Tag Archives: Maryland Family Activities

Beach Fun & Fossil Hunting at Flag Ponds Nature Park

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We had an incredibly busy spring. Between multiple sports, ballet, the school play, and other random commitments, it seemed like someone always needed to be somewhere — practices, games, lessons, rehearsals — and our “chill” time was rather limited.

So, I’ve decided to make up for it these first two weeks of summer break. Instead of the kids starting camp right away as they usually do when the school year ends, we’re slowing things down and, save for a couple of drop-in camp days, relishing some carefree, undemanding time together. This includes lazy, loungy mornings, heading out whenever we’re ready with no worry of being tardy. Bathing suits and towels are part of our everyday wardrobe and gear. And we’re planning fun adventures that take advantage of the season and are best enjoyed in immersive, unhurried fashion.

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We kicked off our stretch of leisure in the most apropos way possible: By hitting the beach, of course. And we did so with a bit of serendipity. The original plan was to visit our go-to, easy-from-DC beach destination, Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach. (And here I have to confess that I’ve never posted about it because the friend that introduced me to it years ago asked me not to share with the masses, but it’s apparently become better known, and for good reason.) It’s a fantastic little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD, with a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, and the Calvert Cliffs edging the shoreline. But the best part is the fossil hunting. It’s one of the beaches known for shark teeth finds, and they are aplenty at Brownie’s — scoop up a handful of small shells and rocks near the water, wash away the sand, pick through, and you’re practically guaranteed to find a few small fossils in the mix.

Younger days at Brownie's Beach

Younger days at Brownie’s Beach

Anyway, when I mentioned to a friend that we were going to Brownie’s, she informed me they now charge a pretty steep admission fee for non-residents of Calvert County ($16/adult, $9/child). However, as luck would have it, my friend Rebecca at Not-So-SAHM had just posted about a visit to Flag Ponds Nature Park, also out that way. It sounded nice — the $6 per carload admission fee a big plus — so we coordinated with friends, packed up beach gear and a picnic, and headed southeast. (UPDATE: Admission is now $8/car.)

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Flag Ponds is just an hour’s drive from the city, a straight shot out Pennsylvania Avenue. Really, you drive out PA Ave., which becomes Rt. 4 (but has a several other names along the way), and stay on that until you make a left onto Flag Ponds Parkway. A park ranger at a small trailer collected the entrance fee and directed us to a parking lot up the road. Next to the lot is a Visitor Center, and while we didn’t go in, I read that it’s interesting with displays of sea, plant, and wildlife that you might find in the area.

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Skink sighting!

Skink sighting!

The beach is about a half-mile walk down a dirt road from the lot, so we had bit of a load to carry with a cooler and our gear. There are tables near the parking lot where you can eat, but we were set on a beach picnic. (I recommend bringing a rolling cooler and stacking the rest of your stuff on it.) The road winds through a lovely wooded area, and you can hear bird calls and maybe catch a neat wildlife sighting, like the skink we spied. Near the end of the road, a narrow boardwalk leads to the sand, and there are restrooms and a rinsing shower right before you cross to the open beach area.

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The beach at Flag Ponds is fairly expansive (much bigger than Brownie’s), which has its pros and cons — more to explore, but more space for wandering children. It’s quite picturesque with a wide expanse of sand, sea grass blowing along the dunes, and pond-like inlets formed by sand washing in. We initially set up near one of the ponds, but quickly realized the water was kind of mucky and full of dead crabs, so we relocated to the outer edge of the beach close to the water. It’s very shallow, so the kids could easily swim and play, and with lots of shells and pebbles along the shoreline, it’s good for fossil hunting.

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Even though it was a hot day, there was a nice breeze blowing, and swimming kept us cool. The kids had a blast playing in the water and sand and taking nature walks to collect dead crabs and an eel(!).

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Owen joined me for some fossil hunting, though I probably enjoy finding shark teeth more than my kids and spent a lot of time sitting right at the shoreline grabbing handfuls of shells and sifting through them for fossil treasures — it’s quite therapeutic! However, I only found two shark teeth, much less than I would usually find at Brownie’s, something to keep in mind if that’s your main mission.

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After a good few hours of sun and surf, we decided to call it a day. On the way back to the car, we encountered a park ranger, who gave us the lowdown on the trails within the park. Apparently, there are a a few gentle mile-longish hikes that lead to ponds and wind through the woods.

With a great beach day in the books, we headed back to the city, thoroughly satisfied with a terrific start to our leisurely fortnight. And it gets even better, so be sure to check back here soon…

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.


