It’s easy to experience life on the water in Greater Baltimore, thanks to the sailing, kayaking, fishing and swimming opportunities available throughout the region. Prefer to stay on dry land? Explore an aquarium and a science center, and step back in time during a historic ship tour.
Greater Baltimore Water Adventures
The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, located on Otter Point Creek in Harford County, is home to one of the last remaining tidal freshwater marshes in the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Visitors can bring their own watercrafts and set out on a self-guided paddle trail, and canoe, kayak and pontoon boat group tours are available on weekends during warm weather months.
“There are very few public access points to the water and bay in Harford County,” says Kriste Garman, park manager for the estuary center. “We provide easy access to the water, and in the wintertime, we have the best sunset view on the East Coast.”
Offering more on-the-water fun, the Canton Kayak Club provides members with unlimited access to their kayaks, paddles and life safety vests at each of their six dock locations throughout Baltimore. Robert Pinkerton, membership chair of the CKC, says 500 people were part of the club in 2014, and he expects that number to be similar in 2015. While members are free to paddle alone, organized group trips take place throughout the club’s season, which typically lasts from early May until late October.
“Most of our dock locations offer different paddling options,” Pinkerton says. “You may head one way for calm water and peace and quiet, or the other for some challenging waves and a more exciting adventure.”
Based at the Ellen Moyer Nature Park on Back Creek, the Annapolis Community Boating Group is a nonprofit organization that offers affordable sailboat, canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals from mid-May to mid-September. The group also hosts sailing lessons, paddling events and summer camps, and while memberships are available, all services are open to the public.
“We provide a way for people to get on the water and learn more about boating without spending too much money,” says Lorie Stout, who serves as an ACB board member and is the group’s former executive director.
The Baltimore Rowing Club, based in the Cherry Hill area, also helps the community get out on the water. The nonprofit organization offers youth and adult programs, as well as introductory programs for new rowers. Those looking to cast a line will find several trout fishing destinations in Carroll County, while Cecil County features the Bassmaster Elite tournament. Expected to draw nearly 30,000 visitors to Great Baltimore in August 2015, the four-day tournament ends with a winner taking home a prize of $100,000.
Water-Related Destinations and Activities
Located at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium houses more than 17,000 creatures great and small, and features exhibits such as Animal Planet Australia, which gives visitors a glimpse into a typical northern Australia river gorge. The facility also includes the recently added Blacktip Reef exhibit that contains more than 750 animals, such as a 500-pound green sea turtle, and offers a floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window.
Also at the Inner Harbor, the 170,000-square-foot Maryland Science Center has three levels of exhibits, including one that highlights Maryland's fabled blue crab and the Chesapeake Bay. The center also includes a planetarium, an observatory and an IMAX theater. History buffs may be drawn to the Historic Ships in Baltimore, one of the world’s most impressive collections of military watercrafts. Located on the Inner Harbor, the collection features the USS Constellation, a tall ship that is known as the final sail-only warship created by the U.S. Navy, as well as the USCGC Taney, USS Torsk and Lightship 116 Chesapeake. The collection also includes the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, which is the state’s oldest screw-pile lighthouse. Visitors can tour the ships and the lighthouse, each filled with exhibits and artifacts.