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Sizzlin’ Summer Calendar


Photo: National Aquarium/George Grall, License: N/A

National Aquarium/George Grall

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Photo: Knoebels Amusement Resort, License: N/A

Knoebels Amusement Resort

Knoebels Amusement Park

Adventure Park USA, 11113 W. Baldwin Road, New Market, (301) 865-6800, You’ve got your amusement park classics—roller coaster, bumper carts, mini golf—and your outliers—ropes course, rock wall, laser tag. Just try to have conscious kids on the drive home.

Clark’s Elioak Farm, 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 730-4049, It’s a bit of a hike, but this place is kid heaven, and so worth it: playgrounds, stuff to climb on, tractor pulls, pony rides, and of course dozens of animals for feeding and petting pleasure. Pro tip: Go early in the season to catch the baby animals before they get all big and less cute. Also does birthday parties.

Druid Hill Park, 2600 Madison Ave., Your standard bit of nature inside a city—a perfect place to get away from it all without actually going anywhere.

Hershey Park, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pa., (717) 534-3900, If we have to tell you your kids will love an amusement park based around chocolate, well, we might just feel sorry for your kids.

Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9200, This nature center is nestled in a lovely patch of forest with walking trails and plenty of shade. A great way to teach city kids a little nature lovin’.

Knoebels Amusement Park, Route 487 between Elysburg and Catawissa, Pa. (800) 487-4386, This free amusement park—eh-hem: FREE AMUSEMENT PARK—has plenty of quirky fun from basically every category imaginable: thrill rides, a history museum, laser tag, boat tag, Playland, bald eagles, golf, some game called Fascination, spinning tea cups, swings, a merry-go-round, sheesh, and they’re not even close to done. Note: Some of the rides charge admission.

Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, A window to the sea, stars, and science right in the Inner Harbor. Highlights include free family stargazing in the summer, an IMAX theater, and dinosaur bones.

Meadowood Regional Park, 10650 Falls Road, Lutherville, (410) 887-3678, A combo recreation center and actual natural spot, Meadowood features six athletic fields, picnic pavilions, and playgrounds on its rec side, and streams, trees, wildlife, and, you know, peace, on the nature side.

Oregon Ridge Park, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, (410) 887-1818, A lovely park with a lodge, beach, and nature center.

Patterson Park, Patterson Park is jammed pack with fun things to do even when it’s not hosting one event or another, which it is wont to do in the summer. See the boat lake, pavilions, playgrounds, swimming pool, rec center, and the vast expanse of green field for all your running, jumping, and rolling around in the grass needs.

Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, Pa., (215) 581-3181, Please, please, please take your kids to the Please Touch Museum, a historic building packed with stuff for the kids—aimed primarily at ages 7 and under—to play and interact with, plus theater, art, story time, and more. Sure Philly is a bit of a drive, but if you need a day trip, add this to this list.

Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, This place is nuts with things to touch, play around, look at, climb on, and just generally interact with. (Confidential to parents: It’s all designed to be educational, but the kids don’t need to know that.)

Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave., Upper Marlboro, (301) 249-1500, Your most classic modern-day amusement park: rides from mild to mad; a water park with wave pools, slides, and the like; costumed characters running around; and food, shopping, and general fun times to be had.

Stuff to Do

Fame, the Musical, the Children’s Playhouse of Maryland, 1 p.m. May 19-20, Community College of Baltimore County, Essex, 7201 Rossville Blvd., Rosedale, (443) 840-2787, The last weekend of the Children’s Playhouse current production of Fame, the Musical.

Park Quest 2012, May 26-Sept. 3, Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, (410) 260-8169,, free. Are you ready to become your local park expert or the leader of your post-zombie-apocalypse community? Park Quest 2012 will teach you and your family to properly read a compass, navigate to approximate destinations, shelter building, and knot tying. Of course, if you’re less prone to end of the world theories, you can always learn how to take care of our parks and save them for future generations.

Balticon, May 25-28, Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, Sci-fi is basically a kid’s imagination forced into something like structure: fantastical characters, otherworldly settings, wild adventures. This weekend is Baltimore’s annual celebration.

Patterson Park Fishing Festival, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. June 9, Patterson Park, Bring your own pole or borrow one from the park, and fish, fish, fish. Plus games and crafts.

Carnival Science, noon-4 p.m. June 9-10, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, Two of our favorite words, back to back. A hands-on exploration of what it takes to run a three-ring circus.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, 1 and 3 p.m. June 16, 17, 23, and 24, Pumpkin Theatre, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Art Center at St. Timothy’s School, Stevenson, (410) 828-1814, A kid-oriented Charlie Brown musical review.

Go Skateboarding Day, June 21, Unplug your kids, stick helmets on their heads, shove ’em on a skateboard, and push ’em out the door. They’ll thank you. And you’ll thank you.

The Great Scale Model Train Show and Railroad Marketplace, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 24, Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium, (410) 730-1036,, $9 Saturday and Sunday, $8 Sunday only, family $18 Saturday and Sunday, family $15 Sunday only. Model trains! Model trains! They’re still cool even though it’s not Christmas.

National Aquarium World Oceans Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 9-10, National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, Teach your wired-up kids that nature is still important, masked in the fun of exploring the aquarium and extra-special oceany fun activities.

Otakon, July 27-29, Baltimore Convention Center, Based on what the streets look like during Otakon, this is the chance for your kids to go costume crazy as they spend a few days living in the insane world of anime, manga, and the like.


Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, N.J., (856) 365-3300, Camden’s a hike, but if you’re headed up to Philly, this place is worth a stop, not least for the sharks, hippos, and penguins. Exotic, oooh. Be sure to check out times for feedings and up-close animal encounters.

Maryland Zoo at Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, (410) 396-7102, A chance to see some wildlife without even escaping the city, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has your staples, and some bonuses like a giraffe-feeding station and an elephant facility.

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve Zoo, 13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont, (301) 271-3180, Speaking from experience, taking a camel ride is one of the cooler things you could do with a day. Catoctin has them, which is reason enough to go check out this vast, conservation-oriented zoo.

National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, Baltimore has one of the best aquariums in the country, hands down. Dolphin shows, a full-on rainforest, rays, sharks, fun programs all summer—be sure to get your kids here at least once this season.

Plumpton Park Zoo, 1416 Telegraph Road, Rising Sun, (410) 658-6850, Plumpton Park may be small, but it’s got many of the basics and more: zebra, llamas, a Capuchin monkey, emus and ostriches, and a full complement of reptiles and amphibians.

National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., A must-do for any local this summer, the beautiful National Zoo has more animals than we could begin to name, and right now, they’ve got lion cubs (the viewing hours are limited, so check the web site). And since it’s the Smithsonian, you know it’ll be fun, educational, and free.

Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., (215) 243-1100, Another box to check on your Philly weekend to-do list. The normal host of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds is filled out with animals such as African lions, red pandas, and a beautiful bald eagle.

Salisbury Zoological Park, 755 S. Park Drive, Salisbury, (410) 548-3188, Build a few extra hours into your Ocean City drive to stop off and visit this lovely little zoo in a pretty shady park.

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