You want to go on fun family adventures, but let’s be honest.. you do not want to spend a ton of money. Maybe you are trying to save your budget and even small costs are out of the question. That’s why FREE activities are the best! This list of FREE Activities in Maryland for kids is your ticket to low budget family fun!
I did a ton of research, much of it in person, to come up with this list of 100+ ideas for FREE Maryland activities for kids. But there is more! In my research I found almost 400 (yes, 400) free activity ideas in Maryland alone!
So, instead of making this resource too big to be useful, I created a companion tool. It has all 100 of these ideas, plus the other 300 ideas. It’s in a Google Sheet and mobile friendly form and all 400 activities are organized by location and type of activity. So, you can cross-reference from wherever you are and find affordable family fun!
Click below to find out more about the FREE Activities in Maryland Toolkit!
Get a sneak peek of the mobile friendly board version of the Activity Finder!
General notes about finding FREE family activities
- Many state parks have a fee (even though it’s a small fee). But most regional parks and local parks are completely free. There are hundreds of playgrounds in Maryland and most of them are free to access.
- There are a number of places (like public beaches) that might have a cost on weekends and holidays in the warm season, but are otherwise free. Check the website to be sure you are going on a free day.
- Many of Maryland’s nature centers and libraries are free and have free programming. However, often you will need to pay for their special programming.
- Most community events and many seasonal events tend to be free. This goes for everything from outdoor movies and kid friendly concerts in the summer to Christmas lights and holiday parades in the winter.
- There are a number of chain businesses that offer free activities. Michael’s Craft Stores, Home Depot, and Lowes all offer free make and take workshops for kids. Also, in the summer you can sign your kids up for the ‘Kids Bowl for FREE’ programs.
- There are so many free things to do in Washington D.C. and it’s not far away from most parts of Maryland.
Central Maryland Region
1. Thomas-Dixon Observation Area (airplane playground)
This is a small playground but it has special appeal. Why? Because it is located right on the flight line. So, as your kids play on the swings and climbing structures, you can all watch planes land! Some of them get really close too!
2. Lake Waterford Park
This lovely park has a lot to offer families. There is a gorgeous lake with hiking trails and a viewing platform. You can also do some fishing at the lake.
3. Rash Field Park
This new playground/community park is in the best location ever! It’s located next to the Maryland Science Center, right on the Inner Harbor.. and it couldn’t be more fun!
4. Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art has some great exhibits that will keep your kid’s attention for sure. Families can pick up a FREE activity booklet to enhance the experience for kids.
5. Oregon Ridge Nature Center
Oregon Ridge Nature Center in Baltimore County is a lovely nature center in a gorgeous setting. Inside the nature center there are tons of nooks and crannies to explore like turtles, snakes, and other small animals. There is a pretty cool bear taxidermy that your kids will love, and fun nature-themed activities.
6. Storyville- Woodlawn
Storyville has a ton of super fun play areas for kids age 5 and under. But Storyville is also a functioning library. There is a very nice reading room and books are scattered throughout every nook and cranny of this literacy haven.
7. Double Rock Park
This park in the middle of an urban neighborhood and is such a fantastic park for families.
Our favorite trail is the Blue Trail, which brings you down along the river. This trail is a supreme adventure! You can stay up top for a while and follow the well marked trail or you can do the trail by the river and go creek stomping and boulder scrambling. Eventually, you have to cross the river to continue on the trail… so wear boots or bring water shoes!
8. Cromwell Valley Park
Cromwell Valley Park is really such a gem. There are numerous kid friendly hikes abs nature walks that lead from the parking area. Just take a look at the map or grab a kids activity guide and figure out where you want to explore first!
9. Sandymount Park
This playground is located right next to Sandymount Elementary School and Finksburg library. Right next to the playground are four tables. Each table is covered which is great for the super sunny days. There is a large pavilion at the park as well but it is not directly next to the park.
