Blake Walsh

22 Best Things to Do in Columbia, MD

  • Published 2023/08/19

Welcome to my slice of paradise, Columbia, Maryland!

Imagine waking up every day in one of the most meticulously planned communities in the U.S., where the balance between city life and nature’s tranquility is perfect.

Every corner of this city is imbued with an uncanny ability to make you feel instantly at home.

From artsy spots to gourmet eateries and hidden trails to iconic landmarks,

Columbia has an eclectic mix of attractions that keeps the explorer in me alive.

And I can’t wait to share with you these gems that add to the charm and vibrancy of my beloved city.

So strap in, and let’s embark on this incredible journey through the best things to do in Columbia, Maryland.

**About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it’s important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Take a Stroll Around Lake Elkhorn

Swans on the water of Lake Elkhorn

Anton Albert /

I’ve always been a big lover of outdoor activities.

Lake Elkhorn is my go-to place for daily walks and occasional jogs.

You can’t beat the tranquil vibe of the picturesque reservoir, especially when you’re sharing the area with its actual inhabitants: the deer.

If you’re lucky, you might spot a few of them hanging around.

Now, if you’re an enthusiast of wildlife like me, you’ll find the lake a haven for reptiles.

Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours trying to spot turtles. It’s sort of a personal hobby.

The lake also provides a fair opportunity for fishing.

No, you won’t find any monster fish here, but plenty of small ones give you a sense of accomplishment.

People at Lake Elkhorn's dock

Jstuby, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

What about parking, you ask?

Depending on my mood, I alternate between the parking lot off Cradlerock Way, which is quite spacious, and the one just off Broken Land Parkway which is slightly smaller.

I also occasionally bring my bike since the park is bike-friendly.

The entire circuit around the lake takes around 30 minutes to complete at a moderate pace.

The picnic shelter in the park makes a great spot to wind down after a walk or to sit down with a book.

Moreover, the 2-mile walking circuit, interspersed with workout activities, is a fantastic way to break a sweat.

After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a workout with such a view?

So, whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a nature lover, or just want a peaceful place to unwind, Lake Elkhorn is the place to be.

Lake Elkhorn's spillway

Jstuby at English Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a Night Out at Toby’s Dinner Theatre

My family and I crave delightful food and captivating entertainment as the sun sets.

On such evenings, Toby’s Dinner Theatre is our go-to choice.

We’ve been to Toby’s multiple times, and every visit turns into an unforgettable experience.

The last time we were there, we finally saw “Escape to Margaritaville,” a musical we’d been pining for.

Toby’s did an exceptional job of the production, with a burst of local talent and mesmerizing performances.

Although we noticed a few songs missing from the original Broadway recording, it didn’t dampen our spirits.

What’s unique about Toby’s is that it isn’t just about the show; it’s a comprehensive feast for all senses.

Alongside the performances, they serve a splendid dinner.

We’ve always found the food delicious with generous portions, satisfying even the most voracious appetites.

The evenings at Toby’s usually span around four to five hours.

Dinner opens at 5:00 pm, and the eager audience often starts trickling in early.

It might not be the most affordable option, but it’s worth every penny.

A lovely dinner and a top-notch musical combination is just too good to pass up.

Plus, most shows are family-friendly. The kids love the vibrant pageantry and never fail to enjoy themselves thoroughly.

In a nutshell, Toby’s Dinner Theatre provides a full-fledged experience. An experience that keeps us coming back for more and more.

Spend the Day at Blandair Regional Park West Playground

The Blandair Regional Park West Playground is my favorite escape from the hustle and bustle of my daily life.

This simple yet inviting park features all I need for a relaxing day out.

With multipurpose sports fields equipped with bleachers, a spacious parking lot, and a fun-filled playground, I always find plenty to do here.

My Sundays are often spent at the park with my family.

We particularly enjoy the smaller park, designed for 5-12-year-olds, and the obstacle course park, which always guarantees an energy-packed day.

While the larger North Park is often crowded, especially on weekends, West Park provides a quieter alternative.

Parking can be challenging due to the crowd, and I’ve seen people resort to parking on the grass, leading to a few parking tickets distributed by park police.

Expanding the parking lot could be beneficial to accommodate a large number of visitors.

Weekday visits are less crowded, providing a more personal, relaxed experience.

