With easy access to jobs in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., not to mention standout schools that rank among the top in the state, it’s no surprise that Howard County is a magnet for families. But the demands on today’s families often mean free time is at a premium. Luckily, Howard County has plenty of opportunities for family fun seven days a week. From indoor rock climbing and miniature golf to laser tag and pumpkin patches, there’s always something fun nearby for parents and children. For more ideas and a monthly calendar of family-friendly events, visit Maryland Family magazine at www.marylandfamilymagazine.com.

LET THE FUN BEGIN

Why let the kids bounce off the walls at home when they can do it at one of these indoor fun facilities?

> Jump Zone Party Play Center, 7175 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia, 410-309-5966


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> Pump It Up - The Inflatable Party Zone, 7184 Troy Hill Drive, Suite H, Elkridge, 410-579-1122

> Earth Treks Climbing Centers, 7125 C Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, 410-872-0060. Featuring 15,000 feet of climbing surfaces, 44-foot-high walls, and classes and events for all ages.

> Brunswick Columbia Lanes, 7100 Carved Stone Lane, Columbia, 410-381-7750

> Brunswick Zone, Normandy, 8419 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, 410-465-0355. Each site has 32 lanes of bowling fun.

> Monster Mini Golf, 7351 Assateague Drive, Suite 380, Jessup, 410-579-4653. This monster-themed, 18-hole miniature golf center boasts glow-in-the-dark animated props, a DJ, arcade and event rooms.

> Lifetime Fitness, 7220 Lee DeForest Drive, Columbia, 410-953-0022. This fitness club opens kids’ classes to nonmembers as well, so toddlers to teens can take advantage of classes in climbing to cheerleading and karate to hip-hop dance.

> Great Kids Village, 6570 Dobbin Road, Columbia, 410-497-7529. Kids can drive a fire engine, shop in a child-size grocery store, paint or explore tunnels and slides at this 24,000-square-foot indoor play center.      

> The Reaper’s Den, 8919 McGaw Court, Suite 5, Columbia, 410-381-4571. This indoor sports training center includes batting cages and turfed indoor fields, and also hosts parties.

> ShadowLand Laser Adventures, 9179 Red Branch Road, Columbia, 410-740-9100. Up to 30 players of all ages don high-tech suits and hand sets in this 6,000-square-foot, two-level arena filled with mazes and turrets to battle it out with lasers. Special effects, astral music and fog add to the ambience.

> Dancel Family Center Y in Ellicott City, 4331 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City, 410-465-4334. All the exercise classes, swimming and special activities you expect from a community Y facility.

COLUMBIA ASSOCIATION

The Columbia Association maintains a number of facilities for members and nonmembers including:

> 23 outdoor pools and 2 mini water parks,  410-312-6332

> Columbia Athletic Club & Indoor Tennis, 410-730-6744

> Supreme Sports Club, 410-381-5355

> The Columbia Gym, 410-531-0800