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Filed under All ages, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Performing and Visual Arts “Just for Families” at Arts on the Green

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Arts on the Green, Gaithersburg’s premier center for the performing and visual arts, recently launched a new initiative that encourages children and families to explore the world around them through programs in music, theater, movement and the visual arts.

Just for Families provides performing and visual arts programs for families with young kids. From painting workshops to theater productions and concerts, Arts on the Green offers experiences for parents and children to enjoy the arts together at their two facilities, Arts Barn and Kentlands Mansion.

Bop Goes the Weasel performs October 4

Bop Goes the Weasel performs October 4

Next in the line-up is Bop Goes the Weasel this Saturday, October 4, 11am – 12pm. The jazz-for-kids performance is high-energy, interactive, and encourages young listeners to clap, snap, and have fun as Christiana Drapkin and her quartet introduce children to jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker. It’s recommended for children in pre-K to grade 5, and tickets are $12/adult, $8/child. Call 301-258-6394 to reserve yours.

"Not My Monkey" brings family theater October 11-26

“Not My Monkey” brings family theater October 11-26

The family programing also includes ongoing series like Songs & Stories, a preschool program held the first and third Thursday of each month. Workshops, concerts, magic shows, and theater are also featured in the Just for Families series. You can view the complete schedule for dates and details.

Arts on the Green venues, Arts Barn and Kentlands Mansion, are located in the heart of the Kentlands at 311 and 320 Kent Square Road in Gaitherburg, MD. Follow them on Facebook to stay updated on events and programs.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Arts on the Green, however, I only promote events, services, and activities that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, Art, Class, Educational, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Sponsored Post, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Pontoon Boating on the Patuxent

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I’m not one to require an over-the-top observance of Mother’s Day, but I do like to celebrate it with a nice mix of family time and “me” time. Usually, we do a fun Bloody Mary brunch, then I head out for a little pampering with one of my momma cohorts. This year, however, we decided to go a little bigger and planned a pontoon boat excursion on the Patuxent River with friends (and a movie later on for the “me time” part). And with the gorgeous spring day we had that second Sunday of May, it turned out to be an ideal way spend the special day.

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We reserved the boat in advance from Solomons Boat Rental at Solomons Island, a peaceful fishing village just over an hour’s drive from DC where the Patuxent meets the Chesapeake Bay. The eight-person, 24-foot pontoon was perfect for our crew (there were actually 9 of us, but with small kids the fit was fine). You can rent it for one, two, four, or eight hours. We originally opted for two, but ended up tacking on extra when we realized that wouldn’t be enough to enjoy the beautiful day.

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We packed a couple of coolers for a picnic lunch aboard the boat (Bloody Mary fixings included to keep the tradition going :). The kids were required to wear life preservers the entire time, and there were some for adults on board as well.

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The folks at Solomons Boat Rental provided a map, and we headed toward the nearby Thomas Johnson Bridge and out on the river. We cruised along for awhile, enjoying the cool breeze and water spraying up on the boat. The scenery, consisting of both natural areas and pretty riverside houses, was lovely. As we got to more narrow waterways, we dropped anchor for some swimming, eating, and relaxing. Being on the water elicits such a great carefree feeling.

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After a good couple of hours on the river, we headed back to the boat house. It’s located right next to a small strip of sand, so the kids played on the beach and swam for a bit before taking a short walk to get ice cream cones.

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We headed home after that, though you can make a longer day of it and have a meal on Solomons Island. Several restaurants are right on the water, many serving crabs and shellfish, waterside kind of food. You can see a list of them here. And for more information about renting pontoon boats (or motor boats) from Solomons Boat Rental, visit their website.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from the Montgomery County Fair

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Our family always tries to hit a county fair when they recur around the area each summer. The thrill of carnival rides, fun of seeing farm animals, chance to indulge in tasty fair grub, and kistchy entertainment all in one place is, to me, a slice of Americana to be experienced this time of year.

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Montgomery County Fair yesterday for the better part of the afternoon and evening and definitely got our fill. And while the kids might say we must go back for more, I think the 6+ hours we spent there yesterday will hold us over until next year.

For more details about what’s there, you can read this review from a couple of years ago. And the photos below will give you a glimpse of it all.

The Montgomery County Fair will take place through August 17 in Gaithersburg, Md (directions here). Times vary by day, so check the schedule for specifics.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Competition, Eats, Exhibit, Farm, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend