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Calvert Marine Museum

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The Calvert Marine Museum is a great day-trip for families in the greater DC metro area.  Located in Solomons, Maryland, they have a plethora of hands-on activities for all ages.  Kids will learn about all things maritime - from exploring dugout canoes and boats to perusing the permanent exhibits, there is something for everyone.

Contact Info
Price: $2/ages 5 to 12; $7/adults
Age: 5 and up
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
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by Kathleen Molloy
June 6, 2012

What do sea otters, fossils and a lighthouse have in common? They are all part of seafaring fun at the Calvert Marine Museum. A friend raved about a family trip here and suggested I visit the quaint seaport of Solomons Island. It's an easy drive from northern Virginia with little traffic.

The museum is a great introduction for children to learn about the maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay. Inside the museum are three permanent galleries to explore: "Paleontology of the Miocene Epoch", "Marine Life of the Chesapeake Bay", and the "Maritime Heritage of Southern Maryland". To the left of the lobby meet the shark's cousins in the sting ray and skate pool. Some kids may be disappointed to know that it is not a touch tank. However, children, especially the younger set, will love the Discovery Room. There's a boat to steer, real fossils buried in the sand and a touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs and sea stars. The Cove Point Lighthouse had many children entertained allowing them to climb the tower and turn the light on. The light keeper's house has a chair, costumes and books.

The treat with the Calvert Marine Museum is that there are also outdoor exhibits. Colorful dugout canoes and boats are on display. Stop into the small craft center and watch volunteers make handcrafted wooden boats. They also offer boat building classes - how cool is that? The striking beauty is the Drum Point Lighthouse with a view of Back Creek, open year round. The climb up to the lighthouse is daring with narrow, metal flights of stairs, but worthy if you want to see the Fresnel lens. Also during the summer are free 30 minute cruises aboard the Wm. B. Tennison.

Be sure to read the map you receive on arrival. I almost forgot about the river otter habitat outside. The beloved pair of otters, known as Bubble and Squeak, entertained our family for nearly half an hour. They never stopped playing and swimming. It was interesting to hear that in addition to fish, these otters like boiled eggs, carrots, peanuts, grapes and banana chips. The outdoor exhibit is closed at 4pm and on hot days. You can view them in the indoor Estuarium along with other marine life including stripe bass, blue crab, seahorses and the invasive Snakehead.

While the fossil lab was closed during our visit, the paleontology exhibit with its collection of prehistoric objects from 6 to 18 million years ago was a sight to see. It makes me want to bring my family to go fossil hunting at Calvert Cliffs. A replica of the extinct Carcharodon Megalodon is a necessary photo opportunity.

Special events abound throughout the year including breakfast with the otters, kite day and pirate day. On the first Friday of every month, the museum hosts First Free Friday. Free and open to the public from 5 to 8pm, docents are on hand and local entertainment is provided.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. The cost is $7 for adults, $2 for children ages 5-12 and free under 5. AAA members receive a $1 discount off admission. There is ample, free parking and restrooms on the premises.

After visiting the museum, dine at one of several seafood restaurants in the town. Stroll along Riverwalk and feed the ducks wading in the Patuxent River. Yummy soft serve can be found at Cone Island. Best of all, there is a small playground right in front of the ice cream stand. A trip to Calvert Marine Museum is an affordable day trip the whole family will enjoy.

Additional Information

  • The museum offers programs for children throughout the year -- Sea Squirts (ages 18 months to 3 years with adult), Little Minnows (ages 3 to 5 with adult) and Homeschool programs.
  • Overnight Programs are available to individual groups as well as scout groups.
  • If you want to learn more about fossils, check out their Fossil Field Experience. The program is for adults and children ages 8 and up. Cost is $20/person and a full list of upcoming dates can be found online.
  • Become a member of the CMM and get special discounts, free admission and more.
Calvert Marine Museum
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