10 ways to beat the heat in Howard County this summer

10 ways to beat the heat in Howard County this summer
Lily Foster (left), 8, and her friend Aislyn Debels, 7, both of Ellicott City, giggle as they eat snowballs outside of The Snowball Stand in Woodstock. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

As the dreaded dog days of summer approach, don’t submit to the sweltering heat. Try a yoga class on the water, sip a cold one on the brewery trail, or order a snowball in the shade.

Stay cool and entertained this season with these 10 Howard County activities to help you beat the heat.


Work out on the water

Try not to fall in — or do — during Columbia Association’s new Boga board workouts on the water at Hawthorn Pool.

Participants balance on the floating boards during three classes: Boga yoga, Boga fusion and Boga training. The vinyasa-style yoga classes focus on stability and balance; the fusion classes offer a combination of toning, training and yoga; and training classes focus on building strength and improving cardio vascular endurance with a low-impact, high-energy workout.

"It's incredibly relaxing while also being surprisingly effective," says Megan Cooperman, assistant director for group fitness at the Columbia Association. "Being on the boards is unique and fun, but you also see results in toning and strength in a really short amount of time."

Summer session classes are offered from June 20 to Sept. 2 with space and mats limited on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hawthorn Pool is located at 6175 Sunny Spring in Columbia. $20 per class for Columbia Association and Haven on the Lake members, $25 for non-members. Visit or call 410-730-0943.

See a $5 movie

Five-dollar flicks are no longer a thing of the past. Every Tuesday at AMC Theatres in Columbia, moviegoers can snag the deep discount by reserving seats at the box office, online or through the AMC app. All you need is a membership to AMC Stubs, the theater’s free rewards program.

There may be an extra charge for IMAX, Dolby Cinema and 3-D movies, but AMC is also offering $5 small popcorn and drink combinations throughout the day.

AMC Columbia 14 is located at 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Visit or call 410-423-0510.

Go wild for water

On July 8, Robinson Nature Center brings together mist tents, water play, live aquatic animals, water experiments and local food trucks at Wild for Water Day along the Middle Patuxent River.

“Many of us spend time at the pool in the summer, but this event allows participants to experience many other fun water activities while discovering just how amazing our rivers and streams are,” says Meagan Downey, program manager at Robinson Nature Center.

In its second year, the event has been extended by two hours due to popularity. There will also be some new water experiments that were recently created by the nature center team.


Wild for Water Day takes place on July 8 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Robinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Lane in Columbia. $8 for Robinson Nature Center members and $10 for general admission. Tickets are $2 off if purchased before June 10. Children under 3 are free. Visit or call 410-313-0400.

Hit the brewery trail

Discover the county’s breweries and craft beer pubs while tasting your way through the HowardOnTap Craft Brewery Trail this summer.

Earn swag by visiting participating stops on the Visit Howard County brewery trail map. Visit four stops and earn a free souvenir cup. Visit all 11 stops to receive a HowardOnTap growler. Simply save the receipt and stop by the Howard County Welcome Center on Main Street to redeem your prizes.

Visit or call 410-313-1900.

Hysteria Brewing Co. in Columbia is a stop on the HowardOnTap Craft Brewery Trail.
Hysteria Brewing Co. in Columbia is a stop on the HowardOnTap Craft Brewery Trail. (Nate Pesce For the Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Start the Patuxent River Challenge

The Patuxent River Commission has a challenge for you: Explore Maryland’s longest river through activities at eight of 14 sites, two of which are in Howard County.

Start the challenge locally with a hike along the Middle Patuxent River to the Simpson Historical Ruins and a picnic with a view of the T. Howard Duckett Reservoir at the Scotts Cove Recreation Area.

Take a selfie with the Patuxent Challenge sign at each site, and when you’ve completed eight of them, send them in an email to If you meet the end-of-year deadline, you’ll earn a prize.

Admission costs to the sites vary from free to up to $10 depending on residency. Visit or call 410-767-4500.

