Complain about the humidity all you want (and you do), but don't you just love the fact that Baltimore has a real summer? None of this perfect West Coast monotony. We're talking a gloriously sticky, hot, sweltering summer—with all its attendant pleasures. From snowballs to hardshells, from beaches to swimming holes, from tennis courts to amusement parks, think of this year's City Guide as your ultimate roadmap to summer fun. Not only do we offer tons of great ways to while away the season (and, yes, even beat the heat), we also give you insider tips on uniquely summer skills such as how to cheat at golf and how to make killer barbeque sauce. So remember, next time you start moaning about the Baltimore weather, ask yourself: Would you really have it any other way?
When summer rolls around, people start wanting things like lemonade and air-conditioning and . . . roller coasters fast enough to rip their faces off and squash their stomachs up against their brains on the big drops. They want water rides that soak them to the bone. They want corndogs and parades. They want amusement parks. By Alex Ball
Put simply, Baltimore has a dizzying array of roller coasters, new and old. Close to home, we have the Superman-Ride of Steel at Six Flags. “The old time thrills of a huge hill, speed, and curves but with the smoothness of a steel coaster,” says our ride consultant. All of which is gospel truth: the first drop is a breathtaking 190 feet, the coaster reaches 75 miles an hour, and it lasts nearly 3 and a half minutes, an eon in roller coaster time. And king among Kings Dominion’s lineup of 10 coasters is HyperSonic XLC. The XLC stands for “Xtreme Launch Coaster.” People flock to this ride so they can be mercilessly jerked from a standstill to 80 miles per hour in 1.8 seconds. That’s the “Xtreme Launch” they’re talking about.
Farther afield, but eminently worthy, is the Busch Gardens coaster quartet—Alpengeist (routinely named one of the country’s best coasters), Apollo’s Chariot, The Big Bad Wolf, and the Loch Ness Monster.
And last but not least, there’s Storm Runner at Hershey Park, which boasts an IndyCar-like 0-72 time of two seconds.
Of course, the wonders of modern technology are amazing, but some roller coasters have that certain cachet that can only come from a genuine fear of death. Those are the wooden coasters. And these discussions always begin with Kings Dominion’s Grizzly. “The thing sways while you’re waiting in line!” says our consultant.
While at Kings Dominion, the Rebel Yell is not to be missed, either, with its forward- and backward-facing trains.
Back at Hershey Park, Lightning Racer gets consistent nods from wooden-coaster aficionados and is billed as the first wooden racing coaster in the country (that’s two parallel tracks with trains running side-by-side).
And finally, there’s Roar, residing at Six Flags, touting six reversals of course, 20 crossovers, and a manly 3.5 Gs at its wildest points.
Maybe it’s global warming, but most of the area theme parks have invested a considerable amount in recent years in their water parks. The new Tornado at Six Flags is an enormous funnel that sends four riders at a time swirling down into a splash pool 132 feet below. Or there’s Hershey Park’s Tidal Force—billed as “one of the tallest splashdown rides in the world,” it reaches a speed of 53 mph. And at Kings Dominion, you’ll find Night Slider, “the world’s tallest enclosed dark tube slide.”
Kings Dominion’s WaterWorks is home to 12 giant waterslides, a 650,000-gallon wave pool, a slow-drifting inner-tube river ride, and the obligatory kids’ play areas and wading pools. And Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags boasts 14 waterslides of varying heights and speeds, a wave pool with four-foot waves, and Crocodile Cal’s Caribbean Beach House, a five-story treehouse with more water-spurting opportunities than you can count.
Old-timey carnival rides
Okay, so it’s not Coney Island, but at least it’s not infested with New Yorkers. Located on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Trimper Rides (410-289-8617, www.beach-net.com/trimpers) boasts classics like Himalaya, The Matterhorn, a mirror maze, and an antique carousel dating from 1902.
Say hello to Hershey Park’s Roller Soaker, a serviceable roller coaster that also assists both riders and bystanders in being as watery as possible. Riders, with the aid of buttons and levers, can dump up to four gallons of water on friends and passersby beneath them. But those same friends and passersby are equally armed—with high-powered water cannons capable of drenching the riders above.
If you want a European vacation complete with cosmopolitan dining, Busch Gardens is the place to go: Their enormous German dining hall, Das Festhaus, offers German fare, and when in Rome, park-goers can get fresh pasta in the Italy Pavilion. Irish pub grub at Grogan’s Grill, barbecue at New France’s Trappers Smokehouse, and full-service French dining at LeMans Bistro complete the most well-rounded amusement park dining experience around.
But you didn’t expect us to ignore Hershey’s chocolate did you? At Hershey Park, you’ll find triple-chocolate Hershey’s fudge cake, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake, cookies, and too many other concoctions to list, all involving Hershey’s chocolate. Or, head straight to the source and tour the factory at Hershey’s Chocolate World.
From the bright lights and neon boardwalk bustle of Ocean City to sedate sunrises across quiet Bethany Beach in nearby Delaware, there’s a place in the sand—and a mood—for everyone. By Geoff Brown
Cape Henlopen State Park, 42 Cape Henlopen Dr., Lewes, DE, 302-645-8983. If you really want to get away from civilization, head to Cape Henlopen, just a five-minute drive from Lewes. The park—a former World War II base—is home to 3,800 acres of pines and sands. Best of all, there are nearly four miles of undeveloped beaches, on both the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay. You can fish either body of water, or surf, or camp, or just enjoy the scenery.
Charter a Fishing Boat, marinas at Ocean City and Indian River, DE. If the phrase “tuna chunking” gets you thinking about making sandwiches, you’ve got a lot to learn (it’s the hot new way to lure and catch the fish—and note that tuna are much bigger than you think). Or maybe you’d like to try your luck catching a wahoo, dolphin fish, or even a majestic marlin? Figure on $100-160 per person for a full day offshore (usually no more than six people per boat).
Delmarva Shorebirds, Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, 6400 Hobbs Rd., Salisbury, 410-219-3112. If the sand and sea aren’t doing it for you, you’ll be happy to know that championship baseball is alive and well on the Eastern Shore: The Shorebirds (the Orioles’ Class A South Atlantic League team) were champs in 1997 and 2000. The team (and Perdue Stadium, named for Frank’s dad) are only a decade old. Best of all, primo box seats top out at $12.
Dine in Rehoboth Beach. Though Ocean City’s added some great new restaurants, Rehoboth Beach is still the king of the shore for beachgoing foodies. No matter which beach you’re staying at, Rehoboth’s a reasonable drive away, and the fare is worth the trip. Our faves include Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave., 302-227-6515), Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats (320 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-2739), Fusion (50 Wilmington Ave., 302-226-1940), Planet X Cafe (35 Wilmington Ave., 302-226-1928), and the newish vodka/caviar bar Red Square (162 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-7782).
Eat the Ocean City Fried-fecta. This is not the kind of food pyramid the FDA had in mind, but doing it once isn’t going to kill you (twice, no guarantees). First, start with breakfast at Layton’s Family Restaurant (16th St. and Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-6635) for a couple of homemade doughnuts with your scrapple. Around lunchtime, head to the Boardwalk and get a huge cup of Thrasher’s French fries (between Wicomico and Worchester sts., 410-289-4150) and douse them in vinegar and Old Bay. (Feel that? That’s your heart pounding with happiness!) When it’s time for dinner, head to Dumser’s Dairyland (two locations, 49th and 124th sts.) and ordering half a chicken—fried, of course—with a shake and a double chocolate ice cream soda.
Find a friend at the Starboard, 2009 Highway 1, Dewey Beach, DE, 302-227-4600. And not in the way you’re thinking: When you’ve grabbed a drink (perhaps one of their signature self-serve Bloody Marys), wander over to the Wall of Shame (our term). Behold the hundreds of credit cards of those who’ve left them at the popular eatery and tavern. Browse the names, and if you find someone you know, call them up and laugh! (Just make sure you don’t “forget” your own card.)
Learn to kiteboard, East of Maui, 104 Saint Louis St., 302-227-4703 and H2air, 1701 Hwy. 1, 302-227-1105, both in Dewey Beach, DE. Sure, you can rent a kayak or surfboard in Dewey, but the newest rage is kiteboarding, a speedy way to move across the water that makes windsurfing seem kind of dull and clunky. Lessons are pricey (a two-hour water lesson runs about $200), but once you grab your first air off the crest of a wave, you’ll be a convert.
Nassau Valley Vineyards, 3216 S Winery Way, Lewes, DE, 302-645-9463. If you’re going to be the first and only winery in the state of Delaware, you might as well do things right. Just off of Route 1, Nassau Valley offers 116 acres, including 10 of grapevines, that are perfect for picnicking (and special events like weddings) before taking the free self-guided tour and then tasting wines from Chardonnays to Cabernets.
