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While you need a few months in Washington, DC to fit everything in, sometimes you just want to get out and see more! Baltimore is a great option that offers a different city feel with some great cultural and historical options. A day trip to Baltimore from DC is easy – on public transportation or by car – and fun – from Children’s Museum to Fort McHenry and one of the oldest saloons in the country! This three part series will get you there, get you around, and get you sightseeing!
HOW TO GET THERE:
If you have a car, driving is the best option. It’s only a short one hour drive on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295). Note: This is also the commuters preferred route so keep that in mind during rush hour. You’ll likely be going the opposite direction of the commuters, but traffic can be a pain!
Parking in Baltimore is made simple through a service called Parking Panda. You can view all of the garages in the area and their prices for your required time period. Simply select a garage that works for you and pay ahead of time. Parking Panda will email you the parking pass and you will have a spot saved for you at the garage, guaranteed.
Another option is to use public transportation. Buses and Trains both have daily service to Baltimore. Train and bus options leave from Union Station (Red Line on the DC Metro). Just beware that the red line is notorious for delays so give yourself plenty of time to get to the station. There are plenty of food options in the station so a good idea is to plan on grabbing breakfast there and you can cut it short or relax depending on what time you get there! Once in the station, the train tracks are on the ground level in the back – they support both Amtrak and MARC trains, so be sure you get on the right train. Buses depart from the rear parking garage and there are signs throughout the station to help you get back there from the Metro.
This is the best option for those without cars or who don’t want to worry about parking. You can take either the commuter MARC train or the Amtrak train. Baltimore has great public transport options around the city, so you won’t be confined to only walkable areas.
The MARC train from Union Station offers a one hour trip for $7 one way. Tickets can be bought at the station from any ticket kiosk. (Don’t be worried that it says Amtrak on it!) The machines accept all major credit cards.
You choose which station you’re going to but the ticket is good on any time train and valid for the next six months. It also doesn’t matter is all the tickets have one person’s name on it. They do not check that the name on the ticket matches the rider’s ID. As long as each person has a ticket. If you’re running late for the train and don’t have a ticket – don’t worry! You can buy tickets on the train for $10 cash paid to the conductor as he checks tickets.
There are a three MARC train lines that depart Union Station: Camden, Penn and Brunswick. You can ignore the Brunswick Line.
PENN LINE – this line will bring you to the city center. The trains on this route are nicer, newer, and faster. The train service also runs more frequently with off peak and even weekend hours. The station itself is not near most of the tourist sites but is well connected to the entire city by light rail, bus, and taxi service. Penn Line Quick Schedule (Mon-Fri) and (Weekend)
CAMDEN LINE – this historic line has older trains, slower service and only runs during commuter hours – however, if that fit’s into your schedule, Camden station is closer to Camden Yards, Met Park, and the Inner Harbor. Camden Line Quick Schedule
To check the most current time schedule, the MARC website has easy to read time schedule and up to date information. MARC trains do not run on federal holidays.
Alternatively, there are Amtrak trains that travel to Baltimore’s Penn Station. You can use the same self service ticket kiosks to purchase a ticket. Ticket prices are slightly more expensive $10-15 but the trains and fast and nice. They also run during more hours: Trains depart Union Station from 3:15 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. The exact fare, availability and time schedule, as well as the option to purchase in advance on the Amtrak site.
There are two lines: Northeast Regional and Acela Express. They both run regularly from Union Station and while Acela is an express train, it’ll cost you double the ticket fare to save only 11 minutes! The higher rate might not be worth it on such a short journey.
Greyhound buses depart Union Station from 1 a.m. until 10 p.m for a 1-1.5 hour journey depending on how many stops they make. The fare is anywhere from $8.50-$14.50 for a one way journey. The bus station in DC is in the parking garage of Union Station. When you arrive in Baltimore, the bus station is south of Camden Marc Station. About a 15 minute walk to the Met Stadium/Camden Yards area and then 15 minutes to the Inner Harbor. Advanced tickets bought online will save you the most money!
Bolt Buses also connect the two cities for a low fare of $12-$25, depending on when you book and what time you leave. The buses run nearly every hour during the day but when you purchase tickets online, you actually purchase a ticket to New York, and just alight at the Baltimore stop. It is an outdoor stop at Maryland Ave in Baltimore, not far from Penn Station.