Recreation and sports in Howard County

Drew Tyler pumps his fist after making a shot at the eighth hole while friends Logan Walker, left, and Kevin Kim, right, look on at the miniature golf course inside Columbia SportsPark.
Drew Tyler pumps his fist after making a shot at the eighth hole while friends Logan Walker, left, and Kevin Kim, right, look on at the miniature golf course inside Columbia SportsPark. (Michael Ares / Baltimore Sun)

Whether you are always on the go or just looking to kick back and relax, you’ll find an activity that fits your interests — from hiking and biking to bird-watching and golf.


The county offers a range of options for youth and adults looking to improve their arms — golf, baseball and volleyball included — whether it’s to prepare for an upcoming sport season or just to have a few laughs.


Tennis buffs can practice their swings at the Columbia Association’s three outdoor tennis clubs and 10 indoor tennis courts (ColumbiaAssociation.org/tennis), or at one of numerous courts at the county’s parks or private tennis facilities.

Other sports facilities include:


Columbia SportsPark and SkatePark

Miniature golf, batting cages, in-line skating, skateboarding

410-715-3054, columbiasportspark.org

Extra Innings Elkridge

Batting cages

410-540-9399, extrainnings-elkridge.com

Maryland Juniors Sports Center

Basketball, volleyball, soccer and batting cage.

301-490-6802, mdjrssportscenter.com

Rocky Gorge Golf Fairway

Practice range, batting cages, mini-golf

301-725-0888, rockygorgegolf.com

One area Howard County can certainly boast about is its vibrant arts scene, with an abundance of choices that include theater, music and dance companies, as well as free outdoor concerts at downtown Columbia’s Lakefront on Lake Kittamaqundi, Centennial Park and Columbia’s village centers.

Soccer Dome 1

Indoor turf fields

443-755-0014, soccerdome.com

Volleyball House and Indoor Soccer Arena

410-579-1007, vbhouse.com


Bicycling clubs and events abound, giving residents the chance to pull the bike out of the garage. The Howard County Cycling Club organizes weekly road rides, and the Princeton Sports and Race Pace bicycle shops also organize group rides.

For runners of all ages, the Howard County Striders organize weekly races of 1 mile to 15 kilometers. The group’s Women’s Distance Festival, celebrating its 40th anniversary this summer, is one of the nation’s largest women-only races. This year, the Downtown Columbia Partnership and Rip It Events are partnering to host the annual Clyde’s American 10K race in the spring. Speciality shop Charm City Run offers weekly pub runs. And, for fitness-oriented moms, Fit4Mom offers workouts incorporating strollers into activities.

Cycle2Health (sponsored by county’s Office on Aging and Independence)



443-718-9557, howardcounty.fit4mom.com

Howard County Cyclists


Howard County Striders


Mid-Maryland Triathlon Club


Do you ever find yourself saying you have nowhere to go or nothing to do? Not this year. Whether you like the arts or something more active, Howard County will host a year full of events that are sure to get you out of the house.


For those who want to do more than walk, the county offers a few places for residents to roll or glide their way to fun.

Alpha Ridge Park in Marriottsville

Archery range and regulation-size outdoor hockey rink

410-313-4700, howardcountymd.gov/alpharidgepark

Columbia Ice Rink

Ice skating

410-730-0322, columbiaassociation.org/icerink

Columbia Skate Arena at Supreme Sports Club

Roller skating

410-381-5355, ColumbiaSkateArena.org

Laurel Roller Skating Rink

301-725-8070, laurelskatingcenter.com

North Laurel Community Center

Skate park

410-313-0390, howardcountymd.gov/nlcc

Rockburn Branch Skills Park

Mountain bike course

410-313-4455, howardcountymd.gov/RockburnBranchPark

Skate Spot at Centennial Park

Outdoor skate park located in the park’s North Area

410-313-7271, howardcountymd.gov/CentennialPark

South Branch Park

Outdoor skate park

410-313-4700, howardcountymd.gov/southbranchpark


Cattail Creek Country Club (private)

410-489-4653, cattailcreekcc.com

The Club at Turf Valley (private)

410-465-1500, turfvalley.com

Each Monday night, Arti Sardesai drives to the Miller Library in Ellicott City and immerses herself in learning Korean. At 49, it’s not easy mastering a foreign tongue, but Sardesai believes it will benefit her work as an occupational therapist in the area.

Fairway Hills Golf Club

410-730-1112, fairwayhillsgolfclub.com

Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club (semi-private)

410-730-5980, hobbitsglengolfclub.com

The Timbers at Troy Golf Course

410-313-4653, timbersgolf.com

Waverly Woods Golf Club

410-313-9182, waverlywoods.com

Willow Springs Golf Course

410-442-7700, willowspringsgolfcourse.com


Nearby Baltimore is home to the 2013 Super Bowl champion Ravens football team, and to baseball’s Orioles, who fielded a playoff team in 2016. Three nearby minor-league baseball squads — the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Aberdeen IronBirds — serve as farm teams for the Orioles.

