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Howard County kids: 3 ways to celebrate girl power as a family

For Howard Magazine

Girl power is fun to celebrate as a family year round, but it’s an especially hot topic during Women’s History Month in March. Female-centric activities, from learning about women’s roles in history to a trip to the spa, can be fun for boys, too.

Explore the rails

During March, the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum will host a Women in Railroad exhibit. Created by the International Society for the Preservation of Women in Railroading, the exhibit explores stories about women who helped shape the country’s network of trains, like Mary Colter, the architect who designed many landmark buildings associated with the Santa Fe Railroad, and the women who entered the railway industry during the World Wars.

Located in what’s touted as the country’s oldest surviving railroad station, the museum doesn’t include any whole trains, but there are plenty of intriguing items, like a diorama with a moving model train made of tracks from the first 13 miles of the Baltimore & Ohio railway.

“There is a caboose people can go in, and the museum is very kid-friendly,” says Caitlin Chamberlain, Living History and Heritage Programs Supervisor for Howard County Recreation and Parks, which recently took over operations of the museum

Women in Railroading Exhibit at the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum, 3711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City. Exhibit is open March 1-31. Open Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays noon-5 p.m. Free. 410-313-1945.

Get pampered

For kids, there’s nothing quite as grown-up feeling as sitting in a luxurious chair and having your hands and feet rubbed, shined, buffed and polished. For adults, a trip to the spa can be a pretty great experience, too.

Local salons, including Ooh La Lal in Ellicott City, welcome parents with their children – girls and boys – and often offer discounted rates for smaller hands and feet.

Before heading to the salon, call ahead to make an appointment and check on age requirements; not all salons offer kids’ mani/pedis. Parents might also have a conversation with their children about how to act in a salon so kids don’t infringe on anyone else’s time to relax.

Ooh La Lal Hair Salon, 3711 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City. Open Mondays 11 a.m.-3 p.m, Tuesdays to Fridays 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $7 kids’ manicure (under 8) and $12 kids’ pedicure. $10 junior manicure (ages 8-12) and $15 pedicure. 410-465-7700.

Study the Institute

In 1837, the Patapsco Female Institute was founded as a place for young women to study; it operated as a school until the late 19th century. Today, the ruins of the Greek Revival building have been transformed into a historic park.

“It’s one of the only stabilized ruins on the East Coast,” says Howard County’s Caitlin Chamberlain. “It does have a unique draw.” It’s a visually arresting spot, she says, and one with lots of lessons to offer about archaeology and history; the Patapsco Female Institute was notable as one of the first schools to teach science and math to girls.

The ruins open to the public only when staff is on-site. Though regular tours will resume in April, groups can organize private events any time of year.

“We had a Boy Scout troop come this past January,” says Chamberlain. “It was cold, but we were still able to do activities.”

Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3655 Church Road, Ellicott City. Weekend tours late April-October; private tours and other activities may be scheduled year-round. 410-313-0420.

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