Growing up in Owings Mills, MD has defiantly left some impressions. For starters, I will eat anything that comes from the ocean with no opposition. Purple and black seems like the most natural color combination and , as most from the neighborhood will attest, the Inner Harbor seems more like the local playground than a tourist attraction. I grew up 30 minutes away from the harbor and the area was the setting of numerous class trips, birthday expeditions, and nights out as a teen. A few weeks ago, I got to return to the harbor. It didn’t feel like a thing changed at all and, in this case, that was a good thing.
Reflecting off of the Chesapeake Bay are the impressive buildings that make up Baltimore’s famous skyline. Both chain and traditional restaurants line either side of the bay. Most places have outside seating where you can enjoy your fish while, well, watching the fish.
Shopping is also plentful in this area thanks to souvenir shops and the Harbor Place mall. My favorite stop, of course, is the gigantic Barnes and Nobles that was converted from a power plant.
If you’re not keen on taking one of the many boat tours , you can view them from afar in one of the shaded seating areas . Or if you’re lucky, there might be an impromptu break dancing or jazz performance.
The Main Attraction
The National Aquarium looks huge from the outside but can be seen in its entirety in four or five hours. If you go on an weekday during the school year, as we did, you can zip through with no problems.
Among my favorite exhibits was the Amazon Rain Forrest. With the humid and oppressive heat, the oversized leaves that canopy the ceiling, and wild parrots, sloths, and tarantulas, it ‘s more than easy to forget your in a building in the middle of a large city.
The Shark exhibit winds up along several, dark floors. With the sharp- tooth sharks swimming past you as you go deeper and deeper underground, it feels like your walking through the deep , dark sea.
I also enjoyed The Jellyfish Exhibit
Another highlight of the day was getting to view the 4-D movie. We saw Happy Feet and for about 15 minutes we were snowed on, splashed with ice cold water, and pecked by Penguins as they danced across the screen.
If you need one more reason to visit The National Aquarium, here it is: The people who work there not only seem to enjoy their jobs but are actually quite good at what they do. We ran into the same employees throughout the day and they would always stop, ask us how we doing, and then lead us over to wherever we were heading next. One of the people in our party had trouble walking and needed a wheelchair. The employee at the service desk not only helped her get into the chair but then got down on her knees to tie her shoe lace. It might not seem like a big deal but it unusual for me to experience customer service like that, especially at such a large attraction. Heck, it hard enough getting the cashier at CVS to make eye contact.