Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kiddie Crusoe, Timonium, Maryland

Kiddie Crusoe is a fantastic combination play area located in Timonium, Maryland. The largest focus is on three main rooms which include a large wooden climbing apparatus, several inflatable jumping toys and slides, and a small town designed for an active imagination.  The place was clean and well staffed, the equipment was in good condition, and there was plenty of room to run without feeling crowded.  The place is geared towards children 3-12 and is probably most fun for those aged 3-8 years old.
The small town contains stores such as a gas station, barn, fire department, supermarket, classroom, theater room, etc.  and offers a variety of imaginative play costumes to allow for role play. The inflatable room has some jumping equipment for younger children, slides for slightly larger children, and an inflatable two person basketball hoop which is perfect for a shootout. The climbing equipment is solid wood and has several slides of varying heights for different aged children. There are bridges and tunnels to run and climb through, as well as a few different swings for older and younger kids. There are also several small rock walls
designed for the little climbing enthusiasts. 
Also on the premises was two small rooms for athletics and gaming. One room had a basketball hoop up and the other had a Mario themed painting on the wall with a big TV and a Wii set up to play video games. Kiddie Crusoe also offers weekly classes in creative movement, art, and a variety of other learning groups. Additionally, there is a beautifully maintained cafe which offered both healthy and snack foods for kids and families to eat. Kiddie Crusoe was a great place for our kids to play and
we look forward to going back again soon.

Hours of Operation:
Monday: 10:00am to 2:00pm
Tuesday: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Wednesday: 3:00pm to 8:00pm
Thursday: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am to 6:00pm 
$12 dollars per child aged 1-12
Adults are free with paid child admission
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Monday, December 26, 2011

National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC

Located on the mall in Washington DC, the Air and Space Museum has been a favorite of mine for years. They have several changing exhibits, but they also have many permanent exhibits as well. The exhibit hall features include:
Explore the Universe (Herschel Telescope)
Looking at Earth (Lockheed U-2)
How Things Fly (great interactives for kids)
Early Flight (features the 1909 Wright Military Flyer)
Jet Aviation
Golden Age of Flight
Exploring the Moon (Apollo Lunar Module)
Moving Beyond Earth
Space Race (Missile Pit)
Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater
Milestones of Flight (which includes a piece of Moon Rock)                
 Gift Shop
America by Air (Boeing 747 Nose of plane and tour)
Flight Simulators
(This list is from their home page)

The museum is very large and will take several hours to see everything. Children as young as 3 can start to appreciate the exhibits, but I would say that 5 and up is the ideal age range. The museum is completely free, and is located in easy walking distance of several other great museums and national monuments. There are also several metro stations located nearby so that you can conveniently get to and from the museum very easily. Parking on the streets are very limited and garages will be expensive. There are many food vendors that sell snacks and there are a plethora of restaurants in the surrounding areas as well that cater to a variety of different dietary needs.

Free admission
Hours: 10am-5:30pm

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Newseum, Washington DC

EXTRA, EXTRA, Read all about it! Newseum is a big hit in our nation's capital! From the moment you arrive at the Newseum, you are greeted by amazing exhibits. Every morning, along the outside of the museum, they have someone who posts the front page of a newspaper from each of the 50 states in America. Once you go inside, you are greeted by six floors of amazing current and historical news exhibits. News tickers continuously scroll up to the second information, news choppers are suspended overhead, and the museum provides a 3 minute introductory movie to tell guests what they will see.

On the concourse level is sections of the Berlin Wall and exhibit, changing exhibits, a comic hall, eatery, and a sports history theater. Level one has the Newseum store, the great hall of news, a 4-D news movie experience (3D movie with shaking chairs), and a really cool exhibit on Pulitzer Prize photos. Each one has an explanation that allows you to get a good grasp of the situation in the photo. Level two has an interactive newsroom and an ethics center, and level three has exhibits on world news, a tv studio, an internet, TV, and radio section, and a journalists memorial as well. On the fourth floor, is the big screen theater, a really cool first amendment gallery, five freedoms walkway, and the 9/11 exhibit which has the radio tower from on top of the World Trade Center. One of my favorite parts of the museum was on the 5th floor near the big screen theater and Great Books exhibits. News History had newspapers dating back 500 years with significant historical events. Hundreds of Newspapers were labeled and on display. The top floor was an observation spot and a great temporary exhibit on Katrina.

I loved spending time in this museum because it made history come to life, showed various ways that news is made, written, and the spins that are put on things. Throughout the exhibit, there were different questions being asked of visitors, which were thought invoking and fascinating. This museum is geared towards people starting from age 12 and up.

Children 6 and under are free
7-18 years old: $13
19-64 years old: $22
65+: $18

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monster Mini Golf, Jessup, MD

For a long time now, there has not been a decent mini golf place to go to in the Silver Spring area. Most are serviceable, but lack the appeal of the mini golf places that line the streets of beach towns. However, Jessup, MD (30 min from Silver Spring) is home to Monster Mini Golf, a totally cosmic, glow in the dark, indoor putting experience. We went during the day and it was very uncrowded, cool, and clean. The course is well maintained, has a variety of obstacles, and does not have a back at the end of each hole (which while narrow, was smartly built for wheel chair accessibility, yay!).

Each of the holes was fun, not too spooky, and challenging, providing us with about an hour of fun for the course (with no traffic). In addition to the mini golf, they also have a small arcade with prizes to be won. This place is perfect for kids 5 years old and up, assuming that the monsters are not too scary for them (there are fake monsters, but nothing that moves or jumps out at anyone). For mini golf, it is mildly pricey at 8 dollars per person for adults and 7 dollars each for kids, but it is indoors, and very well maintained. They also have great hours and offer several different discount deals (found on their website) such as Tuesday 12 dollar couple night, Pajama Thursday, etc... Definitely planning to go back soon!