One aspect that stands out to me about Blandair Regional Park West Playground is its cleanliness, especially the bathroom facilities.

They’re always free of trash and general filth and are surprisingly large, which is a major plus.

Another highlight of the park is the 2-5-year-old section equipped with sunscreen.

This thoughtful addition gives the perfect shade during those hot summer months.

It’s a relief to know that my little ones can play safely without worrying about them getting too much sun.

Blandair Regional Park West Playground is undoubtedly an excellent place to visit, whether you have young kids or older ones.

We’ve made it our regular Friday lunch spot just to soak up the summer vibes.

From my experience, it’s a spot worth a visit, promising an engaging and fun-filled day out.

Discover Nature’s Beauty at Robinson Nature Center

Exterior of James and Anne Robinson Nature Center's building

Sarr Cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 18-acre Robinson Nature Center has been my go-to place for relaxation and exploration.

Its indoor portion is a treasure trove, where my kids find themselves drawn to the planetarium and the nature exhibits.

The baby section, designed with a unique theme, has been a hit with my youngest.

For my older kids, the excitement of seeing bees hard at work behind a glass panel is a sight to behold.

But the true treasure lies in its outdoor space.

There’s something magical about the mud kitchen, swings hanging from trees, and the little music spot that always keeps my children delighted.

The wooded trail is a personal favorite of mine, with its calming silence and calm, leafy canopy.

Kids adore the building blocks in the woods – a perfect blend of nature and play.

One of the most striking features of the Robinson Nature Center is its collection of wildflower gardens.

They’re a sight to behold and an absolute haven for butterflies and other pollinators.

You might even spot a great spangled fritillary fluttering around if you’re lucky!

And if you’re an avid bird watcher like me, prepare for a serenade from wood thrushes, pewees, and towhees.

The center also has a historical aspect, with exhibits detailing the area’s rich history.

I’ve found myself entranced by the section about nocturnal animals, and I always make it a point to visit the mill ruins on the property.

It’s worth noting that the entry fee is only $5, a small price for such an enriching experience.

Whether you have questions about the exhibits or insights about the local ecosystem, they’ve got you covered.

The Robinson Nature Center is a microcosm of nature’s beauty and wonder.

Enjoy the Day at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods

There’s something undeniably magical about the air at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods.

The ambient music, the camaraderie amongst fellow concertgoers, and the plethora of food vendors create a vibrant and relaxing atmosphere.

I remember one occasion when a little rain made the day even more memorable, as everyone huddled together under their umbrellas, sipping their expensive yet delicious treats from the food stalls.

One thing that the park never fails to deliver is a top-notch musical experience.

I still remember when Salvador Escobar performed at the Capital Jazz.

It was one of those performances that stay etched in your memory for a long time.

His nimble fingers danced on the violin strings, producing the most beautiful and haunting melodies.

I was among the lucky ones to have experienced that incredible performance.

Moreover, I have to say that the parking here is relatively more manageable compared to other metro DC venues like the Cap One Arena or Jiffy Lube.

The Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods is a remarkable place to spend a day basking in music and camaraderie.

Enjoy the Day at Lake Elkhorn Park

One of my favorite places to unwind is Lake Elkhorn Park.

This tranquil oasis, tucked away in Columbia, seems to have its rhythm away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

As soon as I step foot on the trail, I’m enveloped by this park’s peaceful ambiance.

It’s not unusual for me to encounter deer, turtles, and a variety of bird species on my walks around the lake.

The sight of the wildlife and the beautiful views of nature that the park affords make every visit an adventure.

One of the things I love about this place is the diversity of activities available.

While some people stroll, others enjoy the park’s workout areas.

Fitness enthusiasts can often be seen exercising using the park’s equipment or following the little challenges posted on signage throughout the park.

Even children have a designated play area to enjoy.

Fishing is another popular activity at the lake, even though catches sometimes seem elusive.

The serene environment makes it such a delight that whether you catch a fish or not becomes secondary.

For those who prefer faster-paced activities, the paved path around the lake is perfect for biking or skating.

Interestingly, the park seems to be a favorite spot for dog lovers.

On any given day, you will see numerous dogs on leashes, walking with their owners. It’s a sight that always brings a smile to my face.

However, one aspect that could be improved is the absence of restroom facilities.

This can be inconvenient, particularly for those planning to spend a day at the park or families with young children.

