Tag Archives: Maryland Family Activities

5 Places for Shark Tooth Hunting Adventures Near the DC Area


Recently, another publication contacted me about using some of my photos for a piece they were doing about places in the area to go shark tooth hunting. I’m always happy to share, but it also got me thinking: If the publication didn’t have their own images, did that mean the writer hadn’t actually been to all of these places? Isn’t it better to get recommendations for an activity like this based on real experience rather than just research? (And am I being totally catty right now? 😼)

In that vein, I decided to put together this round-up of places within day-trip distance of DC to search for shark teeth and other remnants of millions-of-years-old marine life. Just about all of them have been either written up or at least mentioned on KFDC already, and it makes sense to have them all in one place. And I can assure you that we have, indeed, experienced every single one. Happy hunting!

Shark teeth for the picking at Purse State Park

Purse State Park

Purse State Park is by far our favorite place to gather shark teeth — and I say gather instead of search for, because chances are very good that you will collect lots of teeth and other prehistoric remains at this Charles County locale. The beach area at Purse is very narrow, but it stretches far along the Potomac River, and it is loaded with Paleocene Era gems, i.e. fossils from sharks, fish, shells, even crocodiles, that are up to 60 million years old.

It’s important to check the tide table (search Potomac River/Liverpool Point, MD) when you plan a visit to Purse, since the already thin strip of sand dwindles even more at high tide. If it’s warm, we often swim a bit, too, as the water is shallow and usually very mellow. There are no concessions or facilities, so bring a picnic and be prepared to pee in the woods or water.

To get there, follow GPS directions to Purse State Park in Nanjemoy, MD. It will take you to a wooded area with a very small parking area across from a trail head. Follow that trail about a half-mile to the beach, where your “treasure” hunting adventure will begin. Hours are sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. See more scenes from Purse State Park here.

Enjoy the calm waters as you search for shark teeth at Flag Ponds

Flag Ponds Nature Park

About an hour’s drive from DC in Calvert County, Flag Ponds Nature Park is just up the road from the well known Calvert Cliffs that are the source for many of the fossils found in that area. And in my opinion, it’s the best place to go for a day’s beach outing that involves shark tooth hunting. Not only can you search for teeth and other remains from the Miocene Era — that’s up to 30 million years old — there is a vast sandy expanse where kids can play, and the Chesapeake where they can swim (check for jellyfish first, though). Fossil finds, in our experience, aren’t as plentiful as they are at Purse State Park, but if you keep an eye out as you walk the shoreline or even sit in one spot and sift through shells and pebbles, you’re bound to come across some small teeth. And who knows… you might get really lucky and score a prized megalodon tooth — the largest shark ever existed during that time and its mega-sized teeth have been discovered there.

You pay to get in at an entrance gate, then park in a lot near the Visitor Center. From there, it’s about a quarter-mile walk on a paved road, then a dirt road to the beach. It’s best to set up close to the shoreline, as it can get buggy and hotter inland near ponds that form with the changing dunes and tides. There are restrooms and a rinsing shower at the entrance to the beach. And there are drink vending machines at the parking lot, but no other concessions, so be sure to bring snacks and water.

Flag Ponds Nature Park is located at 1525 Flag Ponds Parkway in Lusby, MD. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, hours are 9am – 4pm Friday and Monday, 9am -5pm Saturday and Sunday. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, hours are 9am – 6pm weekdays, 9am – 8pm weekends. Admission is $8/car. See more about Flag Ponds here.

Beach fun + shark tooth hunting at Calvert Cliffs

Calvert Cliffs State Park

This is the park that most people have heard about, it’s cliffs somewhat famous for the prehistoric treasures they hold. They were formed over 20 million years ago beneath what was then an ocean that submerged the region during the Miocene Era. As the waters receded and exposed the terrain below, the preserved remains of prehistoric sea life have also been revealed, and, hence wash up on Chesapeake shores now. However, while I like the park itself, in my experience it has not been a boon for shark tooth hunting; I have found only small amounts of fossils on my visits. (Perhaps this is why I have yet to do a write-up about it on the blog.)

The park is worth a visit, though. The beach area nestled between cliffs is very pretty, the water is swimmable, and fossil hunting makes for a nice activity while you’re enjoying a beach day. It’s about a two-mile hike through woods and marsh areas to the beach and cliffs, which adds some extra recreation and neat nature sights to an outing there, but also extra effort — something to keep in mind with little ones and/or strollers in tow.

Calvert Cliffs State Park is open daily, sunrise to sunset. Admission is $5 per vehicle. There are restrooms near the parking lot and portable toilets along the trail close to the beach. There are no concessions, so BYO food and drinks.

Younger days at Brownie’s Beach

Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach

Brownie’s Beach was the first place we enjoying shark tooth hunting, though I use the term “hunting” loosely because it was almost effortless to find fossils there. The park in the town of Chesapeake Beach was our go-to, easy-from-DC beach destination when the kids were much younger. It’s a nice little spot with a small stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, and the cliffs edging the shoreline. It’s also a beach known for shark teeth finds, and they were always aplenty at Brownie’s. We would scoop up a handful of small shells and rocks near the water, wash away the sand, pick through, and small fossils were practically guaranteed in the mix.

I talk about Brownie’s (officially called Bay Front Park) in the past tense, because we haven’t been in several years, since they increased the summer admission fee to $18/adult, $10/age 3-11 for out-of-county residents. But the steep price likely means less people, so if you’re willing to pay, you probably get more shark tooth hunting space to yourself. You could also go during cooler months and avoid the cost.

