Spring kicks off in earnest during April, which is reason enough to go outside and enjoy the weather. There are plenty of family-friendly opportunities to make the most of the outdoors this month, from fun farm events to a festival celebrating the earth and the people of Ellicott City.
1. HEAD TO THE FARM
About a quarter of the land in Howard County is dedicated to farming. Some of those farms, like Clark’s Elioak Farm in Clarksville, are open to the public.
At Clark’s, opening day is April 1, and there are fun events scheduled all month long, including a Cherrybration Days celebration (April 8-9) and Easter egg hunts (April 15-16).
Even during the week, there’s a lot to explore at Clark’s, including a popular petting farm.
“Spring is a great time to come out to the farm to see all our baby animals,” says Nora Crist, who is part of the family that owns Clark’s. “Our favorite are the bouncing, bounding baby goats.”
Clark’s Elioak Farm
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City
Open April 1 to November 5. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Petting farm admission is $6 per person (no charge for babies under 12 months).
2. HOP ON HORSEBACK
“Children love riding,” says Judi Reinke, owner of Misty Manor Riding Stable in Marriottsville, one of several horse farms in the county where families can become equestrians.
Misty Manor’s rides include trails in the woods — Reinke says wildlife often pops out — and, during warmer days, river rides.
She says riding is even fun for kids without horse experience.
“Our horses are very docile and it provides a sense of empowerment,” she says. “People really love it.”
Misty Manor Riding Stable
7621 Ridge Road, Marriottsville
One-, two- and three-hour trail rides available for groups of up to 25. $30 an hour, cash only; call in advance to make reservations.
3. GET FESTIVE
Festival season kicks off April 22 with the Ellicott City Spring Fest, a day-long celebration featuring over 25 bands, crafts, food vendors and activities for people of all ages.
The festival includes three dedicated family areas, with activities like crafts, tie-dying, Hula Hooping and Lego building. The music is family-friendly, too: Between traditional acts, students from Let There Be Rock, a Columbia music school, will perform.
A centerpiece will be a community tile mosaic project. “We’re inviting families and will provide them with a tile to decorate,” explains Ellicott City Partnership marketing director Kelly Zimmerman. Ultimately, the mosaic will be displayed in the Roger Carter Community Center.
Ellicott City Spring Fest
Main Street in historic Ellicott City
April 22, 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Kids’ events are mostly between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.) visitellicottcity.com. Music and activities are free of charge, with food and drink available for purchase.