Also, the playground’s proximity to the street can concern parents.

Despite this, Lake Elkhorn Park always has an inviting atmosphere.

It’s an integral part of the Columbia community, and its nestled amidst residential areas makes it feel even more like home.

So, whether it’s a day of fishing, a brisk walk, or simply a quiet day of contemplation, Lake Elkhorn Park is an idyllic setting for all.

Make a Getaway to Lake Kittamaqundi

The calm waters of Lake Kittamaqundi

Jon Bilous /

When I need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I find solace in a hidden gem right here in Columbia – Lake Kittamaqundi.

Its tranquility offers a serene contrast to our fast-paced life, serving as a refuge to enjoy a moment of peace.

The well-paved pathway surrounding the lake is perfect for a stroll or an invigorating run, always offering a breathtaking view.

The sight is even more spectacular after I’ve just finished running my daily 8K, camera in hand.

Capturing the beauty of the lake, especially with my Nikon, is always a joy.

Paper boat makers participating on a festival at Lake Kittamaqundi

Knumina Studios /

The lake is surprisingly bigger than expected, making it a perfect place for a bike ride or a dog walk.

Even having a picnic under the beautiful clear sky, with the soothing sounds of the lake as a backdrop, is an experience that never gets old.

The best part about Lake Kittamaqundi is its connectivity to Wilde Lake through a trail, allowing me to explore more of Columbia has beauty.

In a world that often feels like it’s moving too fast, Lake Kittamaqundi offers a respite, a peaceful escape just a few steps away from my front door.

It is, in every sense, my beautiful backyard – a serene sanctuary that I am privileged to call home.

A vehicle-like paper boat on Lake Kittamaqundi

Knumina Studios /

Unleash Creativity at DoodleHATCH Interactive Art Museum

Visiting DoodleHATCH Interactive Art Museum has become a favorite pastime for me and my little ones.

This isn’t your typical “look but don’t touch” kind of museum.

Quite the opposite, it’s a playground for the imagination filled with artwork and playful props that guests are encouraged to touch and interact with.

Last week, we decided to escape the summer heat and opted for a fun day indoors at DoodleHATCH.

My kids loved exploring the varied settings like castles, tea parties, and mini forests.

They got the chance to play pretend games and let their imagination run wild.

They even had a blast putting on their show on the museum’s stage, equipped with musical instruments.

The entrance fee is quite reasonable, at $10 per person for anyone over two years old.

I often look for deals on Groupon, though, to make the family outing even more affordable.

I’ve found that coming in the morning, around 10 am to 12 pm, tends to be less crowded, giving my little ones more room to explore.

Comfort is critical when you visit.

I always ensure my kids are dressed in comfy clothes and shoes, as they’ll be walking around the museum, jumping on a giant bed (where shoes are not allowed).

They will also get a miniature messy painting of their artwork or the unicorn nails.

And here’s a little tip: if you’re planning a birthday party, you can reserve parts of the place. We did this for my daughter’s birthday, and it was a hit!

And we’re not the only ones who thought so.

During our most recent visit, we got to lend a hand in creating an installation piece for the World Bank.

How cool is that?

Visiting DoodleHATCH Interactive Art Museum is an adventure, a learning experience, and a lot of fun packed into one.

Explore Bailey Park

My weekend mornings never feel complete without a visit to my favorite local spot – Bailey Park.

Tucked away in the heart of Columbia, this park is a charming addition to the Columbia Lakefront.

My little ones love it here. It’s a kid’s paradise with slides, jungle gyms, and a play area just for them.

The soft surfaces on the playground ensure they can roam around and have fun without fearing hard falls.

Evenings by the water are the highlight of my day.

I often stroll alongside the water, enjoying the serene view and watching the ducks swim by.

The park is thoughtfully designed with plenty of benches and sitting areas, making it an excellent spot for a picnic with family or an outdoor lunch on sunny days.

But Bailey Park isn’t just about leisure.

It’s also a haven for fitness enthusiasts like myself.

The park boasts a fantastic paved running trail, perfect for a morning jog or an evening sprint.

Its beautiful surroundings make my daily runs so much more enjoyable.

So whether you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids, a peaceful spot to unwind, or a place to keep up with your fitness routine, Bailey Park has it all.