The Ocean City Miniature Golf Tour, Old Pro Golf, seven Ocean City courses at four locations: 23rd, 28th, 68th, and 136th sts., 410-524-2645. This is not an officially sanctioned golf tour, mind you, but one of our own creation: Seven courses, 126 holes, played over seven days. It’s an Astroturf tour through old-school themes and statuary, like Polynesian gardens and African safaris, oddities like the used-to-be-something-else Temple of Dragons, and sure-fire favorites like pirate ships and dinosaurs. (Save the indoor Undersea Adventure at 68th Street in case of a rainy day.)
Penny Lane Mall, Rehoboth Beach. Wander down this peculiar little side street that runs several blocks from Rehoboth Avenue to Wilmington Avenue and you’ll find a panoply of quirky, interesting, and fun shops selling everything from handmade jewelry and clothes to cafes and kitschy novelty shops selling nothing but magnets (the kind you put on your fridge).
A Perfect Face European Day Spa, 82nd St. and Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, 410-524-2390. Exhausted from the stress of lying on the sand all day? Wiped out from the strain of lifting daiquiri after daiquiri? We feel your pain. That’s when we head to A Perfect Face, where you can get everything from a haircut to a simple massage to a Shio Doro detoxifying treatment—which might come in handy after those daiquiris.
Rehoboth Outlet Center 1,2,3, 1600 Ocean Outlets, Rehoboth Beach, DE, 302-226-9223. You can lie to your friends and yourself all you want about your self-control, but you are going shopping here. You’re on vacation, remember? Highlights include Banana Republic, Black & Decker, Bose, Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Reebok, and Ann Taylor factory stores. To refuel, there’s a Grotto Pizza right in the food court—and it’s all tax-free (bless your little heart, Delaware!
Sandcastle Contest, Carousel Resort Hotel Beach, 118th St., Ocean City, 866-653-5463. Author Jorge Luis Borges once quipped, “Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.” That’s kind of heavy for the Parrothead Club, which hosts the 4th annual Sandcastle Contest, with proceeds going to charity. Coupled with an exhibition by medieval knights from the interactive restaurant Medieval Times, the castles and creations become more than just mounds of sand. Live music and workshops by professionals round out this midday event.
Sedona, 26 Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach, DE, 302-539-1200, is acknowledged as one of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island’s best and most adventurous restaurants (think fusion cuisine with surprising seasonings and rare game). Here’s an important tip: make a reservation before you leave town. With barely 70 seats, the place is always packed, especially during high season weekends.
Sydney’s, 25 Christian St., Rehoboth Beach, DE, 302-227-1339. It’s all good at Sydney’s blues and jazz restaurant. First off, there’s the food: seafood abounds, often paired with one of several Creole sauces and other ingredients (because what doesn’t andouille sausage improve?). Then there’s the music, a welcome break from the typical beach pop, featuring artists from across the country playing everything from Texas blues to classic metropolitan jazz, generally for a modest extra charge.
Wander the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. Call it “Delaware’s Miracle Mile”: For us, the stroll along Rehoboth’s comfortably populated mile-long boardwalk is a boon for the senses. Kids, singles, couples, and families of all persuasions interweave and circulate back and forth from the beach to the boardwalk shops for drinks and snacks (like Dolle’s Candyland for peanut butter water taffy). It’s a fantastic place to see and be seen, and thankfully almost absent of the adolescent posturing you’ll find at more populous resort towns.
White Marlin Open, Ocean City, Aug. 6-13, www.whitemarlinopen.com. When was the last time you saw someone win $1,320,000 for catching a fish? Well, it happened last year at Ocean City’s WMO, and this year’s tournament promises to be the biggest yet. If you’ve got the right stuff, come join more than 400 boats as they try to land the largest sailfish around in what’s touted as the “world’s largest fishing tournament.” Registration begins on August 6, and fishing begins two days later.
Okay, so you gained the winter five (or, uh, 10). Not to fear, the great outdoors—or Mother Nature's health club, as we like to call it— beckons! What are you waiting for? By Jane Marion
TAKE A HIKE
Ready to hit the trail? Here’s a brief overview of some of the best hiking spots in the region.
Catoctin Mountain Park, 6602 Foxville Rd., Thurmont, 301-663-9388. Maryland is at its most majestic along the rough-and-tumble wilderness of Catoctin Mountain Park, just northwest of Frederick (and home to the Presidential retreat Camp David). At 1,900 feet above sea level, the scenery along this eastern rampart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is spectacular. Although a mere 2.8 miles, the Cunningham Falls Trail, rife with hemlocks, sugar maples, oaks, and beeches, is said by some to be the most beautiful in the state. In addition to 25 miles of hiking trails (from beginner to steep and rocky), there’s a little something for everyone, including fly fishing, bird watching, camping, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, 1650 Calvert Cliffs Pkwy., Marbury, 301-743-7613. Travel back more than 15 million years to the Miocene Era when all of Southern Maryland, including these august cliffs, was covered by a warm, shallow sea. Calvert Cliffs is a treasure trove for the archaelogically inclined—more than 600 species of fossils, from shells to shark teeth to dung and pinecones, have been culled from these 30-foot-tall cliffs. Wire sieves are on site to help you play paleontologist.
Loch Raven Reservoir, north of Towson along Dulaney Valley Rd., Loch Raven, 410-795-6151. Featuring a paved road closed to traffic on weekends; long hilly fire roads; and several short, level woodland paths; the Loch Raven Reservoir can accommodate every type of hiker, and the Thoreau-like landscape—with its towering white pines and sinewy hills—is breathtaking. The area is also a haven for wildlife: Bring your breadcrumbs to feed the geese and ducks that populate the banks of the placid waters.
North Central Railroad Trail, Hunt Valley, 410-592-2897. Set in Gunpowder Falls State Park, the North Central Railroad Trail, which starts at Ashland Road in Hunt Valley and extends 21 miles to the Mason-Dixon Line, is ideal for parents who want to hike with their kids along gentle, flat, paved trails without the demands of a steep terrain. Rolling farmland, serene streams, and abundant wildlife, feel a million miles from the hustle and bustle of 21st-Century life, but in reality modern amenities are aplenty—well- maintained public restrooms, drinking fountains, a museum, and even a country store selling snacks (only on weekends) punctuate this historic trail which Abraham Lincoln traveled on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address. Pets must be on a leash.
Oregon Ridge Park, 13555 Beaver Dam Rd., Cockeysville, 410-887-1815. Oregon Ridge is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the natural world. Situated in Maryland’s horse country, this Baltimore County park offers nine superb trails for nature walks and hikes of varying times and levels of difficulty. Be on the alert for rock outcrops, iron-ore pits, and marble quarries. The Merryman Tract features an especially beautiful, forest habitat with a great diversity of specimens as well as a small housing/wildlife center. Oregon Ridge also offers illuminating naturalist-led programs on birds, amphibians, plant life, and more. Pets permitted on leashes.
Rocks State Park, 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Rd., Jarrettsville, 410-557-7994. Dramatic, rugged scenery is the focal point of this Jarrettsville park best known for the King and Queen Seat, an awe-inspiring 200-foot rock outcrop; and Kilgore Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Maryland.
Soldier’s Delight Natural Environment Area, 5100 Deer Park Rd., Owings Mills, 410-461-5005. Although botanists all over the country know that this 1,800-acre area of Western Baltimore County has some of the most unusual flora on the East Coast, few Baltimoreans ever think to visit. This unique geologic formation, which resembles the open prairies of the Midwest, is known as a “serpentine barren,” a rock type that inhibits typical vegetative growth and boasts more than 39 species of rare, endangered, and threatened plants (including fringed gentian, fame flowers, sandplain gerardia, and serpentine asters) as well as rare insects, rocks, and minerals. Although tens of thousands of acres of serpentine barren once covered the state, six miles of scenic hiking trails, open vistas of tawny grasses, and soaring skyscapes are all that remain.
Susquehanna State Park, off Rt. 155, Havre de Grace, 410-557-7994. From heavy forest cover to riverside vegetation to massive rock outcrops and gently flowing brooks, the diversity of topography in the 15 miles of pathways makes this spot an appealing address for hiking enthusiasts.
Terrapin Nature Area, 191 Log Canoe Cir., Stevensville, 410-758-0835. For a sweeping view of the Bay Bridge, the 6.5- mile Cross Island South Trail on Kent Island’s Terrapin Park is unparalleled. This family friendly trail—with flat paths, park benches, wooden bridges, and picnic spots—meanders eastward toward Kent Narrows and the Chesapeake Exploration Center. When traffic is flowing, the park is an hour’s drive from Baltimore.
SWINGIN’ GOOD TIME
Golf: So maddening, so addictive. Here are seven great courses to play this wickedly wonderful game.
Beechtree Golf Club, 811 South Stepney Rd., Aberdeen, 410-297-9700. This club is known for its wide fairways, rolling pasture land, natural streams, and near flawless surfaces. Beechtree ranks among the mid-Atlantic’s premier public courses and is a favorite among golf pros. The old world, elegant clubhouse is an added incentive to golf until sunset and stay for dinner.
