Whether it’s for a quiet hike through the woods, spending quality time with man’s best friend, catching sight of a bald eagle, the momentary thrill of shooting down a slide, (or better yet, a half pipe) we all have our reasons to spend an afternoon at the park. Luckily, no matter what your reason is, there’s a Maryland park for you. While you might think of park visits as a summer activity, it’s a great way to get out of the house and get a little exercise during the winter months and what could be a better way to see the colors of fall or the first buds of spring than a walk in the park? Even during the chillier months, Maryland Parks have the facilities to make your afternoon a little more than just a picnic on the grass.
Maryland Dog Parks
Whether your canine companion’s name is Fido, Spot, or Rex, they’ll love these parks. In Anne Arundel County at Quiet Waters Park (600 Quiet Waters Park Road, Annapolis, 410-222-1777) you can take your beloved dog to the Dog Park for a little-leash free recreation time. There are two fenced-in areas, one for larger dogs and one for smaller or elderly dogs. There is a limit of two dogs per person and the owner must accompany them. When that gets dull, you and your pet can meander over to the Dog Beach, where only swimmers of the canine variety are allowed in the water. If you live in Baltimore county, you can visit BARC Park (12035 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown, 410-887-1142) with your dog, which also has separate areas for large and small dogs. A water fountain is available to quench your active dog’s thirst. All dogs must be immunized and licensed and, to ensure this, registration is required, as well as a $25 annual membership fee. Grays Road Dog Park (2695 Grays Road, Prince Frederick) offers a place to play with your dog in Calvert County. You can visit Turkey Hill Park (9430 Turkey Hill Road, La Plata) in Charles County and let your dog run free in the fenced-in Dog Park. Harford County and Howard County also offer places for Fido to socialize and exercise, at Woodridge Park(1219 Clover Valley Way, Edgewood) and Worthington Park (Hillsborough Road, Ellicot City), respectively.
No matter if it’s the slide or the monkey bars that your child runs to first, a visit to the playground is always a favorite. In Charles county you can visit Laurel Springs Regional Park(5940 Radio Station Road, La Plata). Old Love Point Park(300 Old Love Point Rd, Stevensville,) in Queen Anne’s County has a playground with a section for toddlers and for older children. It’s also a little more than just a fun place to play. It’s also a memorial playground dedicated to children who prematurely lost their lives. Tuckahoe State Park (13070 Crouse Mill Road, Queen Anne) in Caroline County has a playground made of recycled tires.
Maryland Skating Rinks
Inside or out, beginner or advanced, figure or hockey —even in-line— skating is a great way to get out of the house and, if you choose, embrace the winter cold. If outdoor ice skating is your favorite, visit Quiet Waters Park(600 Quiet Waters Park Road, Annapolis, 410-222-1777,) in Anne Arundel County. In Baltimore City, you can visit the Dominic “Mimi” DiPietro Family Ice Skating Rink (200 South Linwood Ave., Baltimore, 410-396-9392). Prince Georges County offers the Gardens Ice House(13800 Old Gunpowder Rd, Laurel 410-792-4947). If ice skating isn’t really your thing, you can visit the in-line skating rinks at Batts Neck Park (415 Batts Neck Rd,Stevensville,) in Queen Anne’s County or at Alpha Ridge Park (11685 East Old Frederick Rd, Marriotsville) in Howard County.
Maryland Skate Parks
If you prefer skating on half pipes to flat surfaces, these parks are for you. In Harford County you can visit Todd Field Park (Seneca Street, Havre de Grace) Caroline and Calvert County both offer skate parks, Martin Sutton Park in Caroline County and Dunkirk District Park (10750 Southern Maryland Blvd, Dunkirk) in Calvert County. For a 17,000 sq. ft. skate park, you can visit the Charles County Skate Park (1015 St. Charles Parkway, White Plains).The City of Annapolis has a skating boarding area at Truxtun Park near the boat ramp.
These parks offer up a little extra scenery of the winged variety, if you know where to look. In Prince Georges County you can visit Lake Artemesia (Branchview Ave., Berwyn Heights, 301-927-2163) for a glimpse of a finch, oriole or ibis. Anita C. Leight Estuary Center (700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon, 410-612-1688,) is in Harford County and includes wooded uplands overlooking Otter Point creek. In Anne Arundel County you can visit Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, 410-741-9330) which is recognized as a Nationally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society.
