Tag Archives: Fun Things to do with Kids in Maryland

Live, In-Person Entertainment to Enjoy Around DC this Fall

The NSO at the Kennedy Center…enjoy their free performances around DC and MD this month!

 

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am so excited for the return of live, in-person entertainment!  Most local theatres are easing back into it with fewer shows in the line-up for now (more planned come winter and spring🤞), but this round-up includes entertainment for everyone — children’s shows, family concerts, teen-appropriate plays, KidFree suggestions, community programs for all, and more.  Note that many venues require proof of vaccination from audience members ages 12 and up, and some ask for negative Covid tests from children, so be sure to check on this.  Shows are listed in order of start date (beginning early September, even though it’s technically not yet fall) with most descriptions coming from websites. Happy Viewing!

 

DC Jazz Festival
Where: Venues around DC
When: Through September 5
Tickets: Vary by performance

The annual DC Jazz Fest is back with in-person performances during the first week of September. Shows are taking place at several venues around DC, including the Wharf, The Hamilton, and Phillips Collections (unfortunately, the fantastic Jazz ‘n Fun Family Days is not happening this year, but you can still enjoy performances at the museum). See the website for the schedule of shows.

A Wind in the Door
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 2-11
Tickets: $20

A cosmic mission is unfolding! Don’t miss the onstage debut of the exciting sequel to Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle in Time. Recommended for ages 9+, this one-hour show takes place indoors in the Family Theatre. Patrons 12 and older must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 – with a physical or digital copy of their vaccination card and government-issued ID with the same name. Children under 12 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before performance time. Recommended for ages 9+.

A Raisin in the Sun
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: September 2-4
Tickets: Pay-What-You-Can

The members of the Younger family dream bigger than the small house where they live on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s. When their deceased father’s insurance money comes through, those dreams might actually become reality. Walter Lee wants to run his own business and earn financial independence, but his sister Beneatha dreams of attending medical school. Meanwhile, their mother Lena wants to move them all to a bigger home in a white neighborhood. What will finally allow the Youngers to move up in the world, and who will have their dreams deferred? National Players is honored to portray this award-winning drama with a universal story about an African American family dealing with prejudice, history, and a world where everything changes. Common sense media recommends this for ages 12 and up.

NSO in Your Neighborhood
Where: Several communities in DC & MD
When: September 3-22
Tickets: Free

The National Symphony Orchestra’s annual program is back! Over three weeks in September, NSO musicians will perform free concerts within the uptown DC neighborhoods of Ward 4, Takoma Park, and downtown Silver Spring. This year’s IYN has 17 events, including two full NSO performances. Events will be offered both indoors and outdoors — at parks, coffee shops, taverns, schools, and more local venues. All concerts and events are free to the public with first-come, first-served seating. See the website for the full schedule.

Broadway in the Park
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: September 3
Tickets: $32+ (look for discount0

Signature Theatre and Wolf Trap present this celebration of the return of live musical theater with a joyous evening of Broadway’s greatest hits under the stars. Starring Broadway’s Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton, The Color Purple) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (Ragtime, Man of La Mancha) and a cast of Signature Theatre favorites, enjoy tunes such as “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “I Am What I Am,” “The Schuyler Sisters,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and many more.

Toni Stone
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: September 3 – October 3
Tickets: $64+ (look for discount)

History is filled with trailblazers and Toni Stone was one of them. Considered a pioneer, Toni Stone is the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, also making her the first woman to play professionally in a men’s league in the 1950s. Against all odds, Stone shattered expectations and created her own set of rules in the male-dominated sports world. Based on Martha Ackmann’s book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond (Smart People, The Bluest Eye) tells the dynamic story of Stone’s journey of perseverance and resilience just to do what she loved the most — play baseball. This production is rated PG-13. It contains coarse and mature language that may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Rosslyn Jazz Fest
Where: Locales around Rosslyn, VA
When: Through September 18
Tickets: Free

Jazz is back in Rosslyn with a three-week celebration of music, food, and fun! The Rosslyn BID’s annual Jazz Fest has been reimagined with live performances around the neighborhood (mostly pop-ups on Wednesdays), culminating in an all-day event in Gateway Park on September 18, featuring Three Man Soul Machine, Aaron Myers and Sin Miedo. Enjoy the soulful sounds of local musicians, including Crush Funk Brass Band, Akua Allrich, Kingman Island Orchestra, and Cristian Perez, live from some of Rosslyn’s favorite outdoor venues. Attendees can expect themed giveaways, prizes and restaurant deals throughout.