Bulle Rock Golf Club, 320 Blenheim Ln., Havre de Grace, 410-939-8887. Rated as one of only 12 “Five Star Golf Courses” in North America and ranked 4th in Maryland by Golf Digest, this public, Pete Dye-designed course, named after the first thoroughbred horse brought to America, is an upscale par-72. This month, Bulle Rock will be the site of the 2005 McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
Greystone, 2115 White Hall Rd., White Hall, 410-887-1945. Rated by Golf Digest as “a Four-Star Place to Play Award Winner,” this Northern Baltimore County championship course designed by famed greens architect Joe Lee, feels like the middle of nowhere but, in actuality, is a mere 10 minutes from exit 31 on I-83. Greystone was originally conceived to be a private club, but when financial backing fell through, Baltimore County purchased it for the public. Tall hardwood trees, wetlands, rolling greens, native vegetation, and 140 feet of elevation changes make this one of the most picturesque courses in the mid-Atlantic.
Longview, 1 Cardigan Rd., Timonium, 410-887-7735. Because of its wide open fairways and gentle course, Longview is ideal for beginners and senior golfers. Another plus: green fees are lower here than many other courses in the area. Also worth noting, in the late ’80s, the course made national news when it was discovered that a den of foxes had stolen more than 1,000 golf balls from a putting green and buried them in the woods. (A built-in excuse when your ball is lost in the trees!)
Renditions, 1380 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville, 410-798-9798. For a unique links experience, Renditions can’t be beat. Each of the 18 holes at Renditions is a replica of a historically significant golf course, including Augusta National, Inverness, and Carnoustie. Visitors can also shop and dine in the lovely 1930s-era clubhouse that honors the achievements of Bobby Jones.
Turf Valley Resort, 2700 Turf Valley Rd., Ellicott City, 410-465-1500. While this remains a private golf course, an overnight stay entitles hotel guests the use of three 18-hole championship courses, golf villas, and special golf packages.
Wakefield Valley, 1000 Fenby Farm Rd., Westminster, 410-876-6662. Wakefield Valley is comprised of three scenic nine-hole courses. Combined, the 27 holes have the second highest slope rating in the state.
INTO THE WOODS
There’s no better way to escape the pressures of the city than a camping trip. And whether you like your camping to be truly rugged (no electricity!) or just a relaxing break from the daily grind, Maryland has several sites that can accommodate you. But remember: Leave that cell phone at home!
Capital KOA, 768 Cecil Ave., Millersville, 410-923-2771. This campground has all the amenities you would expect from the national camping chain, Kampgrounds of America, including a pool, a playground, and a dump station. The best part of staying at this particular site is easy access into nearby Annapolis and free shuttles to D.C. transit. Open late March through November 1. Pets permitted.
Deep Creek Lake, 898 State Park Rd., Swanton, 301-387-5563. It’s approximately a three-hour drive to this popular Western Maryland destination, but if you are looking for a weekend getaway in a vibrant resort area with fishing, hiking, biking, and more, Deep Creek Lake is worth the drive. Deep Creek Lake State Park, which contains the state’s largest freshwater lake, features 112 campsites (25 of which have electric hook-ups). There are heated bathhouses with hot showers and clean, modern facilities. An Adirondack-style cabin and two mini-camper cabins are also available. Reservations strongly recommended.
Greenbelt Park and Campground, 6565 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt, 301-344-3948. You don’t have to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom to slumber close to the White House. Open year-round, Greenbelt Park and Campground is a mere 12 miles from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For only $14 a night, Greenbelt has 174 sites that can be rented up to two weeks at a time. There are great hiking trails, bird watching, and backpacking opportunities, and the National Park’s Service offers first-rate educational programs. Of course, if you need a break from all this communing with nature, you can practically hike to D.C.
Morris Meadows’ Recreational Farm, 1523 Freeland Rd., Freeland, 410-329-6636. With activities galore, this family-run, private campground, open year round, has the feel of a rustic Club Med vacation. From bingo to biking and basketball, owners Clyde and Virginia Meadows ensure that there are activities for all ages. Clyde, whose family has owned this land since 1793 (and who keeps the original goat-skin land deed on display), is also an avid collector who has started a small on-site museum with an assemblage of heirloom farm tools and machinery, school desks, dolls, and kitchen utensils. Deluxe cabins (with air-conditioning, heating, microwave, and cable TV) and a wide range of camp sites are available. Reservations recommended.
Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, 410-461-5005. Although Patapsco is only a 30-minute drive from the heart of Baltimore, the lush 32-mile river valley of this state park will transport you far away. The Hollofield area near Ellicott City has 73 campsites, some with electricity, a playground, and heated bathhouses; while the Hilton area near Catonsville has 14 tent-only campsites and camper cabins with electricity.
Ramblin’ Pines Campground, 801 Hoods Mill Rd., Woodbine, 410-795-5161. Ramblin’ Pines is a mini family resort in a campground setting. In addition to
RV and tent sites, recreational opportunities abound from hiking trails to hay rides to mini-golf, live entertainment, and swimming. Cabins and trailers are available for rent.
COME SAIL AWAY
Whether you’re a veteran skipper, or a land-lubber looking to learn the difference between a mast and a sail, Maryland has many sailing options for you.
Annapolis Sailing School, 601 Sixth St., Annapolis, 410-267-7205. If you are interested in learning how to sail or need a review, America’s oldest and largest commercial sailing school offers classes for every level. There is a KidShip program for children ages 5 to 15 aboard 12- to 14-foot dinghies. Every summer morning, the 10 a.m. adult “Try Sail” class will bring you up to snuff on everything you need to do to set sail. If you already know how to sail, 24-foot Rainbows are for rent ($225 a day).
Baysail School and Yacht Charters, 100 Bourbon St., Havre de Grace, 410-939-2869. Chosen as “School of the Year” by the American Sailing Association, Baysail’s expert instructors can teach you how to sail in the placid waters of the Upper Cheseapeake Bay. Lessons are offered at all skill levels in the protected harbor around Havre de Grace. If you don’t have the expertise or inclination to sail yourself, you can hire a captain to go with your charter boat.
Blue Crab Chesapeake Charters, the foot of Sharp St., Rock Hall, 410-708-1803. Sailing opportunities abound in Rock Hall’s historic marina, just 55 miles east of Baltimore. Blue Crab is one among many such well-run charters. The Blue Crab is a Swedish sloop designed to hold up to six passengers. Cruises cost $30 a person for a 90-minute trip.
Clipper City, Harborplace Pier, next to Science Center, 410-539-6277. The 158-foot topsail schooner, located next to the Maryland Science Center and Baltimore Visitor’s Center, offers daily two-hour tours ($12 for adults, $2 for kids under 10). Clipper City provides the perfect perch from which to show Baltimore visitors the National Aquarium, the Constellation, Fort McHenry, The Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Bay, and beyond. Sunday brunch and weekend evening sails with live Caribbean music are available.
Downtown Sailing Center at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1425 Key Hwy., 410-727-2884. As the saying goes, “Why drive one hour to Annapolis to sail for 15 minutes when you can sail for an hour and drive for 15 minutes?” DSC makes sailing a breeze in our own backyard and has won several awards to prove it, including Outstanding Seasonal Sailing Program by the U.S. Sailing Association. This nonprofit community sailing center boasts a 40-boat fleet and first-rate instruction from beginner to expert at extremely affordable prices. DSC also offers the only sailing programs in Baltimore tailored to sailors with special needs. Membership necessary. Prices start at $299, including lessons and unlimited sailing.
Rebecca T. Ruark, Dogwood Harbor, Tilghman Island, 410-886-2176. Constructed in 1886, this is the oldest skipjack still sailing the seas. Enjoy a two-hour cruise off Tilghman Island with veteran sailor Captain Wade Murphy, who helps hoist the sail, steer the boat, and dredge for oysters. $30 for adults. $15 for children. Reservations accepted.
Skipjack Martha Lewis, 121 North Union Ave., Havre de Grace, 410-939-4078. One of the few remaining skipjacks sailing the Chesapeake Bay, the Martha Lewis—owned by the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy and one of the last remaining oyster dredge boats—sails from the Concord Lighthouse Pier in Havre de Grace. Passengers can choose from wine cruises, sunset cruises, afternoon teas, and story time cruises for kids. Prices vary. Reservations not necessary, but space is limited to 30 passengers.
Sunsail Sailing Vacations, 980 Awald Rd., Annapolis, 410-280-2553. Sunsail is the largest charter-boat company in the world. With outposts as distant as Turkey and Tahiti, this Annapolis-based outfit offers custom-designed bareboat and crewed charters tailored to your sailing needs.
