Parks: music, history, recreation

Variety: Annapolis area parks include trails, beaches. pavilions and playgrounds.

October 21, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

From hiking to windsurfing, concert series to sculptures, Annapolis-area parks offer a variety of recreational and entertainment opportunities, many taking advantage of access to the Chesapeake Bay and others of the area's historic heritage.

Sandy Point State Park

Windsurfing is among the most popular activities at Sandy Point, a 786-acre park at 1100 College Parkway off U.S. 50 and 301 on the Chesapeake Bay. Thousands of people go to the park to picnic, fish, crab, watch birds, hike and boat, said Sgt. Fran Gower, park ranger supervisor.

"This is the only place in the Baltimore-Washington corridor where you can swim and enjoy the beach," said Gower. "I think for us here our location is prime for the county and state."

In early September, the park is also home to the annual Maryland Seafood Festival, which features activities including a crab soup cook-off, crafts, a rock-climbing wall, and jazz, rock, Motown and Caribbean music by local bands and musicians.

Beginning about Thanksgiving each year, the Auxiliary of the Anne Arundel Medical Center holds its annual light show, and in January, hardy volunteers jump into the frigid Chesapeake Bay for the annual Polar Bear Plunge, which last year raised $315,000 for the Maryland Special Olympics.

Kinder Farm Park

Kinder Farm Park, a 288-acre unit of the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, is off Jumpers Hole Road in Miilersville.

The park has a 2.8-mile paved trail through the woods for biking and running, a playground, and tables and grills for picnicking. It also offers pavilions, which must be reserved, that hold up to 100 people, horseback riding for those who own horses and room for community gardens.

"We have beautiful wildflower meadows, which are pretty rare for this section of the county," said Bill Offutt, park superintendent. "And, of course, it's a haven for wildlife. We have a lot of small mammals, reptiles, and there is an amazing variety of birds here for bird watchers."

Park hours are 7 am. to dusk. The park is closed Tuesdays. The park prohibits alcoholic beverages, and all pets must be on leashes. Information: 410-222-6115.

Quiet Waters Park

Blue herons, herring gulls and ruby-throated hummingbirds appear during spring migration at Quiet Waters Park, 600 Quiet Waters Park Road in Annapolis. The 336-acre park not only gives visitors a change to stretch their muscles with a jog along the miles of trails, but also offers an opportunity to explore wildlife on the South River and Harness Creek.

The park offers a free summer concert series that features the Annapolis Opera and local musicians, an art gallery that displays work by regional artists, a "Sculpture in the Park" program that includes work by artists with national and international reputations, and an annual arts festival.

Other attractions include rentals of six of its pavilions and the Blue Heron Center, an indoor facility with a capacity of about 150 people.

Park hours are 7 a.m. to dusk. The park is closed on Tuesdays. The daily entrance fee is $4 per vehicle. Walkers, runners, bikers and in-line skaters are admitted free.

Information: 410-222-1777.

Truxtun Park

Truxtun Park offers boaters a boat launching facility, one of the few open to the public, said LeeAnn Hogan, director of the Annapolis Recreation and Parks Department. The park, on Hilltop Lane in Annapolis, charges a $2 fee for each launch from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No fee is charged for the remainder of the year.

The 70-acre park, open from dusk until dawn, also provides wooded trails for jogging and walking, and basketball and tennis courts.

Thomas Point Park

At 44 acres, it is one of the smaller parks in the area, but that doesn't mean that there's less to do. Visitors can fish for white perch, flounder and rock-fish, or have a picnic lunch and enjoy a view of the Thomas Point Light House. Swimming is prohibited, but visitors can use the trails for jogging or biking. The park, at 3890 Thomas Point Road, also offers a pavilion that can be rented for the day for $50. Information: 410-222-1969.

Historic London Town and Gardens

Greg Stiverson, executive director of London Town, says the diversity of the park sets it apart from others.

"The most unique thing about it is the variety we have, ranging from modern ornamental gardens to historical archaeology and the house museum," he said. "Most parks have one of the three; we have all three."

The 23-acre park at 839 Londontown Road in Edgewater, which includes an 8-acre wood-land garden filled with azaleas and Lenten roses in the spring, offers picnicking, English-style teas, public archaeological dig days and daily tours of the William Brown House, a 1760s mansion that travelers once visited for food and lodging.

Information: 410-222-1919.

Mayo Beach Park

Situated along the South River and overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, this 15-acre park on Honeysuckle Drive in Edgewater is a popular site for family reunions, large business meetings, wedding receptions and other celebrations. It is not generally open to the public. Parties with reservations can fish, swim, play beach volleyball, use a play-ground and picnic while enjoying the view of the Chesapeake.

Information and reservations: 410-222-1978.

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