Kids Concert & Family Happy Hour
Where: The Hill Center | Capitol Hill, DC
When: September 10, 5-7pm
Admission: $5/adult, $10/child
Join us for a casual, outdoor happy hour for parents and tots!  Favorite local kids band, King Bullfrog, will hit the stage with high-energy original, folk and blues songs carefully tailored to get children dancing and delight grownups. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and gather with old. Kids under 2 are free. Register in advance. A *quiet space* will be provided for those who need a break.

Come From Away: In Concert at the Lincoln Memorial
Where: Lincoln Memorial | National Mall, DC
When: September 10, 6pm
Tickets: Free

In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ford’s Theatre presents a free one-night-only concert version of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The show tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers on September 11, 2001, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them — spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances. Featuring a rousing score of folk and rock, Come From Away honors the better angels of our nature, revealing hope and humanity in a time of darkness. Members of the Come From Away company will star in this 100-minute concert. Recommended for ages 10+.

By the Seashore
Where: Lee District Park | Alexandria, VA
When: September 10-18
Tickets: $10

Art on the Horizon’s By the Seashore takes you on a magical journey to a place children love to visit – the beach! Young audience members are invited to explore all the amazing things we find on the shore, in the ocean, and in the sky; from birds and fish, to sand and water, and everything in-between! Using an imaginative mix of puppetry, movement, and sound, this sensory-filled production is specifically designed for our youngest audience members ages 0-3. It takes place outdoors at Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater in Lee District Park.

Luchadora!
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 17 – October 31
Tickets: $20.50

The discovery of a worn pink wrestling mask prompts Nana Lupita, a Wisconsin grandmother, to share her tale about growing up in 1960s Texas. As her tale unfolds, Lupita’s life as a teen tomboy comes alive—bike riding with her friends Leopold and Liesl, working at her father’s flower stand and lucha libre. When a World Championship match is announced, Lupita anticipates seeing it until she discovers her ailing father is one of the wrestlers. With the help of a magical mask maker, Lupita secretly trains to take her father’s place. She soon finds it difficult keeping her secret from her friends and, most importantly, her father. This production will take place outdoors in the grassy field next to ATMTC and the Irish Inn (BYO blanket!), and strict COVID protocols will still be followed — see website for details.

Dueling Piano Kids’ Day Shows
Where: Bobby McKee’s | National Harbor, MD
When: September 25 & October 30
Tickets: $25/age 3+

An afternoon family activity, where kids are actually encouraged to wiggle in their seats and dance in the aisles! Kids’ Day at Bobby McKey’s is a perfect outing for the whole crew with two hours of all request live music, plus lunch and unlimited fountain drinks.

Celia and Fidel ((KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: October 8 – November 21
Tickets: $72+

It’s 1980s Cuba and the revolution has reached a crazed tipping point. Fueled by a stagnant economy, 10,000 citizens have fled to the Peruvian Embassy in Cuba seeking asylum. As Fidel Castro grapples between his desire to maintain power and do what is best for his country, he turns to his closest confidant and political partner, Celia Sánchez for answers. What kind of a leader is he? Merciful or mighty? Imbued with magical realism, Eduardo Machado’s Celia and Fidel — Arena Stage’s seventh Power Play — imagines a fight between Cuba’s most influential female revolutionary and its most notorious political leader.

The Madness of Poe
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: October 11-31
Tickets: $20-60

Join Syentic back in the theater for an evening Edgar Allan Poe’s classic stories envisioned as a kaleidoscopic tapestry of terror. Featuring a re-imagining of the theatre’s 2007 hit adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher” plus other tales from the inventor of American horror, “The Madness of Poe” is suspenseful, sinister, sensual – classic Synetic in every way. Recommended for teen ages and up.

Hadestown
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 13-28
Tickets: $45-175 (look for a discount)

Welcome to Hadestown, where a song can change your fate. Intertwining two mythic tales—that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone—Hadestown is a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go. Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album, this acclaimed new show by celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and innovative director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) is a love story for today…and always. Recommended for age 8+.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theater | Olney, MD
When: November 5 – January 2
Tickets: Currently part of membership package

Be their guest this holiday season as the classic animated story comes to life on the Olney Theatre Mainstage. It’s a tale as old as time, but it gets a new look from Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.  Olney’s biggest show of the year brings the whole family together for a magical and memorable musical about the redemptive power of love. Join Belle, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and the rest of the gang in the Beast’s cursed castle for an escape to a world where beauty is more than skin deep and happily ever after is just a rose petal away. Rated G.

