Best Spots to Hide from a Cold, Rainy Day

Laura Stallard Petza - Baltimore
November 7, 2011

Remember last night when, just before bedtime, you promised the children a super-fun afternoon of playground-play and general outdoor frolic?  Remember their excited expressions? Their ambitious plans to climb high and swing higher? Their visions of open fields and soccer balls and sun? Then oh, the disappointment, and oh, the resentment, when you all awoke this morning to wind and puddles, to sopping sand and frost on the monkey bars. The children, with sad eyes, looked to you for inspiration, while you, staring out at the dripping, drab landscape, stood at the window, scratching your chin. But then, out of the grey, it hit you: this is Baltimore, where, even on the dreariest day, there is no shortage of fun stuff to do. Whether you feel like running around and going crazy, or whether you prefer to chill with a good movie or some sculpture, there's a fantastic indoor activity for every kid and every mood.

Stuck indoors, thanks to the cool, damp weather? Sick and tired of the confines of your family room? Following are five of our favorite things to do when the weather 'round here turns kind of icky.  Grab your umbrella and hit the town!

Port Discovery

For rainy day fun, it's hard to beat a good children's museum, and Port Discovery is unlikely to disappoint.  Snag a "bite" at The Diner, where your kids can wait on you and other patrons; "cook" the food; "wash" the dishes; "calculate" the check. Some of the plastic foodstuffs on offer are mysterious and verging on downright repulsive, but figuring out what they might be (Is it a ham? A loaf of bread? Undercooked schwarma?) is, we think, almost half the fun. Unique and traveling exhibits abound, and if you've got a kid who's cuckoo for choo-choos, you won't want to miss the train, crane and freight exhibit down on the first floor. Another hit: the Wonders of Water exhibit, where everyone—including you—is certain to get a little wet.

The Maryland Science Center

Start with the kids' room, where little ones can squirt each other at the water play area, send messages through the pneumatic tube, and explore the spooky submarine. Another kids' room highlight: the child-sized toilet in the family restroom, though...whoa...there's so much more to the Science Center than just the junior John. There's Davis Planetarium, which, if your child's not restless or afraid of the dark, is in and of itself a good place to while away the rainy moments. And the Your Body exhibit, for all the obvious reasons, is always a big, gross hit with the little ones.  Into dinosaurs? Magnets? Physics? Chemistry? The Science Center introduces kids to a huge variety of scientific topics and makes exploration and discovery oodles of fun.

Beltway Movies 6

You won't find the newest releases at Beltway Movies 6, but the matinee are only $3.00, and the movies are pretty new. The concession stand is cheap, at least by movie theater standards, and offers a popcorn/Airhead/soda combo that keeps the kids snacked-up for about half the movie. Conveniently located at Beltway Exit 32 (bet you didn't guess it was right off the Beltway), you can get in and out of there in less time than it takes to sit through all those trailers. They only take cash, though, so bring some, unless you're prepared to be robbed by the on-site ATM.

The Baltimore Museum of Art

Years ago, as you may recall, you had to pay a bunch of money to visit this town's superb art museums.  But those days are over, our cash-strapped, rainy-day-activity-searching friends, and now, for zero dollars and zero cents, you can expose your kids to a world of culture.  Hit the BMA any Thursday through Sunday, and they'll hook the kids up with a backpack full of art-related treasures (though you might want to mention to the kids, before borrowing the backpack, that they'll have to give the treasures back).  Introduce the kids to Matisse and Monet, to mosaics and Modigliani.  And because it's free, don't feel the least bit guilty if, after 20 minutes, you have to beat a hasty retreat with your art-burned toddler.  Before you go, check out the BMA's website, where you'll find lots of event information and a fun Matisse for Kids online activity.  And be sure, whether it's raining or not, to pop in for an occasional Free Family Sunday.

The National Aquarium, Baltimore

It isn't cheap, not by a long shot, but for Grade-A, high-caliber, rainy day enjoyment, the National Aquarium's about as good as it gets. Hang with the sharks, the rays, the eels, and the clownfish as they swim and lurk and impress with buggy eyes, and go ahead and spring for the interactive dolphin show. It's a few extra dollars, sure, but those wacky dolphins' adorable antics will more than make up for the additional money you'll spend. And amazing, perspective-altering exhibits like the Rainforest and Animal Planet Australia will make you forget—what with all of those exotic birds, fish, and reptiles—all about the outside and its cold, dreary rain, which is, we think, pretty fair compensation for the hefty admission price tag. 

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