Major Arena Soccer League’s Baltimore Blast and the Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bayhawks, a professional lacrosse team, also call the area home.

Washington boasts the 2015 NFC East champion Redskins (football), the 2016 and 2017 Metropolitan Division-winning Capitals (hockey), the Wizards and Mystics (basketball), D.C. United (outdoor soccer) and the 2017 National League East champion Nationals (baseball).


Among area colleges and universities, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland are national powers in lacrosse, while Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy play top-rated football schedules. Maryland also consistently hosts ranked men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Howard Community College fields teams at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III level in several sports.

Meanwhile, Howard County public high school teams often win state championships.


Football, soccer, swimming — the area’s youth leagues encourage activity, competition and growing skills. 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.

Other youth organizations offer group fitness classes or gym facilities for kids.

Atholton Youth Recreation Association (baseball and softball)

877-297-2421, ayra.com

Clippers Swim Team

410-381-0020, clippersswim.org

Columbia Horse Center (riding lessons for children and adults, along with summer day camps and shows)

(301-776-5850, columbiahorsecenter.com )

Columbia Neighborhood Swim League

410-312-6332, ColumbiaAssociation.org/cnsl

Columbia Ravens (football and cheerleading)


Elkridge Youth Organization (basketball, soccer, baseball and softball)

301-919-4229, eyosports.org

Howard County Lacrosse Program


Howard County Recreation & Parks

410-313-4700, howardcountymd.gov/rap

Howard County Youth Program (basketball, baseball and softball)

410-461-7694, hcyp.org

More than 2,000 people voted in Howard Magazine’s Best Restaurants readers’ poll, selecting their favorites in 45 categories.

Kangaroo Kids Precision Jump Rope Team


301-490-4995, kangarookids.org


Maryland Sharks (tryout basketball team)

410-300-9221, marylandsharks.org

Savage Boys and Girls Club (basketball, flag football, baseball and softball)


Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County

410-203-9590, sackick.com

Western Howard County Soccer


Western Howard County Youth Baseball & Softball League


Western Howard County Warhawks (football and cheerleading)


The Y of Central Maryland in Ellicott City Dancel Family Center

410-465-4334, ymaryland.org


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 (howardcountymd.gov/rap) — include golf, tennis, bowling, basketball, softball, kickball, badminton, cricket and ultimate disc.


The Special Olympics of Howard County involves around 800 athletes with intellectual and related developmental disabilities who compete in 20 sports, including soccer, tennis, swimming, golf, powerlifting and bocce. 410-740-0500 or somdhc.org.

Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services offers integrated sports and arts programs, social groups, summer support camps and community outings for those with mental or physical disabilities. 410-313-4628 or howardcountymd.gov/therapeutic-rec.

Many of the Columbia Association’s facilities are ADA accessible. (columbiaassociation.org/ada)


The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks maintains more than 40 regional and neighborhood parks with trails, courts, sports fields, pavilions, fishing and boating. Visit howardcountymd.gov/rap for a park directory, or call 410-313-4700. To rent a pavilion, call 410-313-4682.

Maryland Park Service (800-830-3974 or dnr.maryland.gov) operates two state parks with portions in Howard County. Both offer hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing and horseback riding trails. (Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, 410-461-5005; Patuxent River State Park, 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301-924-2127)

In 1950, Howard County was a primarily rural, predominately white farming community of around 23,000. Since then, the population has grown more than tenfold and diversified. We use Census Bureau data to examine the growth of Howard's largest minority groups.


The Columbia Association offers 23 outdoor pools, two mini water parks and indoor pools at five locations: Columbia Athletic Club (410-730-6744), Columbia Gym (410-531-0800), Columbia Swim Center (410-730-7000), Haven on the Lake (410-715-3020) and Supreme Sports Club (410-381-5355). A number of private gyms and clubs also offer pools.

Columbia Association pools

410-312-6332, columbiaassociation.org/pools

Roger Carter Community Center

410-313-2764, https://www.howardcountymd.gov/rccc


A 95-mile pathway system honeycombs Columbia, and there are miles of hiking trails in Patapsco Valley State Park and in Patuxent River State Park. It’s 1.9 miles around Lake Elkhorn, 1.4 miles around Wilde Lake, 2.6 miles around Centennial Lake and 1.5 mile around Lake Kittamaqundi. The county’s Department of Recreation & Parks also maintains dozens of regional and neighborhood parks with trails.

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