Family vacations in Maryland can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters — it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Maryland family vacations.
Fort McHenry National Monument
During the war of 1812, as Francis Scott Key watched British ships bombard Fort McHenry, he wrote down what would eventually become the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner. Today, visitors can visit the fort and watch a show about the events that led to the writing of these famous words. After the show, families can stroll the historic grounds or take a ferry to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Address: 2400 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230
Hours: Visitors' center hours: 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily; extended summer hours, 8 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Price: Adults, $7; children ages 15 and under are free
Visitors will fall in love with Annapolis, the charming capital of Maryland, which sits proudly on the Chesapeake Bay and is often referred to as America's Sailing Capital. Families can stroll the brick sidewalks of the town's historic area, while admiring the many buildings that date back to the 18th century or shop at one of its many unique stores and boutiques. More adventurous souls can enjoy a day on the water, learning about pirates on a pirate adventure ship, or sailing and crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay. On Sunday afternoons in the summer, the dock area in Annapolis hosts free bands and street performers.
Address: Annapolis, Maryland
Phone: City of Annapolis Public Information: 410-263-1183
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City, Maryland, has tons of fun options for families. Besides relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, families can enjoy strolling or biking Ocean City's 3-mile boardwalk, which is lined with shops and dining options and even boasts an amusement park with a Ferris wheel and other rides. Off of the beach, families can enjoy playing at one of the city's many miniature golf courses or go shopping at one of the nearby outlet malls. Nature lovers can visit nearby Assateague Island, where wild ponies and Sika Deer roam.
Address: Ocean City, Maryland
Phone: Department of Tourism: 1-800-626-2326
Hours: All year
Port Discovery Children's Museum
Port Discovery, which is located near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is a bright and engaging children's museum that has won a number of awards throughout the years. The facility is dominated by KidWorks, a three-story climbing and play structure that can tire out even the most active of children. Port Discovery also has several interesting exhibits for children about food, farm life and the performing arts.
Address: 35 Market Place, Baltimore, MD 21202
Hours: June through until Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; September, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; October through May, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Price: Infants under 2 years old, free; ages 2 and up, $13.95
Maryland Science Center
The Maryland Science Center, which is located in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, has a number of programs for children that demonstrate the principles of science — such as electricity and combustion reaction — in interesting and creative ways. This museum also has hands-on exhibits to engage children and keep them busy, as well as an on-site IMAX theater and planetarium.
Address: 601 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
Hours: Approximately from the end of March to the middle of June, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; middle of June through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call the center for hours during other times of the year. The center is closed Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Price: Children 3 and under, $14.95; ages 3 to 12, $11.95; adults, $14.95; seniors, $13.95
In the winter, take the family skiing at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Md. This family friendly ski resort has slopes tailored to varied ability levels and also offers lessons and reasonable ski and snowboard packages that include rentals and lift tickets. The resort also boasts thrilling snow-tubing hills with mechanical pulley systems doing all of the hard work, as well as snowmobile tours and an ice skating rink.
Address: 296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry, MD 21541
Hours: Early and spring season: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; peak season: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Price: Prices vary, but generally lift tickets are between $32 and $59 for adults and between $25 and $39 for juniors, ages 6 to 12; full-day regular ski or snowboard rentals are $36
National Aquarium Baltimore
The National Aquarium Baltimore is the most-visited aquarium on the East Coast and Maryland's top attraction. This beautiful aquarium, which is located in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, boasts a number of spectacular exhibits, including a surreal jellyfish display, large shark tank and walk-in Australian animal encounter. The National Aquarium also offers an educational dolphin show.
Address: 501 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Hours: Generally, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. Call for details before visiting.
Price: General admission: Children under 3 years old, free; ages 3 to 11, $19.95; adults, 12 to 59, $24.95; seniors 60+, $23.95
Have you been to Maryland? What are your favorite attractions?
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