Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, Purcellville, VA

Are you looking for something that provides outdoor excitement and fun? Well, look no further than the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. Located in Purcellville, VA, this company’s white water rafting trip was wonderful from start to finish. Upon arrival, the first thing that I noticed was how well the grounds were maintained. The ticket office was bright and well stocked, the signage was very clearly labeled, and they even had a building where you could leave your keys for safekeeping while on the trip. Further, they had all of their pavilions well marked for guests to find their place at the tubing and rafting stations.

In terms of customer service, each person was friendlier than the next. The girl who checked us in at the front desk was very kind, and explained what we needed to do and where to go. Then when we made it to the tubing area, we were greeted by friendly and fun staff members who helped us get our life vests and paddles. Once we were suited up, we took a bus from their main location directly to our insertion point on the Shenandoah.  As we rode on the bus, they explained all of the different terminology and procedures that we needed to follow. They also told us some of the history of the town as we passed through, using humor to help everyone enjoy the ride. While talking to the guides, they also shared that their company prides themselves on making these trips accessible to everyone. They have done trips with the “Wounded Warriors”, and have even done trips for people living with quadriplegia. They will find a way to make sure that everyone who wants to be outside and on a raft can do so!

Once in the water, our guide continued to give us friendly tips and made sure that everyone was safe and having fun.  All of the rapids that we encountered ranged from class 1 to class 3 (out of 5 classes). It was evident by the instruction that the guides knew the river very well, as they calmly navigated us through the rapids with three very simple and easy to remember commands. When we were not in the rapids, they allowed us to get out of the rafts and swim in the water. The water levels range from about 2-10 feet deep depending on the season (based on rainfall), and made for an enjoyable trip. We also stopped at a point where we could swim a rapid slide (for those interested), as well as to rehydrate from the cooler that they brought. The rafts were spacious, and they gave us tips on how to wedge our feet so that we would not fall out of our boats. Additionally, I was impressed with the level of historical knowledge that our guides had. As we rode through different parts of the 6-mile raft ride, the guides told us about specific landmarks and the history behind them, such as a collapsed bridge, a large rock face that used to have an advertisement, and the history of the town. They also told us when we split off out of the Shenandoah and went into the Potomac River.  

We finally finished our trip about 3 hours after we got out of the water. HFAC shared that they are the only company that has its own private extraction site at the water, which was greatly appreciated after a long day in the sun. Waiting for us was a large military-type diesel truck (think rugged hayride) that drove us back up to the main grounds for the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. When we got back, I was excited to see that they had a separate bath house building that was incredibly clean and spacious. They had bathrooms, showers, and dressing stalls to clean off in a relaxing environment.

This trip was truly perfect for families and individuals who are looking for a great outdoor experience with friendly people. In addition to white water rafting, they also have tubing, off-road Segways, zip lining, a ropes course, camping (in cabins as well as riverside camp sites), and more. They provide a wide array of packages as well if you want to do multiple activities through their company. The Harpers Ferry Adventure Center really knows how to provide a wide variety of options for fun, and we will definitely be coming back here again in the future!

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Invicta Sports Club, Gaithersburg MD

While some activities offer the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the weather for a few months during the year, other places offer fun that can last year round! Invicta Sports Club is a place that you can spend quality time having fun, and learning a new sport or two regardless of the weather. Located in Gaithersburg, this is the perfect place to come to learn how to shoot archery and/or to learn the sport of fencing. Both sports are incredibly safe, and Invicta offers a variety of options such as 1-hour fun sessions (on weekends), 20-minute private lessons, or group classes. They also run camps in the summer, and are open for parties, and small group events.

Having gone on two separate days, I can say that both trainers that worked with us were passionate about their sport, were incredibly knowledgeable, and were great teachers. When we came for archery lessons, Dmitri took the time to explain some of the background of the sport, the different types of bows and arrows, as well as the different techniques that we would need to be successful. As we took aim at the target and emptied a round of shots, he would then give a critique of our form, and why certain things went the way they did and how we could improve. He was patient, and really took the time to help us learn the skills necessary to participate. He also gave a great understanding of the differences in the sport based on techniques and equipment from different countries and cultures. 

