Rail Services to Baltimore
Amtrak operates passenger service to the cities between Washington, DC (Union Station) and Boston, MA, stopping in Baltimore at BWI Airport and Penn Station. The Charm City Circulator bus can get you between Penn Station and the Baltimore Convention Center.
The MARC train is a commuter train system that runs between Baltimore and Union Station in Washington, DC. The Camden Line is the best option for traveling between Baltimore and DC, as it stops at Camden Yards, right across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center. The Penn Line is another option that stops at BWI Airport and Penn Station. As with Amtrak, if you take this train into Baltimore you can get to the Convention Center via the Charm City Circulator.
The Baltimore Light Rail , a commuter train, is another way to get from BWI Airport to the Convention Center.
Getting Around Without a Car
The Charm City Circulator is a free bus service that runs in four loops (Orange, Purple, Green, and Banner Lines) through the downtown area. The buses are electric hybrids. Bus service ends at 9:00pm Sunday-Thursday and midnight Friday-Saturday. The Orange Line runs past the Convention Center on Pratt Street, and the Purple and Banner Lines can be boarded about a block away at Pratt and Light Streets. The Banner Line runs to Fort McHenry. The Purple Line runs north to Penn Station (Amtrak service) and south to the Federal Hill neighborhood. There is also a Harbor Connector which will carry you by boat across the harbor.
Baltimore has two commuter rail systems that can get you downtown quickly from parking lots in the outlying neighborhoods. One is the Baltimore Light Rail, which runs a north-south route and stops at Camden Yards, across the street from the Convention Center. Tickets are $1.60 one-way. The other is the Subway, which runs in a northwest-southeast direction from Owings Mills to Johns Hopkins Hospital. It stops at Baltimore and Charles Streets, which is about 4 blocks north of the Convention Center. Parking is free at the stops outside the city, and the number of spaces is more than adequate for normal traffic, but extra traffic due to a convention might fill up the lots.
The Baltimore Water Taxi makes trips between several landings on both sides of the harbor. This includes Fort McHenry, but you can only board it at Fort McHenry if you have ridden it to Fort McHenry. It requires you to buy tickets.
Old Ellicott City , a popular antiques and crafts district, where Frederick Road (Route 144, called Main Street where it goes through Ellicott City) crosses the Patapsco river.
Before and After the Conference
Before coming to Baltimore for the conference, you might want to go to Washington, DC for the annual Cherry Blossom Parade, which will be held on the Saturday before the conference starts, April 13. The cherry trees typically bloom during the first week of April, and the blossoms will probably be gone by the time of the parade. DC is difficult to drive in, but the extensive DC Metro subway makes it easy to get around. You can get to DC from Baltimore on the MARC train.
If you can stay after the conference, you can visit the EPA National Sustainable Design Expo on the Mall in DC on Sunday, April 21. It actually opens Friday afternoon, but it conflicts with Solar 2013 and the SolarFest on Friday and Saturday. Then Baltimore Green Week starts on Monday, April 22, and ends with the EcoFest on Saturday, April 27. Also on April 27, the University of Maryland, College Park holds its annual Maryland Day. This is a major event where the University invites the public to see what the various departments are doing.
There are too many attractions in Baltimore to cover here, including museums, historic sites, cruises, restaurants, and concerts. A few are mentioned below. The Visit Baltimore web site, provides a wealth of information, and it sells a “Harbor Pass” that gets you into five local attractions at a discount. The Baltimore Visitors’ Center at 401 Light Street, just east of the Convention Center, is open 9am – 6pm daily from April 1 through September 30. The National Park Service conducts walking tours that leave from the Visitors Center.
Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner, is probably Baltimore’s best known attraction, and it is currently observing the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The fort is open daily from 8:00am to 4:45pm. The Banner Line of the Charm City Circulator takes you to the fort.
The Baltimore Orioles will play at Camden Yards, just west of the Convention Center, every night starting at 7pm from Tuesday, April 16 through the end of the conference. On Tuesday-Thursday they will play the Tampa Bay Rays, and on Friday-Sunday they will play the Los Angeles Dodgers. Camden Yards also has a sports legends museum, and Babe Ruth’s birthplace is three blocks west. A few blocks further west is the B&O Railroad Museum .
The Port Discovery Children’s Museum is a few blocks inland, at 35 Market Place. During the conference, they will be running a Wizard of Oz exhibit. On Saturday, April 20, at 1pm they have a children’s veterinary medicine program scheduled (limited space). The Orange Line of the Charm City Circulator takes you to within a block of the museum
To the east of the Inner Harbor is Little Italy, with many popular Italian restaurants. Further east is Fells Point, a historic district where ghost walks are conducted on Friday and Saturday nights (there is a charge).
A number of cruise ships work out of Baltimore. One unique cruise intended for kids is Urban Pirates, a pirate ship that sails from Fells Point on one-hour cruises. Passengers get dressed up like pirates and learn to operate water cannons. They also offer adult cruises. In spite of the name, they do not teach you to how disable the copy protection on movie DVDs.
Sherwood Gardens is a 6-acre garden planted with azaleas and tulips, which should be in bloom during Solar 2013. The peak bloom is in late April. There is no admission fee. The gardens are located about 4.5 miles north of the Convention Center, at the 4100 block of the Greenway. The Circulator does not go that far north, so the best way to get there is to drive. The #11 MTA bus goes close to the gardens, but it’s about a half hour between buses. Either by car or bus, it’s best to go as a group.
Baltimore is one of the few places where you can experience duckpin bowling. Both the balls and pins are smaller than those used in regular bowling, so the game is more challenging and scores are lower. However, the smaller balls are easier on the arms. Not all bowling alleys offer duckpins, so check before you go to one.
Camping is available at Patapsco State Park, Hollofield Area on U.S. Route 40 west of Baltimore. The park is situated in the 200-foot-deep Patapsco River gorge. In April this will be cold weather camping. There is no transit service from the park to the Convention Center.
Also in the Patapsco River gorge is Old Ellicott City, a popular antiques and crafts district, where Frederick Road (Route 144, called Main Street where it goes through Ellicott City) crosses the Patapsco river.
Thank you to MASES, ASES’ host chapter for SOLAR 2013, for putting together this page.