Baltimore City, Indoor Fun, Things To Do

Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Address for Parking Garage:
35 Market Place
Baltimore, MD

We had an amazing visit to Port Discovery Children’s Museum! I haven’t been here in over 10 years and it has undergone major renovations and has changed SO much since then.

Currently, the museum is open for 2 timed play slots: 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. We attended the morning session and stayed for the entire 3 hours. This museum is HUGE and we let the girls lead the way on this visit. We saw a LOT of the museum but still missed some spots. I’ll share what we did see and will update this post with even more after our next visit – we DEFINITELY plan to go back again soon!

One thing that is important to mention: Port Discovery has one of the absolute BEST and most informative websites of any location we’ve ever been to. So while I’m sharing all about our experience during out visit – PLEASE make sure you explore their website when planning your trip – it really is the best and SO incredibly helpful! You can even search for activities based on your child’s age!

Admission and Hours

As previously stated, the museum is open for 2 timed play slots: 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm.

Booking tickets online ahead of time is required for both visitors and members.

For the month of September, the museum is open Friday-Sunday only. Starting in October they will be open on Wednesdays as well.

💰Cost: Ages 1 and up: $19.95/person (under 1 is free) For more information on tickets and admission, click here.
Memberships are $140 for up to 4 people, $170 for up to 6 people – this includes unlimited access to the museum for a year. For more information on memberships, click here!

Important to Note!

🛒The museum is totally stroller friendly! We brought our single stroller, however we had 3 adults for 3 kids so we didn’t end up using it and kept it in the stroller parking area on the first floor under the stairs. The whole place is easy to navigate with a stroller thought – they only ask that you leave it outside of the water exhibit and “Tot Trails”.

♿️ Most areas of the museum are wheelchair accesible – they even have an area for wheelchairs to access the Sky Climber!

🍽Outside food and drink are welcome, but must be consumed in “The Pier.” This is a small eating area with tables near the front of the museum on the first floor. We spent too much time playing that we didn’t even stop to eat, so we didn’t get to check out this area! Just FYI there is no cafe on site, but there are vending machines and water bottle fillers.

🎒What to bring: Be sure you and your kiddos have socks, because the Sky Climber and Chessie’s Grotto play area requires them. You’ll also want to be sure to bring extra clothes for your kiddos here! Water shoes are not a bad idea as well. The “Wonders of Water” exhibit has the potential to get them very wet, so its good to be prepared. Because of the sock rule, I had my kids wear socks with sneakers. I then packed crocs and had them change into those before playing in the water room.

🔐Free lockers are provided, they just ask that you wipe down with provided sanitizing wipes before and after use.

🚽There are bathrooms on every floor, and atleast the ones we used both had kid-height sinks and soap dispensers 🙌🏻 (its the little things, am I right!?)

😷Covid Protocols: Masks are required (and enforced) for anyone ages 2 and older. This is the case for ANYWHERE in Baltimore City at this time. Sanitizer and wipes were in every area of the museum as well as signs reminding people to “stay in their bubble” and give other groups their space. There are bins everywhere for dirty toys so they can be washed and sanitized.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👧On this visit I had both my husband and my mom with me, so we had a 1:1 kid to adult ratio. It would have been really challenging for me to have all 3 kiddos here by myself. Now that I’ve been once and have a good idea of the layout of the museum, I think I could handle my crew on my own here, but I still would prefer to have help with me when I can!

🤱There is a nice, enclosed nursing room in the Tot Trails exhibit on the second floor. There is also a smaller area reserved for nursing moms inside “The Oasis” room, also on the second floor.

🗺I found this museum map really helpful when planning my trip. The museum is huge and it can be overwhelming if you enter without knowing what to expect – this map really helped give me an idea of what we wanted to see and where things were located!

