Sizzlin’ Summer Calendar
Published: May 18, 2011
Stuff to See
Adventure Park USA, 11113 W. Baldwin Road, New Market, (301) 865-6800, adventureparkusa.com. A (mini) rollercoaster, bumper cars, bumper boats, go-karts, mini-golf, laser tag, an arcade, and more. Miss anything? Don’t think so, and neither does this fairly comprehensive fun park on I-70.
Clark’s Elioak Farm, 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 730-4049, clarklandfarm.com. There are all manner of farm animals here for petting, plus picnic/party areas and the outsized fairytale papier-mache figures that once populated the late 40 East roadside attraction Enchanted Forest, which oughta keep mom and dad (assuming they’re locals) from not thinking about how hot it is for about 15 minutes.
Druid Hill Park, druidhillpark.org. We love Druid Hill, and if you’re a right-thinking city dweller, you do too. In addition to all sorts of playground equipment, there are acres of playing fields, grassy meadows, trees, and walking/biking paths.
Hershey Park, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pa., (717) 534-3900, hersheypark.com. One short day-trip away lie all the thrill rides, games, and amusement-park-type activities you can handle. Plus, chocolate everything.
Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9200, explorenature.org. Sometimes you’re seized with a desire to get out in the woods with the kids, but what woods? May we suggest this handy slice of suburban forest with lovely trails and fields, plus a super-cool nature center that often hosts fun activities.
Knoebels Amusement Park, Route 487 between Elysburg and Catawissa, Pa. (800) 487-4386, knoebels.com. There are bigger amusement parks, and there are newer, fancier amusement parks, but none in our experience steal the whole family’s hearts like Knoebels does. Nestled in a shady grove of trees (a selling point for sure), in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, Knoebels specializes in rehabbed old-school rides and cheap old-school fair food, plus a giant pool for a cool dip on a hot day. Best of all, everything is individually priced—no general admission charge, just pay as you have fun.
Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, mdsci.org. The coolest hands-on kid attraction in the city, maybe the state, plus, you know, they might actually learn something. The traveling exhibition schedule seems to be cooling it for the summer, but hey, there’s always the IMAX theater and the planetarium and the. . . .
Meadowood Regional Park, 10650 Falls Road, Lutherville, (410) 887-3678, baltimorecountymd.gov. All kinds of county-sponsored outdoor fun, just outside the I-695 loop, with playgrounds, ball fields, a jogging/biking loop, and (the secret weapon) a handy creek.
Oregon Ridge Park, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, (410) 887-1818, baltimorecountymd.gov. Another multi-faceted county park, this one featuring historic stuff, hiking trails, and a nature center, plus a swimming beach.
Patterson Park, pattersonpark.com. The east-side’s big city park, with all the playing fields, playgrounds, and romping opportunities that entails.
Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, Pa., (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org. We don’t know why more Baltimore parents don’t seem to know about this place, but it’s a huge old historic building absolutely stuffed with awesome stuff for your little kids to play on and learn from. Put it together with some of the other Philly-area attractions and you’ve got a great day trip, maybe even a weekend.
Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, portdiscovery.org. A children’s museum that doesn’t neglect the important physical-activity factor—most especially thanks to its towering central climbing structure. Smart fun that’ll still send ’em home sweaty and tuckered out.
Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave., Upper Marlboro, (301) 249-1500, sixflags.com. The national amusement-park chain has a PG County location, with all the usual rides, games, attractions, etc.
Stuff to Do
Rock the Farm Family Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 21, 7612 Willow Road, Frederick, tots2tweens.com. Wow, the ’90s were a long time ago: The headliner for this annual family friendly rock concert is erstwhile alt-hitmaker Everclear. Among the other acts filling out the running order are local reggae stalwart Jah Works, the Frederick Rock School, Dis-Funk-Shun, and Disney-groomed tween diva Coco Jones.
The Sound of Music, the Children’s Playhouse of Maryland, 1 p.m. May 21-23, Community College of Baltimore County, Essex; 7201 Rossville Blvd., Rosedale, (443) 840-2787, ccbcmd.edu. The Children’s Playhouse winds down its season with two more performances of this musical classic.
How to Eat Like a Child, 1 and 3 p.m. May 21-22, Pumpkin Theatre, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Art Center at St. Timothy’s School, Stevenson, (410) 828-1814, pumpkintheatre.com. This venerable children’s theater company strays from the fairytale classics for its season-ender, opting instead for friendly musical advice to kids from grown-up-kid performers.
Balticon, May 27-30, Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, balticon.org. It’s back: the epic, non-stop orgy of sci-fan fandom that is Balticon. Expect the usual vendors, workshops, panels, screenings, cosplay, and so on, plus official guest of honor, sci-fi author/eminence Ben Bova.