Take a Leisurely Stroll Through Wilde Lake Park

Trail at Wilde Lake Park

Jon Bilous /

The tranquillity is the first thing that hits you when you enter Wilde Lake Park.

I frequently bring my dog here for a walk, and it’s one of the best spots.

The lake adds a soothing, calming backdrop to our walks, and we often see folks walking around the lake, boating, and even fishing.

It’s a serene scene that makes you forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The park is a popular spot for families too.

Kids can have a ball of a time on the playground while adults can lounge around the picnic tables.

It’s a great place to catch up with friends or family, mainly because the paths are long and there are several different areas to relax.

The park is well-maintained, and the natural beauty is simply stunning.

If you’re up for a longer walk, there’s an area with two ponds that can give you an excellent five-mile walk if you combine both.

After these walks, I often enjoy a meal from one of the few nearby restaurants. It’s a perfect way to end a day of leisure and exercise.

Enjoy A Night Out in Symphony Woods Park

One night, I took advantage of living close to Symphony Woods Park and went to their outdoor concert venue.

For those unfamiliar, Symphony Woods Park is a fantastic outdoor space hosting concerts since 1967, and it’s right here in our neighborhood!

The evening was warm, filled with the buzz of excited concertgoers.

I’d arrived early, settling in for a delicious dinner at the small village inside the park.

The atmosphere was vibrant, lively, and almost electric with anticipation.

As the sun set, the stage came alive. I had the privilege of watching Nick Cannon perform live, a memory that still makes me smile.

The acoustics were superb but snag a spot early if you want an unobstructed view of the stage.

It was Memorial Day weekend, and the park was filled with families, friends, and even teenagers at their first concert.

Remember to bring your seating if you plan to enjoy the show from the lawn, as seats aren’t provided.

Despite the crowd, the park management had done an excellent job.

There were plenty of restroom facilities and even a parking garage, making the experience all the more convenient.

I wrapped up early, heading home with music still ringing in my ears. It was a well-spent evening, a testament to our vibrant community life.

I look forward to the next show at Symphony Woods Park, my little slice of musical heaven at home.

Enjoy a Delightful Day At Cedar Lane Park East

Whenever we long for a day out in the open, my family and I often find ourselves drawn toward Cedar Lane Park East.

Located in the heart of Columbia, it’s a vibrant and lively environment that caters to the young and the old.

It’s a haven where I can relax and watch my kids play in the spacious playground.

The park caters to various age groups, with play equipment suited for toddlers and older children.

And what’s more? The rubber playground surface ensures that they are safe no matter how much my kids tumble and fall.

A sense of convenience makes Cedar Lane Park East an excellent choice for a day out.

If you’re thirsty or hungry, vending machines are tucked away at the corner of the restrooms’ buildings.

And if you’re concerned about parking, worry not! The park offers an ample parking lot that can accommodate many vehicles.

For us, Cedar Lane Park East is more than just a park. It’s a place to make memories.

Whether it’s watching the kids play, challenging friends to a tennis match, or simply enjoying a quiet walk along the stroller-friendly pathways, it’s a place that offers something for everyone.

Moreover, the pavilion often becomes a hub for parties, adding to the lively ambiance of the park.

The playground brims with friendly and familiar faces, making it a popular spot for children.

During the warmer months, the tennis courts are a buzz with rec classes, and despite the concrete floor, the basketball courts are always empty, waiting for players to fill them.

But that’s the beauty of Cedar Lane Park East.

It’s a place that invites you to participate in the thrum of community activities or to sit back and enjoy the tranquility.

Listen to Live Music at Merriweather Post Pavilion

People watching a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Reality truth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine this, you’re sitting comfortably on the lawn of a renowned local institution, the stage is right before your eyes, and the spellbinding notes of live music fill the air.

This is just an average evening at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Their well-maintained and recently upgraded facility boasts a unique bandshell and lawn seating.

That’s right. It’s not just about the music here but the overall experience.

There’s ample parking nearby, so you won’t have to worry about walking too far.

Now, about the seating. I’ve been there numerous times and can vouch for their comfort. Not only that, but the view from any seat is spectacular.

You won’t miss a thing!

What’s innovative, though, is their stage.

It’s a lazy Susan setup, great for shows with multiple bands.

A musician performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Matthew Straubmuller, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They can easily set up for the next act, which means less waiting time for us, the audience.

I remember going for M83. What a day that was!

