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Summer Fun with the Family on a Budget

There’s nothing quite like summer on the water, especially if you can swing taking it all in on a budget. While the options are endless for things to do with your family, from public parks, free events, and kid-friendly meals and spaces, the Inner Harbor is a perfect place to take the family without taking out a second mortgage.

The Harbor is loaded with incredible waterfront dining and cuisine, and most restaurants offer special kids discounts and menus. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Hard Rock Cafe, Phillip’s Seafood and Crab Deck, and The Cheesecake Factory all offer their own kids menu for children under 10. At Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, children 5 and under are free, and children ages 6 to 10 are half price. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks and The Rusty Scupper offer kids menus for children under 12. 

Instead of eating out, pack a lunch and have a picnic in one of the Harbor’s parks. The parks around the waterfront all offer different views of the Harbor from varying vantage points. Pierce’s Park right next to Pier 5 is a secluded little park with original sculptures, play equipment, a musical fence, a living willow tunnel, native plants, and the famous horn sculpture. If you’ve exhausted all your restaurant options but still up for some grub in a park, McKeldin Square offers up a food truck lunch market — Harbor Market — every Wednesday and Friday. 

Once food’s out of the way, there are plenty of free and affordable activities to enjoy on the water. Cool off after lunch at West Shore Park consisting of a “great lawn” and the Walter Sondheim Fountain that’s a GIANT splash pad for kids and adults alike, that’s on Monday through Friday from 10am to 10pm, and Saturday-Sunday from 11am to 10pm. For more outdoor fun, Rash Field offers up seven beach volleyball courts for some outdoor play on the water. The Harborplace Amphitheater, Constellation Dock, and Bicentennial Plaza also frequently host magicians, jugglers, unicycles, and musicians. But if you just want to take in the views and all the natural beauty the Harbor has to offer, a walk or bike-ride around the seven-mile waterfront promenade is nice too.

Once the evening hits, there are several opportunities to catch a deal in the Harbor. Free movies are offered all around the waterfront, such as Films on the Pier, Wednesday nights in Fells Point and at our new Films on the Waterfront series, showing movies on Saturdays July 20 and September 7 at Pierce’s Park and West Shore Park. If movies are too late for your family, there are free ourdoor concerts happening throughout the Summer. Fun on the Waterfront: Outdoor Concert Series, is a free outdoor concert the first and second Friday of each month through September. These family friendly events offer free music, food trucks, bar service, and plenty of kids activities. But if you’re looking for indoor things to do, entry is half-priced every Friday after 5pm at the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center also offers up free stargazing every Friday night starting at their Observatory 7-10:30pm. Port Discovery Children’s Museum also has $2 Family Nights select nights July, August, and September.

Whether it’s for a quick day trip or a few, the Inner Harbor has much to offer for both locals and visitors. Whether you’re a family of 2 or 10, you can enjoy the spoils our Harbor without your bank calling to make sure no one’s stolen your bank card and emptied your account.