10. Charlotte’s Quest Nature Center
The Charlotte’s Quest Nature Center is such a gem for family friendly fun! Located at the 80-acre Piney Valley Park, they offer 4 miles of kid friendly trails, open fields and meadows and more!
11. Steppingstone Farm Museum
Steppingstone Farm Museum celebrates the rural heritage of Harford County through a variety of living exhibits. There are multiple buildings throughout the property that showcase various trades and other historical aspects of farming from the 1880’s-1920’s.
12. Millard Tydings Memorial Park
Millard-Tydings Park is also called Concord Point Park. The entire park is lovely… plenty of picnic tables, space to run around, and a fantastic playground.
13. Gunpowder Falls State Park- Sweet Air Area
There are quite a few doable hikes for families in this area. The Barley Pond Loop starts from the back left corner of the parking area and is a 1.7 mile loop trail. If that’s too long for little legs, just walk to the pond and back… probably less than a mile.
14. Annie’s Playground
The playground is nothing short of amazing. Like the Angel Park Playground, Annie’s Playground has loads of imaginative twists and features, climbing structures, a stage, swings for everyone, and scads of slides.
15. Chesapeake Sensory Plaza at Rockfield Park
The Chesapeake Sensory Plaza at Rockfield Park is a fairly new addition to the park and includes a music station, various interactive educational sensory activities, and a water play feature!
16. Schucks Regional Park
There is a sensory trail that is a huge hit with kids– loads of sensory activities. The paved trail that surrounds the park is a great distance and is never crowded. It is a great place for walking, running, and biking.
17. Blandair Regional Park- North Playground
Oh. My. Goodness! I can’t believe how utterly amazing the Blandair Regional Park North Area Playground is!
Yes, the playground is so huge there is a map! Look at the map when you arrive because there are dedicated areas for babies and toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids! It’s really like 5-6 playgrounds wrapped into one!
18. Rockburn Branch Park
Rockburn Branch Park is a small regional park in the Elkridge area that has a lot to offer families.
There is a great playground that has both a younger and older kid area. However, the older kid area isn’t too overwhelming for younger kids.
19. High Ridge Park
The playground is shaded and there are loads of fun play features that would appeal to a broad age range.
20. Historic Savage Mill Trail
Savage Historic Mill Trail is a 1.4 mile trail that is great for kids as the trail goes along the river. It’s particularly gorgeous in the fall.
Get a sneak peek of the Google Sheet version of the Activity Finder!
21. Walkersville Community Park
This park is only about 5 minutes from the Walkersville Southern Railroad. It also connects to the Fountain Rock Nature Center.
22. Catoctin Mountain Park
The Catoctin Mountain Park is literally right next to Cunningham Falls State Park. This gorgeous park is managed by the National Park Service and has a history of timber logging and iron mining. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails and many of them are good for kids.
23. Big Slide at Mount Tabor Park
The entire family will love this pit stop! The Big Slide Mount Tabor Park At Rocky Ridge is a gigantic wooden slide about 30 ft tall and open to the public.
24. Baker Park
Baker Park is a 58-acre park that winds along the Carroll Creek in Downtown Frederick.This is the perfect place to let your kids run and spend their energy. There are walking paths, playgrounds, a lake, a bandshell for summer concerts, and more.
25. Sophie and Madigan’s Playground
This fully inclusive playground has features that all kids and parents will love. There are many types of swings that make play possible for kids with a wide range of disabilities. There are play areas that are great for kids with sensory issues, and really, everything about this playground is fun!
26. Cabin John Regional Park
There are probably a dozen play areas within the boundaries of this playground, There is a traditional looking playground, as well as this cool 3-pronged slide. There are swings, climbing boulders, other neat climbing and balance apparatus, and plenty of play structures for younger kids, including a wooden train.
27. Greenbrier Playground
This playground really is one of the best surprises in Maryland. It’s a beautiful playground with two play areas– one for older kids and one for younger kids. Kids will love the huge slides in the treehouse as well as pretending to pilot the boat!