The Pavilion offers a perfect balance of spaciousness and intimacy, keeping you safe from the elements.

And the sound? Top-notch. It’s no wonder I keep going back.

Just last summer, I took my kid to watch Louis Tomlinson. The venue was immaculate, even the restrooms.

The acoustics were on point, even from our spot in the last row of the covered seating area.

Whether you’re a local or just visiting, Merriweather Post Pavilion is where memories are made.

So, if you’re ever in need of a good time, you know where to head.

Bring Your Family to Color Burst Park

Nestled in the city’s heart, Color Burst Park offers a delightful escape from the hustle.

Unlike the well-known parks in the town, this one is tucked away, offering a sense of tranquility.

It’s not just the park that’s captivating, though.

The surroundings are abuzz with many enticing restaurants, and with more on the horizon, it’s a culinary paradise.

I pack a picnic on a typical Saturday and head to the park with my kids.

They simply adore the splash pad.

In the heat of the season, there’s nothing quite like the pleasure of cool water fountains to beat the heat.

The water doesn’t rise too high, just enough for my little ones to enjoy without me worrying too much.

I would recommend this to parents with toddlers. It’s an ideal space for them to cool off.

Beyond the splash pad, the park hosts kid events every Saturday morning.

Although there’s no specific playground, the field is always brimming with yard activities for the children.

Seeing the little ones running around, their laughter echoing in the open space, is a delight.

Not too long ago, I decided to try something new and took my daughter skating at the park.

It was their first time, but they took to it like ducks to water.

For just $15, they enjoyed 75 minutes of laughter-filled skating.

The best part? The skates were included in the price, making it a sweet deal for a day full of fun.

If you want a delightful way to spend your weekends, I wholeheartedly recommend Color Burst Park.

It’s not just a park. It’s a magical place that brings families together for unforgettable experiences.

Explore Hidden Treasures at the African Art Museum of Maryland

On a sunny afternoon last year, I stumbled upon what has now become one of my favorite spots in Howard County – the African Art Museum of Maryland.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle, this cozy museum has an intimate charm that sets it apart.

Small but brimming with character, the museum houses a carefully curated selection of African art.

Every piece tells a story, from intricate masks and staff to delicate jewelry and evocative pictures.

Crafted from materials as diverse as wood, stone, metal, and skins, these pieces capture the vibrant spirit of the African continent.

The beauty of the museum lies in its size – it’s not overwhelming, allowing you to delve into each artwork, absorbing its significance at your own pace.

To find this treasure chest of African art right here in Columbia has been a delight.

Each visit is a new adventure, and I look forward to many more explorations in this fantastic little spot.

Enjoy a Magical Experience at Historic Oakland Manor

Every time I pass by the Historic Oakland Manor, I can’t help but revel in its magnificence.

Nestled in our neighborhood, this manor holds a majestic charm within its walls.

The beauty of the manor is an event in itself.

I recall a wedding I attended with around 90 guests.

The manor was the perfect venue, accommodating everyone in the Bishop’s garden comfortably.

That we didn’t need to add much decoration spoke volumes about the inherent beauty of the place.

Their tent package was such a good value, and the staff were always on their toes, making the planning process around the venue a cakewalk.

Another ceremony that stands out in my memory took place in the Magnolia Room.

The sunlight streaming in and the chandeliers made it a sight to behold.

I remember the perfect weather, allowing us to use the veranda, which added to the elegance of the ballroom reception.

The bridal suite was as royal as one can imagine, complementing the intimate yet elegant charm of the entire manor.

Overall, the Historic Oakland Manor is a local haven for memorable moments and a place I would highly recommend for any event.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spend the Day at Patapsco Valley State Park – Hollofield Area

Waterfall at Patapsco Valley State Park

Jon Bilous /

Whenever I lace up my hiking boots and head out for a day at the Patapsco Valley State Park, I know I’m in for a refreshing challenge and a soothing connection with nature.

The trails can be tricky with their rocky terrains and steep inclines, but that just adds to the thrill of the adventure.

Plus, it provides a good workout that makes you feel alive and kicking!

Established in 1907, the park is one of my favorite spots to unwind.

I often find myself at the River Ridge Trail, a picturesque path that rewards you with the most gorgeous views of the Patapsco River.

What a sight it is! Standing at the bottom of the hill, overlooking the river, you can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility wash over you.