Treat that sweet tooth

Cool off under the shade of the trees on the corner of Woodstock Road and Route 99 with a summer treat from the Snowball Stand.

The seasonal stand has been serving up snowballs since 1974 with a “flavor of the day” sign pulling people in from the street.

It’s a social activity as much as an indulgence, says owner Miki Hill.

“You see people on first dates, sports teams and just about everyone come out and find new flavors and have a good time. It’s truly a summer tradition in the area,” she says.

The Snowball Stand is located at 1970 Woodstock Road in Woodstock. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit or call 410-207-4885.

Lace up your skates

The ice rink may close for the summer, but the Columbia Skate Arena stays open – and air-conditioned.

The roller skating arena hosts theme nights throughout the summer where skaters are encouraged to dress up and will be given a party favor, raffle ticket and a spin on the prize wheel. Themed nights include a summer luau party on June 16, a Fourth of July party on July 7, a superhero and princess party on Aug. 11 and a back-to-school party on Sept 8.

Through June 15, Friday and Saturday nights at the arena feature a live DJ and laser light show. Between June 16 and Sept. 2, the shows are on Friday nights only.

There’s even a snack bar with summer treats like slushies and ice cream.

The Columbia Skate area is located alongside the Supreme Sports Club at 7080 Deepage Drive in Columbia. Free admission for Columbia Association Fit&Play, Golf Fit&Play and 1Fit (Supreme Sports Club only) members; $8.25 for other Columbia Association members and Columbia cardholders; $9.25 for nonmembers. Skate rental is $3.53. Visit or call 410-381-5355.

At Breakout Games in Columbia, game master Sam Winnie watches the players onscreen and gives them hints when necessary for the "Hostage" game. Algerina Perna/Staff.
At Breakout Games in Columbia, game master Sam Winnie watches the players onscreen and gives them hints when necessary for the "Hostage" game. Algerina Perna/Staff. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Escape a mystery room

When it’s too hot to go outside, it can feel like you’re trapped indoors. Why not take that literally?


Try one of the six escape rooms at Columbia’s Breakout Games, where a group of players have an hour to solve a puzzle to escape.

“We have the unique ability to get an entire group of people off of their phones for an hour,” said Adam Walker, owner and operator for the Columbia and Timonium Breakout locations.

The room themes include a mystery mansion, a hostage situation, a casino, a museum heist and more. As few as two and as many as eight can play.

“What happens is on the other side of that experience you have a deepened sense of relationship, fellowship and community. It’s everyone working together to solve a problem and it’s fun to see people grow through the experience,” Walker says.

Breakout Games is located at 8661 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 110 in Columbia. Games are $28.99 per person with a coupon code for 10 percent off for Sunday through Thursday games. Visit or call 443-832-6980.

Sip an iced coffee a new shop

Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co. in Hanover brings freshly roasted coffees and flavored teas – hot and cold – in a big open space where you can cool off.

The location opened in November and offers more then 120 freshly roasted coffees in varietals, blends, flavors, Swiss water process decafs and fair trade organics. They also offer a collection of more than 1,000 teas and herbal tisanes, including their own Eastern Shore Tea line.

And to pair with your drink, Baltimore Coffee & Tea offers gourmet sandwiches, desserts and snacks.

Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co. is located at 7005 Banbury Drive in Hanover. Visit or call 800-823-1408.

Cool off with clay

For some cool-to-the-touch summer fun, the Columbia Art Center’s sampling workshops include learning the basics of clay slab hand building, giving the potter’s wheel a spin, creating wooden art signs and painting Maryland-themed coasters.

The sampling workshops are popular because they offer an opportunity to try something new without committing to a multiple-week session.

Participants can also bring home a finished product, like a watercolor painting, a fused glass square bowl or a new piece of jewelry.

The Columbia Art Center is located at 6100 Foreland Garth in Columbia. Visit or call 410-715-3000.