Witch Wartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 30 – October 31
Tickets: Coming soon!

Performances return to The Puppet Co. just in time to get ready for Halloween! Witch Wartsmith (the sister of Witch Wartsmith from our Legacy show “Rapunzel”,) hosts the annual Halloween Spooktacular and you get to vote on the winner! Part contemporary competition show, part vintage telethon, and part punpalooza, this spooky variety show will tickle your funny bone. Don’t miss this year’s performances, because some of the contestants will change year to year!

My Lord, What a Night
Where: Ford’s Theater | Downtown DC
When: October 1-24
Tickets: $20-35

Ford’s presents this new drama based on the real-life friendship between contralto Marian Anderson and physicist Albert Einstein. After performing in Princeton, NJ, acclaimed contralto Marian Anderson is denied lodging at the Nassau Inn because she is Black. Physicist Albert Einstein invites her to stay at his home, and the two form a profound friendship based on their love for music and their commitment to human rights. This production takes the audience into Einstein’s home and imagines the conversations and circumstances that led to Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Recommended for ages 12+.

Rent
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: November 2 – January 2
Tickets: Coming soon!

La Vie Boheme! The iconic rock musical’s pure rush of adrenaline, passion, energy, and joy is boldly and immersively reimagined in Signature style for a triumphant reopening. At the end of the millennium, a group of bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggle with gentrification, love, loss, and legacies amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis. Through songs such as “Seasons of Love,” “One Song Glory,” “I’ll Cover You,” “Out Tonight” and more, they embrace hope, find strength and survive. Recommended for teen ages and up.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: Time Bubble Tour
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 7, 7:30pm
Tickets: 35+
The “Time Bubble Tour” features the beloved returning cast of the 2019 “Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour,” Emily Marsh, Conor McGiffin, Nate Begle, and Yvonne Freese, along with the world’s only movie-riffing robots, Tom Servo, Crow, and GPC. The show features the film Making Contact and will include all the tour signatures: hilarious riffing, wisecracking robots, and silly sketches. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Various Concerts
Where: Several music venues in DC & MD
When: Throughout fall
Tickets: Vary by show

For a bigger line-up of concerts coming to the area, check out the IMP website, which covers shows at 9:30 Club, The Anthem, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Lincoln Theatre. Whether you want to go sans kids or bring them along (kids welcome at many concerts!), there’s a lot of great live music to enjoy over the next few months.

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Filed under 2021, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Music, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Huzzah…Ren Fest is Returning with Merriment for All!

 

I usually hesitate to deem one particular place or activity “the best.”  It’s rare that you’ll see Top 10 lists here on KFDC; they feel misleading to me.  Even my round-up of the best outdoor places consists of more than 60 of them in random order.  That’s because “the best” is so personal, specific, and dependent on ages, interests, convenience to where one lives.  I have favorites, for sure, but calling something the best generally is a no-no for me.

Except for one thing: Ren Fest.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile surely already knows that the Maryland Renaissance Festival is my very, very, VERY favorite annual event in the area.  We’ve been going since before we had kids, and bringing them since they were babes. There are a multitude of reasons why it’s my fave — you can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more on that — but ultimately I love that at the core, it’s a celebration of the unconventional, a kingdom of mirth, where fun and delight reign and offbeat is normal.  Ren Fest is the best.  It’s just fact — in my book, anyway.

After very sadly but understandably being cancelled last year, the Maryland Renaissance Festival returns in 2021 starting this weekend, August 28-29! And I oh-so-highly recommend going.  I pride myself on the number of people I have converted into Ren Festers — and I promise you want to be among them.

Logistics
The merriment begins this Saturday, August 28, and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through October 24 in the lovely 16th century-style hamlet of Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD. Hours are 10am – 7pm. Through September 12, admission is $21/adults, $19/seniors, $10/ages 7-15, free for ages 6 and under.  After that, ticket prices go up to $28/adults, $24/seniors, $13/ages 7-15, still free for 6 and under. Multi-day passes that offer a discount are also available. This year, tickets must be reserved in advance online. There are no day-of, in-person ticket sales.