It’s a beautiful scene throughout the year, and I can’t wait to see how it transforms in the spring.

There’s something unique about how the park balances an adrenaline-pumping hike with moments of peace and serenity.

If you are after serenity, there’s no better place than by the river.

Nature trail at Patapsco Valley State Park

TYangMD /

It’s the epitome of calm, enough to make you forget the daily grind and just immerse yourself in the moment.

The park is also quite convenient for a day’s outing.

There’s an honor box at the entrance where you drop in $2 and are good to go.

The parking is usually $3, but the best part is that it’s close to the trails, so you don’t have to worry about lugging your gear around.

Remember to wear boots or shoes with a good grip when planning a visit.

Some rocks can be surprisingly slippery, and you wouldn’t want to lose footing halfway down a steep trail.

But with the right gear, it’s an easy-to-navigate trail system that always brings me back.

Patapsco Valley State Park – Hollofield Area, with its challenging hikes and tranquil riverside spots, continues to be my go-to destination for a rewarding day out in the lap of nature.

Bike ride along Patapsco Valley State Park

David O Navarro /

Enjoy the Day at the National Cryptologic Museum

There’s nothing quite like spending a Saturday afternoon immersed in the intriguing world of cryptology at the National Cryptologic Museum.

This isn’t your typical museum experience; it’s a journey into the secret universe of code-breaking and code-making.

I remember my last visit like it was yesterday.

I was captivated by the plethora of artifacts on display from various wars and eras.

The standout exhibit for me was, without a doubt, the German enigma machine.

I was engrossed in reading the descriptions and captivating stories attached to each device.

Even as a regular visitor, there’s always something new to learn.

The best part? I could take my time, just over an hour, soaking up the history and mystery surrounding cryptology.

And let’s not forget the added convenience of ample parking outside the museum.

The museum also offers many interactive activities for those with an adventurous spirit.

The cryptologic puzzles had me thoroughly engrossed. But don’t worry if cryptology isn’t your thing.

There’s plenty of literature available for free near the bathrooms.

If you’re looking for something different to do, visit the National Cryptologic Museum.

It’s a fantastic way to delve into the exciting world of cryptology without setting foot on a military base.

Enjoy the Day at Centennial Park

I cannot even begin to express the tranquility and peace I feel whenever I step onto the grounds of Centennial Park.

This 337-acre sanctuary, centered around a breathtaking lake, is my little escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I live just in Ellicott City, Maryland, and this park, managed by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, feels like it’s my backyard.

I make it a point to start my day with a brisk walk along the 2.4-mile asphalt trail loop that winds around Centennial Lake.

The trail is a haven for runners and cyclists too.

I love the warmth of the morning sun on my face and the soothing sounds of the wildlife that call this park home.

Speaking of nature, a dedicated lake region marked with a buoy line is a no-entry zone for visitors.

This is a haven for fish to spawn and birds to nest, and it’s a testament to the park’s commitment to preserving diverse ecosystems.

When I’m not in a rush, I like to take a moment and rest on one of the many benches scattered along the trail.

They are perfect for taking in the views of the lake, fields, forests, and wetlands.

And let’s not forget about the water fountains!

I particularly appreciate the one dedicated to dogs donated by the O’Brien family in memory of their beloved pet, Phoenix.

It’s not just about quenching the thirst of the furry friends; the fountain also serves a dual purpose by encouraging visitors to reduce their plastic consumption with its bottle-filling station.

Centennial Park is not just about nature and wildlife.

It’s also a favorite spot for families and friends to gather and celebrate.

The park features ample space for grilling, several playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and even paddle boats.

I vividly remember helping my neighbor organize a birthday party for their little one.

The kids had a blast, and the park’s staff were always on hand to ensure everyone’s safety.

If you’re up for some peaceful fishing, Centennial Park also has you covered.

Remember, it’s all about respect for the environment, and specific activities, like swimming or sailboarding, are strictly off-limits.

Whether you’re into running, boating, fishing, or just relaxing, you will find something you love.

Enjoy a Day Out at Clark’s Elioak Farm

Gingerbread house at Clark's Elioak Farm

Don Woods, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If I were to choose the perfect place to take my kids, nephews, and nieces on a sunny weekend, it would be none other than Clark’s Elioak Farm.

This wonderful working farm has been our family’s go-to for years, and it never disappoints.

