Only a short drive to more family fun


Snow and ice have trapped your children in the house more days than you care to count. And we're all starting to wonder what the kids are learning this winter since they've been out of the classroom more than they've been in.

Face it, you could all do with a change in scene. So why not take a ride to a place designed just for the 11 and under gang? Port Discovery is local and great. But there are seven other children's museums within about a two-hour drive of Charm City.

Plan a day trip and use the visit as a way to make the kids behave at the places you want to see. Or simply while away an entire afternoon at one of these tot spots.

The kids will never know they're learning. And you'll all be out of the house - at least until the next snowstorm.

Capital Children's Museum (800 Third St. N.E., Washington; 202-675-4120): Currently showing paintings in "Gemstones & Lace: A Celebration of Black Girls Series." Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., a workshop will be offered with the artist, Claudia Gibson-Hunter. Other attractions include "Japan: Through the Eyes of a Child," featuring a Japanese home, shopping district and school classroom. Also, a working science laboratory. "Brain Teasers" offers 20 different problems to solve, and there are even mindbenders for toddlers. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Mondays during the school year.

Chesapeake Children's Museum (25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis; 410-990-1993): People, animals and plants native to the Chesapeake Bay are highlighted in activities ranging from a replica boat and dock to an outside nature trail that winds through the woods and wetlands near Spa Creek. Other exhibits include a 7-foot replica of the human body and a Harriet Tubman walk with information about the Underground Railroad. "Around the World" looks at various Latin American countries, aided by volunteers from Annapolis' Hispanic community. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. This month, bring three clean yogurt containers per person and get in free.

Discovery Creek Children's Museum of Washington (The Stable at Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., 202-337-5111): Discovery Creek's goal is to bring science to life and show kids how to be environmentally responsible. The current exhibit is "Rotten But Not Forgotten." Decomposition and the life cycles of insects are explained as kids crawl like a worm inside a "rotting" log. Open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May.

ExploraWorld (6570 Dobbin Road, Columbia; 410-772-1540): Twenty hands-on exhibits for kids age 1 through 10 including a fire station, grocery store, dance studio, TV newsroom, sports arena, castle, arts and crafts room and infant/toddler area. Tons of costumes and equipment (scaled down and real) for kids to try. Open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Explore & More (20 East High St., Gettysburg; 717-337-9151): Fun is crammed into every cranny of this historic house. Of particular note are the Civil War general store and the "Exploration Room," where kids can stand inside a life-size soap bubble. Through mid-April, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Wednesdays.

Hands On House (721 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster; 717-569-KIDS): Modern agriculture is covered in "E-I-E-I-Know." "Rainbow's End" offers a chance to make three-dimensional art. There's a space station, machine shop and more. Open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Please Touch (210 N. 21st St., Philadelphia; 215-963-0667): An exhibit on author/illustrator Maurice Sendak offers life-size scenes from his acclaimed Where The Wild Things Are. "Move It!" lets kids take the wheel of a city bus, sail a boat on a mini Delaware River and complete a railroad safety course. "Barnyard Babies" is a replica farm for the 3 and under set. Through February there are activities devoted to jazz. Open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. seven days a week.

For more family events, see Page 41.

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