Notable Dates
In previous years, many weekends had special themes, like a Celtic celebration and pirate weekend, with events and activities offered on just those dates.  While most aren’t happening this year due to Covid, there still are a few special weekends to be aware of:
* August 28-29: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
* September 6: Seniors day — Free admission for all seniors age 62+
* September 11 & October 10: ASL Interpretation Days – Selected stage shows will be interpreted in ASL

KFDC Tips
* Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there is  a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that navigates over rough terrain easily.
* Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day, but I recommend not overthinking it; Ren Fest is best experienced with a “go with the flow” mindset.
* If there’s a show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats, so the kids have a good view.
* You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football.
* Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids — all reasonably priced, but it can add up.
* Tickets can sell out, especially on beautiful fall days as the chances to go dwindle. Between that and the new online sales only, you might want to reserve further in advance than usual.
* Consider pros and cons to going at different times: Early in the season, crowds are smaller because it’s usually very hot, and the admission fee is lower. Later in the season, the cool, crisp weather and autumn foliage adds some extra splendor to the visit, but also draws the masses.
* Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, and pirates will fit right in.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD ( get directions)
When: Weekends August 28 – October 24, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $21-28/adult, $19-24/senior, $10-13/age 7-15, free/6 & under

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Summer, Weekend

The 2021 County Fair Season Around the DC Area

 

Where do you get carnival rides and games, farm animals, the junk food gamut, live entertainment, pony rides, piglet races, and wares for sale all in once place? Down at the county fair. The season for them runs from early August through mid-September, and you can get the lowdown on this year’s events around the area below. Happy Fairin’!

Howard County Fair
The 75th annual fair begins this coming weekend, and you have through next Saturday to enjoy rides, magic shows, musical entertainment in the evenings, pig races and pony rides, the Kids & Critters barn, Demolition Derby, a pro rodeo, and more. Most of the rides cost extra, and packages are available, so be sure to check out the website to see what’s available if you plan to go.
When: August 7-14, 9:30am – 11pm daily, though activity times vary, so be sure to check schedules.
Where: 2210 Fairground Road | West Friendship, MD
Cost: Admission is $5-7/age 10+, $3/seniors, free/under 10. Rides and games are extra.

Montgomery County Fair
This fair is a family fave. (You can get a glimpse of one of our experiences there and read a review from a few years ago), so trust me when I say that there is so much to do, you have to see the schedule on the website for yourself to get the full scope. Highlights include lots of 4-H exhibits and demos, including opportunities to visit with some of the animals; animal races, pony rides, a KidZone with interactive games and activities, tons of carnival and kiddie rides, arts & crafts, monster trucks and a demolition derby, and much more.
When: August 13-21, times vary by day so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds | 501 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, MD.
Cost: Admission is $12/advance $15/at gate for age 12+, free/11 & under. Tickets for rides cost extra. A one-day all-u-can-ride carnival wristband is available for $20/online until 8/14, $30/on site. And note that parking is $10 at the fairgrounds, but FREE parking and shuttle bus service are available from Lakeforest Mall, located at Lost Knife Rd. and Odenhal Ave.

Prince William County Fair
Virginia’s largest annual county fair includes 4-H exhibits, rides, contests (think pie eating and water balloon tossing), animal shows, craft demos, the Children’s Barn, Kid’s Zone, live performances, and more. Note that August 9 is Kid’s Friday when all admissions are $6. And there are other special days with all kinds of promos, so be sure to check the schedule for details.
When: August 13-21, Hours vary by day, so check the daily schedules.
Where: Prince William County Fairgrounds | 10624 Dumfries, Manassas, VA.
Cost: Admission is $8-12/age 14-59, $7-8/seniors and age 5-13, free/4 & under. Look for package deals and daily specials, too!

Arlington County Fair
We’ve been to this fair and have had a great time. It’s big enough for a fun-filled day, but not so huge that it’s overwhelming, and you feel rushed to get to everything. There are carnival rides for everyone from toddlers to adults, and the kids especially loved the pony rides and piglet races. You can also check out competitive exhibits, enjoy live entertainment, cheer on a variety of racing animals, view outdoor movies, and take little ones to the Kids’ Court for moon bouncing, face painting, a beer garden for adults, and more.
When: August 18-22, hours vary by day, so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center | 3501 Second St., Arlington, VA. Get parking/shuttle information here.
Cost: Admission is FREE. But, of course, you need to buy tickets for rides and other activities: $1/ticket, $20/24 tickets, $40/48 tickets. There is an online special of 72 ride tickets for $55.

