After a long and demoralizing monsoon season, the summer is finally hitting its stride. This past weekend was glorious and sunny and we took the opportunity to explore some FREE corners of kid-centric Baltimore.
On Saturday, we went to the annual Toddler Fair at the Montessori School on Falls Rd. I had never been to the school before and I have to say, it's a wonderfully green, sprawling space with lots of play areas. The fair, as advertised, was too good to pass up: pony rides, face painting, live animals, balloon animals, and a a fire truck and a play area to put out mock fires—all for free.
So often, when we go to carnivals and fairs in the area, we have a great time, but find that a good chunk of the attractions are geared toward older kids. And our 2.75-year-old has to compete with them for play space. Not so at the toddler fair, where tykers ran the roost. Jack had a ball, particularly with the pony rides and at a kiddie pool that was set up for the kids to go "fishing" with a net and rubber ducks. There were real ducks, turtles and snakes displayed by a local nature reserve, a play area set up by Rebounders and, after all that, a juice station provided by Juicy Juice. Good times.
That afternoon, we went on a lovely hike. Ever since we moved back last September, I'd wondered why all those cars were parked along the side of Falls Road, just north of Mount Washington. At some point, I saw the opening in the trees and have been meaning to explore. I put Jack in a hiking backpack (we call it the "Jackpack"), my wife loaded 8-month-old Benny in a Baby Bjorn and we entered the Falls Road rabbit hole. We found a great, wide trail filled with birds, dog-walkers and runners—all teriffically friendly. We eventually got to a footpath over what I assume was the Jones Falls. We went down, took off our shoes, and dipped our toes in the refreshingly clear water.
Sunday, we finally got to the mini-trains at Leakin Park (above and left). From April to October, on the second Sunday of every month, a dedicated cadre of stream-train afficianados take visitors aboard miniature replicas of local steam trains around three miles of miniature tracks. It was awesome. And the surrounding park was really beautiful. Jack loved the train-themed playground, and there were lots of families that stayed after the train rides to make a picnic. We'll be there next month.