Hail a ride on the water taxi this summer


Updated June 2017

By Laura Barnhardt Cech

There are kids who love the water taxi. And then, there's Michael Hankey.

The Magothy River Middle School student has ridden the water taxi so often between Annapolis and Eastport that he's learned all the stops, all the routes, all the boats, and all the captains.

"He would go on three or four rides a day if he could," says his dad Barry Kessler, a Colonial tour guide in Annapolis.

Photo by Scott Cech


Water taxi fun

WaterTaxi5Michael Hankey driving the taxiThe Arnold family, including Michael's other dad, David Hankey, (he has two) and 14-year-old sister, Helen, often take the taxi from the docks to Eastport, and then walk back over the bridge to Ego Alley. Because he has sensory processing issues caused by a genetic syndrome, the vibrations of the small boats are especially soothing to Michael.

He looks forward to the rides so much that, over spring break, Kessler took him to see the taxi maintenance yard, where they met one of the company owners. So taken with Michael's devotion, she made him the first — and only — honorary member of the water taxi fan club.

Your family may also become taxi fans. Whether you're looking for an inexpensive family outing, an introduction to the water (no one wants to find out on a two-hour cruise that their toddler doesn't enjoy boats), or a way to spice up your tours when relatives come to visit, the water taxi — in Annapolis or Baltimore — is a great place to start.

"You get a different perspective from the water," says Susan Woody, an Annapolis mother of two teenagers, who started riding water taxis when her kids were toddlers. "It's a lot of fun. The kids love it."

The Baltimore and Annapolis water taxi services are owned and operated separately. Both have stops close to restaurants, parks and other family-friendly destinations.

Amie Carson, a teacher with two daughters, takes the water taxi from their Eastport apartment to get ice cream at Storm Brothers or Kilwin's in Annapolis.

It's a treat, but Carson says it also gives the girls exposure to the water. "We don't have access to a boat," she says.

Both the Annapolis Water Taxi and the Baltimore Water Taxi are designed to be family-friendly. Trips take about 15 minutes, and you usually won't have to wait longer than that for a boat. However, if you want to get to a specific destination, check with the crew because you may need to change boats, especially in Baltimore.

For frequent riders, Baltimore offers an Annual Family Pass, which provides unlimited rides, and all-day rates.

"If you use our coupon book, you can easily build a full-day of entertainment," says Michael McDaniel, president and CEO of the company that operates the Baltimore Water Taxi. "Most stops are at major attractions."

And depending on the time of day — and how busy they are — both services occasionally allow families to ride round-trip. Just check with the captain first.

Helpful hints when riding the Water Taxi

  • Be prepared to pay for your fare in cash.
  • Strollers should be folded up, and the crew will stow them for you.
  • Keep your kids seated — no leaning out of the boat.
  • Because the boats are less than 1,000 feet from shore, life jackets are not required. But you can wear them. They're easy to see on the boat, and come in adult and children's sizes.
  • The Coast Guard adopted higher standards for passenger capacity after the 2004 capsizing of a water taxi in Baltimore that killed five people, including a 6-year-old. The company that operated the service then is no longer in business.

Baltimore/Annapolis water taxi itineraries

Baltimore Water Taxi
Cost: Adults all-day, $14; Children all-day, $6.
May 1 through Sept. 7, Sunday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Highlights: Five routes with 12 stops.

1. Aquarium: In addition to the main destination, you're a few blocks walk from Port Discovery Children's Museum.

2. Harborplace: This tourist attraction includes an array of shops and restaurants, including Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Rita's, and Charm City Cupcakes. The paddle boats, Ripley's Believe It Or Not! and the Historic Ships are perennial kid favorites.

3. Science Center: It's easy to overlook this stop, depending on the tide. But it's directly in front of the Science Center at the Water Taxi pole sign.

4. Rusty Scupper: Reward good behavior at dinner with a ride.

5. Pier 5: Stops in front of McCormick and Schmidt's, near Ruth Chris Steakhouse

Important note: there is no stop number 6, 9, 12, 13 or 15.

7. Little Italy/ Harbor East: Stops near the Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Within a few blocks of Harbor East shops, including Haagen Daz and Whole Foods.

8. Maritime Park: Stops in front of the Waterfront Kitchen. Also, home to the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Marine Railway and Museum, which is open daily.

10. Locust Point: An one-time working class neighborhood, it is Baltimore's next up and coming place to be. You can walk to Fort McHenry from here and L.P. Steamers — a Baltimore institution.

11. Fells Point: Sure, there are dozens of restaurants and shops here. But your kids will probably most enjoy aMuse Toys and and stopping for ice cream. You may also spot the Urban Pirate ship that docks nearby.

14. Captain James Landing: Stops at the Captain James Crab Deck, just across the street from the ship-shaped restaurant.

16. Canton Waterfront Park: Slice of a park with pretty benches to watch the ships and sailboats go by. This is also the stop for Bo Brooks Restaurant and Canton Dockside.

17. Fort McHenry: There is no better way to see the home of the Star Spangled Banner than to arrive at the National Park by boat.

Annapolis Water Taxi
Cost: $3-$8 one-way
Daily through Oct. 3. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (weekdays will begin at 9:30 a.m. after Memorial Day).
Highlights: This seasonal service runs frequently between the Annapolis Docks and Eastport, but will also go to farther points. There is no set route. Check with the captain before you board, and they'll get to the closest stop to your destination.

1. City Dock
Ice cream, local shops and family-friendly restaurants secure its place as a top family outing.

2. Eastport
You have your pick of waterfront restaurants, from the Carroll's Creek to Chart House (which has its own stop). If you're traveling before 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday (5 p.m. Saturday) pop into Leeward Market for sandwiches, breakfast or a little treat.

3. Spa Creek- Annapolis side

4. Spa Creek- Eastport SideThe taxi will also go to Truxtun Park, which has a public swimming pool, picnic areas and two playgrounds.

5. Back Creek- Eastport Side
Most stops are private residential complexes. But one stop is the Annapolis Maritime Museum, where visitors can learn about oysters and local maritime history.

6. Back Creek- Bay Ridge Side
Ellen Moyer Nature Park at Back Creek, which has picnic areas and trails, is accessible by taxi.