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Best places for family fun in Towson and Baltimore

tf-family-fun-250-squareHere’s a huge list of the best places to take the kids for family fun in the Baltimore and Towson area.

Looking for a place where you and your infant can meet other families? Does your 3-year-old have some energy to burn off? Need a venue for your 2nd grader’s birthday party? Want to get your teen off the screen?

Whatever the age of your offspring, this list has tons of options.

American Visionary Art Museum, Federal Hill/Inner Harbor
“From carved roots to embroidered rags, tattoos to toothpicks, the visionary transforms dreams, loss, hopes, and ideals into powerful works of art.”

B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore 
“The B&O Railroad Museum brings alive the magic and adventure of railroading every day! This historic national landmark allows you to see, touch, hear and explore the most important railroad collection in America.”

Baltimore Clayworks, Mount Washington
Workshops and classes for kids ages 3 and up. Little ones do handwork with clay, while older kids can learn to use the potter’s wheel.

Baltimore Museum of Art, near the Hopkins Homewood campus 
“Visit the BMA for exciting family programs throughout the year—hands-on art workshops, special gallery tours, and more! Admission and activities are free, so bring the whole family and stay for as long or as short a time as you like.”

Baltimore Museum of Industry, downtown Baltimore
“The Baltimore Museum of Industry collects, preserves, and interprets the industrial and technological heritage of the Baltimore region for the public by presenting educational programs and exhibitions that explore the stories of Maryland’s industries and the people who created and worked in them.”

Beaver Dam Swimming Club, Cockeysville (SUMMER ONLY)
Kids can swim in a fresh-water quarry or get Tarzan-y by jumping into the water with the club’s famous rope swing. There’s also a regular pool. Pay by the day; no membership required.

Cascade Lake, Hampstead (SUMMER ONLY) 
“Cascade Lake is a spring fed lake with a gently sloping sandy bottom. It has a large roped-off are for swimming which includes various size waterslides and platforms. All of the swimming areas are guarded by certified lifeguards. Our ‘Spray ‘N’ Playground’ features great wet fun away from the lake. With no standing water, this area is perfect for non-swimmers. Geysers, bubblers, and water tunnels entertain the young and young at heart.”

Children of the World Co-op, Guilford/Charles Village
“Learning through play in our mixed-age-program, gently structured for children 9 months to 4 years with their parents or caregivers.” We met lots of great families here when my son was little.

Cromwell Valley Park, Parkville
“The 426-acre park is a stream valley park comprised of pasture, cultivated gardens, open fields, woods, hedgerows, orchards and wooded piedmont hills.”

Earth Treks climbing center, Timonium
“With towering lead walls and ample moderate climbing, Earth Treks has climbing for all ages and abilities.”

Fire Museum of Maryland, Lutherville
“The Museum, which was founded in 1971, houses a world-class collection, comprising more than 40 pieces of fire fighting apparatus, dating from 1806 to 1957. The collection also includes over 1,700 smaller 3-dimensional objects, an extensive working telegraph system,  and a large archive and library with over 13,000 documents, catalogues, photographs, negatives and books.”

Fort McHenry, Baltimore 
A great place for kids to explore our country’s history (this is where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner) and to just run around. Take a Water Taxi there for extra fun.

Historic Ships, Inner Harbor
“Historic Ships in Baltimore represent one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world.  Located within easy walking distance of each other, the US Sloop-of-War Constellation, the US Submarine Torsk, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, and the Lightship Chesapeake exhibit life at sea from the mid-19th century to the mid-1980s.”

Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm, Baldwin 
A pick-your-own farm about 25 minutes north of Towson.

Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills
“Our state-of-the-art, green building and 116 acres of forests, wetlands and meadows are perfect for students, families and nature-lovers.”

Kiddie Crusoe, Timonium
“Come explore, learn, and discover our indoor playground of active and imaginative attractions, including a kid-sized town outfitted with themed toys and dress-up costumes, ride-ons, moon bounce inflatables, exciting slides, zip line and more.”

Loch Raven Reservoir, Glen Arm
On weekends, car traffic is closed on Loch Raven Drive between Providence Road and Morgan Mill Road. (We generally take Dulaney Valley Road up then park on Morgan Mill.) The paved road is great for running, walking, roller blading, pushing a stroller and biking. There are also hiking trails and mountain-biking trails.

Maryland Science Center, Inner Harbor 
Lots of fun stuff for babies through older kids.

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Druid Hill
“The Zoo’s animal collection encompasses birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, representing nearly 200 species. Animals are displayed in natural settings replicating their native habitats.”

