55 Budget Friendly Things to Do with Kids in Baltimore - (cool) progeny

June is gone and we’re into July. The kids starting to crawl the walls yet? Good news! There are tons of things to get you all out of the house and keep the kiddos busy that won’t break the bank. Here are our top picks for budget-friendly things to do with kids in and around Baltimore this summer:

Pirate Story Time
Head to the pirate ship Fearless on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9 AM for a swashbuckling story time all summer long. You’ll love the Urban Pirates team! Arrive early because they can only take 49 people aboard the boat while it is docked.  You’ll find Fearless in Fells Point at the Ann Street Pier. MORE INFO

Urban Beach Days

West Shore Park becomes an urban beach oasis on Sundays this summer through mid-July. Sponsored by Waterfront Partnership, Urban Beach Days include live music, splashing in the Walter Sondheim Fountain, food trucks, a kids play area and more. MORE INFO

Get Creative in the Walters Art Museum Kid Space

With a host of kid-friendly activities, the Walters Art Museum is definitely NOT a look-but-don’t-touch space! We love their kid-friendly play/art space and their family programming is outstanding (everything from their art carts, to preschool art classes, to drop-in weekend art projects). Best part? The Walters is 100% free and open Wednesday thru Sunday. MORE INFO

Enoch Pratt Library Story Times and Programs
Where can you find magic shows, story times, songs and more (for free?) this summer? At your local library branch. Check Enoch Pratt’s website for programs, dates and times. Many story times are in the afternoon — a perfect way to wind down after a morning at the pool! MORE INFO

Splashing in the Walter Sondheim Fountain

One of the best splash pads in the city is located right on the harbor! It’s a full-sensory experience as the fountain is coordinated with music — grows bigger with each crescendo! You’ll find it between the Science Center and Visitor’s Center on the harbor.

Baltimore County Nature Quest

Have an adventure in your own backyard with Baltimore County Nature Quest. Starting June 15th, download your Nature Quest Passport booklet by clicking on More Info, or pick one up at participating parks or your local Wegmans grocery store.  Passports will direct participants to hiking, biking, and canoeing opportunities at the County’s nature sites, where questers can record their visit in the Passport. Prizes will be given to the first 250 questers to complete 5 trails. Those that complete 7-9 trails will be entered into drawings for even more prizes. All questers that complete at least 5 trails will earn free admission to the Nature Quest Fest at Robert E. Lee Park on November 2, 2013. MORE INFO

Nature Playspace at Irvine Nature Center

We love the natural play space at Irvine and all of their trails! After you hike and climb on the tree stumps on their playground, head inside to cool off in the AC. FREE! Be sure to check their website for a fabulous variety of kid programming that costs just a nominal fee for non-members.  MORE INFO

Kids Swim Free at Baltimore County Beaches

Oregon Ridge Beach and Rocky Point Beach and Park may be two of Baltimore County’s best kept secrets. Originally excavated for iron ore in the 1800s, Oregon Ridge’s former quarry is filled with spring fed water and provides welcome relief from the summer heat. Located at the mouth of Back and Middle Rivers, Rocky Point Park boasts expansive views of the Chesapeake Bay, Hart-Miller Island, and Craighill Light. Kids always swim free at the beaches! Adult fees range from $4-$8 depending on the time of day. MORE INFO


A true gem! Storyville (located at the Baltimore County Public Library Rosedale and Woodlawn branches) is a child-sized village that includes developmentally appropriate books and activities. It gets busy on weekday mornings so go early or plan to go after lunch. MORE INFO

PreK Nature Drop In at Marshy Point Nature Center

Once a month, head to Marshy Point Nature Center for their PreK Drop In nature program! Introduce your little ones to nature’s wonders while enjoying stories, crafts, games, songs, and outdoor activities together. Dress for the weather. Please arrive & sign-in before start time. MORE INFO

Crafternoons at Baltimore Threadquarters
Need some time for your kids to get out of the sun and into some fun crafty fiber play? Head to Baltimore Threadquarters every Monday and Wednesday from 1-2:30 pm for a drop-in Crafternoon. We offer a different activity every session and you get a break (yes, it’s a drop-off!). Only $8 a kid over 6 MORE INFO

Gather at the Food Truck Rallies
Doesn’t get much more fun then congregating at Baltimore’s weekly traveling food truck festival! Great food, kids play area, live music and more! Check their website for dates and locations. MORE INFO

Get Muddy at Oregon Ridge Nature Center

Oregon Ridge is bringing back Muddy Days this July! Get down and dirty in some muddy fun. Make mud pies, mud sculptures, mud paintings, and more! Then they’ll let the mud monsters slide down a mud slide and run through the sprinkler to become human kids again. This July 27th and 28th. $3/non-members, $2/members. They have fun kid-friendly programs every weekend MORE INFO

