Last month, we spent three days visiting Baltimore, Maryland and I will be covering our experiences in a series of three blog posts. Today, I am highlighting our time spent at the Maryland Science Center, Fells Point, and will also be sharing a recipe for Old Bay Doughnuts. In case you missed it, here is my post covering Port Discovery, Inner Harbor, and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Hot Chocolate.
Disclosure: I received tickets to the Maryland Science Center in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Maryland Science Center
The main event for the second day in Baltimore was our visit to the Maryland Science Center. The Maryland Science Center is located on Light Street along the southwest corner of the Inner Harbor. It is filled with three levels of science-based and hands-on exhibits along with a planetarium, observatory, and IMAX theater. Check out the hours and ticket information here (seasonally closed on Mondays).
We walked to the Science Center from our hotel in Harbor East (a little over a mile around the scenic harbor). A Water Taxi is also available to take you to different spots along the harbor and has a stop in front of the center. Parking can be validated at the following garages: Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Garage, Gallery Garage, and Arrow Parking Garage.
Most of the Maryland Science Center is wheelchair and stroller accessible, though strollers are not permitted in the theaters. We left ours in the Coat Room on the first floor.
Our first stop was Dinosaur Mysteries. Both kids especially enjoyed this exhibit and I loved how everything was completely hands-on. They got to brush for fossils, rearrange dinosaur bones, walk in the large footprints, and experiment with the other interactive stations.
Newton’s Alley was our second stop. Evan was particularly fascinated by the ball contraption and so many other activities in this section that focuses on Sir Isaac’s principles. He could have spent most of his time here.
Life Beyond Earth and SpaceLink are the center’s space-based exhibits. In Life Beyond Earth, the kids enjoyed activities such as lining up the planets (they both jumped back and squealed every time the discs reset and dropped down into the holder) and the bright and colorful solar system displays.
SpaceLink is part media center, part discovery room, and part newsroom. While Chad caught up on the latest NASA findings, Evan built rovers and Claire attempted to put together blocks with astronaut gloves.
Evan has really been focused on bones and learning about body parts lately, so Your Body: This Inside Story was another big hit. He got to lie on a bed of nails, dance, rearrange a skeleton, and discover more about the intricacies that keep our bodies going.
We spent much of our time in Science & Main. This exhibit focuses on the use of science in everyday life with puzzles and other challenges along a Baltimore-inspired Main Street. While Evan tested his tower building skills in the construction zone, Claire stuck to making chairs that were her perfect size.
In Power Up, we learned how to power household items, build circuits, distribute powder to a city, and about the use of water in hydro-electricity. Chad is an electrical engineer and particularly enjoyed going over the circuit board with Evan.
We finished with some time in the Kids Room. Dedicated for children aged 0-8, this area has so much to explore. The kids were able to work with pipes, go fishing, play with trains, build legos, read books, and find even more activities in the Learning Lab. There is also a separate area for children under the age of two to play without the risk of being run over by the bigger, excited kids.
Evan also got to experience his first IMAX movie: Journey to Space. The theater, with its five-story screen and 38 speaker surround sound, has daily showings of travelogues, Hollywood features, and innovative films. Check the schedule to see what is featured during your visit.
The center has the Elements Café onsite if you need to stop for a bite to eat and a Science Store on the first level with unique books, science kits, DVDs, games, and instruments.
Overall, we had such a wonderful visit to the Maryland Science Center. We spent about three hours here, but Evan could have easily stayed all day. Claire also enjoyed many of the activities made for her smaller size. Plan for 2-4 hours to see everything.
Baltimore Visitor Center
Just north of the Maryland Science Center is the Baltimore Visitor Center. Here you can pick up brochures, maps, guides, and tickets to different attractions. They also offer information services, restrooms, phone charging stations, and more.
Our hotel was nearby in Harbor East, so we ended up stopping by Fells Point a couple of times over the weekend. Fells Point is a historic district in southeastern Baltimore located along the Patapsco River. It is filled with unique shops, restaurants, waterfront views, and other sites.
The district is about 1 1/2 miles east of the Inner Harbor with parking garages/street parking available and a couple of Water Taxi stops. It is also home to the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum (open M-F 10-4).
We originally had plans for brunch at Rusty Scupper on our second morning, but ended up canceling them due to the threat of severe weather. Our backup plan ended up being quite delicious. Evan and I were the first ones up at roughly 7 am, so we did a quick walk to pick up some treats from Diablo Doughnuts before the thunderstorms were supposed to roll in. The storms fizzled out and turned into just a muggy, drizzly Sunday, but at least we had these wonderful doughnuts to start our day.
I loved the assortment of unique flavors. Evan and I picked out a variety half-dozen to take back to Chad and Claire at the hotel. Claire decided on the Unicorn Fart, a doughnut coated in Fruity Pebbles and drizzled with a blue icing, while Evan had his eyes on the one covered in sprinkles. Other flavors available that day included Blueberry Basil, Blackberry Lime, Samoa, Everything But the Bagel, and S’more. The one that stood out the most to me was the Captain Chesapeake (top left in the box of doughnuts photographed above). This doughnut is an ode to Maryland with its caramel glaze and sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning. I wasn’t too sure about this one, but the flavors actually worked really well together.
