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Places to Take Kids

Editors' Pick

As any parent knows, kids go through phases. One month they’re obsessed with planes, the next they can’t get enough of horses, ballet or dinosaurs. We came up with some ideas for fun activities based on a few common childhood passions. Here are our picks for where to take a child who loves…

Trucks

Let them climb inside one at a “Truck Touch” event. Suburban Nursery School in Bethesda and Silver Spring Nursery School both host annual fundraisers where kids line up to get into such vehicles as a bulldozer, trash truck, cherry picker, police car or school bus (honking the horn is often allowed). The drivers stick around to answer questions and talk with the kids. Suburban’s event is every October, and Silver Spring Nursery’s is on May 6 this year.

Suburban Nursery School, 7210 Hidden Creek Road, Bethesda, 301-229-1465, www.suburbannurseryschool.org; Silver Spring Nursery School, 10309 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, 301-434-2313, www.silverspringnurseryschool.org
 

Ballet

Head to the Maryland Youth Ballet in Silver Spring. Budding ballerinas can peer through the glass doors of the five classrooms—or take a class themselves (lessons begin at age 2). Three times a year, in conjunction with the ballet school’s big performances at other venues, the organization holds events for little ones in the Silver Spring studios, with crafts, games and a dress rehearsal. The main style of dance is classical ballet (Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent got her start here). If you share your child’s interest in dance, adult classes also are offered.

926 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, 301-608-2232, www.marylandyouthballet.org

Building

Spend some time at Bethesda’s KID Museum, located in the basement of the Davis Library. The bright space is filled with gadgets and everyday items that little tinkerers can build with during open explore hours—depending on which stations are set up, you might find PVC pipes to configure, or a pegboard ramp with golf tees and rubber bands for creating a maze to zoom a ball through. Workshops, classes and camps focus on 3-D printing, woodworking and a bunch of other beyond-LEGO brain challenges.

6400 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, 301-897-5437, www.kid-museum.org

Planes  

Jet over to the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, where you don’t have to go through security (or nag your kids to stop kicking the seat in front of them) to get an up-close look at airplanes. The Airport Cafe, open for breakfast and lunch daily, has a deck with 10 tables that overlook the runway, which is about 10 feet away. The menu includes omelets, pancakes, sandwiches and salads. On a slow, poor-weather day, you might see three small planes in an hour; on a busy day, many more—including, occasionally, a helicopter or larger plane.

7940 Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, 301-330-2222, www.theairportcafe.com

Animals

Explore Croydon Creek Nature Center, which is located in a forest preserve in Rockville. The 20 or so live animals on exhibit—all of which are native to Maryland—include snakes, turtles, toads, frogs, fish and a screech owl. Once kids are done gaping at the snapping turtle named Pumpkin and the 5½-foot-long snake, there are games, puzzles and 2½ miles of trails to wander along. One room in the center is wrapped in windows, allowing views of a meadow and birds visiting six feeders.

852 Avery Road, Rockville, 240-314-8770, www.rockvillemd.gov
 

Horses

Stroll around the four riding rings and past the stalls of the 50 or so horses at Meadowbrook Stables in Chevy Chase, where admission is free and anyone is welcome to come inside. There are picnic tables on-site (but don’t share food with the horses). If your child is ready to saddle up, head to Wheaton Park Stables on Sundays for a pony ride (from 11 a.m. to noon, the $8 rides are for ages 3 to 7) or an hourlong guided trail ride (three afternoon sessions are available for ages 8 and older; $40, reservations required, no experience needed).

Meadowbrook Stables, 8200 Meadowbrook Lane, Chevy Chase, 301-589-9026, www.meadowbrook stables.org; Wheaton Park Stables, 1101 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, 301-622-2424, www.wheatonparkstables.com
 

Dinosaurs

Check out Discovery Channel’s headquarters building in Silver Spring, where a 20-foot-tall cast replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton watches over the lobby. A life-size baby woolly mammoth replica is also on display, along with woolly mammoth artifacts, including a tusk, bones and teeth. The lobby is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and also features a rotating, audio-kinetic ball machine and motorcycles from Discovery Channel’s American Chopper.

One Discovery Place, Silver Spring, www.discoverycommunications.com

 

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