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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Friday, August 21, 2015

Atlantis Waterpark at Bull Run, Centreville, VA.

Atlantis Waterpark is just another one of Virginia's great waterparks at an affordable price. They have a kiddie pool with a mini slide, a very large pool with two giant slides as well as some smaller slides in the middle of the pool, and a splash and play area with no standing water and a massive bucket that dumps 500 gallons of water every few minutes (A bell alerts you to when this is about to happen). Additionally, there is a small sand area next to the kiddie pool that allows for kids to dig and get a sense of that beach feel without having to drive all the way out to the beach.

On the day that we went, the pool was a bit crowded, but due to the massive size of the main pool, it did not feel like we were cramped. They also had plenty of beach chairs on the premises. When the craving for food and drink hits you, they also have Neptunes Reef Cafe.

While most water parks will set you back at least $25 dollars per person, Atlantis is only $8.25 for those above 48" and $7 for under 48". They also offer reduced rates for seniors and for people that come to the pool after 4pm on weekdays. Overall, the park was clean and there were a lot of lifeguards on the premises rotating on and off duty.

Most appropriate ages: 2-13
Wheel chair accessibility: Yes for entry to facilities, no zero depth entry
May 26 – June 18
Monday – Friday: Closed
Weekends:     11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
June 19:   12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
June 20 – August 23
Daily:     11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
July 4:     11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
August 24 – September 4
Monday – Friday:    11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturdays and Sundays:     11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Patapsco Valley State Park, Ellicott City, MD

Looking for a nice place to hike, fish, picnic, camp, boat, and bike? Patapsco Valley State Park has many wonderful opportunities to be out in nature. One of the more popular trails is the Cascade Falls trail which is a 2.1 mile loop that is moderate in difficulty, and has a nice small waterfall that kids can play in. The water is no more than about 2.5 feet deep and is a nice first experience with waterfalls. It is not a really large area (the falls) and can get crowded at times, but people seem to move in and out of the area within 15 minutes or so, allowing for pockets of less crowded time.

In addition to the hike, there are also places that you can go right into the water and play where it is shallow. We saw kids of all ages splashing around, but because it is such a large park, there was plenty of room for people to spread out and have their own space. One thing to take into account is that there are several entrances to the different trails, and you should make sure to find the parking area that is best for where you want to enter. I believe that some entrances are in different cities, so plan ahead to know where you want to go.

Using Waze, we typed in Cascade Falls Trail rather than Patapsco Valley State Park in order to get directions to the trail we were looking for. There is a small entrance fee for cars coming in ($2 for Maryland residents).


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