Columbia Association Welcome Center and Archives, 10221 wincopin Circle, Columbia, (410)715-3000, www.columbiaassociation.com.
Hayland farm Bed and Breakfast, 500 Sheppard Lane, Ellicott City, (301) 531-5593.
Howard County Fair Grounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, (410) 422-1022, 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. The 114-year-old museum specializes in the collection, exhibition, research, and preservation of original art from the Mother Land. Visitors can also partake in such events as dance and music performances, lectures, video presentations, and workshops.
Columbia Association Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, (410) 730-0075, www.columbiaassociation.com. A creative mind is essential for participation in the many ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, and stained-glass classes. Just remember to dress comfortably and bring a smock--it could get dirty.
Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City, (410) 461-1945, www.ecbo.org. Though that other railroad museum has received a lot of the attention--especially since its roof collapsed last year--one cannot overlook this similarly themed attraction. After all, it is housed in the oldest railroad station in the country.
Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, (410) 751-5550, www.merriweathermusic.com. Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed this venue, which opened in 1967 and has been an important part of the Columbia area ever since. Check it's summer schedule at the front of this massive Sizzlin' Summer Calendar.
Sharp's at Waterford Farm, 4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville, (301) 854-6275, www.sharpfarm.com. A family-run establishment that has been in operation for over 100 years, the 520-acre farm serves as a multipurpose center for a wide array of family-oriented activities. Whether feeding the farm animals, engaging in greenhouse experiments, taking a nature walk, throwing a customized birthday party, or simply having a quiet picnic, everyone can be equally satisfied.
Afternoon Tea at Historic Oakland, May 27, Historic Oakland Manor, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, (410) 730-4801, www.historic-oakland.com. Reservations are required to attend the tea and fashion show, but bring your own hoity-toity attitude.
Baltimore-Washington JAZZfest, June 5-6, Historic Oakland at Town Center, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, www.baltowashjazzfest.org. Carl Filipiak, James Gates, Winard Harper, and Ron Kearns are some of the acts slated to perform at what will be the 12th year of the much-loved festival.
Bastille Day Wine Tasting and Fundraiser for Johns Hopkins Children's Center, July 11, Elkridge Furnace Inn, 5745 Furnace Ave., Elkridge, (410) 379-9336, www.elkridgefurnaceinn.com. OK, so this gives everyone desperately aching for just a taste a legitimate reason to drink a few. In addition, there will be heavy hors d'oeuvres to absorb the alcohol and live music for when the loss of inhibition sets in.
Columbia Festival of the Arts, June 18-27, Columbia Town Center, Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, (410) 715-3044, www.columbiafestival.com. Spanning 10 days and hitting five different locations, Columbia's visual and performing arts extravaganza has something for everyone--acrobatics, art, dance, food, movement theater, music, and even a raffle. And everyone loves a raffle.
Howard County Fair, Aug. 7-14, Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, (410) 442-1022, www.howardcountyfair.com. Cattle will be judged. Animals will be petted. Live bands will be heard. Arts and crafts will be made and bought. And many will go home with paint on their faces.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Columbia Sports Park, 5453 Harper's farm Road, Columbia, (410) 715-3054. Miniature golf, batting cages, and the playground are all a good idea, but considering the alarming rate at which child obesity rates are soaring these days, try to keep the kids away from the snack bar and video games.
Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 461-5005. Fishing, camping, horseback riding, biking, picnicking, and hiking are all welcomed on the 14,000 acres of land stretching along 32 miles of the Patapsco River. Your smelly, unruly cats and dogs aren't.
YMCA Howard County Family Branch, 4331 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City, (410) 465-4334, www.ymcamd.org. The organization made infamous by that awful Village People song seems not to have been tarnished by that silly hand dance. Its health, fitness, and athletic programs are still enough to get butts off of the couch and into pools and on basketball courts.
Forget-Me-Not-Factory, 8044 Main St., Ellicott City, (866) 445-4879, www.forgetmenotfactory.com. For people who adorn their dwelling places with figurines of all types, shapes, and sizes, or other novelty trinkets.
Historic Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St., Savage, (800) 788-6455, www.savagemill.com. This 19th century textile mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, currently functions as a retail center for home décor stores, restaurants, craft galleries, and art studios. One can get lost in this complex of buildings that combined have more than 175,000 square feet of space. Seriously, one can really get lost.
Larriland Farm, 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, (410) 442-2605, www.pickyourown.com. The Moore family is nice enough to let you pick all the fruit you want at their wonderful Western Howard County farm. Just make sure you pay the per-pound price, or there will be trouble, for you'll have to face all six of them.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201