> Columbia Swim Center & SplashDown, 410-730-7000
> Three outdoor tennis clubs, www.columbiatennis.com
> An ice rink, 410-730-0321
> Columbia SportsPark featuring 18-hole miniature golf and batting cages, 410-715-3054
> Columbia SkatePark, 410-715-3054
> Columbia Horse Center, 301-776-5850
FRESH AIR FUN
> Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Old Frederick Road, Woodstock, 410-465-8877. Families can hike and explore more than 230 acres of preserved natural habitat. And don’t forget to check out the exhibits at the visitors center.
> Clark’s Elioak Farm, 10500 Route 108, Ellicott City, 410-730-4049. The Clark family has farmed in Howard County since 1797. Attractions on their 540 acres include a petting farm, pony rides and hayrides and the restored figures from the Enchanted Forest storybook park.
> Larriland Farm, 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, 410-442-2605. Load up on strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples and more at this pick-your-own farm. Come back for the Fall Festival, which features hayrides, a straw maze and pumpkin patch.
> Rocky Gorge 4 Seasons Golf Fairway, Route 29 and Old Columbia Road, Laurel, 301-725-0888. Perfect your swing at the driving range or batting cages, or play a round of miniature golf.
> Terrapin Adventures, 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, 301-725-1313. Whiz through the canopy near Savage Park on a zipline, challenge yourself to a ropes course or glide on a giant swing.
> The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (410-313-PARK) maintains nearly 40 parks with trails, courts, playing fields, playgrounds and pavilions (see recreation section). The department also sponsors classes, trips and summer camps for all ages.
> There are more than 90 miles of bike paths throughout Columbia, seven miles of hiking trails in Patapsco Valley State Park (www.dnr.state.md.us) and 10 miles of trails in Patuxent River State Park (www.dnr.state.md.us).
For more cultural and historical enrichment, the county is home to a number of museums families can explore including:
> African Art Museum of Maryland, located in downtown Columbia for more than 20 years, is in the process of relocating. For updates, www.africanartmuseum.org.
> Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City, 410-461-1945
> Firehouse Museum, Main Street and Church Road, Ellicott City, 410-313-2690
> Patapsco Female Institute Historic Site and Mt. Ida Visitor Center, 3691 Sarah’s Lane, Ellicott City, 410-465-8500