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15 places to take the kids in Harford County | PHOTOS

Three miles of hiking trails, peppered with a number of “movement stations” along the way, highlight this natural venue dedicated to the memory of a local 4-year-old. The mostly flat terrain features a fairy garden, swing bridge, climbing wall and other imaginative, nature-inspired sidelights built solely of logs, rocks and stumps. Bicycles and leashed dogs are welcome, and picnic grills are available. 2503 S. Tollgate Road., Bel Air. bearlegacy.org
(Kenneth K. Lam)

15 places to take the kids in Harford County | PHOTOS

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You’ve exhausted the board games, movies and the backyard swing set. Now summer is here, vaccinations are on the rise and the pandemic appears to be winding down. Warm weather and long days beckon adventure. Here are 15 places to get out and explore with the kids around Harford County. Note: Please check current COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and check business websites or call ahead for safe practices while making plans.
Amazing Glaze
For about $25, kids can choose a piece of plain pottery (from more than 400 shapes and sizes), select their own designs, coaxed by numerous stencils and stamps, and paint them in any of 100 colors. The mugs, figurines, piggy banks or what-have-you are then dipped in glaze, fired and ready for pickup five days later. It’s a creative pastime made for rainy afternoons or birthday parties. 5 Bel Air S. Parkway, Bel Air. 410-569-9502. www.amazinglgaze.net
For about $25, kids can choose a piece of plain pottery (from more than 400 shapes and sizes), select their own designs, coaxed by numerous stencils and stamps, and paint them in any of 100 colors. The mugs, figurines, piggy banks or what-have-you are then dipped in glaze, fired and ready for pickup five days later. It’s a creative pastime made for rainy afternoons or birthday parties. 5 Bel Air S. Parkway, Bel Air. 410-569-9502. www.amazinglgaze.net (Nicole Munchel, Patuxent Homestead photo)
Anita C. Leight Estuary Center
Paddle a canoe at sunset or a kayak through marshes along picturesque Otter Point Creek. Walk the two miles of hiking trails or peruse the interactive displays at the visitor center, including a 300-gallon freshwater turtle pond — all designed to whet a child’s interest in the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The center offers science and nature programs for the entire family. 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon. 410-612-1688. otterpointcreek.org
Paddle a canoe at sunset or a kayak through marshes along picturesque Otter Point Creek. Walk the two miles of hiking trails or peruse the interactive displays at the visitor center, including a 300-gallon freshwater turtle pond — all designed to whet a child’s interest in the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The center offers science and nature programs for the entire family. 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon. 410-612-1688. otterpointcreek.org (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
The Bear Legacy Adventure Trail in Bel Air
Three miles of hiking trails, peppered with a number of “movement stations” along the way, highlight this natural venue dedicated to the memory of a local 4-year-old. The mostly flat terrain features a fairy garden, swing bridge, climbing wall and other imaginative, nature-inspired sidelights built solely of logs, rocks and stumps. Bicycles and leashed dogs are welcome, and picnic grills are available. 2503 S. Tollgate Road., Bel Air. bearlegacy.org
Three miles of hiking trails, peppered with a number of “movement stations” along the way, highlight this natural venue dedicated to the memory of a local 4-year-old. The mostly flat terrain features a fairy garden, swing bridge, climbing wall and other imaginative, nature-inspired sidelights built solely of logs, rocks and stumps. Bicycles and leashed dogs are welcome, and picnic grills are available. 2503 S. Tollgate Road., Bel Air. bearlegacy.org (Kenneth K. Lam)
Chesapeake Sensory Plaza in Rockfield Park.