Womanship Inc., 137 Conduit St., Annapolis, 800-342-9295. “Nobody yells . . . everybody learns,” is the motto of this Annapolis sailing school taught by and for the fairer sex. This female-friendly sailing school offers such courses as knot tying and nautical chart reading for beginning and advanced sailors. They also recently introduced a mother/daughter sailing course.
JUST ADD WATER
Take your kids—or relive your own rope-swinging days —at these lakes, beaches, and swimming holes.
Beaver Dam Swimming Club, 10820 Beaver Dam Rd., Cockeysville, 410-785-2323. While the idea of swimming in a quarry may sound positively primitive, one dip in the deep, cool waters of Beaver Dam Swimming Hole will wash away whatever ails you. Zip lines, rafts, a “Tarzan swing,” and diving areas add to the idyll. For the wee ones, a shallow wading area and two swimming pools beckon. Open daily from early June through late August from 11 am to 7 pm. Season passes available. Monday through Saturday: $12 for adults, $8 kids. Sundays: $14 and $10, respectively.
Cascade Lake, 3000 Syndersburg Rd., Hampstead, 410-374-9111. This Carroll County six-acre, spring-fed lake, with daily rates and seasonal memberships, is a child’s paradise—with a wide-mouthed frog waterslide, a 150-foot waterslide, paddle boats, and a petting zoo. Fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities are also available within the 74-acre property. Adults and children over 5: $10 weekends, $6 weekdays.
Greenbrier State Park, 21843 National Pike, Boonsboro, 301-791-4767. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, this 42-acre freshwater lake and sandy beach is a popular scenic spot to cool off in the summer. There are also ample opportunities to canoe, fish, camp, and hike in this state park about an hour’s drive from Baltimore.
Gunpowder Falls State Park, Kingsville, 410-592-2897. The Hammerman area of Gunpower Falls State Park offers some of the best swimming and wading beaches in the Baltimore area. For a $2 entrance fee, bathers swim in the Gunpowder River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Kayaks, Hobie cats, windsurfers, catamarans, and large picnic pavilions are available for rent. Another area popular with tubers looking for a lazy float trip is the Hereford area of Gunpowder Falls State Park on Bunker Hill Rd. This trip is best in the dog days of summer since water temperatures rarely rise above 60 degrees. Tube rentals are available at Cockeysville’s nearby Chakra Cycles (410-527-0953).
Milford Mill Park and Swim Club, 3900 Milford Mill Rd., 410-655-4818. Zip lines, rope swings, a diving board, sliding boards, and two pools (one with a large sandy beach) are the main attraction at this converted quarry in Randallstown. Set against a backdrop of sheer cliffs and trees tangled with intricate vines, even the water shy will be in the swim in this sublime setting. Swim test required for quarry swimming. Weekends: Adults: $12, Kids $7; Weekdays: Adults: $10, Kids: $6.
Rocky Point Beach and Park, Rocky Point Rd., Essex, 410-887-3780. You can’t call yourself a true Baltimorean until you have waded in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This park, located at the mouth of Back and Middle Rivers, is a perennial favorite of East Baltimoreans and includes a 300-foot-long sandy beach with commanding views of Maryland’s beloved bay, Hart-Miller Islands, and Craighill Light. The beach is also an avian paradise, populated by Osprey, blue herons, and eagles.
Rocks State Park, 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Rd., Jarrettsville, 410-557-7994. With swimming, wading, and tubing along three and a half miles of Deer Creek, it’s fun for all ages in Harford County’s Rocks State Park. There are several different swimming holes ranging from 10- to 12-feet deep. Some rapids on Deer Creek are categorized as Class III in high water so exercise caution. Bring your own tubes.
Sandy Point State Park, 1100 East College Pkwy., Annapolis, 410-974-2149. It’s a staggering statistic, but of the more than 4,600 miles of shoreline that hug the Chesapeake Bay, less than 2 percent is accessible to the public (the remainder is privately owned). So we should thank our lucky starfish that more than 50 years ago the state set aside Sandy Point, which some Maryland beach lovers consider the best along the Chesapeake. Sandy Point, less than 10 miles northeast of Annapolis, is open year-round, but lifeguards are on duty only from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Rowboats and motorboats are available for rent.
Commune with nature, bond with your dad, or just catch tonight’s dinner at these fishing holes.
Captain Don Marani, 1001 Fells St., 410-342-2004. For a true Chesapeake Bay fishing experience, trawl for rockfish, bluefish, croaker, and spot, with Captain Don as he launches from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in Fells Point. Charters are available for eight hours ($425), six hours ($375), and the kid-friendly three hours ($250).
Conowingo Dam, US 1, Darlington, 410-457-5011. This dam, built as a W.P.A. project during the Depression, impedes the flow of the Susquehanna River, creating a 14-mile impoundment favored by anglers year-round. The area below the dam brims with rockfish, shad, catfish, and other marine life which are either unable to pass the dam on spawning runs or are drawn to aerated water.
Gunpowder Falls State Park, 2813 Jerusalem Rd., Kingsville, 410-592-2897. This park follows the tributaries and Gunpowder Falls River to its mouth. The upper reaches, where icy waters flow out of Prettyboy Dam, has some of the best catch-and-release trout fishing in Maryland. Dundee Creek Marina, in the lower section of Gunpowder Falls, has boat rentals, a bait-and-tackle shop, and a launch ramp. Within an hour’s drive are several other great spots for fly-fishing, including Deer Creek and Little Gunpowder Falls. If you’re a fledgling flyfisherman, Backwater Angler (538 Monkton Rd., 410-329-6821) offers six- to eight-hour guided fly-fishing tours as well as informative flyfishing classes.
Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, 410-461-5005. Stocked with bass, bluegill, trout and catfish, the Patapsco River is a great spot to catch dinner. Fishing is good almost anywhere along the banks of this 14,000-acre park, but one unique area is Avalon in the Southern part of the park. Avalon Pond is reserved for senior citizens, kids under 16, and the handicapped, while the river in this portion of the park is stocked with four miles worth of fish and has good parking and excellent shore access. The Mariottsville area in Upper Baltimore County is another favorite destination of local sport fisherman.
Piney Run Park and Nature Center, 30 Martz Rd., Sykesville, 410-795-3274. This 800-acre family-friendly park and nature center in Carroll County’s Sykesville is an angler’s heaven. A 300-acre lake teems with rockfish, catfish, trout, and one of the best lakes in Maryland to catch largemouthed bass. If you like competition, the park sponsors 10 fishing tournaments a year, including a tournament for children 15 and under (June 4, 6 a.m. to noon). Kids compete for prizes including rods, reels, and tackle boxes. The entrance fee is $4 for Carroll County residents, $6 for out of County residents. Season passes available.
Point Lookout State Park, 11175 Point Lookout Rd., Scotland, 301-872-5688. Location, location, location is the selling point of this park on a picturesque peninsula lodged between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. (It’s hard to believe this area was once used as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War!) Visitors can cast their lines from the pier on the bayside or the point on either the bay or riverside. A fishing license is required only for the bay shoreline.
Sea Venture Charters, 3774 Beach Dr., Edgewater, 410-798-6459. These charter fishing trips, for groups up to six, make it easy to go fish just south of Annapolis. Sea Ventures provide not only the bait and tackle but fishing permits and a well-informed guide who will help you navigate through uncharted waters.
COURTS OF APPEAL
For all you budding Roger Federers and Serena Williamses, Maryland has several top-notch tennis courts, some public, some private.
Baltimore Fitness and Tennis, 1726 Reisterstown Rd., Pikesville, 410-653-0166. Tucked behind the Pikesville Hilton along a busy corridor of Reisterstown Road, this
tennis facility was recently awarded Mid-Atlantic Tennis Facility of the Year by the USTA. Court time runs between $24.50 and $35.50 depending on the time of day. Babysitting services available for $2 hour. BFT also runs a hugely successful summer tennis camp for kids.
Centennial Park, 4651 Centennial Ln., Ellicott City, 410-313-4700. The five recently resurfaced public tennis courts on the west side of Ellicott City’s scenic Centennial Park are the perfect place to hit a few balls in a maintained, manicured, pleasant county park. These courts are a favorite of tennis moms who need to keep their eye on the ball and their kids at the same time—a well-designed playground is conveniently located adjacent to the courts. Tennis lessons are also available with excellent instruction at reasonable rates.
Columbia Association Tennis Clubs, 410-730-1802. If you want to play at a wide variety of courts, one of the best deals in town is The Columbia Association Tennis Clubs which allows access to four different clubs: Wilde Lake Tennis Club with 11 outdoor, lit hard courts; The Racquet Club at Hobbit’s Glen with six outdoor soft courts; The Owen Brown Tennis Club with five courts under a tennis bubble plus seven outdoor courts; and The Columbia Athletic Club, an indoor tennis center with four courts. An individual membership is $459 (plus court fees) for non-Columbia residents and $282 for Columbia residents. The association also includes four indoor pools and 23 separate outdoor swim clubs: $636 per family for non-Columbia residents and $405 per family for Columbia residents.
