If I told you how many times I said the words, "no way!" or "that's crazy!" after our visit to Ripley's at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, I am almost certain you would believe it...or not! My family and I finally visited this awesome museum of bizarre and fascinating items over the weekend. It did not disappoint at all. And let's just say that if my toddler sits still and is amazed, it was a complete success.
Ripley's Believe it or Not! is located in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace (301 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202), surrounded by other great stores (H&M, Urban Outfitters) and restaurants (Bubba Gump Shrimp, The Cheesecake Factory). This spot makes it the perfect opportunity for a one-stop day out with the family – there's plenty to do within walking distance. In fact, we enjoyed lunch at Miss Shirley's Cafe just before visiting Ripley's. We walked a few blocks from the restaurant to reach our destination. Even with the chill of the wind, it was still sunny and a rather pleasant walk over to the Inner Harbor. There are plenty of parking garages nearby for you to park and walk as well.
Ripley's was gracious enough to provide my family and me with complimentary tickets to visit this particular location. Our group included two adults, one child (ages 4-12) and a toddler. We were given a 3-way combo ticket that allowed us to experience the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. Currently, there is a special that will allow you to try all three for only $25.99. That's a great deal (but it won't last, so always check the site to see the current ticket prices). The combo tickets are a great way to save money.
Even before you start your adventures at Ripley's, there is so much to see at the main entrance. There is a 12ft. Transformer, a wooden car (that is really a boat) and cool artwork(made of shotgun shells). My curiosity peeked from seeing these items alone.
Make sure you bring your camera (or charge your phone). There are several photo opportunities to be had. We ran into several before we left the main floor.
The "piano stairs" set the tone for the fun up ahead. My oldest son and I took the stairs to go to the second floor. Each step that we took created a note, like a modern version of the giant, floor keyboard. I joked about having one of these in the house. It would drive me nuts, but it seemed highly appropriate for this setting.
Don't worry if you cannot take the steps. You can still hear the lovely notes as each guest makes their way up. If you are in a group with a wheelchair or stroller user, there is an elevator to get you to where you need to go.
We wasted no time checking out all the great exhibits and reading the fascinating facts. If I can make one suggestion, it would be to take it all in. Do not just breeze through – stop, read and relish in the moment. Even Liam was able to touch the buttons to activate the displays. he loved this part.
This is meant to be an entertaining experience, but there is also a lot of new information to take away. You will be surprised at all the knowledge you gain. In fact, I am still thinking about a few new facts that I read at Ripley's.
I almost felt like I was in an art museum. The pieces on display were stunning. There were times that I stood there in amazement and whispered the words (as mentioned at the beginning of this post), "no way!"
I was pleasantly surprised by all of the fun stuff that my youngest son could take part in. Ripley's does not cater to one age group in specific because there is something for everyone to enjoy. We let Liam, who is almost two, push buttons and touch certain exhibits. He was extremely stimulated during our visit. He never cried, whined or asked to get out of his stroller (btw, there is plenty of room for a stroller to maneuver). There was just so much to see. The amount of interaction was a blast. We were allowed to touch, try and test in almost every area we were in. That is a plus.
The fun and exploration continued. Check out these great items:
A castle from Harry Potter made of matchsticks
(genuine) Shruken Heads
A dinosaur constructed from Pop Tarts foil
We were instructed to put on plastic gloves upon entering the mirror maze...and for good reason. As soon as we entered, our hands touched the glass as we felt our way through. Thank goodness for Kaden, who led the way. I was complete ignorant to which way to go. I ran into the mirrors a few times and almost lost my party.
Things you should know:
There is not telling how many people will be in the Odditorium when you visit. Be prepared to have to wait to see or test out items. Have patience – it's worth it. We were lucky to visit at a time where there were not many people. It was around 4PM on Saturday.
Take your time. Read the informative signs beside each item. You will learn something. There is no set time on when you will finish. An estimate of 1 to 1.5 hours to explore Ripley's sounds about right. It's really up to you and also depends on how large your group is.
Be respectful. If is says "do not touch", do not touch. Keep your voices down, even though there are times where excitement can be high. If there is an interactive display, make sure you don't hog it. Let others waiting in line get their turn and return if you have to.
Do come back. I think I will have to visit again...maybe even alone. This way, I can stop and go as I want, perhaps I'll even discover something new.
Dress comfortably. There is a lot of walking. Also, if you want to do some of the interactive exhibits, you want to have on the right clothing.
Try all three attractions – the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. At least to say you did. The Odditorium alone is a lot of fun. We could have skipped the mirror maze and would have been just fine.
Check out other Ripley's locations. If you are traveling, you should see if your area has a Ripley's. They are all different. I remember visiting my first one on vacation in the 90s in Virginia Beach. It can easily become a family tradition.
Overall, we enjoyed our time at Ripley's. Each member of our family was able to enjoy some aspect of this visit. We learned and laughed. We even had to use a bit of teamwork in the maze. I would definitely recommend you put this on your list of things to do the next time you visit the Baltimore Inner Harbor.
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