Most visitors to this historic port city board some sort of vessel and earn their sea legs on the river-fed harbor. Think water taxis, boats in the shape of a dragon, even a treasure ship that kids guard with water cannon against "pirates." But water also factors here as respite from maritime commerce and urban bustle. Fountains appear beside monuments dedicated to heroes, and swimming pools provide relief from the hear at Patterson Park and Druid Hill Park. Nice note: The first U.S. public water fountain once bubbled in Mount Vernon Square.
Head to the Inner Harbor where the National Aquarium opens at 9 a.m., many days with dolphin encounters that star an acrobatic pod of six females, two males. After a "sustainable seafood" lunch at on-site Harbor Market Kitchen, report to Pier 1 for duty on the Constellation, an all-sail warship of 1854.
A Mies van der Rohe tower rises at Charles Center, its Hopkins Plaza graced by "Flora," a coiled aluminum fountain by sculptor Wendy Ross. Steps away, water brims from granite basins in the Center Plaza greenspace. Tables and chairs at both sites offer views of downtown's eclectic skyline.
Many chefs here take inspiration from the proximity of the Chesapeake Bay. Oceanaire, a glam seafood spot in Harbor East, casts even wider nets. Book dinner in its luxe (nautical) digs. Then stroll along the water's edge to Fells Point pubs or onto piers where glowing tents signal rockin' concerts.