Time for fun in the sun


Just last week it was in the 40s, and the thought of wearing flip-flops and bathing suits sent an arctic shiver down our spines. But now, as temperatures reach into the 60s and continue to climb, it's time to start thinking of places to lay down a towel and soak in some rays. Here's a list of some of Baltimore's tanning spots, away from most pounding city noise and kids in the park backpedaling to track down a pop fly.

Carroll Park

1500 Washington Blvd. -- One of Baltimore's largest parks at 117 acres, Carroll Park offers open spaces great for sunbathing. Rarely too noisy or crowded, this park provides a pastoral setting and features beautiful landscaping. A section of the park is devoted to a playground, a skate park and athletic fields.

Clifton Park

2801 Harford Road -- There are few better places to relax in the sun than on the grounds of the former estate of Johns Hopkins. The English landscape garden offers a scenic setting for a relaxing day, an 18-hole golf course and an intense tennis match on the clay courts. Hopkins' old farmhouse has been converted into an Italian villa with a tower and a view of the harbor and downtown.

Federal Hill Park

800 Battery Ave. -- Drive, jog or water taxi over to this park, overlooking the Inner Harbor and downtown cityscape. In addition to being a great place to spend an afternoon and get a little color, Federal Hill Park has quite a bit of history. Close to Fort McHenry, the park was used as a lookout point during the Civil War and War of 1812 and features monuments of historic American figures.

Leone Riverside Park

1800 Covington St. -- If you can't afford to sunbathe on your own personal yacht, Riverside Park offers a reasonable alternative with a view of the Harbor on its northern side. When school lets out for the summer, the park opens its gigantic public swimming pool for a small fee. With a quiet atmosphere, benches and a gazebo, Riverside is a great spot for a picnic.

Loch Raven Reservoir

9800 Loch Raven Drive, Parkville -- Though swimming is prohibited and there are no beaches, Loch Raven Reservoir offers plenty of room to spread out a blanket and sunbathe. There are also hiking and mountain biking trails on the 8,000 acres, and boating and fishing season recently opened.

Oregon Ridge Beach

13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville -- Save yourself the trip to Ocean City and lie on the white sand beaches of Oregon Ridge. Oregon Ridge has a camp-by-the-lake feel and provides a secluded sand experience. The parks are open now but the beach opens Memorial Day weekend. Price: $7, weekend; $6, weekday.

Patterson Park

200 S. Linwood Ave. -- History trivia. Where did Union soldiers tan during the Civil War? Patterson Park, the city's oldest park, occupies 155 acres and is known not only for its 19th century romantic feel and open fields of grass but also for its historical significance. The park also has a pool, athletic fields and a pagoda.

Rocky Point Beach and Park

2200 Rocky Point Road -- With an impressive view of the bay, the 375-acre park and 75,000-square-foot guarded beach provide plenty of room to sprawl out with your lawn chair and favorite CDs without the worry of fighting for a spot in the sand. There are plenty of grills and picnic benches as well as a volleyball court, playgrounds and a golf course. The parks are open now, and the beach opens Memorial Day weekend. Price: $7, weekend; $6, weekday; $2.50 after 4 p.m.

Sandy Point State Park

Off U.S. 50, Annapolis, at the western terminus of the Bay Bridge -- This park, stretching across 786 acres, is home to not only beaches for tanning and swimming but also recreation in the form of fishing, hiking, boating and crabbing. Located on the bay, Sandy Point offers a variety of amenities so your experience in the sun isn't limited to your MP3 player and a trashy romance novel. Price: $4, weekdays; $5, weekends/holidays



Here are some health tips to keep in mind when you sunbathe, courtesy of Dr. Rebecca Kazin, a dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Center at Green Spring Station.

Always use sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the better. Most people don't apply enough sunscreen regularly to get the full SPF, Kazin said. With an SPF of 45, you're usually only getting an SPF of 30. If you're using 30, it's more like 15.

Avoid peak sun hours, which are around noon. With sunscreen on, the average person's skin can safely tolerate about two peak hours per day, and more at off-peak times.

Getting a base tan at a salon doesn't protect your skin in any way. Though you might not burn as fast, it allows you to tan darker and damage your skin even worse.

"The bottom line is that people can go out and have fun in the sun," Kazin said. "They just need to be sensible about it."

[Sam Sessa]

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