feet and made us feel warm, welcome, elegant, and at peace.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is truly a dining experience like none other, and the wonderful thing about the steakhouse is that if you are unable to make it to the city of Baltimore, there are several other of the restaurants around, including other locations in Maryland, as well as North Carolina, California and New Jersey.