When we came back the second time, we tried our hand at fencing. For this sport as well, we found our trainer (Anastasia) to be incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. She walked us through the sport, and shared information about the different types of fencing swords, gear, technology, as well as how points are scored. After learning some of the history, she demonstrated the basic motions such as advancing, retreating, and lunging. Once we practiced the basics, we were able to suit up and have a few matches. The matches provided a good workout and our instructor gave us pointers along the way to help us better understand the different techniques and strategies that we were using. She always asked if we had any questions, and was encouraging us throughout the process.

One might think that these sports would be dangerous, but they are actually both very safe sports as long as you wear the protective gear that they provide, and that you follow instructions. You can tell from their enthusiasm in how they give over their lessons that they care about their sport and their clients. Between the two sports, fencing definitely has more terminology and nuances to learn, while providing a strong combination of mental and physical activity. Archery, had less terminology and rules to follow, but also requires concentration and strength. This activity is great for younger and older children as well as for adults. Their “fun sessions” (fencing) and archery sessions both provide a great opportunity for kids or adults to learn in a fun and safe setting while honing a new craft.

If you have any specific questions about either activity, they are good about responding via email. Their email address is . You can also leave a message on their phone, and they will get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. They are currently in the process of getting a new sign, so finding the place can be a bit challenging. If you put the address into your navigation system, it will tell you that you have arrived when you reach a small shopping center. Turn into the shopping center (you will see a store called J & C Upholstry). Drive around the back of J & C and you will see Invicta Sports Club.

Rates: (Prices vary depending on promotional rates)
Rates for Summer 2017

Archery: (reservations made online)
-Beginner Archery session: $20 per lesson, per person, 7 years of age and up.
1-hour session: Includes: safety, basic instruction, and all of the necessary materials.

-Advanced Archery session (use of club without instructor): $15 per person, 7 years of age and up.
1-hour session: Bring your own equipment, or rent theirs for an additional $15 dollars.

Fencing: (reservations made online)
-Fun Session: $20 per lesson (1 hour), per person, for all ages.
1-hour session: Includes safety, basic instruction, and all of the necessary materials.
-Group classes:
              Little Musketeers (ages 5-7):
                             Meets once per week for one month (4 sessions) $110
                             Meets twice per week for one month (8 sessions) $210
              Beginner (ages 8-13):
Meets once per week for one month (4 sessions) $130
                             Meets twice per week for one month (8 sessions) $240
              Adult (ages 13 & up):
Meets once per week for one month (4 sessions) $120
                             Meets twice per week for one month (8 sessions) $220
(Check website for meeting dates)

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Sligo Creek Footgolf Course, Silver Spring, MD

The 21st century thinker is always looking to create the next big thing. For this reason, there has been a massive surge in new and trendy activities that have been created by companies seeking to create that “wow factor” from their customers. However, people looking for a fun activity might find that there are really fun variations on activities that already exist, right under our noses.  
While operating for years as a traditional golf course, Sligo Creek Golf Course is now also home to Footgolf. Yes, you read that correctly, Footgolf.  This game is played on the same exact course as the golfers, the only real differences being that instead of hitting a golf ball with a club, you get to kick a soccer ball into a much larger hole. The rules of golf apply to this game as well, but even though Footgolf is 18 holes, the course is obviously much shorter than a golf course since one cannot kick nearly as far as one could hit with a golf club.
In terms of the nuances of this game, it plays much the same as golf, but because the ball is so much larger than a golf ball, it is much less about playing the rolls and reading angles. I found that the more you kicked straight at the hole, the more likely it would be to stay its course. While you can certainly rent a golf cart to ride the holes, it is definitely a great workout if you were to choose to walk the course.
Golf course etiquette is still in effect, so remember to wear a collared shirt, and the appropriate shoes for the course, and know that golfers are playing on the same course, so be aware of where they are and where you are at all times. This could be a really fun family event for those with older kids, and they have a family rate (2 adults and 2 children) after a certain time of day. I wouldn’t bring kids younger than 8 or 9 years old. This is also a great activity for adults. Their rates fluctuate in the $14-$18 dollar range for a round of 18, and you can either bring your own soccer ball (size 5 or above) or rent a ball at the course for an additional $3 per person. It is best to call for a tee time or book your start time online, but you can also just walk up and pay at the clubhouse.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington DC

