It's not enough for the inflatable jungle gyms at Marley Bounce Party to cushion kids' bouncing feet; they also have to tickle their imaginations. In one circular bounce house, cushy palm trees and dinosaurs whisk kiddos to the prehistoric tropics. Four turrets surround a castle-style house, where tykes can careen down one of two slides while pretending to flee from a Medieval dragon or a somewhat more intelligent Enlightenment-era dragon. In addition to its plush playgrounds, Marley Bounce Party offers two party rooms that can host up to 25 kids and their parents, as well as a baby-changing station and cold drinks and juices available for purchase.
Things are a little smaller at Glen Burnie Bowling Center, though the facility itself encompasses 30 lanes and a full-service snack bar, named GB Ducks Cafe. The petite objects in question are the pins and balls themselves. Glen Burnie celebrates the tradition of duckpin bowling, which incorporates lighter pins and smaller, easy-to-throw balls that almost never hatch into dragons. The objects collide during league games and open play. The smaller equipment also accommodates kids, and young bowlers can start playing in leagues as early as four years old. The coaches and instructors who oversee these programs hold certifications from the National Duckpin Youth Association.
Towering above the already-imposing 14-screen multiplex of Hoyts West Nursery Cinemas is a luminescent globe encircled by a giant strip of film. It’s a sign of the theater’s mission to create an all-encompassing movie experience. Stadium seating inside every theater gives even the littlest family members undisturbed views of new releases, and digital sound systems broadcast musical numbers, high-tech explosions, and intercom requests to share your Skittles in crystal clarity. At the snack bar, traditional concessions are supplemented by made-to-order Uno pizzas.
The Baltimore Museum of Industry highlights the workers and small businesspeople whose contributions during the Industrial Revolution and beyond helped build the country’s framework. After viewing the museum’s 100,000-object collection—including an 1850s shipyard bell and an 1820s Acorn printing press—members enjoy 25% off at the BMI gift shop and receive a 15% discount at select restaurants. Museumgoers romp through bygone eras, dropping by sites including the recently renovated 1865 Platt Oyster Cannery and a reproduction of the 1910 pharmacy where Noxzema was invented. Just beyond the interior walls lies the last operating steam tugboat in the nation, the coal-fired SS Baltimore, and the 1937 Mini Mariner chronicles aquatic exploits with inspirational Popeye quotes and a restored World War II flying boat bomber.
The American Visionary Art Museum devotes its space to original work by self-taught artists who honed their craft—often unintentionally—while operating on the outskirts of the formal art world. As temporary exhibitions explore a particular artist or theme in depth, the permanent collection displays thousands of powerful and often whimsical items, such as Wayne Kusy’s Lusitania, a detailed toothpick replica of the doomed vessel, or the haunting Applewood Figure, an emaciated sculpture said to wince whenever someone eats a piece of fruit. The museum spreads its arresting pieces throughout three historical buildings, including the expansive main building, which boasts a reflective mirrored-mosaic exterior and neighbors the Tall Sculpture Barn, an ex-whiskey warehouse fully equipped with 45-foot ceilings for large-scale projects. A wildflower garden—complete with meditation chapel—and a sculpture plaza featuring a 55-foot whirligig beckon visitors to the museum's outdoor space, where envious clouds shape themselves into crude versions of Pietà. Completing any trip, the museum's Sideshow gift shop stuffs shopping bags with an ever-rotating collection of eclectic artwork, jewelry, toys, and more.
The film festival, which begins on January 4th, features seven eye-smacking films shown on a full-size, five-story IMAX screen. The fest lasts for nine weeks, and there's no need to purchase Science Center admission ticket to attend any of the showings. Film choices include movies like Hurricane on the Bayou, a stirring documentary narrated by Meryl Streep that taps deep into the musical soul of the Big Easy before, during, and after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Volcanoes of the Deep Sea brings viewers 12,000 feet into the depths of the deep Atlantic wherescientists aboard a submersible explore the alien creatures, landscapes, and fast food franchises of earth's ocean floor. Other larger-than-life flicks include Michael Jordon to the Max, Greatest Places, Survival Island, and Extreme, which follows adventure-seeking athletes as they challenge some of the most intense forces of nature to a game of foosball. Music fans can nod their heads to U2 3D, a front stage pass to U2's worldwide Vertigo tour, filmed during the band's stop in South America. For a full description of films on the docket, visit the festival's website.