28. Billy Goat Trail
Section C: The easiest section of the trail and appropriate for younger kids. It is a 1.7 mile loop trail with some rock scrambling involved. It has awesome views of Great Falls and the wildflowers are amazing in the Spring.
29. Brookside Nature Center
The Brookside Nature Center is really such a nice facility. There is a nice little pond out front, a cabin out back, and in the nature center itself there are tons of opportunities for kids to explore nature, including a scavenger hunt, turtles, a bee hive, and more!
30. Black Hills Regional Park
Black Hills Regional Park has 2000 acres of amazing fun in nature to explore! The main part of the park is Little Seneca Lake, which is absolutely stunning. You can walk along the lake or rent canoes, kayaks, or rowboats and get out on the water.
31. Brighton Dam Azalea Garden
22,000 Azalea bushes. That is the number of azaleas bushes that cover this 5-acre garden dedicated to azaleas. The Brighton Dam Azalea Garden is absolutely stunning in May when the azaleas are at peak bloom.
32. Rock Creek Regional Park
There are quite a few reasons to visit Rock Creek Regional Park (not to be confused with Rock Creek Park in DC), but the natural beauty stands out.
Needwood Lake is completely spectacular and gorgeous year round (check out the fall foliage around the lake… it’s stunning!)
33. Wizard of Oz Playground (Watkins RP)
Make no mistake.. this amazing playground is probably the best playground in Maryland. It is located at Watkins Regional Park and is seriously a swoon-worthy destination it its own right. The play area itself is sunny but is surrounded by a wooded, shaded picnic area.
34. Pirate Playground (Marlton Community Park)
This playground is located in a small, quiet neighborhood park that you wouldn’t know was there.. unless you knew it was there. It is very quiet with plenty of open fields to run around in and walking paths.
35. Medieval Dragon Playground (South Bowie Community Center)
Isn’t this dragon cool? It is probably designed more for older kids and the castle for younger kids, but your toddlers will want to climb all over that dragon!
36. Horsepen Park
This is yet another great playground and park in Bowie that is fairly new (completed in Summer 2020). The park itself is great because it plugs into the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis (WB&A) Trail, so you can bring your bikes or just walk!
37. Historic Flour Mill Playground (Adelphi Mill Recreation Center)
The theme is pretty neat– there is actually a stagecoach play structure. There are areas for older and younger kids but none of the play features will be too overwhelming for younger kids.
38. Comic Theme Playground
But this is a super fun playground with a really cool theme, so your kids will want you to persevere too! Bring your costumes because they will definitely want to be Superman or Wonderwoman or Batman or even, I don’t know.. Pinkalicious!
39. Piscataway Park
The park has numerous kid friendly hiking trails, a public fishing pier and two boardwalks where you can walk through wetlands. Piscataway is home to tons of wildlife like bald eagles, beavers, deer, and foxes.
40. Gateway Arts District
The Gateway Arts and Entertainment District is located in Brentwood and Hyattsville along Baltimore Ave and Route 1. There are loads of fun murals, sculptures and public art. The benches and traffic signal boxes are even painted!
41. Jefferson Patterson Park
Jefferson Patterson Park is so lovely. There is a fantastic indoor museum, a nature playground/butterfly garden that has some super nice play features, and some kid friendly trails!
42. Dunkirk District Park
The play structures for older kids are super fun, including a three story tower with giant slides and a big glider structure; and what a great zip line
43. Callis Park
This is such a lovely playground, about 1 block from North Beach and Boardwalk.
44. La Plata Splash Pad
This is a small splash pad but a free resource located behind the Town Hall. They havefree Friday concerts so your kids can play while you enjoy the music!
45. Laurel Springs Regional Park
This park has a fantastic playground that is a fully inclusive playground. They even have a swing for kids in wheelchairs!
There is also a walking trail that is wooded and goes around the perimeter of the park.