Opened in 2020, the 5,000-square-foot interactive water playground in Rockfield Park allows youngsters to learn about the Chesapeake Bay watershed while wading and splashing about in a series of rock-strewn pools. It’s a hands-on way to appreciate the delicate balance between humanity and nature, from a child’s-eye view. 501 E. Churchville Road, Bel Air. 410-638-3528. belairmd.org/Facilities
Opened in 2020, the 5,000-square-foot interactive water playground in Rockfield Park allows youngsters to learn about the Chesapeake Bay watershed while wading and splashing about in a series of rock-strewn pools. It’s a hands-on way to appreciate the delicate balance between humanity and nature, from a child’s-eye view. 501 E. Churchville Road, Bel Air. 410-638-3528. belairmd.org/Facilities (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)
Eden Mill Nature Center
For 30 years, this quiet, peaceful slice of nature along Deer Creek has drawn families bent on hiking, kayaking and picnicking for restorative getaways. There are well-marked walking paths (including a storybook trail), a historic grist mill, butterfly pond and working beehive. The nature center boasts interactive exhibits and activities for all ages. Sunset canoe trips are panoramic stress busters. Dogs are welcome on leashes. 1617 Eden Mill Road, Pylesville. 410-836-3050. edenmill.org
For 30 years, this quiet, peaceful slice of nature along Deer Creek has drawn families bent on hiking, kayaking and picnicking for restorative getaways. There are well-marked walking paths (including a storybook trail), a historic grist mill, butterfly pond and working beehive. The nature center boasts interactive exhibits and activities for all ages. Sunset canoe trips are panoramic stress busters. Dogs are welcome on leashes. 1617 Eden Mill Road, Pylesville. 410-836-3050. edenmill.org (Xavier Plater / Baltimore Sun)
Ice World
What better place to cool your heels in summer than an ice rink? Here, there are two NHL-sized ovals like those on which the Washington Capitals play. Ice World offers set hours for public skating as well as lessons for children ages 4 and up. Friday nights feature colorful light shows to wow the young. During the pandemic, online registration is required. 1300 Governor Court, Abingdon. 410-612-1000. iceworld.com
What better place to cool your heels in summer than an ice rink? Here, there are two NHL-sized ovals like those on which the Washington Capitals play. Ice World offers set hours for public skating as well as lessons for children ages 4 and up. Friday nights feature colorful light shows to wow the young. During the pandemic, online registration is required. 1300 Governor Court, Abingdon. 410-612-1000. iceworld.com (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)
Jurassic Golf and Arcade
This is miniature golf as kids would have it — trying to make a putt with a growling, 12-foot animated Tyrannosaurus rex breathing down your neck. Or having computer-generated images of raptors and prehistoric sharks try to break your concentration as you line up a shot. Good luck making par on this dinosaur-themed black light course. There’s also an arcade featuring retro games from the old (Pac-Man) to the new (Monster Drop). 331 Baltimore Pike Suite 8, Bel Air. 410-836-8635. playjurassicgolf.com
This is miniature golf as kids would have it — trying to make a putt with a growling, 12-foot animated Tyrannosaurus rex breathing down your neck. Or having computer-generated images of raptors and prehistoric sharks try to break your concentration as you line up a shot. Good luck making par on this dinosaur-themed black light course. There’s also an arcade featuring retro games from the old (Pac-Man) to the new (Monster Drop). 331 Baltimore Pike Suite 8, Bel Air. 410-836-8635. playjurassicgolf.com (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)
Ladew Topiary Gardens
Celebrating 50 years as a public garden, Ladew offers 22 acres of flora and fauna, including more than 100 topiaries, from swans and Winston Churchill’s top hat to the iconic fox-and-hounds made of sculpted shrubbery. There’s a butterfly house, nature walk, bird blind and enough variety to pique the interest of kids of all ages. 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton. 410-557-9570. ladewgardens.com
Celebrating 50 years as a public garden, Ladew offers 22 acres of flora and fauna, including more than 100 topiaries, from swans and Winston Churchill’s top hat to the iconic fox-and-hounds made of sculpted shrubbery. There’s a butterfly house, nature walk, bird blind and enough variety to pique the interest of kids of all ages. 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton. 410-557-9570. ladewgardens.com (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)
Lock House Museum
Set in North Park, this early transportation museum features a restored lock through which barges, filled with coal and slate and pulled by mules, passed en route to Baltimore or Philadelphia. It was part of the 45-mile Susquehanna River and Tidewater Canal, which opened in 1840 and closed around 1900. Children can take turns pushing open (and crossing) the 30-foot-long wooden bridge that sits above the lock and helped transport the mules from one side to the other. 817 Conesteo St., Havre De Grace. 410-939-5780. thelockhousemuseum.org
Set in North Park, this early transportation museum features a restored lock through which barges, filled with coal and slate and pulled by mules, passed en route to Baltimore or Philadelphia. It was part of the 45-mile Susquehanna River and Tidewater Canal, which opened in 1840 and closed around 1900. Children can take turns pushing open (and crossing) the 30-foot-long wooden bridge that sits above the lock and helped transport the mules from one side to the other. 817 Conesteo St., Havre De Grace. 410-939-5780. thelockhousemuseum.org (courtesy of Lock House Museum)
Ma & Pa Heritage Trail
