20 Regional Maryland Area Ideas To Gift An Experience Instead Of Stuff
Why give toys that you will throw out or give away by next year? These 20 Maryland Regional Ideas to Gift an Experience are way better than stuff!
Have you ever stuffed a few bags full of toys your kid’s loved for 5 minutes and never played with again?
When you think of Christmas, or birthdays, or other gift-giving occasions, do you cringe at the thought of more clutter?
It’s ironic isn’t it? Your kids beg for toys and then don’t play with them. Why? Well, who wouldn’t want super cute Hatchimals or the latest Avengers action figure. Those toys exude cool… but I have a secret to tell you. The cool won’t last. Nope. It is inevitable that within a few weeks (or even a few days), the novelty will wear off and your kids will still be asking for more.
Your kids might think they want every toy they see on Nick Jr., but what they really want is fun.
And the best memories and the most fun aren’t made with the latest gadget. Nope.
Your kids crave connection. They want memories.
The most fun will almost always be in doing something new, instead of acquiring something new. And as a parent who wants to see your kid’s face light up in sheer delight… which would you prefer?
Would you prefer a 20 second flash of excitement before the coolest new toy is cast aside for the next coolest new toy? Or would you like to see your kid try their hand at painting, or see a world class play with them? Or– would you like to go back again and again to see the baby penguins grow up before your eyes.
Here is the good news. The Maryland area has tons of fantastic ideas for giving experiences instead of gifts. Tons.
Below are 20 of the best ideas. Seriously, any one of these ideas would give you tons of memory making, fun experiences that will put a smile on your entire family’s face!
Note: This post contains affiliate links which are marked. That means if you click on the link and make a purchase I make a small profit. Thanks!
1. Why not give a membership to a world class museum?
Maryland Science Center:
The Maryland Science Center is fantastic for kids of all ages. We have visited ever since our daughter was 2 years old and every time we end up spending the entire day having fun.
Port Discovery underwent some HUGE changes in 2019 and the results are amazing! I detailed all the changes (and all the great things that didn’t change) here.
Memberships pay for themselves in 2 visits.
2. For the train lover
If you have a train lover in your family, here are two great options that will give your kids a big smile!
- B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore offers annual memberships that include free admission to most events and discounted tickets for Thomas the Train and The Polar Express.
- Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania offers gift cards redeemable for any of their events (except Thomas the Train)
3. If your child loves animals
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore:
Big changes came to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in 2019 too! Construction on the new African Journey habitat finished up and the new African Journey is simply jaw-droppingly good. Plus, did you hear that the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has two new polar bears? If your kid loves animals, this is the perfect gift to give this year (and seriously.. the Maryland Zoo is probably one of our favorite places ever).
This gem in the Inner Harbor is another one of our family’s favorite destinations. There is just something super cool about descending into the Black Tip Reef, seeing the sharks and giant rays swimming past. Or, checking out the dolphin training area, or the jellyfish… or the crocodiles. I could go on.
One great reason to become a member is the exclusive member evenings that happen every month. Seriously, out of all the attractions we have visited in Maryland, the National Aquarium can easily be the busiest. The membership totally pays for itself when you get unfettered access to the touch tanks. Trust me. It is awesome!
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve:
If you want to support a smaller zoo (but one that is totally amazing), why not get your family a membership to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve in Thurmont, MD? This small, private zoo is seriously one of our family’s favorite places. There are so many up close animal encounters and memberships are by person, not by family. This is great for smaller families who might not need to pay more. Read our in-depth review of Catoctin here!
Plumpton Park Zoo:
Located in Elkton, this is another smaller, private zoo that is absolutely delightful and perfect for families! You can purchase an individual membership or a number of family membership options. Additionally, they offer e-gift cards if you wanted to try the zoo without committing to a membership.
4. For the kid who loves to create art
Located in Pasadena, MD, Artsy Partsy is possibly the most fun art-related venue in Maryland. Artsy Partsy has Family Paint Night every Friday evening, loads of art classes, special paint events, and more. They also sell gift cards. Woo Hoo!