 While only a seasonal event, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a fantastic and free way to spend time in DC, having fun and learning about different cultures. Each year for roughly 2 weeks, the Smithsonian picks a different theme and different cultures to put on exhibits on the National Mall. There is food for sale specific to the countries that are performing, live demonstrations that are interactive and child friendly, as well as activities that are just for watching.

                 This year was a special circus theme, and we particularly enjoyed seeing the stilt walkers, trapeze artists, the Hebei Golden Eagle Acrobatic Troupe from China, and the Sailor Circus. While most years usually have all of the events outside, this year for the 50th anniversary, they had a large, air conditioned circus tent which hosted many shows. They have a complete schedule of all of the different performances, story-telling, and activities listed on their website, so make sure to check the times and dates as each day varies as to what will be open.

Living 30 minutes from DC, there is always the worry that the activity planned may not sustain attention for more than an hour. This is not a problem with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as there are so many events going on simultaneously, that you can always find something that will pique the interest of each visitor. Further, they have water stations set out so that you can refill your water bottles, which is incredibly helpful since there is minimal shade and the summer heat can be brutal. Additionally, if you do get too hot, it is well located so that you can go into any of the surrounding museums to cool off. The amount of time, thought, and effort put into this annual event is evident, and is something that our family looks forward to going to every year!

Regarding accessibility services, they list that accessible seating is available at all performances, with a limited number of wheel chairs and folding canes available for loan at the volunteer tent. They also provide ASL interpreters and real time captioning services for selected performances. The schedule of which performances this is available for is also listed on their website.


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Monday, July 3, 2017

Greenbrier State Park, Boonsboro MD

Located slightly over an hour from parts of the DMV area, Greenbrier State Park is a great place to go for a day at the "beach", a day on the trails, or for some overnight camping. Additionally, boat rentals and fishing make this a place ripe for fun!

If you are choosing to go to the beach area, know that the parking lot fills up quickly. The lake is man-made, and the front beach area is roped off and not more than 4 feet deep at any point. It also slowly gets deeper so little children can play by the shoreline and feel completely safe. They have lifeguards on duty during the summer with hours posted on their website. Our children had a blast playing in the water for hours, and it really felt warm and comfortable. Many people were on the shores as well, having barbecue's and relaxing in the pavilions.

Those who choose not to swim, could still make great use of the lake by renting boats or going fishing. The lake is stocked with several types of fish, and while we only saw a few fisherman, the ones we saw were catching, so this may be a good spot for young anglers (make sure that anglers of age have a fishing license. 

We chose to make use of their camp grounds, and the experience was great for first time campers. The sites were near to each other which allowed us to be maybe 100 feet from our friends (this could be a drawback if you are looking for a place with more privacy, but was a positive for us). There were multiple loops, so there were many campsites to choose from, and the actual camp site was in great shape. The staff had definitely come by before we checked in and raked the site to make sure that it was flat and clean, and the fire pit was also swept clean. Further, the bathrooms were nearby and clean, providing toilets, sinks, and showers. There was also a water pump located only a few campsites away from us which made drinking water readily accessible. The ranger station was also great about giving us information about the hiking trails, and sold ice and fire wood, which made life much easier for beginning campers.