I also found these two articles from their website helpful:

10 Tips for Visiting Port Discovery

Visiting Port Discovery with Infants and Toddlers

Getting to the Museum

The garage for Port Discovery is located directly next to the building. I followed the directions here to book parking ahead of time via Spot Hero. It cost us $14 for 4 hours. I had never used Spot Hero before but it was awesome! I prepaid for my parking space on the app and entered my license plate number. When we pulled into the garage, the machine automatically recognized my license plate and dispensed a ticket. 😱 The ticket was just the receipt showing that we had paid and had the spot reserved until 2:30. It was that easy. (When it was time to leave the gate recognized our license palte again to let us exit. So cool!)

The entrance to the museum is just around the corner from the garage exit, look for the big sign and bright orange doors. There are tons of restaurants nearby, including the Leinenkugel “Leinie Lodge and Beer Garden” that serves beer and food starting at 11 am with both indoor and outdoor seating. We didn’t try any restaurants this visit but just know there are several great options if you’d like to partake!

When you arrive at the museum you check in at the desk and show your tickets or membership card. They will give you a receipt – keep it out, because they will check it just around the corner before you enter the actual museum. If it is your first time, a guide will give you a super brief welcome/tour and send you on your way!

The Sky Climber and Storm Slide

The first thing you see when you enter the museum is the GIANT sky climber and storm slide and the Port. The center of the museum is an atrium – so you can see all 3 levels of the museum and the 4-story sky climber that goes all the way to the ceiling.

The sky climber is currently one way up – then you can choose to go down the slide at the top, or climb down the other side of the climber to the exit. Adults are welcome to climb with their children. It is important to note that while the climber is open to ages 3+, the slide is only for ages 5+. If your 3 year old enters the climber, they must climb down instead of sliding. The climber is designed for ages 5+ (according to their website) so we skipped this part – but it looked AMAZINGLY fun for slightly older kiddos!

The great thing about this area is that children are fully contained. There is only one area to enter and exit the climber, so children can’t easily get separated from their parents.

At the base of the climber is “Chessie’s Grotto” – a playspace designed for children ages 3 and under. This is great for parents with both older and younger kids because you can play with your little ones in Chessie’s Grotto, while the older kids do the sky climber. The only way for them to exit the climber is in the same area as the Grotto. All 3 of my kids (3.5 twins and 18 months) loved Chessie’s Grotto, and it was especialyl perfect for the 18 month old – everything was just her size! Because we visited on a particularly quiet day, I was able to really let her wander around the whole base of the sky climber – I’m not sure she’d be able to have this much freedom on a busier day, but it was nice during our visit!

Socks are required in this area – they ask that you remove your shoes when entering this area. If you forget socks you can purchase from the museum for $1.

The Port

In the center of the museum, you can’t miss the GIANT life-sized cargo ship. This area is called “The Port”. You can climb aboard the SS Friendship and explore inside, including the engine room, crane, conveyor belts, etc. You can scan cargo and find out what is being loaded onto the ship. You can stear the boat and learn how to communicate using flags!

For more info about this area, click here!

First Floor

Convenience Store and Gas Station

One of the first play areas when you enter the museum is the Royal Farms gas station and convenience store. This area features a real VW beetle (that you can actually go inside) with a realistic gas pump, air pump, etc. as well as a convenience story with groceries, and ATM, cash register, check out line and more! Everything is well stocked for dramatic play. My girls loved this area and spent a good amount of time here!

Tangram Wall

To the left of the entrance is a giant magnetic tangram wall! The girls loved moving the pieces around and making different creations with the magnets.

“Kick It Up!” Indoor Soccer Field

Behind the Ski Climber and Chessie’s Grotto is Kick It Up! An indoor soccer field – perfect space to run around and play a quick game of soccer!

Shadow Play

To the right of “Kick it Up!” is a new shadow puppetry exhibit. Here there are several shadow screens set up where kids can explore shadows. There are story boars, shadow puppets, and light table and more!

Other First Floor Activities

We didn’t get to visit these areas, but click the links below to learn more about these exhibits!