46. Bensville Park
Another great playground in Charles County that recently got a new zipline upgrade. Fun!
This playground has plenty of slides, swings, climbing structures and more. There are separate play areas for younger and older kids.
47. Wieck Playground
This playground is great for kids of all ages and has a lot of super fun play features.
There are great slides, climbing features, a pirate themed play structure for younger kids, ride-on’s, and more.
48. John C. Lancaster Park
There are two playsets-one is built to look like an airplane, complete with wings, departure slides, and steering wheels. Surrounding this set are various spring riders shaped like airplanes and dinosaurs kids will love.
49. Judge P.H.Dorsey Memorial Park
Dorsey Park’s newly renovated playground is a climber’s dream. One of their playsets is almost entirely made of ropes and ladders, plus there’s a separate dome rope ladder structure. Sitting beside the toddler playset are also multiple musical instruments like xylophones and a metal drum that is pleasant on the ears no matter who is playing it.
50. Pisgah Park
This park includes a playground, walking and fitness trails, and picnic facilities.
51. Battle Creek Cyprus Swamp
A fantastic nature sanctuary that features a wetland boardwalk, nature and interpretive exhibits, and excellent bird watching!
52. Chesapeake Bay Railway Museum
This little museum tells the story of Southern Maryland and its train line. There is a room with a train table/wooden trains for kids to play with, a model train that moves when pressing buttons, and a bell that they can ring.
53. Purses Park
Purses State Park is a former Maryland state park that has become part of the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area. This park area and beach is one of the best places to hunt for shark’s teeth and fossils. That is actually the big draw! The beach itself is nice but super small.
54. Hallowing Point Park
This is a great local park and playground. There are plenty of ball fields and walking paths. The playground has great slides, climbing structures, and more. Oh, and there is shade!
55. White Plains Regional Park
This cool park has a great playground, skate park, and a foot golf course.
56. Snow Hill Waterfront Park
Snow Hill Park and Beach is a beautiful beach in St. Mary’s county. It has great views of the Patuxent River and is a great spot to launch a kayak or canoe!
57. Drayden African American Schoolhouse
Explore the stories of struggle of the St. Mary’s County African American community during an era of segregated education at this authentically-restored, one-room schoolhouse.
58. Newtowne Neck State Park
A waterfront park with hiking and kayaking opportunities.
59. Seventh District Park
Great park with sports fields, a fully accessible playground, and geocaching.
60. Chaptico Park
Have fun with the fully accessible playground, geocaching, and hiking trails.
61. Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake
The Discovery Center recently completed a major renovation that just makes the already awesome nature center even better!
There is a playground and a great aviary with hawks, eagles, owls, and more. There are easy trails that are right next to the lake.
And the nature center is full on hands on fun!
62. New Germany State Park
New Germany State Park is literally called the hidden gem of the Maryland State Park system. This lake is totally gorgeous!
63. Hagerstown City Park
The centerpiece of this park is the lovely lake/pond with art sculptures, walking paths, cute bridges, streams, benches, and yes.. fountains! It’s really sooo lovely!
Feed the swans! Ok, you can purchase fees (don’t use bread) from the snack area and feed the hordes.. yes hordes.. of very friendly geese, ducks, and swans.
There is not only one, but two very nice playgrounds.. shaded, loads of swings and fun play features, fully inclusive.. did I mention 2 playgrounds?
64. Casselman River Bridge State Park
A really pretty picnic spot that includes a gorgeous historical bridge!
65. Oakland B&O Railroad Museum
The Oakland B&O Museum won’t take long to visit but your kids will love it! The steam engine belts out steam, making the centerpiece of the museum super impressive. You can ring the bell! Visit the caboose too and find out about life as a train conductor.
66. Rural Heritage Museum
Get a taste of 19th century life with early farm equipment, bicycles, automobiles, and more!
67. Camp Harding Park
A new farm-themed playground, monarch butterfly way-station, picnic facilities, and more!