Overall, this was a great experience, and a place that we would come back to in the future.
 All pricing is located on their website, as well as information about making reservations.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Historic Jerusalem Mill Village, Kingsville MD.

 Historic Jerusalem Mill Village is a cute little old fashioned "town" from the 18th and 19th centuries, which makes for a fun and educational trip. About an hour or so from Silver Spring, this historic area has a blacksmith, woodworking, a living museum, and a general store. The staff was incredibly friendly and were very knowledgeable about this history. They also had some old fashioned wooden toys that our kids enjoyed playing with. I would say that we were able to get about an hour out of this trip, watching the demonstrations from the staff. Additionally, they sometimes have concerts and other activities.

However, I would definitely make sure to look for other things in the area as well if you want to make a full day out of it. We typically try to swing through Baltimore on the way home. Also, make sure to check the website for the hours of operation and for which times the activities will be taking place as they have a few different things going on at different times. There are also some nice places to walk near the old mill. We found a nice bridge with some running water, that was fun for pictures.

Check the website for hours of operations and special events.
(not wheel chair accessible)

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Rockville Escape Room, Rockville MD.

Escape rooms have been popping up all over the DMV area over the past few years. This year, Rockville Escape Room opened its doors to the public. Groups of 2-10 people can sign up try out one of four different rooms. The current rooms available include Pharaoh's Quest, The Great Diamond Heist, A Pirates Quest, and The Mad Dentist. They also have several other rooms that will be opening soon. See their website for age restrictions and the number of participants allowed for each one.

The purpose of this activity is to use skills, smarts, and teamwork to crack the clues that are found throughout the room to help you escape. Each room has a 60 minute timer that is shown on a screen. If the timer runs out before you get out, you lose. The clues are helpful, but if you think that it is going to be simple to crack the codes, and find your way out, you are going to be surprised. The clues are definitely breakable, but also provided a true challenge.
The staff provides you with a walkie talkie so that you can receive help up to three times while you are in the room. Those clues should help propel you forward to the next task. During my group's 60 minutes, we made it through all but two clues before our time ran out.  Despite not "escaping the room," all participants had a lot of fun.  I definitely think this activity is geared towards students high school aged and older.

Cost: $29 dollars per person

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Watkins Regional Park, Upper Marlboro, MD

Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro is a great little park that has great facilities. As you enter, follow the yellow brick road as this park is themed to The Wizard of Oz! In addition to a mix of shaded and sunny spots, this park is also equipped with a colorful rubber mat, Dorothy's house, ruby red slipper slides, and more. There are also several slides, places to climb, and many swings, so the lines never seemed to long. We also really appreciated that there were clean restrooms (not portapotties), a water fountain right on the premises, and many shaded picnic tables lining the back of the park.

When you are finished having fun at the park, simply walk across the parking lot and you will also find Watkins Regional Park's other great amenities, including a small walking farm, mini golf, carousel, nature center, tennis bubble, and train. They also have camping sites and hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in nature. This park definitely has what it takes to keep younger and older kids happy for quite a while. I would say 2-9 years old are the most appropriate ages to enjoy the park. (Note: The park is wheelchair accessible, but the actual playground does not have much in the way of ramps. However, the small walking farm is wheelchair accessible).

Hours for the train, mini golf and carousel:
-Summer hours (Tues-Sat, 10am-7pm; Sundays 12 noon-5pm)
-These amenities are closed on Mondays
-Operating hours are subject to change without notice due to inclement weather and unforeseen emergencies

Park is open from dawn to dusk

Contact Info:
General Information:
301-218-6700; TTY 301-699-2544 
Camping Information:
301-218-6702; TTY 301-699-2544
Picnic Area Reservations:
301-699-2400; TTY 301-699-2544
Athletic Field Permits:
301-446-6800; TTY 301-699-2544


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington DC

Were you ever curious about how money was made? Did you ever wonder why it would be so difficult to make counterfeit money? Or perhaps you might have interest in how much money they print each day? All of these questions and more are answered on this tour. 