Maryland Historic Parks
A visit to these parks offers a glimpse into the past in addition to beautiful scenery. In Prince Georges County, Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park (16801 Mount Calvert Rd, Upper Marlboro, 301-627-1286) offers a look at history beginning around 1000 BCE. You can visit from April through October to participate in hands-on archeological and historical activities. For a look at more recent history, you can visit Eden Mill Nature Center & Historic Mill Museum (1617 Eden Mill Road, Pylesville, 410-836-3050). In Anne Arundel County you can visit Historic London Town and Gardens (839 Londontown Rd, Edgewater, 410-222-1919) to learn more about London Town’s history by visiting the Historic Area which includes a carpenter’s shop, the William Brown House, the Lord Mayor’s reconstructed tenement and the historic gardens. Excavation is actively going on, lead by the Anne Arundel County Lost Towns Project (losttowns.com). Also in Anne Arundel County is Hancock’s Resolution (2795 Bayside Beach Road, Pasadena, 410-255-4048), an historical park which focuses on the themes of pre-Civil war daily plantation life, commerce and transportation on the Bay, Military and Maritime Life on the Chesapeake focused on the war of 1812, the American Indian ways of life, and Captain John Smith’s visit to Bodkin Creek in 1608.
Maryland Public Golf Courses
You can add a little interest to the common walk in the park by adding in a few drives and putts. In Baltimore City you can visit Clifton Park (2701 St. Lo Drive, Baltimore, 410-243-3500, ci.baltimore.md.us/government/recnparks/), an 18-hole golf course on the grounds of what was formerly a farm and an estate of Johns Hopkins. Compass Pointe Golf Course (9010 Fort Smallwood Road, Pasadena, 410-255-7764,), in Anne Arundel County, it offers 36-holes of county owned land. In Charles County, you can play at White Plains Regional Park (1015 St. Charles Parkway, White Plains). It offers an 18-hole golf course in addition to tennis courts, playgrounds, and a dog park. If you can never seem to get your swing right, or if sweater vests and plaid pants just aren’t for you, Harford County offers the 18-hole Scarboro Hills Disc Golf Course (3130 Sandy Hook Rd, Street), where players can throw Frisbee discs into metal freestanding baskets as an alternative to the more traditional game of golf.
One of the best ways to see a park is to walk its trails and, if walking is a little too tame, you can also run, bike, or even ride your horse along them. A stand out trail in Queen Anne’s County is the Kent Island South Trail, beginning in Metapeake State Park (1112 Romancoke Rd) Stevensville, and winding for six miles parallel to Rt. 8, ending at Romancoke Pier. It is paved and open to hikers and bikers. In Prince Georges County hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can visit the four-mile Patuxent River Scenic Trail (18405 Queen Anne Road, Upper Marlboro, 301-627-6074,). Maxwell Hall Park (6680 Maxwell Hall Drive, Hughesville, 301-932-3470), in Charles County, offers 14 miles of trails open to hikers and equestrians. The park includes a jump course in addition to the trails, open fields and wooded areas for equestrians. However, it’s membership-only for equestrians. Morgan Run Natural Environment Area (8020 Baltimore national Pike, Ellicott City, 410-461-5005), in Carroll County, offers trails for hikers, bikers, and horse back riders. For maps of this trail and more in Carroll County, visit ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/mapserver4/gis/webpage/trails.html. The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Park (ranger Station- 51 West Earleigh Heights Road, Severna Park, 410-222-6244,) is in Anne Arundel County. The paved trail runs from Annapolis, through Severna Park and Pasadena, and then around BWI Airport. These trails have been picked specially, but lots of parks have great trails so don’t forget to check them out at other parks you visit as well.
Maryland Fishing Spots
No matter if you catch and release or take them home for supper, there are few things like the feeling of satisfaction you get when you reel in that fish that gets bigger every time you tell the story. In Harford County you can visit Tydings Park & Promenade (Commerce Street, Havre de Grace). Bordering Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City, Fort Smallwood Park (9500 Fort Smallwood Road, Pasadena, 410-222-0083), located on the Patapsco River, boasts a 380 ft. fishing pier. In Carroll County, you can visit Piney Run Park (30 Martz Road, Sykesville, 410-795-3274, ) and fish from your boat, along the bank, or the pier. You can even enter in one of their fishing contests. If you don’t have a fishing license but still want to cast a lure, you can visit Friendship Farm Park (4705 Friendship Landing Rd, Nanjemoy) in Charles County which has been designated by the DNR(Department of Natural Resources) as a free fishing area. For more information, visit aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/fishing.cfm for fishing rules, regulations, and a complete listing of fishing spots in Anne Arundel County.