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Let’s Go to the Park

Kinder Farm Park

Summer can be an expensive season for parents. Ponying up for camps, sitters, theme parks and lots and lots of ice cream empties our coffers almost as fast as our kids tear through the kitchen pantry.
    Parks are a good solution, but picking the best may leave you driving in circles. This summer I have set a challenge to visit area parks and let you know which ones are worth the drive, the gate fee and enough summer fun to guarantee an afternoon nap.
    First on the list: Kinder Farm Park in Millersville.
    My two sons and I visited the 288-acre Kinder Farm Park as part of a bargain with my husband. He could play in the Kinder Kick-Off disc golf tournament while I steered the boys to the large playground complex.
    Disc golf is a great family-friendly sport. It requires no equipment beyond a disc (or dozens once you are hooked), and the rules are simple. Kinder Farm Park is the only disc golf course in Anne Arundel County. It’s a very supportive community if you are uneasy about throwing that first shot, with local players usually eager to assist beginners.
    While Dad played, the boys roamed the playground, then headed to the animal barns.
    “They have real livestock,” says 11-year-old Jonah. “It’s one of the only parks that actually has some real animals, not fake ones. It’s pretty cool.”
    Kinder Farm Park’s agricultural history program includes a working farm, with chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs, sheep, goats and cows, owned and cared for by the Kinder Farm Park 4-H Livestock Club.
    Prepare your senses for a trip into the barns. While the pigs are delightfully funny, on a hot summer day, their aroma is not for the faint of heart.
    My youngest, Jordan, age 7 (almost 8, he wants to add), agrees that the animals are the number one attraction at Kinder Farm. He declares he wants to spend even more time with the animals on a return trip.
    We had the pleasure of meeting one of the park’s newest residents, CJ the calf who was born to mom Bella in March. The baby was socializing and posing for photos with park guests.
    Jordan especially enjoyed the small pond behind the visitor center. “The floating dock was fun to walk on, and you see lots of turtles and dragonflies and frogs,” he said.
    My favorite activity is touring the community garden plots. Each garden has its own personality. Some are carefully maintained and pampered while others are wild creatures with minds of their own. The waiting list to work this fertile patch is about three years.
    My kids were captivated for two hours while at Kinder Farm Park, until the long trails and thirst got the better of them. Little ones in strollers may last longer since they don’t have to do all the walking. The park trail is almost three miles long, more if you veer off the paved path. My kids were bored with walking about halfway through. Your mileage may vary.
    My tips: Splurge for the annual $30 permit, which gets you into Kinder Farm Park, Quiet Waters Park, Fort Smallwood and Downs Park. Go on a Sunday to see blacksmiths in action; go later on a weekday if you want the playgrounds to yourselves. Take water bottles for the kids, a blanket to spread on the grass, sunscreen and bug spray (The Hubs reports the disc golf course is heavily wooded, and biting summer pests demand some skin protection.)

Kinder Farm Park: 1001 Kinder Farm Park Rd., Millersville; 410-222-6115