There are certainly a great deal of benefits to living so close to our nation's capital. One of those benefits is the ability to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. With only two locations in the United states where paper currency is made (the other is Texas), this is a very cool tour that kept my 7 and 9 year old boys interested for the full 40 minute tour. As you walk through the building led by a tour guide, she takes the group through the 4 stages of how money is made. My kids were fascinated by the huge printing presses and the box showing what 1 million dollars in 10 dollar bills looks like. They also loved the friendly factory worker who made sure that even though we were at a window above the factory, he held up the sheets of money for us to see, and then behind the glass wall, he pulled out a laminated sign that he made that said "I love my job"! We all got a good chuckle from that.

In terms of acquiring tickets, there is a ticket booth on the side of the building, where you wait in line for FREE tickets. The line opens up at 8am. You wait in line and get tickets based on availability (you get to choose from the available times). The booth is only open until they are all out of tickets. We got there at 8:15am and there was already a long line. The line did move quickly, but by the time we got to the front, all of the 9:00am and 9:15am tickets were already given out. We could have chosen a time in the afternoon and went to do something else, but we chose 9:30am, and waited by the front of the building until it was our turn. Once you go inside, you are not allowed to take pictures other than in the lobby before the start of the tour, and afterwards in the small gift shop that you come out into at the end of the tour. All in all, this was an enjoyable trip that my boys will remember.


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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Capital SUP, Annapolis, MD

Summer is the time for new experiences. If you are looking to get your feet wet (put intended), stand up paddle boarding is the way to go. Capital SUP is located in Annapolis, is a great company that has wonderful staff, and a nice venue for enjoying time on the water. If you have never SUP’ed (stand up paddle board) before, they offer lessons. I chose to forego the lesson and just figured out the balance on my own. They provide you with the board the paddle and a life jacket. However, even though I didn’t sign up for lessons, the staffer on the dock gave me a few basic tips to make sure that I did okay. In the end, I only fell in the water 3 times (not bad for a first timer). The feeling of floating on the water without being in a boat is a as close to surfing as you can get without being in waves. This was a very cool experience.

In addition to hourly rentals and lessons, they also offer guided tours, LED night tours, race training, special events (such as Full Moon LED lit Sup Yoga), day time SUP Yoga, and more. I went with my son (8 years old at the time) and he and I had a blast. Make sure to bring lots of sunscreen as it gets hot on the water.

Standard Rate $25
Local/Military $20
Standard Rate $45
Local/Military $40
Special Pricing
1-Hour $15; 2-Hour $30
Ladies Night (TH) 4PM-8PM $15

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Zava Zone, Rockville MD

Growing in popularity all over the country, ninja warrior  and ropes courses have rapidly started popping up all around the country. Recently, a new place called Zavazone opened up in Rockville, MD. This new gym offers a wide array of great options for a quick drop in, membership, or parties.  Some of their features include, a two leveled ropes course, a foam jousting pit, trampolines (regular, dodgeball, and basketball, as well as a rock climbing wall. They also have a tall pole walk and a timed ninja warrior challenge course.
The gym had children of all ages, as well as many adults who came for a challenge. Each participant was able to find things that fit their skill level. I would say that the most ideal ages are 6 and up as the larger obstacles will not be doable for really small children. The staff was friendly, and the place was very clean. They also do training sessions before anyone goes on the ropes courses to make sure that everyone is safe. I highly recommend that anybody planning to participate bring work out gloves as the ropes will wear on your hands. If you forget them, they do sell gloves as well.

