Tourism: Maryland Family Field Trips

Maryland Family Field Trips
by Jennifer LB Leese

Are you looking for something to do with your kids this summer? Do you want them to learn all there is to know about the state they live in? Or are you just passing through Maryland and would like something to do for a few days?
No matter what, Washington County and kids go together. The county is teeming with enjoyable and educational destinations. During the summer there are plenty of fairs, festivals, and events going on throughout the county, that you'll have to book a few more days just to see half of them! There are historic sites, beaches, farm exploration, children's museums, parks, and zoos, and many other beautiful places to visit.
Fill your vacation days with tons of family fun and your nights with a variety of family-related choices. No matter where you stay within Washington County, you are sure to find restaurants that provide the legendary taste of Maryland seafood, convenient accommodations that range from quaint bed-and-breakfasts to luxurious hotels, and many gorgeous spots to stop and stretch.
Taking a Family Field Trip is easy to do and luckily, everything is close by.
Exploring the county's civil war history is easy as walking around the Antietam Battlefield. Established by Act of Congress on August 30, 1890, the battlefield marks the end of General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North in September 1862. This Civil War battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in one single day, September 17,1862. It also led to President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Kids will enjoy the haunted tales associated with this battlefield.
From Waterslides to hayrides, Jellystone Park in Williamsport, Maryland has what it takes to create family fun and lasting memories. Not only does Yogi Bear(tm), Cindy Bear(tm), and Boo Boo(tm) create a fun time, the camp makes your family the attraction. Camp Jellystone offers not one, but two playgrounds, 18-hole mini-golf, hiking/biking trails, game room, planned activities, basketball court, pedal carts, free big screen movies, heated pool, and a kiddy pool. A few of their numerous activities include "Outback Adventure" week (June 27-July 3), "Game Show" week (July 11-17), and "Wet and Wild" week (August 15-21).
Greenbrier State Park, located in the Appalachian Mountains, is a multi-use park that provides several kinds of recreation. The 42-acre man-made freshwater lake and beach draw many visitors far and wide who enjoy swimming, sunbathing, canoeing, picnicking, family programs and studying nature. There are also labyrinths of hiking trails that pass through a variety of wildlife habitats, extending a view of the area's geological history. Picnic tables and grills and playgrounds are available in the day-use area.
If it's animals your kids want to see, then take them to Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont or to The Alpine Alpaca Farm in Hagerstown. At the preserve and zoo, families can enjoy entertainment shows, stroll the grounds and see wild animals from bears to boas, lions to lemurs, macaws to monkeys, panthers to prairie dogs. If you're in the area on August 20, join the zoo for Catfish Derby from 9AM to Noon. Fish for catfish from their ponds. Prizes for the kids. The Alpine Alpaca Farm is a great place to bring the kids. Feed and pet the alpacas--spend the day or just a few hours. Whatever you choose, you'll have a great time.
The Boonsborough Museum of History is an essential stop for historical travelers. Noted as being "Best Little Museum in Maryland", the Museum, a personal collection of Doug Bast, houses unusual, eclectic artifacts, and collections that you can't see anywhere else such as Chief Geronimo's hand carved cane, and the only known tombstone from the battlefield, a soldier's cot, a landmine, and a slave's hand shackles that were copied for the making of Amistad as well as a caricature of President Lincoln. The Museum is respected as one of the finest private museums in the region with displays of ceramics, glassware, early lighting, weapons, and ancient artifacts. The museum is open 1-5PM every Sunday in May through September, and by appointment year-round. Call 301-432-6969 for more information or visit, 113 N Main Street, Boonsboro to see these items in person.
The Jonathan Hager House & Museum is also another must-see during your Maryland vacation. Nestled in the Hagerstown City Park, this historic stone house, built in 1739 by Jonathan Hager, the founder of Hagerstown, was erected over two springs to give its occupants a protected water supply. The house was built in traditional German style. Using uncut fieldstones. The Hager House is home to Maryland's best collection of 18th century furnishings. The nearby museum features artifacts found on house's property. Open April-December, with admission under $5, visitors will get a kick out of tasting what life was like those many years ago. Visit www.hagerhouse.org or call 301-739-8393 for more information.
If cool, damp, dark, underground places bring a smile to your face, then Crystal Grottoes Caverns in Boonsboro is the place to visit. Crystal Grottoes prides themselves on offering an educational and worthwhile trip with competent, accommodating, and well-informed guides who are capable of explaining the history, formations, and geological aspects of the Caverns. The spectacular tour takes forty minutes, and is guided through brilliantly lighted chambers on dry, clean walkways. Walking the Grottoes is like taking a trip back in time. Located 1.5 miles outside of Boonsboro, on State Route 34 (19821 Shepherdstown Pike), six miles from Antietam Battlefield, the cave guide is sure to add lasting memories to your vacation. Crystal Grottoes is open daily 9-6, April-October, weekends 11-4, November-March. Call 301-432-6336 for more information.
Wherever you decide to take your family this summer--have fun, practice safety, and make the most out of it!