Families can enjoy the Preakness, too

Here are four ways to enjoy Preakness weekend with kids in tow

May 13, 2010

Kids can't put down a bet on the Preakness (it's against the law), and they sure shouldn't be anywhere near the infield come Saturday morning, since that won't be Kool-Aid people will be drinking out of those bottomless mugs.

But that doesn't mean kids should be left out of the Preakness festivities altogether, or that families should look for their entertainment elsewhere. Already this week, there's been the Preakness Frog Hop in Patterson Park and the Pee Wee Preakness at Federal Hill; tonight, of course, there's the Preakness Parade of Lights. Here are four more Preakness activities the whole family can enjoy:

Hot Air Balloon Festival: You can wander around the Turf Valley grounds for free, snapping pictures and imagining how it would be to make like Phineas Fogg for a day (parking is off-site, at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road in West Friendship, for $5, with shuttles running to Turf Valley). You can buy food and crafts from all manner of vendors. But best of all, for a small fee, you can take a tethered ride in one of the balloons. Up, up and away … (3 p.m.-9 p.m. today, free. 410-465-1500 or turfvalley.com)

Balloon Launch: Want to see something truly majestic? You've got to get up at the crack of dawn, but watching these huge balloons slowly sail away against the morning sky — it's worth it. And you can park right at Turf Valley. (6:30 a.m. Saturday, Turf Valley, 2700 Turf Valley Road in Ellicott City; free. 410-465-1500 or turfvalley.com).

Meet the Clydesdales: They may not be thoroughbreds and they may not run like the wind, but the Budweiser Clydesdales take a back seat to no one when it comes to popularity in the equine world. You can meet the horses and even get your picture taken with them 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. today in the paddock at Pimlico. General admission to the track is $3. ( Pimlico Race Course is at 5201 Park Heights Ave.; 410-542-9400 or preakness.com.)

The Preakness: Remember that big-time horse race? Kids are welcome to watch from the grandstand with Mom and Dad. Preakness tickets are $25-$275; post time is set for 6:12 p.m. Saturday. (Pimlico Race Course is at 5201 Park Heights Ave.; 410-542-9400 or preakness.com.)

— Chris Kaltenbach

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