Howard County Times

Guide to Howard County 2020: 50 places to take the kids

Tired of watching the kids play video games? There are dozens of places in Howard County to take children — indoors and out — for fun, exercise and, yes, even learning experiences. Here are 50 venues to check out in 2020.

Indoor Adventure and play

Autobahn Indoor Speedway


Enjoy indoor electric go-karting in Jessup.


Breakout Columbia

The “escape room” craze hits Howard County. Test your mettle in live-action entertainment.



Columbia bowling center holds parties for children age 4-12.


Code Ninjas


Children ages 7 to 14 learn to code, also known as computer programming, while building games during weekday sessions and day camps.

5725 Richards Valley Road, Suite A3, Ellicott City. 410-680-2633.

Dancel Y in Ellicott City

Yoga, zumba and cardio classes for kids, plus swimming, soccer, lacrosse and rock wall climbing.


Drama Learning Center

The center provides theater classes and camps for children of all ages at its Columbia headquarters, as well as at local schools.


Earth Treks Climbing and Fitness Center

This Columbia climbing center offers open climb sessions with a range of rock walls, as well as climbing lessons for children ages 6 and up.

Ellicott City Firehouse Museum

Originally built to house hand-drawn fire equipment, the museum explores the challenges of fighting fires in late 19th century and early 20th century Ellicott City.



Everkids Playhouse

This indoor playground keeps preschoolers busy while parents relax with coffee in massage chairs.


The Family Game Store

In addition to selling family games and puzzles, the store hosts weekly game nights and special events.



Goldfish Swim School

With its 90-degree pool, Goldfish provides year-round swim instruction for children 4 months to 12 years old, as well as family swim times.

Gymboree Play and Music

Gymboree, in Columbia, offers a range of play and music classes, as well as open gym time, for children 5 and under to help them develop cognitive, physical and social skills.



Howard Astronomical League Observatory

Open for special star-viewing events, the observatory sits in Alpha Ridge Park and includes a 15-foot dome with a 12-inch telescope.

Howard County Table Tennis Center

The center, in Columbia, offers open play and private and group table tennis lessons, as well as summer camps.


Hyper Kidz!

Indoor play center for infants to 13-year-olds in Columbia.


Kids First Swim School

Jessup venue offers small classes at different levels for children.



Launch Trampoline Park

This 30,000-square-foot center has wall-to-wall trampolines where kids and adults can bounce while playing everything from basketball to dodge ball.

LifeTime Athletic

Columbia facility offers play areas for toddlers and kids including swimming, martial arts, dance, fitness, yoga and gymnastics.



My Gym Columbia

Zumba, Ninja training and art explorers classes are among the offerings for children to age 7.



This 25,000-square-foot “American Ninja Warrior”-inspired obstacle racing center includes a trampoline dodgeball court, climbing walls and mechanical bulls, as well as classes for children as young as 3.


9301 Snowden River Parkway, Columbia, 443-600-9550,

Play N’ Learn Playground Superstore

Children can play on its showroom swing sets, trampolines and air hockey tables for up to two hours.

9033 Red Branch Road, Columbia, 410-992-0992,

Roger Carter Community Center

The Ellicott City center includes a swimming pool, splash pad, basketball and volleyball courts and a rock-climbing wall, and it hosts family-friendly special events throughout the year.



Skyzone Trampoline Park

This indoor park in Columbia includes wall-to-wall trampolines for freestyle jumping, a trampoline dodgeball court and a “foam zone” where kids can jump off tramps and land in pools of foam squares.

Terrapin Adventures

From zipline rides and rock climbing to a multi-level ropes course, Terrapin Adventures, in Savage, provides aerial, outdoor adventures for ages 5 and up.


Outdoor Adventure and play

Columbia Horse Center

Laurel farm offers horseback riding lessons, age 5 and up, on an 88-acre facility.

Columbia SkatePark

Open year-round, the Columbia Association skate park is home to 15,000 square feet of ramps, including a 20-foot straight rail, an 8-foot quarter pipe and a 10-foot vert wall.