Druid Hill Park Tennis Center, 3001 East Dr., 410-396-7019. It’s always a breath of fresh air to find great public recreational areas in the midst of an urban environment. These Druid Hill courts, set inside the second largest city park on the East Coast, are newly renovated with wind screens, stadium seating, well-maintained rest rooms, and picnic pavilions and will be host to United States Tennis Association’s $10,000 Women’s Satellite tournament this summer.
Greenspring Racquet Club, 10803 Falls Rd., Lutherville, 410-821-5683. You might consider investing in some fashionable tennis whites before hitting the courts at the upscale Greenspring Racquet Club. These indoor hard courts are populated by discriminating, well-heeled Valley types for good reason—with
14 tennis courts, and 10 racquetball/handball courts you can beat the heat (and escape the cold) in this climate-controlled facility 12 months a year. Added incentives include a great pro shop, babysitting services, and a bar serving snacks. Day rates, season rates, and annual memberships available.
New Town High School, 4931 New Town Blvd., Owings Mills, 410-887-1614. Looking for love? On a balmy summer day, these six new hard courts are a great place to find it, and there’s rarely a wait to get in a game or two. The courts, well lit until 11 pm, are adjacent to a shopping center with a Starbucks and several lunch spots.
Pine Valley Swim and Tennis, 4636 White Marsh Rd., White Marsh, 410-668-9888. This White Marsh-based club combines tennis and swimming and offers excellent private and group instruction for both kids and adults. The facility is top-notch—with a variety of outdoor playing surfaces: four hard courts, four soft courts, two platform courts, and a superior tennis camp for kids. This club does not have daily membership rates, but the annual price ($325) for unlimited access to the courts can’t be beat.
Tennis Center at College Park, 5200 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, 301-779-8000. Anointed “Outstanding Tennis Facility” by the United States Tennis Association, this first-rate facility is one of the best in the region. At $780 a year, membership isn’t cheap but includes access to 12 indoor courts, 15 outdoors courts, and the only two French-style clay courts in the mid-Atlantic as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center and a running track. The Tennis Center also offers a wide array of classes from nationally and internationally ranked coaches and has “graduated” some of the best players in the country, including the U.S. National Teams’ Phillip Simmonds. Open 7 am to 11 pm, seven days a week.
Is ice cream sweeter in the summer? Are crabs just that much more delicious when eaten outside? Perhaps not. But it sure seems that way. By Max Weiss. Additional reporting by Michele Perrera, Stephanie Silver, and Elizabeth Ecker
Eat Under the Stars
From urban sidewalk cafes to romantic garden terraces to breezy waterside decks—Baltimore has several dining al fresco options. Here are a few highlights.
The Ambassador Dining Room, 3811 Canterbury Rd., 410-366-1484. Men, be warned: If you take a date to The Ambassador Dining Room’s outdoor terrace, you just may find yourself spontaneously dropping to one knee and proclaiming your eternal love. Who wouldn’t be inspired by the restaurant’s burbling fountain and manicured gardens (not to mention their luscious Indian cuisine)? Quite possibly Baltimore’s most gorgeous (and romantic) outdoor dining oasis.
b, 1501 Bolton St., 410-383-8600. Art students commingle with ladies who lunch at b, a zippy neighborhood bistro with a small sidewalk dining area. Dine on great pizzas, salads, and sandwiches as you enjoy the unique combination of downtown cool and old world grace that is Bolton Hill.
Bicycle, 1444 Light St., 410-234-1900. One of the first restaurants to venture beyond the imaginary Federal Hill borders (“thou shall not eat south of Cross Street!”), Bicycle has cultivated a loyal and ever-growing clientele (hence, the restaurant’s recent expansion). While they’ve added two new dining rooms, the slate patio—decorated with a tile mosaic and twinkly lights and overlooking a lovely urban garden—is still a great place to sit and enjoy the restaurant’s adventurous “global” cuisine.
Bo Brooks Crabhouse and Restaurant, 2780 Lighthouse Pt., 410-558-0202. If it’s good enough for Miss USA contestants, it’s good enough for us! Yup, you know you’ve become something of a local institution when you are featured in a Miss USA montage—along with Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium, no less—that showcases Baltimore destinations. And why not? Not only does Bo Brooks have great crabs, they have a laid-back waterside deck that simply screams summer.
Carrol’s Creek Cafe, 410 Severn Ave., Annapolis, 410-269-1406. Who needs a spa? You can practically feel the tension drain from your body as you sit on the elegant waterfront deck of Carrol’s Creek Cafe. Take in the panoramic views, from the State House to the Naval Academy, savor the fabulous steak and seafood and treat yourself to a truly relaxing experience.
Donna’s, 2 W. Madison St., 410-385-0180. All of Donna’s locations have outdoor dining, but our favorite has to be the original Donna’s of Mt. Vernon, where downtown hipsters, harried business types, and Peabody and Baltimore School for the Arts students all gaze upon the Washington monument, gossip, and get their caffeine fix.
Gertrude’s, 10 Art Museum Dr., 410-889-3399. While in the museum, dine among the art. Specifically, the Calders and Moores in the BMA’s sculpture garden, which you can admire at close range from Gertrude’s outdoor terrace. Modern sculpture not your thing? You’ll still be wowed by Gertrude’s tranquil reflecting pool and fountain coupled with John Shields’s ever-delightful Chesapeake cuisine.
Kali’s Court, 1606 Thames St., 410-276-4700. An oasis of civilization in the middle of Fells Point, this great, upscale seafood restaurant has a European-style sidewalk cafe enclosed by a wrought-iron gate, perfect for watching the unwashed masses of Thames Street without, you know, actually touching them.
Kawasaki Cafe, 907 S. Ann St., 410-327-9400. The symmetry of it all: There you are, eating raw fish recently plucked from the sea, while simultaneously gazing at the sea (well, the harbor at least). And lest you get any bright ideas, no we would not recommend that you leap from your chair, jump into the water, and catch your own sashimi.
LP Steamers, 1100 E. Fort Ave., 410-576-9294. Crabs and rooftop decks go together like, well, crabs and beer. Enjoy all of the above at LP Steamers, a laidback hard-shell joint in Locust Point.
Nick’s Fish House, 2600 Insulator Dr., 410-347-4123. Don’t let the wooden picnic tables and Margaritaville vibe on Nick’s waterside deck fool ya: The place is serious about its seafood. And they do everything well—from traditional Maryland crabs to pan seared rockfish to San Francisco-style cioppino (mussels, clams, shrimp, crab, scallops, and fish tossed in a tomato-herb broth and served over linguine). Just leave the button-down shirt (and attitude) at home.
Rusty Scupper, 402 Key Hwy., 410-727-3678. They take their harbor views so seriously at the Rusty Scupper that even the indoor tables have great waterfront vistas. But why stay cooped indoors when the upper deck patio beckons? Enjoy this most traditional of Maryland restaurants (think softshells, hardshells, imperial, et al—plus great oysters), while taking in some of the city’s most spectacular views.
Tapas Teatro, 1711 N. Charles St., 410-332-0110. The interior design of Tapas Teatro is so cool (exposed brick, a sinewy bar, and metalwork designed by John Guitierrez Studios)—it’s almost a shame to eat outside. But you can really maximize your people watching from the restaurant’s outdoor vantage point. Look on as a small but diverse cross-section of urban life passes before you: Charles and Everyman theater patrons mingle with Club Charles scenesters who rub shoulders with the various denizens of the other restaurants and nightclubs on the block. Observe this mighty tableaux while sipping on sangria and nibbling on Teatro’s fabulous Latin-influenced small plates.
WE ALL SCREAM!
When do you first start feeling it? Late May? Early June? For us, that summer ice cream jones starts early in the season and keeps us at the neighborhood parlors (and at the neighborhood gym) all summer long. Here are a few favorites.
Beach Bums Homemade Ice Cream, 1038 Light St., 410-528-8300. Very quietly, some of the best ice cream in these parts is being churned out by Beach Bums Homemade Ice Cream. The proof is always in the vanilla and Beach Bums’ offering, made with real Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, is sinfully rich and satisfying. Their Kona Coffee Chunk—chocolate chunks in intensely flavorful coffee ice cream—is another stunner. To continue our very serious ice cream research, we plan to return to Beach Bums to try their Butter Brickle (English Toffee in vanilla), Peppermint Candy, and Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chunk. We’re just dedicated to our work like that.
Broom’s Bloom Creamery, 1616 S. Fountain Green Rd., Bel Air, 410-734-6361. How fresh is the ice cream at Broom’s Bloom? Put it to ya this way: You’ll be staring at one of the cows who provided the cream while eating it (but try not to make direct eye contact—they’re modest). Yup, this dairy farm decided to maximize their profits (and yumminess) by making homemade ice cream on the site. Look for a rotating batch of flavors that include coconut almond and creamy peanut butter—and while you’re at it, pick up the homemade pork sausage and artisanal cheese also sold in the farm’s store.
