Even though the Maryland Science Center parking was a little tricky, the Center was the highlight of our kids' year so far! The museum is huge with 3 floors of dozens of exhibits, hands-on science activities, amazing science labs and a Planetarium.
Now, for the 5 Tips for a great trip to the Maryland Science Center!
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1) Best Maryland Science Center Parking Garage
There is no parking lot specifically for the Maryland Science Center. But, there are 3 parking garages that the center will validate.
The best place to park is the Federal Parking Garage at 11 E. Lee Street. It is the closest parking garage to the Maryland Science Center and close to the Inner Harbor so you can park there all day. If you bring your parking ticket to the Center, you can receive a voucher and a flat rate of $12.00 for the day.
2 other Parking Garages that the Maryland Science Center validates:
2) Check Website Ahead of Time to Know Times of Shows
The Maryland Science Center offers tons of different planetarium shows and programs throughout the day, which are all included in your ticket. It's a good idea to sketch out your day a little bit and know which shows you want to check out.
Note: When we went in April, the Planetarium shows were limited capacity so we needed to line up about 15 minutes before the show started to get a seat. Below is a the schedule for when we visited as an FYI but check the Center's Calendar of Events for your day as the schedule changes.
3) Must Visit the Kids Room (Ages 8 and below) and SciLab (3rd grade and up)
It's so hard to have a favorite room because they were all so interesting but if I had to choose, I would say the Kids Room and SciLab are must visits. Go first to these rooms in case they have sign ups to space out visitors. (We went on a weekend and it never got busy enough for sign ups.) My kids also loved the Dinosaur Gallery, Newton's Alley and the Planetarium BUT these were my favorite rooms as a mom!
Kids Room at Maryland Science Center
- The Kids Room is a separate room for kids 8 and under with a staff person at the door making sure only younger kids and their parents enter. It has so much its hard to share it all in a couple pictures but highlights were lots of building materials, water table and Chesapeake Crab Ship you could climb on top and underneath with a periscope!
SciLab at Maryland Science Center
- The SciLab is for 3rd graders and up and my daughter's favorite! They have 6 different experiments all laid out for your with step by step instructions. We created polymers in one, separated out the dyes of purple Kool-Aid, and probably the coolest, extracted DNA of wheat germ!
4) Bring a picnic to eat in the cafe with beautiful views of Baltimore Harbor
This was a great surprise! The center's cafe is not operating right now but they allow you to bring your own food and drinks and eat at spaced out tables. Beautiful views of the inner harbor and vending machines too!
5) Skip the Museum Store and Buy an Affordable Gift Online ahead of time
This is my mom hack from my Smithsonian Bucket-list days. I go to the Dollar Tree or Amazon to get a book or science kit to give to the kids on the way home. I save the agony of waiting for kids to pick out an item at the museum store and I usually save a little money too! Below are 6 ideas for the Science Center specifically. I have used 5 of them.
For the Dino Kid:
My kids got this pack of 12 Dino Egg Dig Kit a few months ago and we take out a couple on rainy days. For the price of maybe 3 eggs at a store, you can get a whole dozen! I like the ID cards too for older kids.
I used these Kids Binoculars by Geosafari Jr. with my toddlers and they were great! We used them on road trips and on outings.
For the Elementary:
This is the best science experiments book we have! Uses common household items and not too involved. Under seven dollars at this time. (I've given for friends' bdays with some common supplies in a little kit!)
Check out these posts for more Maryland with Kids fun! Best Playgrounds in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties Things to Do with Babies in the DMV and DMV Carousels!