Patio Parties at The Maryland Science Center

Join the Maryland Science Center this summer for  Patio Parties! Patio Parties take place select Fridays after five. Bring the family, bring the neighbors, bring your friends for adult beverages, family-friendly live bands and light fare outside on the Science Center’s waterfront patio. Plus, you’ll get all three levels of hands-on exhibits, IMAX, and a Planetarium show, for just $8 per person (under 3 free) and completely free for Members. Beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks and food available for purchase at happy hour prices. MORE INFO

Kids Bowl Free at Stoneleigh Lanes

Yes, you read that right! All summer long, your kiddo can bowl for 30 minutes FREE at Stoneleigh Lanes EVERY DAY from 11 AM to 6 PM (must have bowling shoes or rent them). Want a longer excursion? Go for Mommy and Me Wednesdays for 1. 5hours of bowling, shoe rental and slice of pizza for $8.95! MORE INFO

Take the Powder Monkey Tour for Kids aboard the USS Constellation

Kids six and up are invited to come aboard to learn about the lives of the young boys who served as powder monkeys during the Civil War. Young “recruits” will find out through hands-on activities and demonstrations how lads from eleven to eighteen lived in Mr. Lincoln’s Navy.  Open to all visitors and included with regular admission; no reservations are required. $5/youth ages 6-14, $11 for 15+

Go Berry Picking at Hybridoma Farm

Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm is a 50 acre farm in the Long Green Valley area of Baltimore County. You can pick-your-own organic blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and more. Check their website for details. MORE INFO

Family Fun Nights at Port Discovery

One Friday a month, you can head to Port Discovery for just $2 per person! Tickets must be purchased at the door and price is valid from 4 PM to 7 PM. Cannot be purchased in advance or combined with any other discounts or coupons. Check Port Discovery’s website for dates! MORE INFO

Flicks on the Hill at AVAM

Grab a blanket, picnic under the stars, and watch a great film selection inspired by AVAM’s current exhibition, THE ART OF STORYTELLING: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth! The Hughes Family Outdoor Theater features seating for more than a thousand on the natural amphitheater formed by Federal Hill; a 30-foot wide screen held from above by a Giant Golden Hand; a twinkling view of the city; and an amazing community experience that is FREE. And don’t forget, the museum is open & free between 5pm and 9pm on flicks nights! MORE INFO

Sculpture Plaza and Wildflower Garden at the AVAM

The American Visionary Art Museum is a fantastical place to visit, but the kids aren’t always in the mood to cooperate with a ‘hands in your pocket’ museum day (most of the exhibits at AVAM are look-but-don’t-touch). So the outdoor (FREE) sculpture plaza and wildflower garden is a perfect solution! The giant whirligig is a sure pleaser. MORE INFO

Free Family Sundays at the Baltimore Museum of Art
The BMA is the place to be for free family fun! Every Sunday at 2 p.m., enjoy different activities—sketching tours, hands-on workshops, gallery tours, and more—designed just for families. MORE INFO

Charm City Circulator Adventure

City kids love the purple and orange buses. Double bonus? It’s free and air-conditioned. Perfect for downtown adventuring. MORE INFO

KERPLUNK! At the Creative Alliance
Tour the Creative Alliance’s exciting art galleries and enjoy some family time making art together at their free Saturday drop-in art class, Kerplunk! No reservations or registration necessary. Stay as little or as long as you’d like to create your masterpiece! All ages welcome. Craft-kid friendly art projects change weekly and are based on our current exhibitions. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. Noon-3pm, July 13th through August 10th. MORE INFO

Baltimore Family Bike Party

The Baltimore Family Bike Party is super (cool). The organize monthly fun, family-friendly bike rides for kids and their pedal pushing parents. Explore different neighborhoods in the city on two wheels! MORE INFO 

Catch a Matinee Movie at Landmark Harbor East Movie Theatre
Matinee movies at Landmark Harbor East Movie Theatre are just $8.50/ticket (for everyone!). And summer kid favorites like Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University are playing! You can even catch those in 3D for a few bucks more. MORE INFO

Family Date Night at Bengie’s Drive-In Movie Theatre

Bengies Drive-In Theatre features the BIGGEST movie theatre screen in the USA. They feature current triple features on almost every Friday and Saturday night, classic cartoons, vintage trailers and intermissions clips, in-car heaters and Dusk till Dawn shows! Please note that a radio is required to listen to the movies. Put the kiddos in their pjs and go! You may not bring outside food and beverages unless you purchase an outside food and beverage permit for $10. Children under four watch for free! Children ages 4-10 pay $4. Adults pay $5-$9. MORE INFO

