Family Building Sandcastle
Maryland Office of Tourism

Top Family Friendly Things to Do

By Jim Meyer
Family Building Sandcastle
Maryland Office of Tourism

Spend the day lounging on the beach or screaming your heads off on a roller coaster. Get back to nature on a drive-through safari or gaze at distant worlds through the Hubble Space Telescope. In Maryland, the opportunities for family fun are limitless.  Many tourism destinations, museums, historic sites and other attractions are offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn at home.  And, to keep all that Maryland offers top of mind, visit Maryland Fun For Everyone for Puzzles, Bingo, Scavenger Hunt and much more.

Thrill the day away at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro
Mind Eraser at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro

Six Flags America is the Nation's Capital of Thrills offering more than 100 thrilling rides, games, shows and attractions including Hurricane Harbor water park—free with park admission. Get two parks for the price of one! Reserve your tickets now.

See the horses at Assateague, Assateague Island
Ponies in the surf at Assateague by Worcester County Tourism

The wild horses of Assateague National Seashore and State Park are one of the few truly unique sites in the world. The majestic horses have been the island’s signature species for centuries, and seeing them frolicking in the dunes for the first time is one of those iconic family memories you’ll never forget.

Build a sandcastle on Maryland's beaches
Building Sandcastle

Nothing brings a family together quite like building a sandcastle, and Maryland has lots of great spots to soak in the sun, play in the sand, and make a memory. Ocean City, Assateague and Sandy Point are just a few spots waiting for you to grab your shovel and dig in.

Zip Lines
GoApe Adventures

Have you ever dreamed of swinging through the tree-tops Tarzan style or hurtling down a zip-line like an action hero? In Maryland, we’ve got you covered with amazing zip-lining and brachiating adventure options. Terrapin Adventures in Savage combines zipping, climbing, big swings, jumps and more at its’ Aerial Adventure Park, with kayaking, caving biking, hiking and geocaching to boot. Go Ape! in Rockville will make you believe you’ve travelled to the forest moon of Endor with its unique sky ladders and platforms traversing from tree to tree through the beautiful green canopy. The Adventure Park in Sandy Spring adds the staggering K2 Trees vertical course and the beautiful night time Twilight Ticket through an illuminated forest. Hit them all for a truly unforgettable aerialist adventure!

More info


Ride the rapids at Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) in McHenry
ASCI - Adventure Sports Center International

Home to the 2014 Canoe Slalom World Championships, ASCI offers world-class instructors and a range of challenges from beginner to Olympian in their man-made white-water facility.  

Plunge into fun at Jolly Rogers Splash Mountain Waterpark in Ocean City
Jolly Roger Amusement Park's Splash Mountain in Ocean City

Splash in the Lost Lagoon Family Activity Pool, drift away on the 1000-foot-long Lazy River, blast down the 45-foot-tall drop on Stealth or thrill up and down the exhilarating Master Blaster water roller coaster. 

Blow your mind at Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Ripley's Believe It or Not on the boardwalk in OC
Hyatt Place Ocean City

On the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Ripley’s Believe It or Not has been mystifying families since 1918 and features a giant robotic shark poking through the building.

Dive into fun at The National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore
Visit Baltimore

The beautiful National Aquarium in Baltimore has changed its mission to become one of the premier ocean conservation organizations in the country, but it remains a must-see for all families. From the beautiful Australia: Wild Extremes pavilion to the thrilling Blacktip Reef exhibit, the National Aquarium is fun you can sink your teeth into.  

See the penguins at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Penguins at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore may be one of the oldest zoos in the nation, but it combines that long tradition with exciting, cutting-edge exhibits like Penguin Coast, where the best-dressed animals at the zoo dive, swim and cavort in their naturalistic habitat complete with currents, waves and underwater view ports. 

Walk the boards in Ocean City

Head to Ocean City's boardwalk and set yourself up for people watching with some Thrasher’s famous fries, a big bucket of Fischer’s Popcorn and an ice cream cone from Dumser’s Dairyland. Or get in on the action and ride the classic rides at Trimper’s Rides and Amusements including the 1912 Herschel-Spillman carousel and Pirate’s Cove and the Haunted House, two of the few remaining Bill Tracy haunted houses.

Take to the skies and ride National Harbor’s Capital Wheel
National Harbor's Capital Wheel at sunset

Rise 180 feet into the air and take in the sights from one of the Capital Wheel’s climate-controlled gondolas.  The fantastic view features the Potomac River and skyline of National Harbor out over to the Washington Monument in the Nation’s Capital. The Capital Wheel is a one-of-a-kind ride!

Ride the Wild Cat wooden rollercoaster at Adventure Park USA
Wild Cat at Adventure Park USA

This old-school cool wooden coaster is a must for any family of thrill seekers, but Adventure Park USA also has lots more waiting with bumper boats, putt-putt, a ropes course and more, plus it's conveniently located just down the road from Baltimore and D.C.

Reinvent the art of play at Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore
Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore
Visit Baltimore

Named one of the Top Five Children’s Museums in the country by Child Magazine, Port Discovery is where fun lives. From live puppet shows to the interactive water tables and the astounding five-story central play structure—the mother of all playgrounds—Port Discovery is a must for families with young kids.

Ride a rolling safari at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont
Zoo safari at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Located deep in the mountains of Maryland, this lush zoo takes families on a genuine safari. Catoctin Wildlife Preserve’s fleet of surplus army trucks will take your family through the park where you can feed the animals from the bed of the big rig. 

Be amazed at the sight of the Calvert Marine Museum’s giant Megalodon shark skeleton in Solomons
Calvert Marine Museum Megaladon Shark
Calvert Marine Museum

Explore Maryland’s maritime traditions, come face-to-jaws with a 37 foot-long megalodon shark recreation, and meet Calvert, Chessie-Grace, and Chumley, the museums adorable river otters.

With exhibits on Maryland’s water culture, historic ships and more, there’s plenty to see at the Calvert Marine Museum, but one toothy exhibit steals the show. The 37-foot long recreated Megalodon shark skeleton takes a bite out of boredom and makes for a fin-tastic time! 

Plunder the high seas with the scurvy dogs of a genuine pirate ship
Urban Pirates

Yar, maties, set sail for swashbucklin’ shenanigans on one of Maryland’s family-friendly pirate ships! Join the crews of Ocean City’s Duckaneer, Baltimore’s Urban Pirates (also in National Harbor) or Pirate Adventures in Annapolis for a rollicking good time. Just leave the landlubbers on shore. 

Have a blast at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt
Goddard Space Flight Center

Wonder at the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, get up close to real rockets and space capsules, gaze at the secrets of the universe in the super cool Geodome, and let the kids try on a kid- sized space suit and helmet. Goddard Space Flight Center is out of this world!

Touch dinosaurs and gaze into space at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore
Maryland Science Center in Baltimore
Visit Baltimore

With live science demonstrations, hands-on paleontological digs with real dinosaur bones, a first rate children’s room, a massive six-story Imax theater, and a mind-expanding look at the universe through the eye of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Maryland Science Center is home to worlds of fun.

Ride the legendary Mountain Coaster at Wisp in McHenry
Mountain Coaster at Wisp Resort

With 1,500 feet of upward track and a mind-boggling 3,500 feet back down, the Mountain Coaster, open year round, is too cool to miss. 

Feed Jimmie the Giraffe at the Plumpton Park Zoo in Rising Sun
Jimmie the Giraffe
Plumpton Park Zoo

There is nothing like the expression of joy on the face of a person feeding Jimmie the Giraffe for the first time. Just make sure to give your kids a turn, too.