Meadowood Regional Park, Lutherville
This park has a large playground with an area designed especially for the younger set. There’s a paved trail (0.8 miles) around the entire park that’s nice for walking, biking, etc. Its crowning glory might be that it has decent bathrooms.

Monster Mini Golf, Parkville 
Glow-in-the-dark mini golf and laser tag. The monster figures move around and make noises, which some kids love but it can be scary for the younger ones.

National Aquarium in Baltimore, Inner Harbor 
Fun for all ages. Go at off-peak hours if you don’t like crowds.

Oregon Ridge Nature Center, Cockeysville/Hunt Valley
Lots of fun walking trails (some easy, some harder), a nature center, and a huge playground nearby.

Orokawa Family Center, Towson
More commonly known as “The Towson Y,” it has — along with traditional gym equipment — a rock wall, pools, basketball court, game room and smoothie bar.

Paddleboating at the Inner Harbor, downtown
You and the kids (ages 2 and up) will have a blast paddleboating around the harbor. Scotland may have it’s Nessie, but only at the Inner Harbor will you spot a Chesapeake Bay Chessie Monster paddleboat.

The Painting Workshop, Mount Washington
“Young or old, the art of creating is a joyous, exciting process, and we try to provide the room, space, and materials for that to happen. We encourage students to try new things, to be inspired by other artists, to find their voice.” Kids can take classes here, and they often offer school’s out day programs (for when it drizzles and BCPS shuts down).

Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Downtown Baltimore
“Port Discovery offers three floors of interactive, educational exhibits and ever-changing programs for children ages birth through 10.”

Red Zone Adventures, Timonium
“Experience the excitement of our state-of-the-art laser tag system in a 6,000 square-foot multi-level futuristic haze-filled industrial cityscape.”

Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore 
“To share globally, and with integrity, the human drama of Maryland’s African American experience.”

Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Inner Harbor
“The only place in Baltimore where you’ll find shrunken heads, a 12-foot-tall Transformer sculpture made of scrap car parts, the fiji island mermaid, one-of-a-kind artwork, tons of hands-on interactives, and sculptures made out of matchsticks!”

Rockin’ Jump, Towson
“We decided to create a place where you can soar in open jump arenas, dive into pools of soft foam cubes, play trampoline dodgeball, do flips and somersaults. We also wanted a new alternative for birthday parties and family gatherings, where quality food and private party rooms were guaranteed, and our kids could safely play while we socialized with other parents.”

Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Timonium 
“We are dedicated to providing you with the pure joy that comes with flying. We are sky lovers, thrill seekers and people who believe that jumping is freedom.”

The Star Spangled Banner Flag House, near Little Italy
“Here, you’ll meet Mary Pickersgill, the spirited woman who made the flag. You’ll learn what life was like in the 19th century and your kids can take part in activities that let them experience it for themselves.”

Stoneleigh Lanes, Stoneleigh 
This duck pin bowling spot is popular for birthday parties or just an afternoon of fun. They seem to have Groupons quite a bit, so it’s worth a look there before you go.

Towson Library, Towson 
The library in downtown Towson has a great kids’ area with assorted toys, games, etc. There’s a special gated area for babies and their caregivers. The spiral walkway is a favorite place to run amongst the toddler set. If you park in the garage, be sure to get your ticket validated for lower rates. (The Cockeysville library also has a nice kids’ room.)

Towson Town Center play area, Towson
The “Tiny Town” play area, on the lower level, lets kids work off some energy when a trip to the mall can’t be avoided.

Ukazoo Books, Towson
There are always interesting selections in the children’s book area. Starbucks and Smoothie King are just a few yards away, in case kids or parents need a treat.

Ultimate Play Zone, Cockeysville
“It‘s a unique play experience with 6 top-of-the-line inflatable play stations and 2 wonder centers including a magical castle and life-like pirate ship. Your kids will literally bounce, pretend and climb away excess energy in a healthy safe and supervised setting.”

The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore 
“Spark your imagination with free art activities, exciting festivals and fun for all ages. The Walters offers a variety of extraordinary programs where you can make innovative art, enjoy live performances, play dress up or tour the museum with a kid-friendly Family Guide designed to foster discovery.”

Weber’s Cider Mill Farm, Parkville 
This is a must-go-to place for many families in the fall, when the farm has hay rides, a hay maze, barnyard animals to see up close, a giant slide and more — including pumpkins for carving.

Know of a place that you think should be added to the list? Contact me

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