Prince George’s County Fair
A variety of entertainment and attractions for all ages — 4-H exhibits magic and dance shows, pig and duck races, a horse pull competition, a chain saw artist, a K-9 show, and much more.
When: September 9-12, hours vary by day.
Where: Showplace Arena | Upper Marlboro, MD.
Cost: Admission is $6/age 12+, $5/age 6-11, free/5 & under. Rides and games are extra.

Anne Arundel County Fair
Carnival rides and games, animal exhibits, monster trucks, pony rides, garden tractor pulls, pig races, pie eating contests, a talent show, live music and much more
When: September 15-19, check the website for hours.
Where: Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds | 1450 General’s Highway, Crownsville, MD
Cost: Admission is $10/age 9+,free/8 & under. Rides and games cost extra.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Maryland, Virginia

The KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids

A view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from the Maryland Science Center

 

I recommend visits to Baltimore quite often.  Not only is it nice to get a change of metro area scenery sometimes, our sister city just a 45-minute drive away is full of fantastic, family-friendly attractions to visit on a day trip or even a weekend getaway.  Even more, it’s fun to explore the neighborhoods, spend time by (or on) the water, and savor tasty eats (Baltimore has an excellent food scene). So, after way too long, here’s a round-up of all of the Baltimore places covered on KFDC in one big post, plus a few extras recommended by friends, and even more tips for a great visit there with kids. Happy exploring, hon!

 

PLACES TO GO

Miss Perception’s Mystery House at Port Discovery

Port Discovery
Where: 35 Market Place
When: Weds, 10am – 2pm | Fri & Sat, 10am – 4pm | Sun, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $17.95/ages 2+, free/under 2
The children’s museum in Baltimore has several levels full of exhibits that keep kids entertained all day long. Renovated just a couple of years ago, some areas are very new, while others are from older days — but still much loved. The famous Sky Climber was updated, and the floor to ceiling structure with a ship at its core, tunnels to crawl through, and twisting slide to zip down, is always a favorite. There are lots of interactives with measures in place for Covid safety. The linked review was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise after the renovation, but we’ve visited Port Discovery many times over the years — I can’t even count the days off from school that we spent there — so we can vouch for its awesomeness.
KFDC Tip: If you think you might go a few times this year, I recommend checking out their membership options.

 

Go big at the Maryland Science Center

Maryland Science Center
Where: 601 Light Street
When: Friday 10am – 4pm | Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $25.95/adult, $19.95/child
At the Maryland Science Center, you can discover a variety of science fields through an amazing array of exhibits, just about all of them hands-on and appealing to young visitors. It’s not a museum with collections of artifacts and tangible history; rather, there are models, demos, and interactive displays that encourage learning through engagement. Dinosaurs, the earth, physics, the body, energy, and space are some of the main areas to explore. There is also a Kids Room full of all kinds of hands-on fun for children in a safe enclosed space, including a special area for the under-two set.
KFDC Tips: If you think you’d go often, membership is worth checking out. The Science Center validates parking at nearby garages.

 

A view of the National Aquarium – with the USS Torsk moored in front

National Aquarium
Where: 501 East Pratt
When: Mon-Thurs 9am – 5pm, Fri 9am – 8pm, Sat 9am – 7pm, Sun 9am – 6pm
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/age 3-11, free/2 & under

Get a glimpse of the underwater world at the venue right on the water. The exhibits at the National Aquarium highlight marine life and other animals from around the world — you can see hundreds of species in recreated habitats, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Amazon Rainforest to the Indo-Pacific. Sharks, dolphins, reptiles, all kinds of reef fish, sea anemones and jellyfish, tropical birds, even sloths are among the animals there. Admission may sound steep, but it’s a very cool venture that you really can’t do anywhere else in the area. Along with the exhibits are experiences like 4-D films, special tours, and animal encounters (they all cost extra).
KFDC Tip: If you can swing a visit on a Friday night, admission is half price!