68. Williamsport Visitor Center: C&O Canal
There is so much to see, do, and explore at this part of the C&O Canal! Make sure you spend some time in the Visitors Center. They have great hands on exhibits. Otherwise, this area is great for walking, biking/scootering, and even kayaking!
69. Clear Spring Park
This park has a playground, sports fields, and a picnic facility.
70. Marty L. Snook Memorial Park
The big draw for this awesome park is the Mythical Woods play area with super fun wooden carving structures.
71. Mt. Briar Wetlands Preserve
The Wetland Preserve is a thirty acre natural area, located along Millbrook Road offMaryland Route #67 near Rohrersville. It contains approximately one mile of floating boardwalk which meanders throughout the Preserve.
72. Pen Mar Park
Pen Mar Park has GORGEOUS views, a scenic overlook, a wonderful playground, tons of picnic tables and pavilions, clean indoor bathrooms, and access to the Appalachian Trail. There are also train tracks that you can see from the overlook, and certain parts of the park, and it is absolutely thrilling when a train goes by.
73. Western Maryland Rail Trail- Big Pool Terminus
The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) is about 28 miles long and parallels the C&O Canal Towpath for its entire length. It’s a paved trail and the Big Pool end is the start (or end) of the trail.
74. Constitution Park
Constitution Park in Cumberland Maryland includes 2 playgrounds, sports fields, and a scenic overlook.
75. Washington County Fine Arts Museum
This is a small but great art museum that is co–located with Hagerstown City Park. They have a lovely collection of over 6,500 pieces of art ranging from prints, painting, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
For kids they have an art scavenger hunt that would appeal to them/keep your kids engaged while you enjoy taking in the art.
76. Parris N. Glendening Recreation Complex
A great playground and park in Frostburg, MD that also has a walking trail and stocked fishing pond.
77. Sideling Hill Visitor Center
Worth a 10 minute stop for the view of the countryside and the road cut in the mountain.
78. Rock Maze Trail
About 10 minutes away from Swallow Falls State Park is a super cool and relatively unknown (although that’s changing) place affectionately called the Rock Maze. Check. This. Out! It’s an explorer’s play land!! And yes, it really is a maze!
Basically, you hike out about 1/2 mile through a pretty but relatively non-descript forest trail. Then BAM! You come up on all these boulders that seemingly were dropped in the forest by mountain trolls thousands of years ago.
79. South Mountain State Park/Annapolis Rock
The Annapolis Rock trail is a popular trail for day hikers in South Mountain State Park and is a great day hike option for kids. Like Weverton Cliffs, this trail has fantastic views both along the trail and at Annapolis Rock. You can see Greenbrier Lake and Black Rock Cliff from the viewpoint.
80. Washington Regional Park
This regional park in Hagerstown has a playground, sensory panel and other accessible-friendly play features, disc golf, sports fields and more!
81. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic natural place to visit with kids. In the Winter months it is home to osprey, and throughout the year you can see bald eagles, turtles, and more!
82. Blue Heron Nature Preserve
This 300-acre Nature Preserve is located to the east of Rt. 8 South/Romancoke Rd. provides miles of natural surface hiking trails that lead you through acres of wetland, pollinator habitat, meadowlands, and forest area.
83. Calvert Regional Park
This is Cecil County’s first regional park and it really has so much to offer. In addition to all the ball fields, there is a story trail offered in conjunction with the library. And the playground is really so fantastic. There are multiple play areas for younger and older kids, plenty of swings, and a zipline too!
84. Cypress Park and Nature Trail
This is a cute playground with swings, play areas for younger and older kids, and some cute ride ons. It’s fenced in but not shady… and there are port-a-potties and picnic tables.
When you visit the Cypress Park playground, don’t forget to check out the nature trail!
Walk to the river and/or under the overpass .. you can easily see the Cypress Park Nature Trail— a really lovely and easy boardwalk trail that is really really pretty!
