For families road tripping through Maryland, Howard County offers some fantastic attractions for kids of all ages.
Start your adventure in Columbia, Howard County’s beautiful, planned community. Make sure to walk along the shores of gorgeous Lake Kittamaqundi and take in the beauty of Columbia Town Center. You can hike the trails surrounding the lake or glide across the water in one of the giant swan-shaped boats that every kid will love. Columbia Town Center also features restaurants, shops, and plenty of fountains and green space. There’s plenty to see and do in this picturesque spot.
Families with children of all ages may also enjoy live theater at the renowned Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Toby’s features buffet-styled dining and puts on both adult and youth theater performances. Just a stone’s throw away, Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts some of the nation’s top acts and extraordinary festivals throughout the year.
The site of historic floods and Civil War flare-ups and an important stop on one of the oldest railroads in the United States, Ellicott City has a storied past. The city offers a plethora of museums designed to hep visitors engage with history. In particular, the knowledgeable guides at the B&O Railroad Museum entertain families with tales from the “Oldest Train Station in America.” Kids love to climb up in an original caboose and see what it was once like living and working on the rails.
If you haven’t yet got your fill of this area’s fascinating history, tour the Ellicott City Firehouse Museum, housed in the city’s first firehouse dating back to 1889. The Firehouse Museum and the Police Museum (located in the basement of the Howard County Welcome Center), feature exhibits of antique equipment and tales of heroism of days gone by.
After your tour in town, take a drive out to Clark’s Elioak Farm. Offering a trip back in time, Elioak’s rolling farmland, petting zoo and fresh, locally produced meat, fruits, veggies and are huge draws with locals and tourists. But for many, a chance to experience the lovingly restored historic pieces from the region’s beloved old Enchanted Forest theme park is reason enough to visit. Kids love exploring the old theme park pieces, which now offer loads of surprises tucked all around the farm.
Families still seeking more fresh air can head to Patapsco Valley State Park. Swinging bridges, river views, and 170 miles of gorgeous hiking trails provide the perfect respite from a busy day on the road. And for adventurous families looking for an overnight outing, the state park offers year-round camp sites.
Before you leave Ellicott City, Give the kids their daily dose of culture with a visit to Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Simply head up to the Patapsco Female Institute, the ruins of an 1800’s-era girls’ school, to take in an outdoor performance by the gifted players during the summer months. Kids can follow the action as pirates swordfight amongst the ruins or gaze up at Juliet on her balcony as the sun sets on the site’s Grecian columns.
For one last dose of adventure before you head home, a trip to Terrapin Adventures at Savage Mill holds fun for everyone. While parents may enjoy the Savage Mill shopping center, kids are sure to adore the adventure park located in the complex’s backyard. Zip lines, high ropes courses, and a giant swing provide thrill after thrill. And the park’s eight adventure packages ensure there’s the perfect adventure for every age and skill level.
For more ideas on what to do in Howard County, Maryland, visit the official website for Howard County Tourism: http://www.visithowardcounty.com/