Howard County Conservancy

With two county locations (Woodstock and Elkridge), the conservancy offers a range of outdoor education programs and events for children of all ages.


The Mall in Columbia carousel

Keep the kids entertained during a shopping trip.


Monster Mini Golf

Jessup site offers mini golf, an arcade and virtual reality attraction.

Robinson Nature Center

The nature center is home to a range of educational programs, a planetarium, an interactive nature discovery room and exhibits highlighting the Chesapeake Bay watershed and local forest animals, as well as several outdoor walking trails.


Rocky Gorge 4 Seasons Golf Fairway

This Laurel golf complex, which includes an outdoor driving range, a 19-hole mini-golf course and a batting range, is open year-round.


ShadowLand Laser Adventures

Play laser tag, glow golf or enjoy the 3,000-square-foot arcade at this Columbia venue.


Soccer Dome

Soccer Dome, in Jessup, offers soccer skills lessons to children ages 3 to 11, as well as summer camps.


Open every weekend through May, this newly renovated Columbia Association facility is home to water slides (riders must be at least 4 feet tall) and a rope swing. Within the same facility, recreational swimming is also available.


Arts and crafts

Burning Down the House

In addition to offering paint-your-own-pottery, this do-it-yourself fired arts studio in Fulton offers special events like canvas painting and movie nights with movie-themed pottery.


Joann Fabric and Craft

The store offers a range of sewing and craft classes for elementary-aged children and up.


6161 Columbia Crossing Drive, Columbia, 410-872-0550,

Michaels Arts & Crafts

With two Howard County locations, the craft store offers a range of classes for children to bring out their creativity.

Columbia, 443-285-0808

Ellicott City, 410-480-8140

The Pottery Stop


The paint-your-own pottery shop offers walk-in painting, special classes and camps for children, and a snack and coffee bar.

9050 Baltimore National Pike, #109, Ellicott City, 410-480-0111,

Museums and history

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station

The museum, billed as the oldest surviving railroad station in America, includes a replica of the first horse-drawn passenger rail car, a 1927 caboose, model railroads and displays highlighting small town railroad life.


Ellicott City Colored School, Restored


The school, which opened in 1880 to provide an educational space for black children, is now a genealogical resource center and museum highlighting the history of African Americans in Howard County.


Howard County Historical Society Museum

The museum tells the story of Howard County’s history through collections and exhibits highlighting everything from the Ellicott family and the Patapsco Female Institute to Native American tools and the Enchanted Forest.

Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum


Dedicated to preserving Howard County’s agricultural history, the museum in West Friendship includes farm sheds, historic farm equipment, a blacksmith shop and six miles of nature trails.


Howard County Police Department Museum

Honoring the men and women of the Howard County Police Department, the museum in Ellicott City includes exhibits on vintage police uniforms, antique weapons and fallen heroes.

Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park


Tours of this 19th-century site, known for its Greek-revival architecture, reveal its multiple uses since opening in 1837: a women’s school, a hotel, a summer theater and even a nursing home.


Vintage BMW Motorcycle Museum

The Jessup museum showcases more than 65 vintage and classic BMW motorcycles and side cars, as well as motorcycle memorabilia and art.



Breezy Hill Alpaca Farm


Call to schedule a one-hour interactive visit with the Woodbine farm’s alpacas, goats, sheep, rabbits and chickens and learn how the farm processes wool.


Clark’s Elioak Farm

In addition to housing the former Enchanted Forest attractions, the farm has a “petting farm,” with pigs, emus, donkeys and goats, play areas and special events for children.

The Enchanted Garden


A quarter-acre teaching garden features vegetables, herbs and butterflies, adjacent to Miller Library in Ellicott City.

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Larriland Farm

The Woodbine farm is home to a variety of pick-your-own fruit, vegetable and flower fields, as well as fall activities like hay rides and straw mazes.


Sharp’s at Waterford Farm


Along with special seasonal events and open houses, the farm hosts educational farm tours covering everything from worms and birds to farm life and gardening.