Columbia Association Welcome Center and Archives, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, (410) 715-3000, www.columbiaassociation.com.
Hayland Farm Bed & Breakfast, 500 Sheppard Lane, Ellicott City, (410) 531-5593.
Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, (410) 442-1022, www.howardcountyfair.com.
Howard County Tourism Council, 8267 Main St., Ellicott City, (800) 288-8747, www.visithowardcounty.com.
African Art Museum of Maryland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, (410) 730-7106, www.africanartmuseum.org. A little taste of Africa occupies this 750-square foot space filled with masks, sculptures, textiles, jewelry, and more. The museum also offers academic courses and adult and youth workshops so you can get your learn on--African style.
Columbia Association Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, (410) 730-0075, www.columbiaassociation.com. This is the place to go when that insatiable need to hot-glue-gun something strikes. The center offers classes for adults and children in stained glass, pottery, painting, and photography courses.
Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City, (410) 461-1945. The museum not only boasts the glory of being the oldest railroad station in America, but also being the destination of the first steam engine--named Tom Thumb--in August of 1830. Now the station houses displays of an old timey waiting room, ticket office, and stationmaster's quarters. Toot, toot.
Howard County Historical Society Museum and Library, 8328 Court Ave., Ellicott City, (410) 750-0370, www.howardcountymuseum.org. Howard County's oldest cultural heritage institution surely counts as a big attraction. The museum holds permanent and changing exhibits and the library houses a wealth of information including historic photographs, books, and documents.
Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, (410) 730-2431, www.mppconcerts.com. The pavilion is the area's premier amphitheatre and hosts a wide array of concerts. This summer's concerts include Brooks and Dunn, Neil Young, and Jimmy Buffet (see music listings at the beginning of the Sizzlin' Summer calendar). Concerts in the beautiful outdoors can be nice, but be warned: Finding parking and seating can be a pain in the, well, grass.
Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, Mount Ida Visitors Center, 3691 Sarah's Lane, Ellicott City, (410) 465-8500. These ruins of a wealthy girls' school, which operated between 1839 and 1891, are haunted. Take a picnic and stir the ghosts up--we bet they want to play.
Sharp's at Waterford Farm, 4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville, (301) 854-6275, www.sharpfarm.com. The Sharp family has been farming in Howard County for 100 years now. Visitors can take farm educational tours, unwind in the mazes, and grow a little in the greenhouse, all on the 520 acre farm.
Baltimore/ Washington JAZZfest, June 19-22, African Art Museum of Maryland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, (410) 730-7105. Get jazzy with it at this annual festival, now in its 11th year, featuring performances by D.C. native Buck Hill, Ray Charles' buddy David "Fathead" Newman, the celebrated House of Jazz, and many more.
Bastille Day Wine Celebration, July 14, Elkridge Furnace Inn, 5745 Furnace Ave., Elkridge, (410) 379-9336. Benefit the John's Hopkins Children's Center and your French, er, "Freedom," wine taste buds by attending this charity event.
The Blackberry Bramble, July 26, Orange Grove Shelter, Patapsco Valley State Park, Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 480-0824. A community picnic featuring live music, stories, and a blackberry dessert contest.
Howard County Fair, Aug. 2-9, Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, (410) 442-1022. Come out to see the 4-H'ers show off what they've been doing all year and get your face painted at the same time. It's good clean family fun with that omnipresent manure fragrance.
175th Anniversary Celebration, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. June 27-July 6, Ellicott City B&O Railroad Museum, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City, (410) 461-1944. The Ellicott City version of the Baltimore B&O Railroad's 175th anniversary celebration features the Fair of the Iron Horse, an international exhibition of rare locomotives from museum and private collections. (Get well soon Baltimore B&O, we miss you.)
Sykesville Strawberry Festival, June 7, The Town House, 7547 Main St., Sykesville, (410) 795-8759. Strawberries, face painting, and model train displays--what more could you ask for?
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Centennial Park, Columbia, (410) 313-4700, www.columbiamaryland.com/cenlake.htm. The park has canoeing, paddle boating, jogging trails, fishing, playgrounds, and tennis courts--basically the whole Rouse Co. pre-planned park shebang.
Misty Manor Riding Stables, 7621 Ridge Road, Marriotsville, (410) 781-4810, www.libertyrun.com/mm. Located on Misty Manor Farm, these riding stables offer hourly trail riding excursions for beginners and advanced riders, and riding lessons for those more inclined to learn the art, all on its scenic 8,000 acres worth of land. Giddyup cowgrrrls!
Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 461-5005. The county's largest state park boasts hiking trails, fishing, camping, canoeing, mountain bike trails, and picnic areas, all along 32-miles of the Patapsco River. Try to find the Blair Witch house while you're there--don't forget the camcorder.
Forget-Me-Not Factory, 8044 Main St., (410) 465-7355, www.forgetmenotfactory.com. Your one-stop shop for fairy figurines. Or elaborate masks. Or tiny pewter dragons. Or crystals. Or just to stop and gaze at the assortment of fantasy-related items in wonder.
Historic Savage Mill, Baltimore and Fair streets, Savage, (410) 792-2820, www.savagemill.com. A plethora of antique stores, craft galleries, and novelty shops located on the banks of the Little Patuxent River and the site of--you guessed it--the historic Savage Mill.
Larriland Farm, 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, (410) 442-2605, www.pickyourown.com. Western Howard County family owned and operated fruit-tastic fun.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201