Free Shakespeare for Kids

This June through August, all Chesapeake Shakespeare performances are free for children under 18 (two kids per ticketed adult, by reservation). This summer, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will be performing “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Taming of the Shrew”. See website for schedules. PFI Historic Park, Ellicott City, 6/7 through 8/4. MORE INFO

Climb the Turtles at Green Spring Station
Just outside Stone Mill Bakery are a “family” of stone turtles — perfect for keeping the kiddos entertained while you sip your iced coffee. The kids will love the baked goodies fresh from Stone Mill’s oven or some of their homemade gelato, too! Be sure to stop by Wee Chic, Baltimore’s best Kid’s Clothing Store, to nab some new threads while you are there! MORE INFO

Stroll or Trike Around the Lake Montebello Loop
It’s flat and it’s 1.3 miles. Perfect opportunity to stretch your legs with the stroller or let the mini-me burn some energy! Make sure to have a chat about staying in the appropriate lane (there are some serious bikers that take advantage of this path, too!) MORE INFO

Run in a City Splash Pad
Baltimore Rec and Parks opened the brand-new Solo Gibbs  splash pad in May! Admission is just $1. You can check out the other BCRP splash pad in North Harford. We hear the Mt. Vernon’s Children’s Park Splash pad is super fun, too! MORE INFO

Ride Around the Reservoir at Druid Hill Park

Head out every Wednesday and Thursday Night May through August for a leisure spin around Druid Lake, sponsored by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. If you are looking to learn or get back into bikes or bring a friend along for a ride this is for you. BCRP supplies the bikes (they have more than 100 and all sizes — so bring the kids!). Eenjoy the lake, park and incredible views of Baltimore as you pedal! All you need is a valid state issued ID and a suggested $5 donation. MORE INFO

Family Yoga & Kids Activities at Rawlings Conservatory

Every Wednesday night during the Druid Hill Farmer’s Market, you and the kids can get your zen on at all-ages yoga! Introduce children to the art of yoga and physical fitness, or practice your own, surrounded by the idyllic beauty of the garden. All levels welcome. Bring your own mat or blanket. Then stop by the market for one of their family craft or gardening activities. You can also swing by the Conservatory on Sundays between 1:30 and 3:30 for crafts, stories and science activities. MORE INFO

After Hours with the Animals at the Maryland Zoo

Back by popular demand! Another chance to take a cool summer evening stroll among the animals returns Friday, July 26th from 4pm to 7pm.  Enjoy special late hours plus take advantage of HALF OFF ALL REGULAR ADMISSION.  All guests will be able to enter from 4pm until 7pm with a discounted rate at the gate.  if you’re a Zoo member, admission is always free! Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to kick off another wild summer weekend. MORE INFO

Skee Ball at Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria Tavern

Delicious pizza plus skee ball. SCORE! Johnny Rad’s has a a pizza to please everyone in the family. From the naked (just cheese) to the Caprese (finished with a balsamic reduction) to the Vegan Templeton (no cheese at all!), your whole family will be splendidly satiated. Have a Skee Ball tournament while you wait for the pie — dramatically decreases your tantrum odds. MORE INFO

Run through the willow tunnel at Pierce’s Park
If you haven’t been to Pierce’s Park (near Pier V), add it to your summer bucket list! It’s a gorgeous space filled with fun play items like the willow tunnel and musical fence! Top it off with a stroll around the promenade and sparkling lemonade from LaMill. MORE INFO

Jazz and OrchKids at Cylburn Arboretum

Go for a long walk on one of Cylburn’s trails and then grab a seat for an outdoor jazz concert! Select nights this summer. Opening act for the musicians? The BSO’s OrchKids! MORE INFO

Paddle the Inner Harbor

So often we forget to play tourist in our own city! Head to the Inner Harbor and rent a Chessie paddle boat for half an hour. Each boat holds four and a half hour rental costs $18 (comes out to $4.50/person if you fill the boat).  MORE INFO 

Torrey C. Brown/NCR Trail

The Torrey C. Brown Trail, formerly known as the Northern Central Railroad Trail (NCRT) extends 20 miles, stretching from Ashland Road in the Hunt Valley area to the state line. The trail is 10 feet wide with a stone dust surface — perfect for strollers and bikes! Note: Children under 16 are required to wear a helmet when riding a bike. Helmet use is strongly recommended for all bikers. MORE INFO

Picnic and Swim and Hammerman Beach
As Gunpowder’s featured day-use park, Hammerman features a swimming beach, food concessions, four picnic pavilions, picnicking, playgrounds, canoe/kayak and sailboat rentals, fishing, short hiking trails and two short water trails. Cost during the weekdays in summer is $3/person, $5/person on the weekends. MORE INFO