All ZAVAZONE activities are included with admission.  
 1 Hour   ------------------------------ $19.50
2nd Hour ---------------------------- $14.50
3rd Hour ----------------------------- $10.00
4th Hour ----------------------------- $10.00
 Add and Hour ---------------------$16.00

*There is a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more and 20% for groups of 20 or more on non-holiday weekdays (Tuesday-Thursday)

ZAVAZONE will be open on the following schedule from June 27th through August 28th 2016:
 Monday:              CLOSED
Tuesday:              10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Wednesday:        10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Thursday:            12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Friday:                  12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Saturday:             10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Sunday:                10:00 am to 8:00 pm
*All Hours Subject to Change

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Frontier Town, Berlin, MD

If you happen to be in Ocean City on a nice summer day, but you are tired of spending your time on the beach and the boardwalk, you should definitely make a stop at Frontier Town. Just 10 minutes from the boardwalk in Berlin, Maryland, This place has tons of fun for families. In addition to offering camping sites and cabins, Frontier Town also offers Mini Golf, Wild West shows, and a High Adventure Ropes Course. Not interested in dry activities? Well, they also have a wonderful water park complete with lazy river, kiddie pool, multiple slides, and a flume ride. Our kids spent most of their time in the water park, with my youngest preferring to stick to the play pool, and my older children sticking with the flume and lazy river. Needless to say, this is a great change of pace when at the beach at a more affordable rate than some of the larger water parks.

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Unlimited Water Park & Mini-Golf | 10:00AM-6:00PM
42" tall or taller
Under 42" tall
Children 3 & under
$90.00 per person
Unlimited Day Mini-Golf | 10:00AM-6:00PM
Ages 11+
$4.00 per person
Ages 4 to 10
$2.00 per person
Children 3 & under
Unlimited Night Mini-Golf | 6:00PM-10:00PM
Ages 11+
$4.00 per person
Ages 4 to 10
$2.00 per person
Children 3 & under
Wild West Show, Unlimited Water Park & Unlimited Mini-Golf | 10:00AM-6:00PM
42" tall or taller
$24.00 per person
Under 42" tall
$20.00 per person
Children 3 & under


Shadowland Laser Tag, Gaithersburg, MD

Shadowland Laser Tag has multiple locations, including Gaithersburg, Columbia, Alexandria, Chantilly, and Frederick. Speaking on behalf of the Gaithersburg location, I can tell you that the staff is friendly, the arena is clean, and the activity provided a ton of fun for my 6 and 8 year old children. In addition to having a big arena, there are lots of ramps and alleys to hide in, and a lot of action depending on the size of the group. While the activity is a ton of fun, you should keep in mind that the arena is dark (black lights are used), so it is important to prep your child(ren) before going in so that they know what to expect.

Note: This is not an activity for kids that are terrified of the dark. Additionally, it always helps to call ahead to see if they have people there, because you could end up going and if you only have 3-4 people with you, and nobody else is there, it could be a pretty quiet game. Alternatively, if there are a ton of people there, you may have to wait in the lobby for a bit until it is your turn to go in.
When you arrive at Shadowland, you will have the option of playing arcade games or filling out the waiver and going into the training room to begin learning how to play. In the training room, a staff member will debrief you on which type of game you are going to play, how the game is played, and how much time you will have in the arena. Most games, including the explanation of rules takes about 30 minutes. After they give you all of the instructions, you will follow them into a vesting room, where they will give you your laser tag vest and gun. You will then be let into the arena, where you can quickly get set up on a spot that you would like before the game starts. Once the game starts, know that you may not be with your child unless you request that they put you on the same team when you sign in and fill out the waiver.

The first time we went to this location as a group of parents with our kids. Expecting that this would be more of an activity for our kids was certainly a mistake. The adults not only had an amazing time as well, but a few weeks later, we arranged a couples night out at laser tag. They were great at accommodating for our group, for which they offer discounts once you have at least 10 people. This activity also provided for a ton of great exercise. Be prepared for a lot of running and a great workout. At the end of the game, the “Marshall” (who is in the arena the whole time in case of an equipment malfunction) calls everyone out of the arena, and participants can wait for their score cards to see how well each person did, where they finished in the rankings overall, how many times they shot each person, and how many times each person shot them. We are planning on going back again soon!