Carmen’s Italian Ice, Crondall Corner Shopping Center, Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills. The fact that Carmen’s is actually closed for renovation until late November is tragic. But the Italian ice, gelati, creamy custard, soft ice cream, milkshake, and smoothie haven just screams summertime, and we’d be remiss to leave it out! With such Italian ice flavors as Georgia peach, red raspberry, Brazilian coffee, and Baltimore egg custard, every tastebud is pleased; and if you like some confectionery crunch, try the aforementioned custard or soft ice cream mixed with crushed Oreos, Butterfinger, graham crackers, or M&Ms.
Cold Stone Creamery, 10015 York Rd., Cockeysville, 410-628-8001. Not since the arrival of Krispy Kreme doughnuts have we been so geeked about a national franchise finally coming to Baltimore. This place—with its elaborate ice cream creations made right there in front of you—is like a child’s dream of an ice cream store come true. First they get a big, unruly hunk of ice cream, then they start pounding on it. Then they start adding stuff to it—whatever you like (options include yellow cake, fudge, bananas, almonds, brownies, caramel, and thick whipped cream squeezed through a tube). Then they pound the heck out of that. And, voila—you’ve got this gooey, messy, unbelievably delicious ice cream extravaganza. Okay, there is the whole matter of the staff’s annoyingly chipper singing—seriously, guys, with ice cream this good, you don’t need gimmicks. But it’s a small price to pay.
Ga Ga’s Ice Cream, 3120 St. Paul St., 410-243-0808. Hopkins students already know the secret of Ga Ga’s ice cream. This quirky Charles Village shop has a patio in front, adorned with ice-cream-cone-shaped Christmas lights and a sign that reads: “Exotic fruit blendsations & Moxley’s gourmet ice cream.” The shop offers a variety of Moxley’s, and the menu changes each week. Some interesting flavors we spied were the delicious “Cardamom,” “S’mores What,” “Triple Shot Espresso,” “Mom’s Apple Pie,” and “Mojo” (oreo cookie). They also have “Groovies” (a.k.a. smoothies) made from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Also on the menu are “Golden Classics” which include banana splits, ice cream sandwiches, brownie sundaes, and old- fashioned hot fudge sundaes.
Lee’s, 8137 Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh, 410-933-0233. Lee’s may now be competing with the big boys (last year, they launched their pints nationwide), but their parlors still have that cozy, neighborhood feel. For great ice cream (try the banana chocolate chip) in an old-fashioned, unpretentious setting, Lee’s is still the place to be.
Moxley’s, 25 Allegheny Ave., Towson, 410-825-2544. Over the course of just a few years, Moxley’s has transformed itself from the Little Ice Cream Parlor That Could into bonafide Maryland institution. By now, everyone knows that the ice cream is named after owner Tom Washburn’s dog. Everyone has been to one of Moxley’s four parlors and sampled their ever-changing rotation of flavors: the so-called “boring” chocolate chip (as if!), the pumpkin pie, the “grasshopper” (chocolate mint), et al. And by now, everyone—well, okay, almost everyone—has bought pints from a local retailer, like Graul’s or Eddie’s, or eaten Moxley’s at the several other restaurants and shops that sell their product. It’s just a matter of time before Moxley’s conquers the world! (Or at least, um, the mid-Atlantic region. . . .)
Poulet, Green Spring Station, 2436 W. Joppa Rd., Lutherville, 410-339-3900. Chef Jonathan Soudry is no fool. When his rotisserie chicken shop took over the Green Spring Station location formerly occupied by the beloved Windy Valley Ice Cream, he knew that he had to retain the tradition. So, on top of selling his excellent bird and accompaniments (try the corn bread!), he also sells—in cups, cones, quarts, and pints—his version of the Windy Valley classic. Yes, Soudry added a few of his own flavors (his personal favorites include White Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Raspberry White Chocolate Chip), but he didn’t want to mess too much with a good thing. “It’s a special recipe,” he explains. Special how? “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Sylvan Beach Ice Cream, 1405 Smith Ave., 410-433-6800. Who says something can’t be good and good for your soul? The ice cream at Sylvan Beach is so delicious, and the vibe so pleasant at its cute brick Mt. Washington shop, you can almost forget that Sylvan Beach has a larger purpose: to house at-risk youth and train them in the art of making and selling ice cream. But trust us, as you hang out on Sylvan’s wraparound outdoor deck, listening to the strummy guitar music on the stereo, and licking your chocolate chip cookie dough, you will not be patting yourself on the back for your altruism.
Tropicool, Lake Ave. and Falls Rd. Standing in the sometimes long Tropicool line is actually part of the fun—it’s a great chance to mingle with your Mt. Washington neighbors, take a break from the daily grind, and bask in the pleasant weather (Tropicool is only open in the warm months). Once you make it to the front of the line, happily order one of Tropicool’s “Cool Treats for the Mind, Body, and Soul,” including the so-called “gelati”—more like a Creamsicle, actually—soft serve ice cream mixed with Tropicool’s premium ices. Mmmmmm.
HAVING A (SNOW) BALL
There are, oh, about a zillion snow ball stands in the naked city. Everyone has their favorites. Here are four of ours.
The Candy Box, 1610 Frederick Rd., Catonsville, 410-747-5291. With apologies to Ogden Nash, candy is dandy, but snowballs are . . . dandier? A quaint candy store during the winter and fall, The Candy Box serves up homemade ice cream and snowballs from May to September. They mix their own (preservative free) snowball flavors. A specialty is a “parfait”: ice cream and snowballs layered together. And, because they’re a candy store, you know they use the good stuff for the chocolate flavors.
Church St. Snowball, Church St. off Ritchie Hwy., Brooklyn. Our resident in-house snowball expert swears by Church St. Snowballs, which she claims are simply the best in town. “They’re my choice every time!” she gushes. “They make their own flavors, the quality is outstanding, it’s very clean. I look forward to their snowballs every year.” Wow. We’re sold.
Mason Dixon Farmer’s Market, 21734 York Rd., Parkton, 410-357-5700. On a lovely day, nothing beats road-trippin’ it to the Mason Dixon Farm market. True to its name, this family farm sits right on the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and they do great snowballs (including cream-infused flavors like egg custard and peaches and cream) and serve hand-dipped ice cream from Carman’s (a Pennsylvania favorite). The beauty of this place is that you can sit at the picnic tables, enjoy the flowers from the farm, watch the sunset, and, if you get there before 6 p.m., even visit the nursery and small local produce store. On the weekends they also have pit beef sandwiches. Oh, and if you bring the family pooch, they will even serve a snowball in a doggy cup.
M-Ty Fine Snowball, Joppa Rd. in Parkville. Let’s face it: Snowballs are 10 percent taste and 90 percent nostalgia, and nothing gets you more nostalgic than a trip to the family-owned M-Ty Fine Snowball. Founded in 1946, this is where your parents took you when you were a little kid; and most likely where their parents took them, too. They’ve got every imaginable flavor, and marshmallow is always on the house. So just pull into M-Ty Fine’s gravel lot (check out the surfing snowman logo!), plant yourself on one of their outdoor picnic tables, and enjoy this enduring rite of summer.
THE MARKET IS UP!
Flowers and produce and great food—get your gourmet on at one of our many outdoor farmer’s markets.
Baltimore Farmer’s Market, Holliday & Saratoga sts. (under the Jones Falls Expressway), 410-752-8632. Who knew it could smell this good under the JFX? Every Sunday from June through December, more than 45 farmers and vendors set up shop underneath the highway, selling the freshest in fruits, veggies, seafood, pit beef, prepared foods, coffee, and crafts. Oh, and get your order in early for a farm-raised, free-range turkey.
Farmer’s Market of Towson, Allegheny Ave., between Washington Ave. and York Rd. From June through October, they close off Allegheny Avenue on Thursdays for local farmers/vendors to set up shop. The selection of produce is limited compared to the big, urban markets, but still quite good. Also look for grilled rotisserie chicken, Moxley’s ice cream, fresh flowers, et al.
Waverly Market, 33rd St. and Waverly. Open all year ‘round (yay!), but only on Saturdays, this farmer’s market is renowned for its amazing fruits and veggies, its eclectic crowd (Hopkins students, Charles Villagers, and happy hippies), and its incredible food. Look for fresh-baked bread, freshly smoked meats and fish, and the famed mushroom stand, featuring to-die-for Portabella sandwiches and the Ginger Man, with his soothing ginger lemonade. Non-foodies will enjoy the trip as well—not just just for the pleasant environs, but for the fresh-picked flowers and the handmade soaps, candles, and jewelry also sold in the lot.