Maryland Ice Cream Trail
Why yes, you can eat your way through Maryland on this kid-friendly frozen treat adventure designed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Download your passport and get 8 stamps (one per creamery) for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate!  MORE INFO 

Our Playground at Stadium Place
This playground on the former Memorial Stadium property captures the city’s spirit and is SO MUCH FUN. The park, a miniature town built of recycled plastic “lumber,” was designed with kid input and built by hordes of volunteers. Your kiddo will love it! Free and open 7 days a week. MORE INFO

FREE Youth Soccer at Patterson Park
Starting July 11th, your kiddo (ages 4-14) can play soccer at Patterson Park for FREE! Learn soccer skills, play games and more. MORE INFO

Feed the Calves at South Mountain Creamery

It may be a little bit of a drive, but definitely worth it! South Mountain Creamery outside of Frederick milks their cows every day between 1 PM and 4:30 PM. At 4 PM they bottle feed the baby calves and you can help! Be sure to be there right at 4 because every calf only gets one bottle. MORE INFO

Live Music Fridays at Prigel Family Creamery

Pack up a picnic blanket, the kids and dinner and head to Prigel Family Creamery on Friday nights for live music and ice cream. Sweet taste of summer. MORE INFO

Ride the Tree Swing at Linkwood Playground

Linkwood is one of our favorite city playgrounds — mostly because it’s so well-shaded. And the edition of the tree swing? Summer just got sweeter. MORE INFO

Junior Orioles Dugout Club Membership

For just $15, your pint-sized O’s fan can get a general admission ticket to 6 O’s games between July 8th and September 8th (check the link for which games), O’s hat, O’s lanyard and bracelet, membership card, and subscription to Oriole’s kids magazine all inside an O’s drawstring bag. Plus, for Dugout Club games, family and friends can purchase additional Upper Deck General Admission tickets for only $6 or assigned Left Field Lower Box seating for $15! (subject to availability). MORE INFO

Belvedere Square Summer Sounds Concert Series
A festive atmosphere featuring live music from the region’s top bands and with special offerings from the retail shops, restaurants and market merchants of Belvedere Square, “Summer Sounds at the Square” has become the place to be on Friday nights in Baltimore. The 2013 free outdoor Summer Sounds concert occurs every Friday evening, May 17 through August 30 from 6 – 9pm. MORE INFO

Mini Trains at Leakin Park
The Chesapeake and Allegheny Steam Preservation Society has operated working model miniature trains in Leakin Park since 1983. The organization offers free rides for children and adults from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m on the second Sunday of the months from April through November (weather permitting). Parking is available near the Eagle Drive entrance to the park, off of Windsor Mill Road. MORE INFO

Drop-In Play at the Downtown Baltimore JCC Play Room

Head to the Downtown Baltimore JCC in Federal Hill for Open Play every week day morning! $5 drop in fee/child (limit 3 drop-ins before families will need to pay for a membership). MORE INFO

Explore the Waterfront via Water Taxi

Purchased with an adult all-day pass ($12), the Children’s All Day pass is just $6! You can zoom around the harbor from Canton Park to the Science Center to Locust Point to Fort McHenry and back to Pier V! MORE INFO

Go on an Owl Prowl at the Carrie Murray Nature Center
Evening hike complete with roasting marshmallows? Owl-riffic! Head to Carrie Murray Nature Center for one of their Owl Prowls or other nature programming. Cost is $3 for children under 11 (for the most part). MORE INFO

Moonlight Movies at the Shops at Kennilworth

Head to the Shops at Kennilworth select Fridays in July and August for free family flicks under the stars! Movies start at dark (around 8:45 PM). Be sure to bring your own chair and picnic dinner! MORE INFO

Hula Hoop and Bike Pedal a Smoothie at the Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar
We all love wandering around all the produce at the Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar on Sundays, but it’s even more fun when you throw in a hula hooping session with the Hoop Love folks or pedal power your own smoothie with Wheely Good Smoothies! MORE INFO

Summer Concert Series at Patterson Park
Get together with your besties and take the kids to Patterson Park for one of their summer concerts! All Concerts are held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Pagoda Hill (enter the park at Lombard & Patterson Park Avenue, near the Marble Fountain). Check their website for dates and times. MORE INFO

Open Play at Kiddie Crusoe
Where can you play in a play city, jump in an inflatable arena and become a gaming jedi in a Wii Gaming lounge? Kiddie Crusoe! Open play sessions are just $12/child (children under one are free with a paying child). MORE INFO