This gravelly 6 ¼-mile family trail traverses woods and wetlands. Joggers, bicyclists and dog walkers also enjoy the wide and mostly shady trail that follows the old bed of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, which chugged through Harford County for more than half a century until 1958. 702 N. Tollgate Road, Bel Air. mapatrail.org
This gravelly 6 ¼-mile family trail traverses woods and wetlands. Joggers, bicyclists and dog walkers also enjoy the wide and mostly shady trail that follows the old bed of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, which chugged through Harford County for more than half a century until 1958. 702 N. Tollgate Road, Bel Air. mapatrail.org (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)
Rocks State Park
The terrain may be challenging, but most middle schoolers can handle the 3 ½ miles of hiking trails in the craggy 855-acre park. Highlights include a short trek to “The King and Queen Seat,” a near 200-foot-high rock outcrop (not for the faint of heart) that overlooks Deer Creek, and nearby Kilgore Falls, a spectacular waterfall that was featured in the movie “Tuck Everlasting.” Reservations required to visit the park. 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville. 410-557-7994. dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/rocks.aspx
The terrain may be challenging, but most middle schoolers can handle the 3 ½ miles of hiking trails in the craggy 855-acre park. Highlights include a short trek to “The King and Queen Seat,” a near 200-foot-high rock outcrop (not for the faint of heart) that overlooks Deer Creek, and nearby Kilgore Falls, a spectacular waterfall that was featured in the movie “Tuck Everlasting.” Reservations required to visit the park. 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville. 410-557-7994. dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/rocks.aspx (Matt Button / Aegis Staff / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Sandy Hook Speedway
Call it NASCAR for kids. This quarter-mile track is home to motorcycle and Go-cart enthusiasts on weekends from March through November. Come to compete (with your own equipment) or just to watch as competitors from 5 and up zip around the banked track in 12-lap races, as they’ve done since 1964. Admission is free; refreshments on site. 3050 Sandy Hook Road, Street. 443-864-3468. sandyhookspeedway.com
Call it NASCAR for kids. This quarter-mile track is home to motorcycle and Go-cart enthusiasts on weekends from March through November. Come to compete (with your own equipment) or just to watch as competitors from 5 and up zip around the banked track in 12-lap races, as they’ve done since 1964. Admission is free; refreshments on site. 3050 Sandy Hook Road, Street. 443-864-3468. sandyhookspeedway.com (Liam Stewart @stewiekamera)
The Playroom
The indoor play center is a feast for the creative senses of grade schoolers. There are huge foam blocks for building hideaways, a magnetic maze wall and a giant train table to keep kids happy (and learning) for hours. Sign them up for a bevy of classes where they can learn to make, among other things, their own slime. BYOS (bring your own socks), as shoes come off at the door. 1 M Newport Drive, Forest Hill. 443-640-6707. playroomharford.com
The indoor play center is a feast for the creative senses of grade schoolers. There are huge foam blocks for building hideaways, a magnetic maze wall and a giant train table to keep kids happy (and learning) for hours. Sign them up for a bevy of classes where they can learn to make, among other things, their own slime. BYOS (bring your own socks), as shoes come off at the door. 1 M Newport Drive, Forest Hill. 443-640-6707. playroomharford.com (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)
Shaw Orchards
Family-owned for more than a century, this pick-your-own farm grows fruits that can be as much fun to harvest as they are to eat. Strawberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, raspberries and apples are available in season, as well as pumpkins in fall. Kids have fun seeing who can pick the most — or the biggest — produce, while learning that food isn’t grown in the grocery store. The farm market offers fruits and vegetables, as well as jams and relishes. 5594 Norrisville Road, White Hall. 410-692-2429. shaworchards.com
Family-owned for more than a century, this pick-your-own farm grows fruits that can be as much fun to harvest as they are to eat. Strawberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, raspberries and apples are available in season, as well as pumpkins in fall. Kids have fun seeing who can pick the most — or the biggest — produce, while learning that food isn’t grown in the grocery store. The farm market offers fruits and vegetables, as well as jams and relishes. 5594 Norrisville Road, White Hall. 410-692-2429. shaworchards.com (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)
Steppingstone Farm Museum
A living history museum, the venue includes 24 buildings, including an 18th-century farmhouse and — on weekends — a queue of artisans practicing their trades (blacksmith, cooper, woodworker and weaver) as they did between 1880 and 1920. The museum preserves and interprets the agricultural heritage of Harford County and features several summer festivals geared toward children (see website). Picnicking allowed on the 23-acre farm. 461 Quaker Bottom Road, Havre de Grace. 410-939-2299, steppingstonemuseum.org
A living history museum, the venue includes 24 buildings, including an 18th-century farmhouse and — on weekends — a queue of artisans practicing their trades (blacksmith, cooper, woodworker and weaver) as they did between 1880 and 1920. The museum preserves and interprets the agricultural heritage of Harford County and features several summer festivals geared toward children (see website). Picnicking allowed on the 23-acre farm. 461 Quaker Bottom Road, Havre de Grace. 410-939-2299, steppingstonemuseum.org (Kenneth K. Lam)
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