85. Ferry Point Park
Ferry Point Park Beach is near the Chesapeake Heritage & Visitor Center (see the separate entry for the Heritage Center). The park has a 530-foot boardwalk, a marsh trail, and a small beach where you can swim. When it’s low tide, kids will love finding shells.
86. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
This important museum and visitor center is an excellent tribute to a national hero and civil rights legend. Bring your kids and start a conversation about racism, slavery, and equality. The exhibits are really well done and educational for kids and adults.
87. Newtown Recreation Area and Playground
This is a really fantastic playground with great play structures and ride-ons that would appeal to younger and older kids. There are swings, great ball fields, a sand volleyball court, and a covered pavilion.
88. Pickering Creek Audubon Center
Viewing platforms and bird blinds overlooking 75 acres of freshwater wetlands with foraging herons, ducks, geese and swans.
Children’s Trail through the woods with tree trunks to climb over and moss covered logs to peak under.
89. Crisfield-Wellington Beach
Enjoy the breathtaking sunset at Crisfield’s Wellington Beach. The beach itself is gorgeous… great sand, picnic tables, and a pirate ship playground!
90. Betterton Beach
I was sooo impressed with this beach! It’s located near the mouth of the Sassafras River and boasts 300 ft. of sandy beach for swimming and an additional 700 ft. for shoreline access. This beach used to be a big deal when steamboats drew large tourist crowds. Now it is often overlooked, which makes it great for families.
91. Federalsburg Marina Park
There is a 2-5 year old playground and 5-12 both with climbing structures, rock walls, tunnels, slides, balance pads and activity walls. And there is also a paved walking trail.
92. Roaring Point Park
Roaring Point Park is not exactly hidden… but it might as well be since it’s a full 1.5 hours from Kent Island, 1 hour from Cambridge, and even 30 minutes from Salisbury.
You have to work for this beach 😀 but it’s soooo worth it!
The sand is so fine, the beach area is rather large, and there is a gentle slope into the river.. so great for kids!
93. Salisbury Zoo
The best little free zoo in North America! Yep– it’s FREE!
Some of the animals they have on exhibit include the Andean Bear, North American Bison, Tamarin, Wallaby, Alligator, Python, and more!
94. Pocomoke River State Park- Nature Center
The nature center is a must see. There are quite a few interactive exhibits and tanks containing reptiles, amphibians and fish native to the Pocomoke River area.
A great spot for kids and you can access a number of trails from the parking area.
95. Ridgely Train Station
This is a cute red caboose you can visit. Along with the caboose, there is a mile of paved trail along the railroad. There is also shaded seating areas along with a garden to have a snack/lunch. This is a great spot if you are on the way to Delaware beaches and need a place for your little ones to let out some energy. It also is a good place to visit if you have a train loving kid and want to visit a small town on the shore.
96. Ben’s Red Swings and Salisbury City Park
A nice community playground that is very close to the Salisbury Zoo. There are slides, swings, and loads of fun play structures and features. The playground is located near walking paths as well.
97. Fair Green Park Playground
This is such a fantastic playground! First of all, it’s fenced in! There are separate play structures for older and younger kids… and the younger kid play structure is a pirate ship! (Yes, your older kids will want to play here too). There are plenty of swings and a water fountain, as well as covered picnic area.
98. John Walter Smith Playground
This is a great, partially shaded playground next to the ball fields at the Worcester County Rec Center.
There are fun climbing features for older kids, a separate tot lot area, and swings for older kids and baby swings. A great option– especially since it’s partially shaded!
99. Manklin Meadows Park
A great park and playground within the Ocean Pines community.
The playground is huge and has swings for babies, older kids, and kids with mobility issues.
There are loads of climbing structures, slides, young kid friendly features, and a gazebo in the middle of the play area.
100. Tuckahoe State Park
This great state park is so much fun for both day trips and weekend trips! There are multiple areas to explore. The VisitorCenter has a great aviary, supplies for the disc golf course, and trailheads for over 20 miles of fun trails!