Paint Your Own Pottery Studios in Maryland:
Trust me. It’s a thing. And it isn’t just a thing for adults either. Kid-friendly walk-in pottery painting places are all over Maryland. Here are the ones that are highly recommended:
- Pic ‘N Paint Pottery: Pasadena, MD
- The Pottery Stop: Ellicott City, MD
- Pottery Cove: Catonsville, MD
- The Clay Bakers: Annapolis, MD
Thinkery: A Curiosity Studio:
Located in Baltimore, this amazing kid’s art space not only sells gift cards, but activity kits, play kits, and sensory kits!
5. It’s always a good idea to get the wiggles out when the weather is not great
This indoor play place in Columbia, MD is off the hook awesome for kids any time of the year. When the weather is yucky Hyper Kidz is the best. (it can get crowded too– it is very popular). You can get more information about memberships here.
There is also a location in Owings Mills too!
Urban Air Adventure Park:
Wow! Another totally awesome place that opened while we were all safe at home. @urbanairlaurel in Laurel, MD opened up in September and it’s soooooo amazing for active kids! This place is huge!!!!
The first thing you will see when you enter is this ginormous multi-level tube playground, aerial adventure course, and Sky Liner— which is basically indoor zip lining along a track.. you have to buy an ultimate ticket to ride this.. trust me, it’s worth it! There is a super cool ninja warrior course with tons of different challenges… and that ball pit! You can also battle it out on the battle beam! In addition to all of that there are loads of climbing opportunities, trampolines, dodgeball, and more!
In addition to the location in Laurel, there are fantastic spots in Frederick and White Marsh as well!
Another amazing indoor play space, more for older than younger kids.. although younger kids would have plenty to keep them busy too. There are high and low ropes courses, zipline, ninja warrior course, drop slide, pole walking, rock climbing walls and more.
5. Take advantage of the amazing performing arts venues for kids
Children’s Theatre of Annapolis
Both you and your kids will love how accessible the performances at this children’s theatre are. We visited last year for the first time and were blown away by the high quality of their Peter Pan performance. The remainder of the 2021-2022 season includes Robin Hood and Annie
Adventure Theatre MTC
The Adventure Theatre MTC at the historic Glen Echo Park is our absolute favorite theatre venue for kids in Maryland. You can purchase a Flexpass if you want to attend multiple performances (or bring a crowd) or snag individual tickets for upcoming performances– which include Make Way For Ducklings, Poop! The Musical, and Fantastagirl and the Math Monster.
Medieval Times Dinner Theatre
Part performance, part sheer awesomeness. Tickets to Medieval Times will definitely wow your kids, especially if they like horses, huge turkey legs, and lots of noise (I would not recommend for kids with sensory issues).
6. Sometimes it really is all about just having fun!
If your kids are 5 and under this is the absolute best amusement park you can take them to. Pretty much all the rides are kiddie rides, there is an excellent (but not overwhelming) splash area, and the entire park is very manageable for little legs. Plus it isn’t too far from Maryland (about 90 minutes from Baltimore). Note: Their Season Pass combines with Hersheypark for one huge theme park pass. Pretty cool deal!
It’s the sweetest place on Earth! Hersheypark is more than just chocolate though. The amusement park is awesome for kids of all ages. There is an incredible splash park, a zoo park, and– of course– Chocolate World. With so much to do, there are plenty of Season Pass options too!
Adventure Park USA
Adventure Park USA is a smaller amusement park but it excels in maximum fun, including great indoor play options for when the weather is not great.
We love King’s Dominion as much as we love Dutch Wonderland. Planet Snoopy is awesome for younger kids and King’s Dominion actually has a Pre-K Pass where kids aged 3-5 are free for the entire season! How cool is that?
7. Check Out These Certifikid Deals too!
Certifikid is pretty much awesome for kid friendly and family friendly fun. Here are some great deals on Certifikid right now (all affiliate links) that should be good through the holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!