The backstories of most famous pirates are filled with ruthless deeds and dangerous raids. Inspired by their own kids' love for all things pirate-related, two mothers founded Urban Pirates. The swashbuckling crew whisks families on one-hour voyages around the Baltimore Inner Harbor in the 52-foot ship Fearless, regaling them with maritime songs, games, and activities. But the passengers aren't mere spectators—they become real members of the crew, donning pirate costumes complete with drawn tattoos and facial hair and manning water cannons to help protect the ship when it's stormed by rival pirates.
The charismatic buccaneers can also personalize their charters, whether by distributing eye patches and other goodies to birthday-party guests, hosting on-the-water weddings, or guiding corporate groups through team-building exercises, such as teaching a parrot to say "profits are up!" On evening adult cruises, they even encourage patrons to bring their own grog from home. And, though the Fearless stays moored for the winter, the crew hardly abandons their mission to spark young imaginations. Rather than take to the sea, they visit Baltimore libraries and put on free pirate-themed story events that also incorporate games and songs.
Baltimore Helicopter Services whisks their clientele away from the workaday hubbub of gridlocked traffic with the help of their fleet of luxurious charter helicopters. With a service area ranging from Norfolk to New York, the choppers can transport passengers to Pittsburgh in just 90 minutes. Taking off from their helipad located near Inner Harbor, the first-class helicraft also zip through city tours promising unobstructed sky-high sightlines, helping passengers snap shots of skyline residents including the Legg Mason Building, the Baltimore World Trade Center, and the 70-story statue of Cal Ripken, Jr.
When Superior Tours looks for new drivers, it wants polite, reliable, and personable people, and it doesn't even consider those with fewer than five years of experience. Its drivers all work only for Superior Tours so that they can be on time and well rested for each trip. Luxury, 54-passenger motorcoaches pick up groups from the airport, ferry people to New York City for a day of urban exploration, or steer toward Atlantic City where passengers can hit the slots. The company also programs charter trips for corporate outings, church trips, and charter-bus-of-the-month clubs.
Committing their enterprise to eco-friendly tourism, the women at SegZone Tours guide visitors through the historic streets of Annapolis, along the city waterways of Dover, and around the track at Dover International Speedway—all aboard segways. For groups or private parties, tour leaders can also focus excursions on local gardens, architecture, and wildlife in areas often unreachable by car or paraglider. They also guide themed seasonal tours, such as rides along haunted-house routes or past holiday-light displays. With an eye toward safety, staff members always provide thorough instruction on riding before tours or rentals, though they often give customers license to race or argue over whose segway would look better with flames painted on the side. When not leading guided excursions for customers or school groups, the team organizes corporate team-building events as well as indoor obstacle courses for recreation.
Historic Annapolis at St. John’s College preserves and celebrates the area’s rich social and political history with tours of the colonial city and its landmark homes. The nonprofit group restored the Paca House & Garden, National Historic Landmark, to its colonial-era glory so that visitors could wander the rooms and gardens and travel back in time to an era teeming with revolutionary political ideas and patriotism. A historical museum holds exhibits that illuminate the past, such as a six-foot-by-six-foot model of 18th-century Annapolis and a wormhole to Ben Franklin’s kite shop. At Hogshead at 43 Pinkney Street, living history presentations immerse visitors in the language and thoughts of long-ago citizens. Historic Annapolis also hosts a variety of public events, from historical interpreters presenting on colonial life to summer camps for burgeoning history buffs.
Parker Jones worked his way from the ground up to helm Capital Bicycle, which first opened in 1970. He started his career at Capital in 1996 as a once-a-week employee looking to get a good deal on parts and escape the mournful howls of his neglected sedan, but within months he became a store mechanic. A year, he later took control of the entire store, and ultimately, he became its sole owner.
Jones set out to expand the shop’s services in both scope and size, and today, Capital resides in a 4,000-square-foot shop and is one of the region’s first concept stores for California-based bicycle manufacturer Specialized. Customers flock to the shop to purchase Specialized bikes and Bellwether apparel, and they can find their ideal bicycle fit with the help of an in-house certified body-geometry technician. Capital also fosters its own cycling community with a schedule of group rides and helps cyclists to keep tabs on other local events.