 

Outrageously creative art awaits at the AVAM

American Visionary Art Museum
Where: 501 East Pratt
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $15.95/adult, $9.95/child, free/6 & under
The American Visionary Art Museum houses some of the most wonderful, whimsical art around. The vibrant, quirky collections — including some interactive pieces — can be appreciated by art buffs of all ages. From the kooky WhirliGig outside the entrance to a replica of the Lusitania made entirely of toothpicks to a sculpture garden with amusing works to a building full of kinetic sculptures big and small, the museum is a brilliant showcase of craft and imagination.
KFDC Tip: Be sure to check out the museum shop, Sideshow. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a hoot to browse all of the fun, offbeat items.

 

All little hands on deck of the USS Constellation

Historic Ships
Where: 301 East Pratt Street
When: Thursday – Monday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $15/adult, $13/teen, $7/youth
Historic Ships of Baltimore is currently welcoming visitors aboard the USS Constellation and USS Torsk (there are a few more ships, though not open right now). Touring the vessels moored at the Inner Harbor is a fun and fascinating experience for all ages. You can ring the ship’s bell, check out the cannons on deck, (pretend) take the helm, and get a glimpse at what were once the inner workings of the ship and crew. And on the USS Torsk, a World War II submarine, you can see the tight space the crew once lived in hundreds of feet underwater (which is at once creepy and cool).
KFDC Tip: For an immersive experience, the Historic Ships offers an Overnight Adventure for ages 6 and up. They are scheduled to start up again in September 2021.

 

The recreated cannery in the Baltimore Museum of Industry

Baltimore Museum of Industry
Where: 1415 Key Highway
When: Open by appointment only
Admission: $12/adult, $7/child, free/6 & under

The Museum of Industry is a great Baltimore attraction that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Highlighting the trades and people that helped build the port city, it’s full of fun and interesting exhibits and installations, many with hands-on elements, that both children and adults will enjoy. Several permanent exhibits are set up just as the real businesses would have been when they existed, giving visitors an interesting and insightful glimpse at life during that time period.
KFDC Tip: Go on a Saturday from mid-May through November and check out the BMI Farmers Market that runs from 9am – 1pm before your museum visit.

 

The birthplace of the star spangled banner, Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry
Where: 2400 East Fort Avenue
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4:45pm
Admission:
The birthplace of “The Star Spangled Banner,” Fort McHenry is the site of a key battle in the War of 1812. During non-Covid times, you can learn about the history of the national monument through all kinds of interesting exhibits, both in the Visitors Center and throughout the grounds. Children will especially enjoy seeing the cannons, exploring underground spaces, and touring the barracks that now house lots of neat exhibits, including several interactives. Right now, you can access the Historic Star Fort, but the Visitors Center and indoor fort exhibits are closed.
KFDC Tip: When the Visitor Center is open, be sure to watch the 10-minute, very moving film depicting the history of Fort McHenry shown there.

 

Chug on down to the B&O

The B&O Railroad Museum
Where: 901 West Pratt Street
When: Mon-Sat 10am – 4pm, Sun 11am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12

All aboard for a railroading adventure! Kids who are into trains will looove the B&O, with all kinds of exhibits all about locomotives, including real train cars on display, some they even climb aboard and explore. They also have programming especially for children like story times and the annual Day Out with Thomas event when the beloved Tank Engine visits with his crew.
KFDC Tip: Check the schedule before you go, so you can plan for a real train ride on the One Mile Express.

Urban Pirates
Where: 911 South Ann Street
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: $22 ($12/age 2 & under

Set sail for some arrr-some fun on the high Chesapeake Bay seas! Urban Pirates offers family adventure cruises on weekends, taking little swashbucklers on a cruise to search for lost treasure. On the journey, there are fun activities and water canons, plus guests can get suited up for it with vests, tattoos, and drawn-on facial hair.
KFDC Tip: These adventures make for great birthday parties — my kids went to a couple here and loved them!

Maryland Zoo
Where: One Safari Place
When: March – Dec, Daily 10am – 4pm | Jan-Feb, Fri-Mon, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $22-26/age 12+, $18/age 2-11

When you have a fantastic zoo with free admission right in your own city, it’s hard to justify making a long drive to pay somewhat steep admission to see the same animals. Thus, we’ve actually never been to the Maryland Zoo. That said, I hear it’s fun (much like many zoos), and since visiting the National Zoo may be tougher since timed-entry passes are required, this is a good alternative.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Where: 10 Art Museum Drive
When: Wednesday-Sunday, from 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
The Baltimore Museum of Art has an extensive collection of work from many centuries and genres. Pre-Covid, the BMA offered free in-person, hands-on programming for kids on weekends; now you can find family art activities online as well as tips for visiting with children.

