In case you missed the news coverage, tweets, or facebook posts — Sailabration has rowed into town! What is Sailabration? An international parade of more than 40 tall ships and naval vessel, sailing into Baltimore for the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The Star-Spangled event features free tours of the ships, waterside festivities, an airshow featuring the Blue Angels, and the world-premiere of “Overture for 2012,” composed by Philip Glass.

We’ve got the 411 on the best bets for families, courtesy of Beth Laverick, marketing manager for the Waterfront Partnership. Thanks for sharing, Beth!

Great Stops for Family Sailabration Fun

Family Zone at McKeldin Square (that sort of Island at the intersection of Light Street and Pratt Street): You can build a boat and float it in a little pond, arts and crafts, boat safety, coloring, etc. The build a boat is really neat — but I think it will get extremely crowded. Get there early.

Rash Field: There’s an “adventure zone” which has a rock climbing wall and a ferris wheel, food vendors etc.

West Shore Park: There a big stage with live music – a really great lineup! Starting tomorrow, Waterfront Partnership is going to set up a play zone (similar set up to the last Summer Social) with a ton of toys, Waterfront Kids staff, stroller valet, and a beer garden. It will be right next to the fountain (which will be on!).

Pier 5 Area: There is a small table set up in the grassy area behing McCormick’s to the right of the red lighthouse that is selling beer and wine. It’s pretty shaded — nice place to relax.

Attractions – The Science Center is doing a $10 admission for Sailabration and people can come and go as they please. If you have a family membership it might be nice to duck in and out of the air conditioning to cool off.

Ships: They are so neat! There are lines to some of them, but it looked like they were moving quickly. I didn’t have my stroller with me, but I think you would need to leave it at the bottom of the ramp. So, I would recommend bringing a baby carrier if you have a little one and an extra set of hands since you are climbing a ramp over the Harbor… or maybe I am the only one with a toddler who would think it would be fun to dive into the water….

Air Show: The dress rehearsal happens tomorrow between 1pm and 4pm {hint hint}. You can watch from the Fort or from Canton Waterfront. So if you can catch the rehearsal, you might have fewer crowds than will be at the fort on Saturday and Sunday. Also,  it can get loud as the planes fly really low… so ear plugs may not be a bad idea for babies…

Some other helpful hints…

Walk (if possible) from Little Italy or Federal Hill: The garage at Central and Bank charges $3 after 4pm on weekdays and $3 all day Saturday and Sunday, I am pretty sure even on event days. It’s totally worth it to walk a little extra and avoid the traffic/ high parking rates. Or, I would take the water taxi…

Water:Pack a lot of water/ maybe even frozen water bottles…

Pack snacks: Lots of visitors in town mean crowded busy restaurants. Who wants to deal with long waits with young kids?

Bring a stroller: Even if your child normally walks there’s a ton going on and they may get tired easily and you definitely don’t want to get stuck

Bring a bathing suit: The Walter Sondheim Fountain will be on all weekend! Great place to cool off.

Bring a blanket: If you plan on staying at West Shore Park, bring a picnic blanket for lunch. There aren’t a ton of tables

Patience: Yes, it is very crowded, but it is really, really neat to see sailors from all over the world, tall ships, live entertainment, etc. People are loving our city! Little kids — although they may not last the whole day — will definitely enjoy it!


Photo Credit: Photo by Kate Hendrickson, courtesy of