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Family Activities in Laurel, Maryland

by Alison Lake, studioD

Laurel, Maryland is a densely populated suburb situated between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Its proximity to these areas and interesting history means that numerous activities are available for families on the weekend and after school. Its metropolitan location and colonial history provide varied activities for families to explore, whether they are just visiting or have lived in the Laurel area for decades. Laurel's population is growing as a residential area for government and other workers who commute to D.C. and Baltimore, and thus has a dynamic offering of activities and events.

Races and History

Laurel Park (laurelpark.com) is a premier thoroughbred horse racing destination where families may observe horse racing. Children under 12 are admitted for free. The facility, founded in 1911, offers a clubhouse, multiple restaurants and viewing locations for races. For families seeking historical enrichment, Montpelier Mansion (history.pgparks.com/sites_and_museums/Montpelier_Mansion.htm) is a National Historic Landmark. This Georgian home was commissioned in 1781 by the Snowden family. The property was once a 9,000-acre tobacco plantation and is today ''one of the finest examples of 18th century Georgian architecture in the state,'' according to Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation.

City of Laurel

Laurel has sites of historic interest for families wanting to educate their children about local and American history. Incorporated in 1870, Laurel operated as a mill town in the 19th century. Today, it maintains a downtown historic district and is home to the Laurel Museum (laurelhistoricalsociety.org), a restored 1840s mill house that now showcases the history of Laurel and its citizens and hosts a research library. The museum houses ''collections of books, photographs, tools, personal artifacts, textiles and oral histories,'' according to the City of Laurel. Children age eight and up will enjoy learning about 19th century Maryland life.

Park Facilities

Families will discover numerous options for outdoor play and exploration among 222 acres of parkland and 19 park sites that include pools and recreation areas, playgrounds, athletic fields, trails, open spaces, pavilions, tennis courts and basketball courts. Laurel's community parks are ideal destinations for picnics, while hikers will enjoy trekking the area's undeveloped land. The Laurel Municipal Swimming Pool (cityoflaurel.org/facilities/laurel-municipal-swimming-pool) is a 92,000 square foot swimming complex open to the public.

Athletic Activities

The Robert J. DiPietro Community Center (cityoflaurel.org/facilities/robert-j-dipietro-community-center-formerly-laurel-community-center) is open year-round and offers programs for the whole family, with a gymnasium, multi-purpose room, pre-school, dance room, fitness room and game room. The Rocky Gorge 4 Seasons Golf Fairway (rockygorgegolf.com) offers miniature golf and softball batting cages for kids. Rocky Gorge even is open in winter with heated tees.

About the Author

Alison Lake has been a journalist and editor since 2001, working with numerous newspapers and magazines. She has served on the world news desk of the "Washington Post" and contributed to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Online, Al Jazeera English and GlobalPost.

Photo Credits

  • Rob Carr/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images