Imagine spending a day surrounded by a fairy tale forest, a busy petting zoo, and nostalgic miniature train rides!

You’re guaranteed fun-filled hours of exploring and participating in the farm’s diverse activities.

My kids can’t get enough of the several playgrounds around the area, where they can freely enjoy themselves and let their imaginations run wild.

The petting zoo is an absolute delight, especially the goats, who are so friendly they can be quite assertive in their attempts to get your attention.

For all you history buffs out there, you’ll be glad to know that the farmhouses are historical pieces from the Enchanted Forest.

It’s an intriguing and slightly eerie experience, like stepping back into a childhood fairy tale.

You can also organize larger gatherings here. Reserve a private shelter, and the farm will provide a separate area and a portable potty.

The cost is extremely reasonable; a day of unforgettable memories is worth every penny.

Whether planning a fun family outing or looking for a unique place to hold an event, Clark’s Elioak Farm should be on your list.

It’s a gem worth the drive every single time.

Enjoy Leisurely Days at Centennial Lake

There’s something serene about the unbroken surface of the water, calm and inviting before a boat cuts across.

This scene greets me each time at Centennial Lake, an artificial lake in our town teeming with various fish species.

It’s a charming place, with its shores providing an ideal launch for non-motorized boats.

Mostly, I spend my time here fishing. I’ve found that a kayak is wonderfully suited for this place, offering a more productive fishing experience than the bank.

However, the bank isn’t without its charm; it is an excellent spot for practicing casting in a peaceful environment.

The lake is surrounded by a scenic, wealthy county, reflecting the cleanliness and quiet that our community members value.

Centennial Lake isn’t just a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

It also offers the best outdoor experiences to all kinds of people.

I’ve seen many enjoying a leisurely kayak on the lake.

For those who prefer staying on dry land, a paved trail about 2 miles long loops around the lake.

Walking, running, or biking, you have your pick.

On sunny afternoons, the picnic areas by the lake come alive with families and friends.

I’ve also seen groups engaged in sporting activities like basketball and volleyball.

What adds to the charm of Centennial Lake is the well-maintained environment.

The lake is clean, and so are the restrooms.

Trails around the lake are always in top condition.

If you’re interested in tennis or squash, you will find many courts around the park, always ready for a game.

Whether it’s casting a line out to catch the big one, kayaking on the calm water, or simply enjoying a sunny picnic by the lake, Centennial Lake is the heartbeat of our town.

It’s where you can enjoy the best of nature and outdoor activities while basking in the beauty of a well-preserved environment.

Discover the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area

Just a stone’s throw from my house lies a pristine oasis of nature, the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, a preserved parkland with miles of trails to explore and a bevy of plants and wildlife to encounter.

One of my favorite pastimes is to don hiking boots and head out onto the trails.

I can’t help but get lost in the beauty of the meadows, buzzing with bees and butterflies.

It’s as though you’re stepping into a magical world crafted by Mother Nature herself.

The trails that follow the serene Patuxent River offer an immersive and calming experience, something I often crave in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

But the educational panels scattered along the trails set this nature preserve apart.

Not simply content to showcase nature’s beauty, the preserve also aims to educate its visitors.

The most recent set of panels was all about heart health – a fascinating and valuable lesson in the heart of nature.

As an avid angler, the Middle Patuxent River has also given me some thrilling moments.

On my most recent excursion, I was fortunate enough to reel in two smallmouth bass and several other fish.

The quietness and solitude that accompany fishing here are genuinely therapeutic.

Of course, nature can be fickle, and sometimes after a rainfall, the trail can get muddy and slippery.

And though the grassy areas are usually well maintained, there have been a few times when they’ve looked like they could use a trim.

But that’s all part of the charm – a real, raw exploration of nature in all its unpredictable glory.

The Middle Patuxent Environmental Area is so much more than just a park.

It’s a place to learn, explore, fish, photograph, and, above all, appreciate the beauty and wonder of our natural world.

Whether you’re a fellow nature enthusiast or just need a refreshing escape, this local gem is worth a visit.

Final Thoughts

Columbia offers residents and visitors various engaging activities and places to explore.

Every visit reveals something new and notable about this vibrant, diverse city.

There’s no denying it, Columbia, Maryland, encapsulates the richness of life in a truly remarkable way.

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