Walters Art Museum
Where:
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free
We have yet to visit the museum in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, but I’ve heard the Walters’ space is just as interesting as the exhibits. Housed in several historic buildings, you apparently wind your way through galleries as you explore, kind of like a navigating labyrinth. It gets raves for its eclectic collection, with artifacts and works that include a mummy, an ark door, paintings by some of the masters, plus thousands of other pieces.

Cylburn Arboretum
Where: 4915 Greenspring Avenue
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 8am – 8pm
Admission: Free

In the same vein as the zoo, we have an amazing, huge Arboretum right here in DC, so we haven’t been to this one. But if you want some green space in Baltimore, you apparently can find 200 acres of it at Cylburn. The grounds contain hundreds of trees and plant varieties, trails, gardens, and a historic mansion (though not open right now).

 

Baltimore’s Little Italy

PLACES TO EAT

Little Italy
Where: Southeast area of downtown Baltimore
When: Varies by restaurant
Cost: Varies by restaurant

The charming neighborhood in southeast Baltimore is known for restaurants that serve delicious, authentic Italian food. And the options range from casual carry out pizza and subs to family-style meals to more upscale dining. We’d often head that way after a visit to Port Discovery — a day of play works up appetites! — and the neighborhood is just a few minutes’ drive from the children’s museum. Amicci’s and Isabella’s are a couple of great places to go with kids, but you’re practically guaranteed a scrumptious meal at any of them.

Baba’s Mediterranean
Where: 745 East Fort Avenue
When: Tues – Sat, 11:30am – 8pm & Sun 12-7pm
Cost: Sandwiches and salads under $10

This has been a go-to for us after a day at the Baltimore attractions. Falafel sandwiches, greek salad, kabobs, super tasty Baba’s Ghannous and hummus, and more yummy bites always make everyone happy. I always get extra dips to bring home, too.

Miss Shirley’s Cafe
Where: 750 E. Pratt Street 
When: Daily, 8am – 3pm
Cost: Entrees $15-20, Kids Box $10
It can sometimes be hard to get a table, but if you do, you are in for a treat. Plan to start your Baltimore visit there — Miss Shirley’s is known for its breakfast and brunch (great for lunch, too).  The food is downright delicious. Kids’ meals are served in a cute bento box, and children’s books are available while they wait (in non-Covid times, anyway).

Nacho Mamas
Where: 2907 O’Donnell Street 
When: Sun-Thurs 12-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-11pm
Cost: Entrees under $20
Located in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, Nacho Mamas is about a 10-minute drive from many of the big attractions, but worth heading that way after you’re done playing by the Inner Harbor. The quesadillas, tacos, wings, burgers, sandwiches, and other easy fare are scrumptious and substantial — and served in big hubcaps. Lots of Elvis-themed decor makes it awesome, too. Take time to walk around Canton, a fun waterfront area in the city.

 

Stroll, shop, eat, and drink along the charming streets of Fell’s point

EXPLORE MORE

Fell’s Point
Most folks are aware of Fell’s Point, the lively, historic neighborhood on the water in southeast Baltimore. It’s an easy mile walk from the Inner Harbor (or a fun, little water taxi cruise) and a great area to check out with the fam. All kinds of eateries and boutiques line the streets, plus the Broadway Market is great to browse for treats.

Canton
Just mentioned above, Canton is a vibrant waterfront neighborhood — fun to stroll, shop, eat, and drink. There are a variety of stores to browse and places to get a bite, from easy, casual snacks to finer dining.  The annual Baltimore Seafood Festival takes place there, this year from September 12-14.

Baltimore Farmer’s Market & Bazaar
The open air market runs every Sunday 7am – 12pm underneath the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday & Saratoga Streets. It’s fun to walk around and check out the fresh produce stands, gourmet foods, sweet treats, crafts, and other goods. Concessions are for sale, too — you can even stop there for breakfast or lunch, then head over to the larger attractions on the Inner Harbor.

 

Getting There
Baltimore is an easy drive from DC, just 45 minutes up I-95 or the BW Parkway (295) depending on where you are departing from. However, if you want to relax and enjoy the ride there, you can take the MARC train from Union Station. The hour-ish ride to Baltimore’s Penn Station is $9/passenger each way, and there are several departure times throughout the day.

Do you have a favorite Baltimore adventure you don’t see here?  Let us know in the comments!

 

 

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