Summer in the city means Druid Hill Park

This urban oasis offers benefits for both the mind and body

go play

July 01, 2006|By LIA GORMSEN | LIA GORMSEN,SUN REPORTER

Druid Hill Park has much more to offer than just scenery.

"We have designed the park to be a resource for Baltimore, a place where people can come and play," said Portia Harris, associate director of Recreation and Parks.

And play you can. The 746-acre park just west of the Jones Falls Expressway abounds with basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts and baseball fields, all free.

After you've had your fill of sports, you can cool off in the park's newly renovated swimming pool, which costs $1.50 a day or $25 for a season membership.

The park also offers lessons and group events, including water aerobics, tennis and swim lessons, tai chi and a Saturday morning walking club.

Aiming to engage not only the visitor's body, the park offers a selection of cultural events as well. On the second Sunday of each month, it sponsors "Jazzy Sunday," a free concert series in front of the Festival Bowl near Safety City. The concerts, which begin July 9, will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you happen to glimpse the sun reflecting off the reservoir, or detect that fresh-cut grass smell from the park's manicured lawns, you may just forget you are in the city. But to truly get away from it all, visit the park's conservatory and botanical gardens.

Dating from 1888, the conservatory includes three greenhouses that were designed to re-create three of the world's major climates. Walk through the Mediterranean House, complete with babbling fountains and olive trees, then into the colorful world of coyfish and papaya trees in the Tropical House. End your visit in the Desert House and you have figuratively "traveled all over the world," said conservatory supervisor Kate Blom.

The conservatory, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, is free, but a $2 donation is suggested.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the Department of Recreation and Parks Web site, www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/recnparks/home.htm, or call 410-396-6694.

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