5 ideas for a day of fun with the grandkids

5 ideas for a day of fun with the grandkids
Mackenzie Buckingham, 5, looks out the window of the 1800s general store at the Explore and More Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Submitted photo / HANDOUT)

Finding things to do with active grandchildren can be a challenge. Here are suggestions from Carroll County grandparents who are traveling that path.



Robert Lillis, of Silver Run, has taken his grandkids, Aiden (age 8) and Marleaux (age 5), fishing at a neighboring pond and the Silver Run Union Mills Lions Park pond. He believes fishing can be fun for all kids.

"It's recreational, it's a bonding experience and you have their attention," he said of why fishing with grandchildren is fun. "You're not talking to them and wondering if they even hear you because they are glued to an iPad or a television."

Lillis said that when his grandchildren caught their first fish they were "giddy and giggly." He helped them take it off the hook.

Places to fish in Carroll County include Piney Run Park in Eldersburg, the Silver Run Union Mills Lions Park pond in Union Mills (7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m), the pond at Bennett Cerf Park next to Random House on Md. 27 in Westminster, the Farm Museum Pond in Westminster, the Westminster City Pond (when it re-opens) and seasonally at Cascade Lake in Snydersburg.

This stocking schedule, which shows where trout are stocked in Maryland, is available online at

Kids can fish worry-free, but teens older than 16 and adults need a Maryland fishing license.

"When you are fishing you are actually interacting with your grandchildren," Lillis said. "It's something they will remember when they grow up."

Explore and More Museum

The Explore and More Museum in Gettysburg is owned by former preschool teachers Alesia Bennett and Andrea Robinson, who say the museum's activities engage children from preschool through age 10 or 12.

The museum features an 1860s-era house and general store where kids can dress up and step back in time. There's a science, room, an art room, a construction area and more.

"The art room has free choice art material," Bennett said. "Kids take home anything they make."

The construction room is set up like an assembly line, with conveyors and lifts and totes.

Robin Wills, of Westminster, said she and her daughter, Melissa Buckingham, of Hampstead, recently took Wills' grandchildren Mackenzie (age 5) and Mason (age 3).

"I think they most enjoyed the bubble," Wills said of an activity in which children can draw a bubble up and around them, putting themselves inside the bubble. "They kept doing it over and over."


Weather permitting, there are also activities in the back yard, Bennett said, naming a toy dinosaur setup, a dinosaur fossil dig in sand, a fairy garden with toy fairies and fairy houses, a secret garden with checkers and tic-tac-toe, magnetic fishing, a weather station, and a bug find.

"We have eight different bugs or turtles on a board and identical ones hidden in the yard to find," Bennett said.

"Our activities are open-ended, so kids take from it what they are ready to take from it, what they are ready to learn," Robinson said.

Wills said she likes the educational aspect of the museum. "They learn, but at the same time it is fun for them to do," she said.

Trampoline park

Nolly Gelsinger, of Westminster, said her 12-year-old grandson, Nate Gelsinger loves to jump.

"On vacation he always goes to a jumping park, every time, and he loves dodgeball," Gelsinger said. When she found out about Stratosphere, a trampoline park in Eldersburg, Gelsinger took a trip with Nate and his friend.

"The trampoline is actually in the floor and they play dodgeball on the trampoline floor," she said. "The kids just loved it because you are jumping everywhere you go."

Stratosphere sets aside different times for different ages, so call before you go. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Call for their hours and for specials.

Gelsinger said, "Jumping goes in half-hour increments. There are monitors in all areas. They use color coded wrist bands and every half hour they call out, letting everybody with an orange wrist band [or whatever color] know their time is up."

"Nate has always been a sports kid and there was some pretty good action in the dodgeball court," Gelsinger said. "I think they had a great time."


Sharon Parks, of Taneytown, said she and her husband, Earl, drive their twin grandsons all over the county looking for trains.

"We take our 3-year-old grandsons, Greyson and Reed, all over to catch a look at the trains, bridges and railroad crossings," Parks said. "They love Thomas the train and looking at trains on their little iPads.

"We went to the Union Bridge train station and they saw a train coming out of Lehigh. They really liked that. We also visited the old Hampstead train station, where they could walk around and see the tracks and the caboose outside."

Parks said they are planning a trip to Sykesville to visit the Little Sykes Train Park and the Sykesville and Patapsco Railway, a museum within a train car and caboose with operating model train displays.

"Grandpa said it's a good thing gas prices are going down since all we do is ride around to look for trains."

Parks and more

You can find fun with your grandchildren at parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, nature centers and museums within Carroll County.

Maddie Koenig, naturalist at Bear Branch Nature Center, said, "This winter we'll be trying out a new series called Grand Hikes, which are shorter, less strenuous hikes specifically tailored for grandparents and younger grandkids. The majority of our programs are meant for all ages, which includes grandparents and grandkids."

Also check out lists of programs at the Carroll County Public Library and the Historical Society of Carroll County's monthly Past Times for Children program.

If you go

Call for hours, pricing and further information on these places mentioned in the article:

Cascade Lake: 2844 Snydersburg Road, Hampstead, 410-374-9111

The Carroll County Farm Museum: 500 S. Center St., Westminster. 410- 386-3880

Explore and More: 20 E. High St., Gettysburg, PA 717-337-9151

Western Maryland Railway Historical Society (Union Bridge Train Museum): 41 N. Main St., Union Bridge. 410-775-0150

Hampstead Train Station Museum & Visitor's Center: 4035 Gill Ave., Hampstead. 410-374-9397


Little Sykes Train Park: Sandusky Road, just above Main Street. Call the Sykesville Town Office. 410-795-8959

Sykesville and Patapsco Railway: 7531 Dogwood Road, Sykesville. 443-280-9878,

Stratosphere Trampoline Park: 1332 Londontown Blvd., Sykesville. 443-537-2626

Past Time For Kids Program: The Historical Society of Carroll County, Main Street, Westminster, 410-848-9531

Bear Branch Nature Center, 300 John Owings Road, Westminster. 410- 386-3580

Piney Run Park, 30 Martz Road, Eldersburg. 410-795-5165