From old-fashioned fun to adrenaline rush

Recreation: Land, water and sky provide plenty of opportunities for a good time.

August 08, 2004|By Kathy Bergren Smith | Kathy Bergren Smith,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ready to try something different? With plenty of open spaces and waterways, Anne Arundel County offers plenty of offbeat recreation - from the sky to deep below the sea.

Head to Lee Airport in Edgewater and for $125 take a one-hour introductory flying lesson at the Navy Annapolis Flight Center (www.nafcflying.org). If you like the thought of piloting a plane, the instructors at the flight center will take you through all the training you need to earn private pilot certification. The center, which also provides introductory training in flight to Navy personnel, teaches students to fly in Piper or Cessna aircraft.

Closer to Earth - besides the miles of bike trails, the parks and waterways, the places to take horseback riding lessons and rent Jet Skis - the county has some old-fashioned fun for kids of all ages.

Remember mini-golf? Night Hawk Golf Center on Route 3 South in Crofton (410-721-9349) offers the loopy-loops and waterfalls that make golf fun. For $4 an adult and $2.75 for children younger than 10, golfing grownups can play 18 holes with their kids. The center is open until 10 p.m. every day, and weekend nights draw lots of teens.

On Ritchie Highway, the Severna Park Golf and Sports Center (410-647-8618) offers miniature golf, a driving range and a nine-hole par 3 course. Golf balls not your bag? Head into the batting cage and hit a dozen pitches for 75 cents.

There is something really silly but very fun about driving little cars around a track. Crofton Go-Kart Raceway (410-721- 2900) on Route 3 is the place to scratch the itch to rally around at 22 mph. Kids need to be at least 8 years old and 4 1/2 feet tall to drive, otherwise they can ride with someone older than 16. A single cart costs $2.25 a lap and a double $2.75 a lap. Aqueelah Sellars, 20, of Upper Marlboro has been going to the raceway since she was a little kid. "It's really fun to come, especially with a group of friends," she said. She likes it so much that she got a job at the raceway.

On Friday and Saturday nights throughout the hot summer, you can cool off at the Benfield Pines Ice Rink (www. benfieldpinesicerink.com). For $6 admission and $2 skate rental, chill out from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

How about a game of "capture the flag" with paintballs? "Paintball is a real adrenaline rush," says pro player Tom Cole. He and his partners own BC Paintball Supplies at the Festival at Riva in Annapolis. He says everyone has to try it. The biodegradable paintballs are like gel capsules, and the paint they splatter is water-soluble and washable. Head out to Hanover near Route 175 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to the Anne Arundel Paintball Park (www.rrpb.com). You can rent all the gear you need and play all day.

Of course there are plenty of ways to have fun on the water, but Mike Nieman of Eastport's Chesapeake Underwater Sports (www.chesapeakescuba.com) says scuba diving is a safe and fun way to venture into another world. He has taught thousands of people to dive through a combination of home study, classroom work and pool instruction. Divers can get certified for $299, which includes an open water dive in Northern Virginia. Nieman also offers many trips to diving destinations such as the South Pacific and the Caribbean.

Not ready for scuba? Scuba Hut in Glen Burnie (410-761- 4520) will teach snorkeling, too. Other dive classes can be found at Sea Colony Aqua Sports (www.seacolony.net) in Severna Park and Annapolis Scuba Center (www.annapolisscuba.com).

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