Whether you’re looking for indoor or outdoor kids’ activities, a ton of options await nearby for your budding artist, athlete or scientist. Here’s a starter list for some Eastside family fun.
Canton Tot Lot
One of the coolest spots in Canton for family fun is the Canton Tot Lot, an enclosed space at the corner of Fait Avenue and South Streeper Street behind the Hatton Senior Center at 2825 Fait Avenue. The space includes playground equipment, picnic areas, and a gazebo. The lot, maintained by volunteers, is kept locked when not in use, and hours vary. The best way to gain access is to join the Facebook group. The Tot Lot can be reserved for private parties for a small fee by emailing email@example.com.
Tot Lot regular Rebecca Linton Hall says, “Our 3½-year-old daughter has been coming to the Tot Lot since she was nine months old, and it’s one of the BEST things for families in the neighborhood. While there are many cultural advantages for kids who live in the City, the lack of outdoor space (such as a backyard to play in) is one of the biggest challenges and the Tot Lot takes care of that for us.”
Hall continues, “I love that it’s a clean, enclosed space where she can safely play and explore. The variety of toys is amazing and something we could never replicate in the limited space of our row home. She’s been able to develop her motor skills and confidence, and there’s such a great sense of community—we’ve both made great friends there.”
Cultivate Their Creativity
Tour the art galleries at Creative Alliance and enjoy some family time making art together at KERPLUNK!, a free Saturday drop-in art class. The all ages session runs from noon–3:00 p.m. every Saturday and no reservations or registration is necessary. Stay for as little or as long as you’d like to create your masterpiece! Kid-friendly art projects change weekly and are based on current exhibitions. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. The Creative Alliance is located at 3134 Eastern Avenue. For details, go to the Creative Alliance calendar.
For all of your gaming and collectible needs, head to Canton Games. But that’s not all they offer—they also host open board gaming on Saturdays, magic tournaments on Friday nights and Sundays, and an Android: Netrunner league on Thursdays. Occasionally they run Heroclix tournaments and Malifaux demos, too. You can find Canton Games at the corner of Essex Street and Fleet Street at 2101 Essex Street. For event details check out their Facebook page.
Enoch Pratt Free Library – Canton Branch
The Enoch Pratt Library system offers many family-friendly activities. Programs include Mother Goose Baby Steps, Storytime, We Dance, Full STEAM ahead, and more. For further information on happenings at the Canton branch, located at 1030 S. Ellwood Avenue, visit the branch website.
Music Together is an international early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age eight—and the grownups that love them! Locally, classes are held at Abbott Memorial Presbyterian Church located at 3426 Bank Street in Highlandtown. For more info about the program visit the website. You can also register here.
Church on the Square, located at 1025 S. Potomac Street, hosts TOTS@COTS Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m.–noon for children 18 months to 4 years of age. Activities include playgroups, crafts, and music. For more info, go to Church on the Square's website.
Hidden under the O’Donnell Street overpass for nearly two decades, Charmcity Skatepark boasts a 28,000-square-foot indoor park custom built by owner Jason Chapman for skateboards, BMX bikes, scooters, and rollerblades. The venue, which features a skate shop and snack bar, offers open skating and events. They also offer a summer camp weekly through August 17, lessons, party packages, and more. For details, go the the Charmcity Skatepark website.
Charmcity Skatepark owner Jason Chapman believes the park is a great outlet for all kids, not just ones who love to ride. He says, “Even kids that don’t skate love to come here to jump in the foam pit. We give kids a safe place to get off the streets and still burn energy and also utilize their creative natures.”
Patterson Bowling Center
This popular neighborhood landmark offers duckpin bowling in a family-friendly environment at 2105 Eastern Avenue. Open since 1927, the building received a total makeover last year but still retained its old-school charm. Duckpin bowling, a Baltimore-born pastime, hits the mark for birthday parties, corporate functions and team building events. Leagues are offered, too. For details, visit their website.
Coppermine Du Burns Arena
Coppermine Du Burns Arena, an indoor sports and training center at 3100 Boston Street, hosts a variety of leagues, youth camps and fitness programs. The indoor arena features an 85’x183’ turf field, and there are outdoor fields as well. From birthday parties to full-blown sporting events, Coppermine Du Burns has rental facilities for every need. For more information, visit the Coppermine website.
Dance on the Square
Located at 1025 S. Potomac Street (inside the Church on the Square), Dance on the Square offers a complete program for young dancers, bringing the art of movement to the children of Canton. Classes run in 10-week sessions, three times a year. The fall, winter and spring sessions each feature a recital the weekend following the last class. Learn more or to register for classes here.
More Physical Fun
Explore the events and sports leagues hosted by Parks & People Foundation, Volo City Kids Foundation, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Park Public Pool, Downtown Sailing Center, and Living Classrooms Foundation.
Worked up an appetite from all the activity Southeast Baltimore has to offer? Make your way, kids in tow, to one of these family-friendly dining spots.
