10,000 step tour: Baltimore’s waterfront

What a walk! Everywhere a view along Baltimore's Waterfront Promenade.

What a walk! Everywhere a view along Baltimore’s Waterfront Promenade.

Not sure where to start? The visitor center at the Inner Harbor might be a good spot. I stopped here for a visitors' guide.

Not sure where to start? The visitor center at the Inner Harbor might be a good spot. I stopped here for a visitors’ guide.

As luck would have it, I found myself with an opportunity to stay in Baltimore’s gleaming new Harbor East neighborhood. Of course, I took it. Born and raised here, I know the city’s charms and treasures well.

The walkway is paved with brick, cobblestone, lumber and concrete — with a reminder or two of past glories.

The walkway is paved with brick, cobblestone, lumber and concrete — with a reminder or two of past glories.

But a chance to stay in a hotel, to park my car and wander the streets like I’d never been here before, was one I had to take.

And walk it I did, putting one foot in front of the other for a total of 18 miles in two days.

Bridges connect the piers between Harbor East and the Inner Harbor. I love this one.

Bridges connect the piers between Harbor East and the Inner Harbor. I love this one that leads to the National Aquarium.

Baltimore has done a great job of making the waterfront a pedestrian zone (and a jogger/bicyclist/stroller zone.) For Frommers several years ago, I walked the Waterfront Promenade for my Maryland-Delaware guide. It was a bit rocky going back then but now, it’s mostly a gorgeous walk.

I strapped on my Fitbit to see how far 10,000 steps would take me. Starting in Harbor East I walked toward Federal Hill.

The Coast Guard Cutter Taney, which witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor, is one of the historic ships you'll see as you walk. They're open for visits, too.

The Coast Guard Cutter Taney, which witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor, is one of the historic ships you’ll see as you walk. They’re open for visits, too.

Below Federal Hill are some ritzy homes and marinas. These dolphins frolic nearby.

Below Federal Hill are some ritzy homes and marinas. These dolphins frolic nearby.

This is Baltimore’s postcard vista: the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Harbor Place, Federal Hill, the American Visionary Art Museum. It’s a walk/jog/run that takes visitors through some pretty fancy waterfront neighborhoods — the Ritz Carlton residences and Pier Homes (How about a million-dollar house built right on top of the water?) — and past marinas filled with boats both magnificent and humble.

The end of the road on the southeast side. With Domino Sugar's iconic sign in the distance.

The end of the road on the southeast side. With Domino Sugar’s iconic sign in the distance.

I walked as far as I could, staying close to the water’s edge. I had hoped to get as far as the Baltimore Museum of Industry but I couldn’t. The paved trail comes to an end just short of it. And I had walked 5,000 steps.

Harbor East gleams with tall office and hotel towers.

Harbor East gleams with tall office and hotel towers.

I headed back to Harbor East and round trip that was 10,000 steps. But my tour didn’t seem complete. How far would another 5,000 steps take me?

The only pirates you'll find in Fells Point are the crazy Urban Pirates whose boat ride attracts families during the day and adults at night.

The only pirates you’ll find in Fells Point are the crazy Urban Pirates whose boat ride attracts families during the day and adults at night.

Through some of the most interesting waterfront in Baltimore, in my opinion. I headed out the following cloudy morning for another 10,000 steps (round trip). After all, the path passes from Baltimore’s newest neighborhood to the oldest, most colorful neighborhood, Fells Point. I don’t mind admitting I skipped off the Promenade for a walk through this old town’s rowhouse-lined streets.

But I kept to my goal and kept track of my steps so I know exactly (sort of) where I took my official 10,000th step. I’d made it to Canton, an old working-class community that has become the darling of young urban professionals and is now filled with lots of new housing, restaurants and shops.

I had walked 10,000 steps when I reached this marina in Canton. The path keeps going through the redeveloped neighborhood, ending at a community park.

I had walked 10,000 steps when I reached this marina in Canton. The path keeps going through the redeveloped neighborhood, ending at a community park.

There’s obviously more work to be done to complete the Waterfront Promenade. Ideally, it will take visitors as far as Fort McHenry and it is possible to detour through south Baltimore and through Locust Point to get to Fort McHenry. It’s a gorgeous addition to Baltimore’s waterfront. Along the way, there are museums, restaurants, bars, shops, the water taxi if you get tired, and lots of wonderful places just to take in the scenery.

The first time I walked it years ago, I took a couple of kids and we had a good time — but we were alone. This time I walked by myself but I was never alone. The path has gotten popular with residents and tourists alike. Wonderful to have had the opportunity to join them.

ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

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3 responses to “10,000 step tour: Baltimore’s waterfront

  1. Last time I was in Baltimore I was also near the harbor, but staying close to Camden Yards and the Convention Center, which you do not mention. I’ll have to look at a city map to see where my walking left off relative to where yours started.

    • I could see the convention center west across the harbor from my starting point in Harbor East. I stuck mostly to the waters edge so didn’t go past either the convention center or stadium. I hope you enjoyed Charm City.

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