Patterson Park Fishing Festival, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. June 11, Patterson Park, pattersonpark.com. Drop a line in the park’s boat lake (best to bring your own, though Parks and Rec will have a handful for borrowing) for some urban angling, with a side of games and crafts.
Carnival Science, June 11-12, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, mdsci.org. The Science Center goes under the big top—metaphorically, at least—for a day of circus-themed hands-on experiments/learning opportunities, plus circus-themed games and entertainment.
Father’s Tie Day, June 12, Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway, (410) 727-4808, thebmi.org. Still looking for that perfect gift for Father’s Day? The BMI offers a chance for kids to make a tie for dad, in addition to a tour of the museum’s industrial-heyday holdings, and of course it’ll mean more ’cause he/she made it. Advanced registration required; check the BMI web site for more kids-make-your-own events.
Wild Ocean 3D, begins June 18, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, mdsci.org. A new title joins the regular rotation of films playing the Science Centers ginormous IMAX screen: Wild Ocean, an exploration of the annual migration of billions of fish up the coast of South Africa, as well as the charismatic aquatic mega-fauna—whales, dolphins, sharks, etc.—who show up to chow down. Did we mention it’s in eye-popping 3D?
Go Skateboarding Day, June 21, goskateboardingday.org. Grab your deck and hit it.
The Great Scale Model Train Show and Railroad Marketplace, June 25-26, Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium, (410) 730-1036, gsmts.com. Are kids these days actually into model trains? Well, you can find out for sure at this weekend-long event featuring all sorts of miniature scale-model worlds where rail travel is still king, plus all manner of stuff to buy if the bug bites. And we suspect certain dads (granddads?) will enjoy it even more than the kiddos.
National Aquarium Summer Fun Festival, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 26, National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, aqua.org. The aquarium compounds it usual kid-friendly awesomeness with a special day-long event that winds up a month-long celebration of World Ocean Day (June 8) with added fun, including the debut of Dora and Diego’s 4-D Adventure: Catch That Robot Butterfly and an appearance by Diego himself.
Otakon, July 29-31, Baltimore Convention Center, otakon.com. Quiet as it’s kept, this gathering of devoted fans of Japanese manga and anime and other bits of Japanese culture, aka otaku, is one of the more well-attended events on the convention center’s annual schedule. That means hordes of cosplayers swarming the harbor area, plus three days of intensive activities and bonding for the otaku in your midst. This year’s convention features a first-ever U.S. appearance by Japanese group Chemistry and, of course, Otaku Idol.
Laurie Berkner, Sept. 17, Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave., (410) 783-4189, piersixpavilion.com. We know, we know: September is a long way off, and even though it’s usually pretty warm, not exactly “summer.” But Laurie Berkner is, like, the queen of the toddler-tunes genre, and she’s doing a special, super-duper early show, so you’re gonna wanna make plans now.
Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, N.J., (856) 365-3300, adventureaquarium.com. Much love for our own aquarium and all, but this Philly-adjacent attraction is a seriously cool place, with a giant shark tank, a hippo exhibit, and dozens upon dozens of smaller, less smelly displays. Note to fans of River Monsters: They have ariapima here. Oh yeah.
Maryland Zoo at Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, (410) 396-7102, marylandzoo.org. The zoo is on the comeback trail, seriously, with some sweet new exhibits (and a new zoo train plus $5 camel rides) and all the cool old stuff you remember. Also, it’s a nice walk on all but the hottest days.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve Zoo, 13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont, (301) 271-3180, cwpzoo.com. A more intimate experience than the typical municipal zoo, and often more surprising (izzat a jaguar?). This well-stocked mom-and-pop attraction makes an excellent go-with for a trip to Cunningham Falls State Park, just across 15.
National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410)576-3800, aqua.org. The granddaddy of all harbor attractions, with all the fish and edutainment and prancing dolphins you can handle.
Plumpton Park Zoo, 1416 Telegraph Road, Rising Sun, (410) 658-6850, plumptonparkzoo.org. Under new management, this small mom-and-pop zoo hosts bison, monkeys, mountain lions, and other animals unusual for Cecil County.
National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, nationalzoo.si.edu. Pandas, of course, but also orangutans, gorillas, big cats, and other primo exhibits befitting the nation’s official zoological park. Built on the slopes of a coupla hills, it can be a bit of a hike; if you’re on the fence about bringing the stroller, go ahead. Free admission.
Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., (215)243-1100, philadephiazoo.org. Philly has a cool zoo, with all sorts of animals you won’t see at the Maryland Zoo. Really, check it out.
Salisbury Zoological Park, 755 S. Park Drive, Salisbury, (410) 548-3188, salisburyzoo.org. A small but pleasant zoo in a shady park on the way to OC, in case the kids need a quick wildlife fix.