Second Floor

Adventure Expeditions

In this room you can learn all about Ancient Egypt! There is a cool moving “bridge” where kids can pull themselves across the Nile River. There is also a tunnel that leads to a small climber. This area is recommended for ages 7+, but one of my twins (age 3.5) loved it. The tunnel area is dark and makes some spooky noises so the other twin was a little uneasy here.

The Oasis

The Oasis is a quieter space designed as a nice break from the sights and sounds of the rest of the museum. There are several tables with toys and activities set up like magnatiles, a barn with animals, “rock painting” (rocks, paintbrushes and water) as well as TONS of books to read. This room felt like a library and was truly a nice space to take a break and let the kids unwind for a few. This is room reserved for children ages 6 and under and also has a space reserved for nursing mothers.

Tot Trails

Tot Trails is a room reserved for Children 3 and under. My 18 month old absolutely LOVED this room and I saw several other little ones younger than her enjoying it as well. There is a small, age appropriate climbing structure and a light up floor area that my little one loved. Her favorite part was the small wind tunnel – you could put pretend leaves in the bottom and they would come flying out the top. She played with this for a solid 15 minutes completely on her own. There is a “tidal pool” area made up of soft gymnastics mats, perfect for crawlers or early walkers. The “dunes” area is also great for this age group – with low to the ground textured walks that are perfect for pulling up to stand or walking along. This room also used to have a sand box which would have been SO fun, but due to covid it has been emptied and replaced with mega blox. There is a family restroom here as a well as a nice nursing room.

Wonder Widgets

This was a fun shape sorting conveyor belt that the twins LOVED! You had to pick up the shapes and set them in the correct spot (like a puzzle) all while the conveyor belt kept moving. This entertained my girls for a long time!

The Overlook

The overlook allows children to get a feel for the height of the Sky Climber without having to climb all the way to the top. This area has an ADA compliant entrance so all children can have the opportunity to interact with other children in the Sky Climber. My kiddos loves walking on the netted floor and climbing on the provided stepping-stone like structures.

Third Floor

Tiny’s Diner

Tiny’s Diner was my twins absolute favorite spot in the whole museum. They played here for a full hour before i had to gently encourage them to check out some other exhibits. They are very into playing “restaurant” at home, so this was perfect for them.

This area is set up like a 50’s style diner, and the attention to detail is amazing! The kitchen is fully stocked with realistic play food, pots and pans, sink, dishes, order tickets, etc. There are booths with menus, a cash register and a counter with barstools. Kids can pretend to be a chef, waitress, customer, etc.

Wonders of Water

Wonder’s of Water was a close second for all 3 girls favorite spots. This is an entire room dedicated to water play! There is a huge water table for all ages – one end is super low to the ground for little ones, and even has a clip on high chair so the tiniest kiddos can play! Another water table is designated for lego play. There is a cool sink and float sorting tank as well as a bubble ring where you can stand inside a bubble! (though we had a hard time getting this to work!)

A favorite for my girls in this area was the window squeeges. Kids could spray the windows with a spray bottle and squeegee them off! So simple but so fun and really entertaining for kids!

There is another mostly fenced off area that is designated for “very wet” water play. Water shoots out of the floor and kids can connect pipes to make their own fountain. There is also a hose where kids can aim at different objects to make different sounds. Pre-covid, smocks and water shoes were provided, but for now they are currently unavailable. As I previously shared, I strongly suggest bringing an extra change of clothes and water shoes to play in this area!

At the exit of the water room there are dryers mounted on the wall to help kids dry off after playing.

Other Third Floor Activities:

We didn’t get to visit these areas, but click the links below to learn more about these exhibits!

Heading Home!

Our play session ended at 1 pm – we actually played non-stop the entire time and didn’t even stop for lunch! The museum begins making announcements 30 minutes prior to the session ending to remind guests that they will need to exit by 1. I felt like 3 hours was a good amount of time to spend here with toddlers, and we definitely hope to go back soon now that we have a good idea of the layout of the museum and what they have to offer. Upon exiting the museum, they will check your receipt so make sure you keep it handy. We had the best day here! I would love to hear your experiences if you decide to visit Port Discovery!

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