Get out your calendars and choose your favorites. Here’s a list of the best festivals, concerts, and kid-friendly events around town this summer. By Stephanie Silver, Michelle Betton, Elizabeth Ecker, and Michael Snow
With kielbasa, pierogi, and lesser-known delicacies such as chrusciki (bow-shaped cookies) and golabki (cabbage rolls), you’d better bring an empty stomach to the Polish Festival in Patterson Park, June 3-5. Finish off the afternoon with a selection of Polish beers and bands, from Baltimore and far beyond. Eastern and Linwood aves. Fri 4-10 pm, Sat-Sun noon-10 pm. 410-879-6336.
Run in a race, march in a parade, and saunter through the gorgeous gardens of Baltimore’s private homes—all part of the annual Charles Village Festival in the Wyman Park Dell on June 4-5. Participate in Saturday’s 5K race and 1K Kids’ Fun Run and Sunday’s Garden Walk. 29th and Charles sts, Sat 8:30 am-8 pm, Sun 10 am-6 pm. 410-662-7777.
Where can you find 1,000 pounds of octopus in Baltimore? Not at the aquarium, but at the St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival! Enjoy grilled seafood and other cuisine while local Greek dance ensembles perform to live music, June 10-12. Watch the Philoptochos, a group of charitable women in the community, as they demonstrate the preparation of dishes such as baklava and moussaka. 520 S Ponca St. Fri-Sat 11 am-11 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. 410-633-5020.
Hon, if you love Hampden, you best get down to HonFest 2005. With an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and galleries, 36th Street in Hampden serves as the home for this funky Baltimore event. Visit on June 11 for new entertainment including a band not of instruments, but of “tools” (think: jackhammers). You might even run into Elvis. Feather boas welcomed and encouraged. Sat 11 am-8 pm. 410-243-6800.
Lads and lassies, head north to Havre de Grace June 11 for the 19th Annual Scottish Festival for culture from sheep to shawl. Listen to the John F. Nicholl Pipe Band while munching on shortbread and meat pies. Weavers and spinners show, while muscle men throw (hammers, that is) in Scottish games of strength. Noon-5 pm. 461 Quaker Bottom Rd, Havre de Grace. 410-939-2299.
The St. Anthony’s Festival was first held after Baltimore’s Italian community prayed for protection from the great fire in 1904—and it’s been a mainstay ever since. Fill downtown Baltimore’s Exeter and Stiles streets for song, dance, and Italian food on June 11. Mamma mia! For live music, hot ravioli, meatballs, and garlic bread, this festival is where you should be. Noon-8 pm. 410-675-7275.
What started as a small rally in 1975, celebrates its 30th year as the Baltimore Pride Festival 2005. On June 18-19, thousands will join in the fun which starts with a parade on Saturday at 4 pm at Charles and Franklin streets. Follow the parade to the block party at Charles and Edgar streets in Mt. Vernon for food, entertainment, and dancing in the street. On Sunday, visit Druid Hill Park where drag kings and queens will perform live throughout the weekend. Sat-Sun 11 am-6 pm. 410-837-5445 or www.baltimorepride.org.
¡Coman! Get your tacos, enchiladas, and pupusas—right here in Baltimore. Explore a cultural collection of Hispanic art, dance, and food in Patterson Park, June 18-19. Marvel at the moves of the Merengue, Bachata, and Mariachi, or take lessons if you don’t know the steps. ¡LatinoFest! Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. Eastern and Linwood aves. 410-783-5404.
Engage in all that is African-American while background beats of jazz, R&B, hip-hop, gospel, and soul set the African-American Heritage Festival’s main stage at Camden Yards, June 24-26. The Education, History, and Art Tent invites more than 60 exhibitors, including NASA. Kids can create at the Children’s Corner, with bead art and African mask-making. Fri 3-10 pm, Sat 11 am-10 pm, Sun noon-8 pm. 410-318-8286 or www.aahf.net.
Jam to calypso and reggae while enjoying the roti of Trinidad and other typical island cuisine at the Caribbean-American Carnival. Beginning with a contest between authentic costumes representing objects of the islands on Friday night, the parade will begin Saturday at noon to arrive at Druid Hill Park for the festivities. July 15-17. Fri 6 pm, Sat noon, Sun 11 am-9 pm. 410-230-2969 or www.bcacarnival.com.
Eat, drink, sing, dance, paint, act, and be merry. It’s art, art, and more art, at Artscape. This indoor/ outdoor festival has it all: performance, visual, and literary arts, all of which are showcased in every nook and cranny of Mt. Royal Ave and the Meyerhoff on July 22-24, with a street festival presenting hand-crafted items from photography and jewelry to paintings and clothing. And if you think your voice sounds just like Billie Holiday, enter the singing competition on Saturday! Fri-Sat noon-10 pm, Sun noon-8 pm. 877-225-8466 or www.artscape.org.
This year’s German Festival opens its doors at noon from Aug 19-21—right in time for Mittagessen, or lunch, the main meal of the day. Stop by der Schnellimbiss (takeaway food stalls) for some of Germany’s traditional culinary staples and grab a beer stein before you head to the main stage for a performance by the Schuhplattlers, a regional dance troupe. Prost! Fri-Sat noon-10 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. Carroll Park, corner of Washington Blvd and Bush St. 410-552-4144.
You’ve been waiting all year and so have the farmers! Whether it’s baking, riding, or animals from scales to tails, the Maryland State Fair will not disappoint. Watch cows and sows from Aug 26-Sept 5, as they give birth to calves and piglets in the birthing center, then sample the fair’s rides and games. All of that should work up your appetite, so race to the Food Pavilion, where you’ll be greeted by catfish, chicken, and corn on the cob. Then head to Animal World where you can pet baby llamas, horses, sheep, and pigs. And come back tomorrow for thoroughbred horse racing. Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. www.marylandstatefair.com.
Immerse yourself in a 16th-century English village without ever entering a time machine. Thou art a villager of times past at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Aug 27-Oct 23. Peruse Valley Meade for hot apple dumplings and steak on a stake. Take a trip down Mary’s Dale Way to the Royal stage for sword swallowing, magic, comedy, and more. Explore local village shops for clothing, moccasins, swords, shields, jewelry, and other ancient wares. Sip on a tall glass of meade or ale for a refreshing break, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for King Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, and the entire Royal Court! Sat, Sun, and Labor Day 10 am-7 pm. Crownsville Rd, Crownsville. 800-296-7304 or www.rennfest.com.
You’d better be present for the 2005 Capital Jazz Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion to catch celebrity artists such as Joe Sample, George Benson, Spyro Gyra, and Chaka Khan at this 13th annual event. Concert-goers can experience what has been termed the “Woodstock of jazz festivals” while either picnicking, lounging, or getting into the groove of one of the most popular summer events. June 3-5: Fri 6:30 pm, Sat-Sun 10 am. 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia. 410-547-7328.
You can do the can-can once a month at First Fridays at The Can Company. Having been transformed from an abandoned building into a shopping and dining complex, The Can Company is bringing acts like Mambo Combo, Kelly Bell Band, The Crawdaddies, and the Lloyd Dobler Effect to its premises. Along with the music, partake in food and happy hour specials. Rock out to tunes that are mmm mmm good. June 3-Sept 2. 2400 Boston St. 410-558-2262.
With groups like The T-Birds, Mood Swings, and the Bayside Big Band, the Midsummer Concert Series at Boordy Vineyards is sure to excite a crowd of jumpers and jivers. Get hip to this selection of big band, Zydeco, and ’50s and ’60s dance music, with a little salsa mixed in. Dance the night away under the stars on the vineyard lawns or have a picnic and listen to the tunes float into the night. June 11-Sept 3: Sat 6-9 pm. 12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes. 410-592-5015.
The lawns will come alive with the sounds of honky-tonk, reggae, and Haitian folk and jazz at Music at Patterson Park presented by Mercy Medical Center and WYPR. Frolic across the grass to the music of local acts such as M2K Jazz Ensemble, Fanfan and Friends, the Al Maniscalco Quartet, and more. June 14-Sept 4: Select Tue and Sun, 6:30-8:30 pm. E Lombard St and S Patterson Park Ave. 410-276-3676.
For anyone who enjoys a field trip, take a detour out of the city and drive down south for the River Concert Series at St. Mary’s College. The Chesapeake Orchestra, led by acclaimed director and trumpeter Jeffrey Silberschlag, will perform with regional and national artists at the Townhouse Green. Concert-goers are welcomed to bring their own picnics; don’t forget your blankets and lawn chairs. June 17-July 29: Fri 7 pm. 18952 E Fisher Rd, St. Mary’s City. 240-895-2024.
Come out to the Fort McHenry Concert Series and experience a piece of America’s legacy. Listen to music from the War of 1812—of both Yankee and Redcoat variety—and learn about the country’s “Second War of Independence.” You’ll even see a Yankee or two during historical reenactments demonstrating situations of the time. The music is guaranteed to raise morale and make the tamest of people enthusiastic for days gone by. June 18 and Aug 20, 1-4:30 pm.