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Monday: 11am-6pm
Tues-Thurs: 11am-10pm
Friday: 11am-midnight
Saturday: 10am-midnight
Sunday: 10am-10pm

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ski Liberty, Fairfield, PA.

 Only an hour and 20 minutes from the Silver Spring area, Ski Liberty is a great winter activity which provides hours of fun in the snow! In addition to being a resort and conference center, they offer snow tubing on Boulder Ridge, as well as skiing and snow boarding. It is important to call ahead to make sure that they are open and that the conditions are right for your activity.

We went for the snow tubing which allows for tickets to be purchased for either 1 or 2 hours at a time and includes the cost of the tube rental. Rates range from $20-$32 dollars per person depending on peak and non-peak times. Depending on the day and time, you might find shorter or longer lines, so I advise calling ahead to see when their busier hours are.

I took my 6 and 8 year old children on this trip, and each one got their own tube. They also have a small tubing area (at a reduced price) for kids that are 2-4 years old so that the really little ones can have fun too. They also have a lodge if you need to go in before, during, and after your tubing experience to warm up. The lines moved relatively quickly for the number of people at the ski hill, and they had a covered electric ramp which took you from the bottom of the hill to the top.

The day that we went, the lines were bigger at first, and died down a bit towards the end of our two hours. I believe that we went down the hill 6-7 times during our two hours, and the staff was friendly and maintained a safe environment. Before each person went down the hill, you could request to go regular or fast, and straight down or spinning. My more adventurous son preferred the fast spinning while my more timid son chose fast but straight down.  By the end of the day, my kids were exhausted and had smiles on their faces.


Liberty Mountain Resort
78 Country Club Trail
Carroll Valley, PA 17320
(717) 642-8282

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

ClimbZone, Laurel, MD

                                                                                                                                                                         ClimbZone in Laurel offers a unique opportunity for kids to get started on indoor rock climbing in a fun and safe setting. Upon entering, it is clear that this is no ordinary climbing gym. Since ClimbZone opened its doors last year, they have been bringing in people in swarms to climb these unique "rock" faces. In order to save time upon arrival, you can fill out the safety waiver online so that you can get climbing sooner.

Once you've paid and gotten harnessed, you are taken over to a practice climbing wall where an instructor shows each person how to use their unique climbing system, which involves one pulley system up top, attached to another belay clip on the floor. They show each climber (kid and adult) how to hook on your belay clip to the top rope and then how to un-clip from the floor. Once you have done your sample climb to show that you understand how to use the equipment, you are free to climb on any open wall. There are at least 20-30 different wall faces to climb and each one poses a different challenge and theme.

Throughout our time at ClimbZone, we found the employees to be friendly and helpful. If anyone  was having difficulties, they came over and offered help. Kids as little as around 5 years old seemed to be having fun climbing (sometimes with a parent and sometimes alone), and the slow release rope system that lets climbers down from the wall slowly allowed climbers to feel safe as they slowly rappelled down the walls. While this is mostly geared towards 6-16 year old kids, kids as young as 5 and all the way up to adults can grab a hold of these climbing walls and have a great time!

Additionally, most rock climbing places require you to take a course or be trained to belay in order to use their facilities. Otherwise you are confined to crowded open climb hours that charge you per climb. However, since ClimbZone has its special self-belaying system and training, you can go to whichever wall you would like, wait in line, and climb as many times as you would like. Instead of being charged per climb you are charged for 3 hours of climbing.In addition to the climbing, they also have several large inflatables available to play on at no additional charge, as well as a few arcade games, food for sale, tables to eat at, and an area to rent out for parties. We will definitely be coming back here soon!

ClimbZone Indoor Climbing
13200 Mid Atlantic Boulevard
Suite 130
Laurel, MD 20708
Phone: (301) 317-1970

Recommended ages: 6 and up

2-5 years old: $12
6 and up: $25

Monday-Thursday: 10am-8pm
Friday: 10am-9pm
Saturday-Sunday and public holidays 9am-9pm

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