Bayfront Park is open 6am – 9pm. As noted above, entrance fees from Memorial Day to Labor Day are $18/adult, $10/child and can only be paid by credit card — Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. While there are eateries in the town of Chesapeake Beach, there are no facilities or concessions at the park, so plan accordingly.

A pretty but chilly day at Matoaka Beach

Matoaka Beach

I can’t even remember where I learned about this beach a few years ago; the link above is a random one I just found. But after I read about it back then as a place to search for fossils, we checked it out with friends on a chilly February day (because who says all fossil hunting adventures have to be warm ones?). It was a pretty spot, less than 10 miles from Calvert Cliffs, in St. Leonard. We found a few shark teeth there, but it didn’t make a strong enough impression at the time to be post-worthy. We also paid $20 for parking to a man who seemed to be running things, even though I had read it was $5.

All that said, I’ve been thinking about giving it another go; we may have just been cold and not up for a long outing there. Again, there are no facilities or concessions, something to plan for. Find directions to Matoaka here. Once you park, it’s a very short walk to the beach.

The right footwear makes a big difference

Shark Tooth & Fossil Hunting Tips:

* Wear proper shoes! Water shoes in warm months and rubber boots in cold ones, so you can walk along the shell and rock laden shore without discomfort or freezing your tootsies off.

* Bring along a small shovel and sifter if you like to dig for your fossils.

* Hat and sunscreen always recommended, even on cold days… if it’s sunny, faces can still burn being outside for a long time.

* Bring water and snacks. Fossil hunting works up appetites!

* Take a good look at directions, maybe even write them down, in case GPS fails in remote areas (this has happened to us, but luckily I knew the way).

* Bring a container with a small hole cut in the lid to easily store your fossil finds.

* If you’re not sure whether or not something is a fossil, bring it home anyway and do some research to identify it when you get home.

* The Fossil Forum and Fossil Guy are great resources for more about your fossil finds.

* The Calvert Marine Museum is also a wonderful place to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay, including prehistoric marine life there.


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Filed under All ages, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre

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The holiday season always brings an extra big selection of family shows to local stages, and it can be difficult to decide which to see. Well, I’m about to make it a little easier for you with this: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre should definitely make the cut.

This unique take on the C.S. Lewis classic literally tells the tale of the four Pevensie siblings’ well-chronicled adventures in Narnia. The play begins with Lucy and Peter actually relaying the story to the audience years later, then recreating it for us as we’re drawn into the wardrobe — and back to that time — with them and the several other characters in the show.

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Yet, there are only two actors in this production. If you’re wondering how they can possibly pull this off, the quick answer is a fantastic balance of great acting, clever stage direction, creative costumes and props, a well-designed (and beautiful!) set…and a little magic.

Dazzling tricks and neat surprises keep the audience delighted during the adventure as the brothers and sisters enter the land of Narnia, eventually encountering and battling the White Witch along with Aslan the lion. And while the hour-long play doesn’t capture all of the details, it still gets to the pulp of the story — and with fun, imaginative flair.

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One of my favorite aspects of the show was interaction with the audience. From the very beginning, Lucy and Peter turn around with surprise to see us there. Our presence is what actually launches them into their story, and they continue to engage throughout. They reach their hands out to people, ask us to weigh in on decisions, even listen to a little girl in the front row as she unexpectedly reveals Lucy’s location during a game of hide and seek.

When I asked Owen and Sasha about their favorite parts, she named that very game, and he described a snow ball fight. Mine was the moment Narnia was revealed, and we saw the ingenuity of the set. We all agreed, though, there were loads of great moments we could have chosen.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is running at Adventure Theatre through December 31, with both weekday and weekend performances. Tickets are $19.50 and can be purchased in advance online or by calling 301.634.2270.


This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Enter to Win Tickets to “Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families” at Strathmore!

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As autumn hues color the landscape, add some vibrant tones to your family’s seasonal entertainment: The blues! On Thursday, October 27, Strathmore presents Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families. And I have a Family 4-Pack of tickets for the show to give away to one lucky KFDC reader!

With audience members of all ages in mind, this is a performance that is both entertaining and educational. The 45-minute, multimedia concert features alumni of Strathmore’s Artist in Residence program. These top flight musicians showcase their talent and teach the basics of the full-hearted, foot-tapping music we call the blues. Where did it come from, how did it evolve, and what’s it all about? Get the lowdown on call and response; 12-bar blues chord progression, lyric structure, and improvisation. This music lesson brings the blues and its iconic artists to life.

The show begins at 7:30pm, but you can go early to witness the area’s Piedmont blues tradition live, as Strathmore presents the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation musicians in the Lockheed Martin Lobby prior to Shades of Blues performances. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Besthesda, MD.

Tickets for Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families are just $5-14 and are available for purchase online. Of course, you can also try to win the Family 4-Pack through the giveaway below.

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Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families at Strathmore on October 27 at 7:30pm, simply leave a comment below and/or on the KidFriendly DC Facebook page — bonus entry for commenting on both! This giveaway will run through Sunday, October 23, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Strathmore, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Fall, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Sponsored Post, Weekdays

Plan a Perfect Autumn Day Trip with Ruddy Duck Adventures

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This post is sponsored by Ruddy Duck Adventures, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, Destination from DC, Educational, Fall, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Weekend