We always try to stop by a unique toy store during our travels and came across aMuse Toys on Thames Street. The space is small, but filled with a variety of fun toys and games for all ages, many of which I had never seen before.
The Seasoned Olive
While the kids’ favorite shop was aMuse Toys, mine was The Seasoned Olive. Located on South Broadway, The Seasoned Olive not only carries a collection of olive oils and vinegars, but also unique gifts (many Baltimore/Maryland-themed), spices, sauces, candy, and seasonal items. Flavors include Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Fig, Cinnamon Pear, Blood Orange, and Blackberry Ginger for the balsamic vinegars and Bacon, Persian Lime, Garlic, Roasted Onion, and Chipotle for the olive oils.
Perhaps the best food I tried over the weekend came from Ekiben on Eastern Avenue. We stopped here for a quick dinner before heading back to the hotel on our first night. The shop is small and a bit tight, so Chad stayed outside with the kids/stroller while I went inside to order. I decided on the Neighborhood Bird Bun (my favorite- Taiwanese Curry Fried Chicken with Sambal Mayo and Pickled Cucumber), The Original Bun (Thai Chicken Meatballs with a Coconut Peppercorn Sauce), and a side of Tempura Broccoli with Herbs, Red Onion, and Lap Cheong. The wait was short and the food was incredible. Claire also discovered a new-found love for Lap Cheong (sweetened Chinese sausage). She barely left any for the rest of us.
On our last day, we stopped by Alexander’s Tavern for a late lunch before heading back to Virginia. They have quite the collection to choose from, including a whole menu dedicated to those who are gluten-free. We started with one of their signature items- Baltimore’s Favorite Tots, Maryland-style, with crab dip, jack cheese, and a sprinkling of Old Bay. The kids enjoyed Mac and Cheese and a Cheese Quesadilla while Chad decided on The Alexander Burger with Sweet Potato Tots. We also shared the Soft Pretzel Braids with a trio of sauces- Queso, Honey Maple Dijon (so so good), and Tavern Mustard. It was a great end to our weekend.
Other notable stops in Fells Point:
I came across these spots as I was researching, but didn’t get a chance to see them in person due to hours/not enough time.
The Sound Garden
Thames Street Oyster House
Blue Moon Cafe
Lobo Fells Point
Old Bay Doughnuts
To go along with this post, I recreated Diablo Doughnut’s Captain Chesapeake Old Bay Doughnuts. The yeast-based doughnuts are topped with a creamy caramel glaze and a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning. The slightly spicy, warming seasoning pairs well and enhances the sweet caramel topping. This wasn’t the first time I had Old Bay with a doughnut (a local place here in DC once sprinkled the seasoning over a savory doughnut chicken sandwich), but the first time I had tried it with a sweet contrast. Just don’t get overzealous in your sprinkling. A little goes a long way.
I have made a few doughnut recipes over the last few years and really like this one from Brown Eyed Baker. It requires some planning in advance with a 2 hr rise, then an overnight rise, and finally a third 1 hour rise, but all this time to proof creates such a wonderful, light texture. I used this caramel glaze from Food52 and sprinkled the tops with Old Bay Seasoning before the glaze has a chance to set. Since Evan requested a chocolate doughnut (he went from hating chocolate to suddenly it becoming his favorite food), I topped a few with chocolate in place of the caramel.
I used a 3 1/2 inch circle cutter paired with a smaller 1 inch circle cutter to cut out the doughnuts. I haven’t tried it yet, but have added this doughnut cutter to my wishlist for in the future.
Old Bay Seasoning is a staple in Maryland with uses ranging from steamed seafood and crab cakes to everything else like corn on the cob, fries, popcorn, steamed vegetables, burgers, and even cocktails. It was created in 1939 by German immigrant, Gustav Brunn, and can be found in the spice section of many grocery stores or you can make your own. Have a huge canister of Old Bay Seasoning like I do and looking for ways to use it? Check out my Boardwalk Fries and Maryland Crab Dip.
Old Bay Doughnuts Recipe
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm water, 105-115˚F
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (340 grams) all-purpose flour
Shortening or vegetable oil for frying
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
3/4-1 cup (85-113 grams) sifted powdered sugar
3/4 cup (85 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Old Bay Seasoning for sprinkling
To make the doughnuts: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water. Stir briefly and allow to sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
Mix in the sugar, salt, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and flour to create a soft, smooth dough. If too sticky, slowly add a little more flour.
Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
Gently deflate the risen dough, cover again, and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Use a dough cutter or 3 1/2 inch circle cutter with a smaller 1 inch circle cutter to cut out the doughnuts and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover and allow to rest until puffed, about 1 hour.
In a deep saucepan or fryer, heat a couple inches of shortening or vegetable oil to 360˚F.
Gently add the doughnuts, a few at a time to not overcrowd the pan, and cook until golden, about 1 minute per side. Remove to a towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining doughnuts. Allow to cool on a wire rack to room temperature before coating in glaze.
To make the caramel glaze: Roughly chop the butter and place in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring and continue to boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
Allow to cool for two minutes, then slowly whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth and thick enough to cover the tops of the doughnuts. If too thick, add a little more cream.
To make the chocolate glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in milk and vanilla extract until smooth. If too thick, add a little more milk. If too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.
To serve: Immediately dip the tops of the doughnuts in the desired glaze and top with a light sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning. Allow to set briefly before serving.