Shiso Tavern Toddler Tuesdays & Family Night
Once a week, Shiso Tavern, located at 2933 O’Donnell Street, transforms its upstairs dining room into a family fun center from 4:00–9:00 p.m. They set up a play area with foam mats and kids’ toys on the floor, paired with dining discounts to feed hungry youngsters. The $4 Kid’s Menu includes vegetable lo mein, steamed broccoli, chicken nuggets with ketchup, sliced fruit, fried pork dumplings, and edamame. For the adults, Shiso also extends its regular happy hour prices and food discounts found downstairs from from 4:00–7:00 p.m. to the families enjoying Toddler Tuesday, which generally lasts till 8:00 p.m. when most of the tots are ready for bath time and bed.
Owner/GM Tim Ernst wants everyone to know, “When the upstairs is full of families and the evening works at its best, kids get to eat and play while parents take turns playing and overseeing the kids in the play area and there seems to be this pleasant adult conversation working between the tables. The kids are having their fun, and everyone leaves with a full belly, a smile on their face, and a fulfilled time between work and school towards home and to bed.”
If you can’t make it on a Tuesday, Shiso welcomes families every day. The Kid’s Menu, coloring books, and high chairs are always available.
The Pig and Rooster Smokehouse
Along with delicious BBQ, the back dining room at P&R is designed for family fun. You’ll find an oversized Connect Four game and giant Jenga pieces as well as cool old school shuffleboard.
If you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, Cup Love, Bmore Licks, Roll Ice Cream and Coffee, and Icy Delights Snowball Stand all deliver on desserts.
Clearly there’s a lot to keep children entertained in Canton, but when you feel like venturing beyond our neighborhood, here are some suggestions for citywide family adventures.
Pirate Ships of Baltimore
Not to be confused with Urban Pirates (also fun!), this fleet of 12 pirate-themed boats utilizes clean energy via solar-powered electric. No paddling or rowing required! A 30-minute adventure runs $25 for 4 people, $30 for 5 people and $35 for 6 people, the max capacity. You can find the Pirate Ships, operated by Living Classrooms Foundation, docked adjacent to the National Aquarium off Pier 3. Hours vary. For more info, visit their website.
Films on the Pier
Families can enjoy this free film series held on Wednesday nights through August 29 on the Broadway Pier in Fell’s Point. Grab a blanket or some chairs and join the neighborhood for some cinematic fun. Movies start at dusk. You can bring a picnic, but please leave the alcohol and any glass containers at home. Limited rental chairs are available on a first come, first served basis. Showings are weather permitting. Some movies may not be appropriate for small children, so please check the listings in advance. For details, go to the Films on the Pier Facebook page.
Bengies Drive In Theatre
A little further out of town, but so worth the trip for an evening of good retro fun, is Bengies, an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater. Located at 3417 Eastern Boulevard in Middle River, the drive-in features twilight movie showings and a concession area. Open since 1956, they are now digital and feature the biggest outdoor movie theatre screen in the country. Bengies shows triple features on almost every Friday and Saturday night along with classic cartoons and vintage trailers. The venue hosts Dusk till Dawn shows as well. Please note that a radio is required to listen to the movies. For more info and movie times, visit their website.
Other popular sites across the city include Fort McHenry, Historic Ships of Baltimore, Port Discovery, Maryland Science Center, National Aquarium, B&O Railroad Museum and Maryland Zoo.
For more cool ideas around Baltimore, check out Progeny's Guide of Stuff to do with Kids and "in" and "out" of the City.
Baltimore Water Taxi
An easy and fun way to access entertaining events around the city is via the Baltimore Water Taxi. The taxis run Monday–Thursday from 10:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. from May through September. (Off-season hours change.) For more information, including rates, routes, trip itineraries, and private charter options, visit baltimorewatertaxi.com.
Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance
Lastly, but with no less importance, the most often-mentioned organization for connecting with other families and citywide resources is the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance. Propelled by the belief that thriving, connected families are key to vibrant communities, the DBFA fosters and promotes family life in Baltimore's city center.
The DBFA is an independent, non-profit Alliance of parents, educators, and community activists devoted to supporting Baltimore families and building a sustainable future. They achieve their mission by connecting communities through events that help create an urban "village" for families living in the city, and empowering families to advocate for great schools, safe streets, and vibrant neighborhoods—the three factors that matter most to families when choosing where to live.
Their website states, “Our work builds supportive networks of families who have the power to access quality public resources, engage with civic leaders, and lead rich, self-determined lives in a vibrant urban setting.”
DBFA brings together families at quarterly new parent socials, members-only ice skating and pool parties, and events such as Wine by the Water and Harbor Harvest. Other activities include Percussion Garden, Sprocket’s Mother Goose on the Loose, Animal Craft Safari, and more. View the calendar of events or general information about the DBFA.
As you can see, Canton and its surrounding communities provide endless activities for family-centric fun. As Canton resident Rachel Douglas says, “The more you can attend and get involved with the more you will start to realize how small this community is, and you will quickly feel like you see a familiar face anywhere you go.”