Take a walk on the wild side with Sunset Serenades at the National Zoo. For six Thursdays, music-lovers can prowl around the Lion/Tiger Hill while taking in the sounds of rock-and-roll, jazz, R&B, and patriotic music. Stalk your food and lay down with the other animals for a picnic or simply relax in the early evening sun. June 30-Aug 4: Thu 6:30-8 pm. 3001 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC. 202-673-4800.
Jazz musicians show off their chops at the BMA’s Jazz in the Sculpture Garden this summer. This jazz fête features the talent of both regional and national artists in the setting of timeless sculptures, mirroring the nature of the music being played. Saxophone, vibraphone, and vocal performances will have jazz-lovers out of their seats and jumping to the beats. July 2-Aug 20: Select Sat, 7 pm. 10 Art Museum Dr. 410-396-6001.
Make yourself home on the ridge when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra begins its BSO at Oregon Ridge summer concert series. The world-renowned orchestra combines its musical flair with fireworks and the beauty of rolling hills to make a spectacular show. Come see the Independence Day fireworks and hear the patriotic fanfare. July 9-23: Sat 8 pm, park opens at 5:30. 13555 Beaver Dam Rd, Cockeysville. 410-783-8000.
Breathe in the bouquet of wines from both near and far while savoring the sounds of the symphony at the Summer Wine and Music Fest Series with the BSO. Sip samples and delight in the sounds of live, outdoor music, then continue the evening with a versatile symphony performance. Linger after the performance for dancing in the twilight air. July 8-29: Fri 6 pm. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. 410-783-8000.
Hot Harbor Saturday Nights and Celebrate America Sundays, part of the Harborplace Summer Concert Series, are sure to thrill Inner Harbor passersby with summer nighttime fun. Local and regional bands play on the waterfront between the pavilions in the cool evening air—grab dinner or a snack from one of the pavilions and park yourself outside for this casual entertainment setting. To Sept 30: Sat 8-11 pm, Sun 4-6 pm. Corner of Pratt and Light sts. 410-332-4191.
Spend lively evenings listening to Summer Sounds at the Square at the refurbished Belvedere Square marketplace. The recently redone, European-style market is open and thriving with business. Come out for the live music acts, such as The Crawdaddies and Junkyard Saints; you can even catch a movie at the nearby Senator Theatre after the show! To Oct 14: Fri 6-9 pm. York Rd and Northern Pkwy. 410-464-9773.
The cast of SNL won’t be there, but don’t let that stop you from coming out to Elk Run Vineyards’ Saturday Night Live Music at the Winery. Watch the sun set over the vineyard while picnicking and taking in the live music. June 4, July 2, Aug 6. 15113 Liberty Rd, Mt. Airy. 410-775-2513.
Back in the days of the Civil War, ships were wood and men were steel. Take a look at what it was like to set sail as one of the youngest members of Lincoln’s Navy on the USS Constellation Powder Monkey Tour for Kids on June 4-5. Among other activities, engage in a gun drill, tour the decks, and find out what it was like to cook in the galley. 1 and 3 pm. Pier 1. 410-539-1797.
Are you having trouble finding activities that not only teach children ancient history, but are free as well? Head over to the Walters Art Museum on June 4 and enjoy A Child’s Adventure with Cleopatra during the museum’s Free Family Flick Day. This movie invites you to travel back in time with lovable protagonists Laura and Toby, as they meet the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra, on her famous boat. Noon. 600 N Charles St. 410-547-9000.
Since the dawn of vacation time, people have yearned to go to a beach, marvel at the serene beauty of the sand—and then make neat miniature sculptures with it. On June 11, CitySand 2005 carries this tradition further, organizing teams of architects and other design professionals to compete against each other. Judges will determine who will bring home top sand-artist honor. Noon-4 pm. Harborplace Amphitheatre. 800-HARBOR-1.
Sports fans talk about historic sport events with gusto: great walk-off home runs, suicide squeezes, and diving catches. Playing witness to these events is a source of pride, only topped by one thing—getting an actual autograph of a player. On June 17, be first in line to receive this heralded aspect of sports memorabilia, during the Orioles Autograph Session at Sports Legends at Camden Yards. Many Oriole greats will be on hand to dole out their John Hancocks. 1 pm. 410-727-1539.
This time, you won’t forget that lawn chair. But of course, if you do, there will be plenty of folding chairs present at the intersection of High and Stiles streets every Friday night this July and August for the Little Italy Open Air Film Festival. Screening everything from Cinema Paradiso to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, there’s a film for everyone from the wee to the old. Grab a bite at any one of the restaurants nearby, or bring some popcorn from home. July 1-Aug 26: 7 pm. 410-528-1096.
It’s time to make your way to Annapolis for the annual USNA Model Sailboat Regatta. Kids ages 8-12 are invited to build and customize a sailboat from one of four kits. It’ll take a little wind to win this race, held in a man-made pond. The regatta will have two classes on Aug 20, the first from 9:30 am to noon and again from 1:30 to 4:00 pm. Register by Aug 6! 52 King George St, Annapolis. $30. 410-263-6933.
It doesn’t take a weatherman to know that it gets mighty hot here in Charm City. And while you may want to stay holed up in your air-conditioned family room, there are plenty of other indoor options to shun the sun. By Christina Breda Antoniades
Arundel Mills Mall, 7000 Arundel Mills Cir., Hanover, 410-540-5100. It’s kind of like what life on Mars will be like in 2505: With 1.3 million square feet of indoor air-conditioned space and 225 retailers that sell everything from baubles to bath soap to boating gear, there’s really no reason to go out into the unhealthy atmosphere. Grab a bite to eat at one of 27 eateries, catch a flick at the Egyptian-themed theater, watch a medieval jousting tournament, and play games, go bowling, or even dance at Jillian’s. And if you want to burn calories instead of bucks, join the Mills Milers walking group.
Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Dr., 410-396-7100. The BMA keeps its thermostat set to a nice 70 degrees, perfect for preserving and perusing art. For a fitting first stop, head to the central hall, home to ancient mosaics that served as tile floors, used by suburbanites in Antioch to keep their homes from heating up. For a visit that’s easy on the wallet, try the monthly Free First Thursdays, where you’re treated, gratis, to art, music, and kids’ crafts.
Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St., plus branches, 410-396-5430. Why not stroll in and pick up a biography of Baltimorean Matthew Henson, who reached the North Pole with Robert Peary in 1909. Find a cool, quiet corner to read, or take part in one of the library’s many literary-inspired programs, including a kids’ summer reading club that offers up musicians, performers and local sports heroes as storytellers (they give autographs, too).
IMAX movies at the Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., 410-685-5225. Sure, all movie theaters offer a cool, dark refuge from the summer sun, but if you’re going to sit in front of the big screen, why not make it a really, really big screen—say, five stories tall. And why not make it 3-D as well? At the Science Center’s nearly 400-seat IMAX theater, you can check out two new films this summer—Bugs in 3-D and Fighter Pilot. After the show, take your little ones to the Science Center’s water play area, where they can float boats and soak up to their elbows as they create river channels.
Mount Pleasant Ice Arena, 6101 Hillen Rd., 410-444-1888. Where better to cool off than on a great big sheet of ice? Drop in for one of the rink’s open sessions, or sign up for lessons in recreational or figure skating. To get schooled, try Monday morning adult drop-in lessons, which end in a social coffee klatch. The rink, which has been putting locals on ice for 20 years, also offers pre-registered classes during the week.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Pier 3, 501 E. Pratt St., 410-576-3800. Sure, the rainforest is a little steamy, but the rest of the aquarium is chock full of nice, dark places that are perfect for escaping the heat. If you want a sure-fire soaking, sit in the splash zone at the dolphin show. The Aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes immersion tours that give an in-depth look at marine life, and sleepovers for the kids.
Patterson Bowling Center, 2105 Eastern Ave., 410-675-1011. Ten pin is so ordinary: go duckpinning! Open since 1927, when the former broom factory was converted to a bowling alley, Patterson offers 12 lanes on two air-conditioned levels. Plus, with bowling leagues having a light schedule in the summer, the hot months are a great time to bowl.
Ultrazone Laser Tag, Eastpoint Mall, 410-288-0881. Get your kids away from their video games for a high-tech game of tag. Ultrazone is a big, dimly lit arena decked out to look like an abandoned underground substation. Race around, duck behind beat-up generators, and dart past giant pulleys to “tag” your opponents with your laser gun.
The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., 410-547-9000. The Walters boasts an impressive overview of world art from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe. For a family affair, bring the kids—the museum has drop-in art activities every Saturday, preschool programs, and family flick days the second Saturday of each month, plus kids’ activity carts that include costumes, puzzles and art projects to keep little minds (and hands) occupied.