At Adventure Park USA, visitors amble, shriek, and laugh through a sprawling 17.5 acres replete with Old West–themed rides and attractions such as the Wildcat roller coaster, which dips and curves around a track in order to elicit screams of joy. Outdoor diversions such as bumper boats and go-karts stoke competitive fires, and a collection of little tykes rides invite pintsize riders to spin in teacups or gallop on carousel horseback. Open year-round, a 22,000-square-foot indoor frontier playzone thumbs its nose at inclement weather with laser tag, an arcade, a ropes course, and a climbing wall. Owner Larry Stottlemeyer continues to expand this already extensive list of family-friendly diversions.
My Gym's Parents' Night Out program gives mothers, fathers, guardians, and packs of wolves a break from the 24/8 task of raising children and allows them a well-deserved night out on the town. While the grown-ups hit the golf alleys and karaoke rodeos of the greater Washington DC area, My Gym's staff of trained fitness and childcare experts keep young'uns mentally active and physically occupied. Kids will flex social muscles, exercise emotional intelligence, and bench-press cognitive processes. The three hours of fun include pizza, a movie, games, arts and crafts, story time, and a brief overview of how loop quantum gravity theory doesn't require string theory's multiple dimensions of space-time.
It was supposed to be a utopia. When Professor Angelica D. Ream painstakingly planned her Dream City, she failed to anticipate the demonic intentions of her own family, who twisted the peaceful community into Scream City, a hellscape terrorized by werewolves, bill collectors, and other evil beasts summoned from the underworld. Snaking throughout Scream City is the Trail of Terror, which reaches deep into a haunted forest where a power-hungry werewolf notoriously slaughtered a Dream City farmer. The path is known to shape-shift from year to year, keeping even regular travelers on their curled toes.
Elsewhere, Hades’s Hayride creeps through cornfields menaced by packs of brutish monsters and, allegedly, the most fear-inducing demon ever spawned. Towering over the grounds is Lusion Manor, where Professor Ream concocted Dream City and her evil family now plots their continued reign. Entrants wander each room of the house—including an attic rumored to imprison many of the villagers—which was just expanded to five times the size of the original structure to stave off noise complaints filed against howling werewolves.
Once wanderers have been sufficiently terrified, they can fight back against roving zombies in Paintball Apocalypse. From aboard a double-decker steel cart, battlers shoot glow-in-the-dark paintballs at unarmed zombies as they stagger past. Warriors can power up at the concessions area, where groups scorch marshmallows over open flames and annihilate plates of deep-fried Twinkies, pizza, and funnel cakes. Though the backstory remains in place at Field of Screams every year, each attraction takes on new twisted twists each fall.
Many of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks feature sparkling springs, rolling countryside, and wooded trails. Others, however, feature 230-feet waterslides and giant plastic mermen. That’s because the regional park chain includes a handful of recreational splash havens with towering slides, giant dumping buckets, and pristine pools.
Each waterpark is characterized by its own theme and unique whimsical décor, from the massive parrot that watches over Pirate's Cove to the lofty palm trees and grass huts that speckle Volcano Island. The latter location even boasts a landscaped mini golf course with 18 holes and challenging obstacles. All of the parks feature their own snack bars, where servers sling kid-friendly treats such as funnel cakes showered in sweet powdered sugar and popsicles with homework answers written on the sticks.
Sandy Spring Museum preserves artifacts and archival records from Sandy Spring’s storied past as an 18th-century Quaker community that eventually grew into what was at the time one of Maryland’s cultural and industrial hubs. In several exhibits, some of which rotate periodically, visitors can walk through a traditional farmhouse kitchen from a bygone era, explore the area’s historical social clubs, or learn about the plight of one of the country’s first and oldest communities of African American landowners. The museum also hosts events and community programs, such as a historic homes tour.
Driving through Morven Park's wrought-iron gates is like entering a living history book. The estate—which encompasses more than 1,000 acres of lawns, wooded areas, and boxwood gardens—has been home to some of the nation's most prominent public servants. In fact, the gates themselves were a gift from the citizens of Baltimore to former mayor Thomas Swann Jr., the estate's 19-century owner. After passing the gate, the road winds around to a grand lawn and a mansion that dates back to 1781. As visitors enter this grand estate, they step through a Greek Revival portico into a foyer awash with Flemish tapestries and ornately carved wood furnishings, where velvet-curtained doorways lead into a Renaissance great hall, a Jacobean dining room, and a French drawing room. Nearby, intricate displays highlight the life of Westmoreland Davis, the 55th governor of Virginia who lived in Morven Park during the early 20th century.
But Morven Park's history dates back further than that. In the winters of 1861 and 1862, the 17th Mississippi Regiment of the Confederate States of America built log huts on the park's grounds. Today, reproductions of these structures stand, serving as historical stages where re-enactors demonstrate the firing of Civil War–era guns. Directly adjacent to the Civil War site lies Winmill Carriage Museum, which showcases a more peaceful side of the 1800s. More than 40 carefully preserved horse-drawn vehicles reveal how city streets looked before the invention of conveyor belts.
Not everything at Morven Park is stuck in the past, though. At the onsite equestrian center, riders and their trusty steeds jump, canter, and compete across indoor and outdoor arenas. The center is also home to the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding program, which works with individuals who have physical, cognitive, or psychological challenges.