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Whether you are always on the go or just looking to kick back and relax, the county offers something for everyone — from hiking and biking to bird-watching and golf.

INSIDE AND OUT

Rocky Gorge Golf (301-725-0888) and the Columbia SportsPark (410-715-3054) offer miniature golf and batting cages. The county has two bowling alleys, Brunswick Columbia Lanes (410-381-7750) and Brunswick Normandy Lanes (410-465-0355); an indoor climbing center, Earth Treks (410-872-0060); inline skating and skateboarding at the Columbia SkatePark (410-715-3054); roller-skating at the Supreme Sports Club (410-381-5355); ice-skating at the Columbia Ice Rink (410-730-0322); a skateboard park at Centennial Park and two outdoor inline hockey rinks at Alpha Ridge Park in Marriottsville (410-313-4700).

For equestrians, there are private riding stables as well as the Columbia Horse Center (301-776-5850), which offers lessons and boarding. Tennis buffs will want to practice their swings at one of the Columbia Association’s five tennis clubs, numerous courts at the county’s parks, as well as at a number of local private tennis facilities. In 2011, a premiere tennis facility, the Troy Park Tennis & Sports Center, will open in Elkridge with 30 indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a stadium. Swimmers can dive right into one of the Columbia Association’s 23 outdoor pools (410-312-6332), the indoor pools at the Supreme Sports Club (410-381-5355), the Columbia Gym (410-531-0800) or the Columbia Swim Center (410-730-7000).

The Roger Carter Recreation Center in Ellicott City (410-313-2764) also has a pool. Several local private swim clubs offer memberships as well. Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks maintains dozens of regional and neighborhood parks with trails, courts and fields for sports and pavilions. To rent a pavilion, call 410-313-4682.

WHERE TO WALK

There is a 93.5-mile pathway system that honeycombs Columbia, seven miles of hiking trails in Patapsco Valley State Park and 10 miles of trails in Patuxent River State Park. It’s 2 miles around Lake Elkhorn, 1.4 miles around Wilde Lake, 2.5 miles around the lake at Centennial Park and 1 mile around Lake Kittamaqundi.

AND MORE

The Department of Recreation & Parks (410-313-PARK) offers everything from ballroom dancing to basket weaving, while the Y of Central Maryland in Ellicott City (410-465-4334) features exercise classes and swimming. Neighborhood centers offer courses as well.

Whether you’re a serious athlete, a weekend warrior or simply a spectator, there are plenty of opportunities in and around Howard County to get your fill of fun.

PRO TEAMS

Baltimore is home to baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and football’s 2001 Super Bowl champion Ravens, as well as the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Blast and the Baltimore Bayhawks, a professional outdoor lacrosse team.   

Washington boasts the Redskins (football), Capitals (hockey), Wizards (basketball), Mystics (women’s basketball), D.C. United (outdoor soccer) and the Nationals (baseball).

Three nearby minor-league baseball teams — the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Aberdeen IronBirds — serve as farm teams for the Orioles.

SCHOOLS

Among local colleges and universities, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland are national powers in lacrosse, while Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy play top-rated football schedules.

Howard Community College fields teams at the NJCAA Division III level.

At the high school level, Howard County has produced state champions in 20 sports. The county’s girls lacrosse teams have won state titles 17 of the 21 years the tournament has been held. County teams have won the most state titles in boys soccer (46), boys cross country (33) and volleyball (25).

YOUTH LEAGUES

Many of these athletes got their starts in parent-run programs such as the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County (SAC), with more than 6,000 children competing on neighborhood and traveling  teams. 410-203-9590 or www.sackick.com

Swim teams are also a popular activity for Howard County youth. The Columbia Association’s neighborhood swim league has dozens of teams, and the Howard County swim clubs compete in the Central Maryland Swim League.

Many clubs and organizations throughout the county offer baseball, tennis, softball, basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, rugby, cross-country, ice hockey, figure skating, track and field, volleyball, football, cheerleading and lacrosse.

ADULT LEAGUES

For adults, the competition can be as serious as the athlete, and the variety of league sports — many sponsored by the county’s Department of Recreation & Parks — includes golf, football, tennis, bowling, basketball, softball, baseball, racquetball, dodgeball, kickball and even ultimate disc.

STRIDERS

For runners of all ages, the Howard County Striders organize weekly races of 2 miles to 15 kilometers. The group hosts one of the nation’s largest women-only races each summer and Clyde’s American 10K in the spring. www.striders.net

SPECIAL OLYMPICS HOWARD COUNTY

More than 500 male and female athletes who have intellectual and related developmental disabilities compete in 18 sports like soccer, tennis, swimming, golf, powerlifting and bocce. www.somdhc.org

TRIATHLON

The Columbia Triathlon, held in May, is one of the country’s best three-sport competitive challenges with a 1.5K swim, a 41K bike ride and a 10K run at Centennial Park. The Iron Girl Women’s Triathlon had nearly 2,400 finishers last year and returns this August. www.tricolumbia.org

USEFUL CONTACT INFORMATION

Atholton Youth Recreation Association
877-297-2421, www.ayra.com  

Columbia Clipper Swim Team
410-381-0020

Columbia Ravens
www.columbiaravens.com

Columbia Ice Rink
410-730-0322 (Hot line)

Elkridge Youth Organization
www.eyosports.org

Howard County Lacrosse Program
www.hclacrosse.com

Howard County Recreation & Parks
410-313-4700

Howard County Youth Program
www.hcyp.org

Kangaroo Kids (jump rope)
www.kangarookids.org

Savage Boys and Girls Club
301-604-8308

Rocky Gorge 4 Seasons Golf Fairway (practice range, batting cages, mini-golf)
301-725-0888

Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County
410-203-9590

Soccer Dome
443-755-0014

Special Olympics Howard County
410-740-0500

The Reaper’s Den (indoor sports training)
410-381-4571, www.reapersden.com

The Y of Central Maryland Dance/Family Center
410-465-4334

Volleyball House and Indoor Soccer Arena
410-579-1007, www.vbhouse.com

Western Howard County Soccer
www.whcsoccer.org

DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION & PARKS

410-313-4700

Alpha Ridge Park
Blandair Regional
Cedar Lane Park
Centennial Park
Hammond Park
High Ridge Park
Kiwanis-Wallas Park
Meadowbrook Park
North Laurel Community
Center and Park
Patapsco Valley State Park
Patuxent River State Park
Robinson Nature Center
Rockburn Branch Park
Roger Carter Rec Center
Savage Park
Schooley Mill Park
Western Regional Park
Worthington Off-Leash Area (Dog Park)

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