(Note that they now also have a Gaithersburg location)

Adults $8
Kids $7

Monday - Thursday: 12pm - 9pm Friday: 12pm - 10pm
Saturday: 12pm - 10pm
Sunday: 12pm to 8pm

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ocean Dunes Waterpark, Arlington, VA

Absolute perfection was achieved this week when we took a drive to Arlington, VA. for a visit to Ocean Dunes Waterpark. Located only 40 minutes from Silver Spring at Upton Hill Regional Park, we had a great time playing at this wonderful and splash-filled place. The most fun was had on the climbing aparatus which resembled something you would find at a regular park, except that it had water spouts, pipes, and slides to make it even more fun. Every few minutes, a large bell would go off and a big bucket of water would pour down the roof and shower the kids. The water got them wet but was not overpowering. This great park also had two big waterslides for kids that are older, a lap pool for adults, a pool with ramp entry that does not exceed 3 feet of water, and a baby pool which had many water toys to play with. Both kids (2 and 4 years old) had a great time at the park. Additionally, compared to other water parks, the prices were very affordable and they had staff at every part of the water. When it seemed like there was some sort of emergency, 5 lifeguards darted over immediately to check on the situation. Nothing was wrong and everyone was fine, but upon returning, the lifeguard told me that they are very cautious and take every situation seriously, which was really nice to see. My son also fell over and got a small scrape and the people in the first aid room were really nice and friendly to him. They also have a large snack area next to the pool area. This water park is just a part of several activities on the premises as they also have biking trails, a mini golf course, and batting cages. We can't wait to go back soon!!!

Ranges from $5(after 4pm)-$12(unlimited water park and mini golf) dollars per person depending on what you want to do and what time you go. This is a seasonal activity as it is an outdoor water park. Season passes can be purchased for a discounted price.

May 28 – 30
Memorial Day Weekend: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
June 1 – June 16
Monday – Friday: Closed
Weekends: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
June 17 – August 2
Daily: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
July 4: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
August 22 – September 2
Monday – Friday: 11:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Saturdays and Sundays: 11:00 PM – 7:00 PM
September 3 – September 5
Labor Day Weekend: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Mini Golf & Batting Cage Hours

March 12 – April 24
Monday – Friday: 4:00 – 8:00 PM
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
April 25 – June 16
Monday – Thursday: 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Fridays: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays:  10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
July 4th: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
June 17 – September 5
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
September 6 – October 30
Monday – Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Friday: 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday & Holidays: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

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Bowie Baysox, MD

Not all baseball stadiums are created equal! It's hard to decide which age is appropriate to take children to a baseball game. After all, they are expensive and the idea of a child sitting still for 3 hours is just ludicrous. However, minor league baseball games are a great starting point as there is more space to get up and move around, the tickets are usually less expensive, and there are more kid friendly activities taking place. The Bowie Baysox stadium has a big open area for kids to stand to try to catch foul balls, a kids play area complete with merry-go-round, and inflatable games, etc.. Minor league players tend to be more friendly and willing to sign autographs before and after the game, and they really try to get kids involved. We spent 14 dollars per ticket and sat 3 rows off the field next to the dugout, and it is so much more exciting to be so close to the players. They also do several contests throughout the game including races, throwing t-shirts into the crowd, and staff that dance on top of the dugout. Bowie is a great place to take young ones to for a first game. 

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Go Kart Track, Bladensburg, MD

If you are feeling the need for speed, dart down to the Go Kart Track in Bladensburg, MD.  Located right near College Park, this small place is simple, but satisfies the urge to fly around a race track.  We got there right when it opened and had almost the whole track to ourselves. While the facilities themselves were definitely not modern, the go karts were in good condition and seemed well maintained. The employees were also friendly, stopping to take our picture when we were all done (upon our request). The track is small, and there is a shaded area with benches to watch the racers when you are done racing. The cost of racing is 6 dollars for 6 laps which goes by very quickly. However, most other go kart places are more expensive anyway, so this is an easier way to monitor how much you spend. They have both, single and tandem karts and if you get a tandem kart, you only pay for the driver.  You must be 54 inches tall and 8 years old to drive a Go Kart, but kids as young as 3 years old can be a passenger in the tandem kart. This place is also located within a few minutes of the College Park Aviation Museum which makes for a good pair of inexpensive activities for the day with kids.

$6 for six laps
                                                11AM TO 10PM SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

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Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a beautiful stadium to take in a game with friends and family. Ranked by as the 5th best stadium in all of major league baseball, Camden Yards seats roughly 45,000 people and provides both open and shaded seats. Tickets range in price, but remain very affordable for a major league baseball team. Competing in the toughest division in all of baseball, the Orioles also play many of their games against top talent from major cities on the east coast. This stadium is only 20 years old and many stadiums since then have been built based off of the model that was used to make Camden Yards one of the first modern stadiums to be built with a vintage look.  Night games are especially fun to take in as the Baltimore city skyline can be seen when looking out into the outfield.

Pricing: Tickets range from $
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Centennial Park, Ellicott City, MD

Centennial Park is centrally located between Silver Spring and Baltimore and provides a beautiful park for a variety of outdoor activities. The lake has trout and bass to fish for, several playgrounds located throughout the park, and several sports courts, including basketball and volleyball.  Additionally, they have a fantastic boating area where canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats can be rented for under $10 per hour. However, be cautious in getting there right at opening time as the boat house is run by teenagers and they showed up 15 minutes late on multiple occasions. The lake and the entire park is well maintained, and has fantastic concrete paths for walking or biking.  There are many beautiful places to have a lakeside picnic and the people are very friendly. We look forward to going back to this park soon!!!

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