Five family getaways to explore in and around Maryland

48 Hours of Fun

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy Please Touch Museum Philadelphia
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Please Touch Museum…
November 27, 2012

Alison Rudo grew up in Philadelphia and remembers many class trips to historic sites around the city.

“It was like going back in time,” recalls the Elkridge mother of two. “Instead of just reading about Ben Franklin, you’re actually walking the same streets he walked and you could see the Liberty Bell right in front of you.”

Earlier this year Rudo took her 11-year-old daughter, Emily, to Philadelphia and got to relive many of those memories.

“It was so cool to be able to see the wonder in her eyes and watch as she really connected with every place we went,” she says, adding, “The rangers really know how to explain things to kids, so it gets them excited.”

If you are considering a quick family getaway, here are five spots within driving distance of Baltimore with enough activities for kids to keep the whole family busy for 48 hours.


If your children get excited about American history and culture, but you’re looking for a change from the wealth of exhibits in our own backyard in Washington, D.C., head north on I-95 for a weekend in Philadelphia.

Once you arrive, begin your visit where our nation began — at Independence National Historic Park. You’ll want to visit hot spots like the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed, but this 55-acre park also features lesser-known sites that might offer a more personal connection for your child. For example, kids can get the real dirt on the city’s hidden past at the Independence Archeology Lab, which is dedicated to processing and preserving materials recovered during excavations. Just remember that many sites require timed entry tickets, which can all be purchased at the Independence Visitor Center.

There’s plenty to do away from the historic area as well. For aspiring sailors, the Independence Seaport Museum will fill an afternoon with artifacts and tales of Philadelphia’s maritime past. Current exhibits include “What Floats Your Boat,” which explains how boats float and includes hands-on activities that explain displacement and bouyancy.

For more hands-on exploration, don’t miss the Franklin Institute, where exhibits include interactive programs like making paper out of pulp from recycled office paper and live science shows on topics like what makes fireworks shimmer.

Children ages 7 and younger will enjoy the Please Touch Museum, where they learn through play. Young visitors can “drive” a city bus, join a jungle jam session playing instruments made of natural materials and explore distant planets as an astronaut on an interactive Blue Screen.

After dark, older children might enjoy a 90-minute ghost tour of Philadelphia. If not, burn off some end-of-the day energy at the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing and skate with a spectacular view of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Great Wolf Lodge
Williamsburg, Va.

If you still haven’t been able to put away last summer’s bathing suits, consider a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va. It’s always 84 degrees there, with more than 79,000 square feet of soaking fun for everyone from tiny tots to teenage thrill-seekers.

Elementary-age kids will love exploring Fort Mackenzie, a four-story interactive tree house with a suspension bridge, and a “treetop” slide. For the brave, Alberta Falls is a four-story-high slide that twists and turns before dumping riders into a plunge pool. Teens will enjoy knee boarding on the Wolf Wipeout wave simulator. Little ones won’t be overwhelmed in the Cub Paw Pool, where the water is only 18 inches high and there is a gradual entrance. They can also play water basketball or dodge floor geysers in Raccoon Lagoon.

There’s plenty of fun out of the water as well. Schedule an ice-cream themed mani-pedi at Scoops Spa, or enjoy a round of miniature golf. Find your favorite games in the arcade, plan a family tournament in the bowling alley or test your mystery-solving skills with MagiQuest, a live-action adventure that will have your family searching the lodge for clues on how to befriend a pixie, learn from an ancient wizard and ultimately outwit a dragon. Every evening ends with a bedtime story in the lobby.

Massanutten Resort
McGaheysville, Va.

A three-hour drive southwest lands you right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, where the Massanutten Resort has something for every member of a family that loves winter sports.

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