Antietam National Battlefield, Route 65, Sharpsburg, (301) 432-5124, www.nps.gov/anti, $3. Stand on the very Civil War site where 23,000 men were killed or wounded in a single day. Learn a bit watching the documentaries shown in the visitors’ center and take the self-guided, 8 1/2-mile driving/walking/biking tour.
Beartown State Park, near Hillsboro, W. Va., (304) 653-4254, www.beartownstatepark.com, free. Local residents claim that the cave-like openings in the mountain made ideal winter dens for black bears, and the many deep, narrow crevasses look from above like the streets of a small town. Luckily, you won’t see any of the park’s namesake inhabitants, but you will be able to marvel at its natural beauty.
Berkeley Springs State Park, 2 S. Washington St., Berkeley Springs, W. Va., (304) 258-2711, www.berkeleyspringssp.com. Relax in the curative waters of the natural spas visited many times over by George Washington. Treat your mind and body with a day off, or visit the quaint historic town. Arranging nearby lodging—with spa treatments included with rooms—is easy, just visit www.cacaponresort.com for details.
Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, W. Va., (304) 259-5216, www.blackwaterfalls.com. The park’s amber-colored waters make it one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia. Discover what other natural wonders the site has to offer while hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or fishing. And if you wish to stay the night, Blackwater offers lodge rooms, cabins, or campgrounds.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, Del., (302) 653-6872, www.fws.gov/northeast/bombayhook, $2-$4. Established in 1937, Bombay Hook serves as a refuge and breeding ground for migrating birds and other wildlife. See them getting it on in their natural setting.
Cabin John Regional Park, 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Rockville, (301) 299-4555, www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/facilities/regional_parks/cabinjohn/index.shtm. This 528-acre refuge offers baseball fields, tennis courts, soccer fields, an ice skating rink, campgrounds, a nature center, hiking trails, a miniature train, and summer concerts. Whoever Cabin John is, he sure is generous.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Route 765, Lusby, (301) 743-7613, www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/calvertcliffs.html, $3 per car. Do some fossil hunting along the park’s trails (access to the cliffs is no longer available), or just enjoy a picnic and some fishing, sans the dog (pets aren’t invited).
Cascade Lake, 3000 Snydersburg Road, Hampstead, (410) 374-9111, www.cascadelake.com, $5-$10. Spend a day hittin’ the ole waterslides, or enjoy some catch-and-release fishing. Don’t forget to visit the animals in the petting zoo; only $1 admission.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, Brunswick, (301) 739-4200, www.nps.gov/choh, $3-$5 for 3 days. Enjoy an exhaustive range of activities that include backpacking, biking, bird watching, boating, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, nature walking, and wildlife viewing. Now admit it, aren’t you tired just reading the list? We are.
Crooked Creek Horse Park and Trail, R.D. 6, Box 279 G, Friendship Plaza, Kittanning, Pa., (724) 845-4502, www.crookedcreek-horsepark-faha.com, fees are based on usage. Shut up. An equestrian heaven, Crooked Creek features trails and rodeos and horse shows and clinics and other stuff for those who love the ponies. Unfortunately you can’t rent the horses, so if you’ve never experienced the joy of a huge animal between your thighs, you best find one before you visit.
Elk Neck State Park, Route 272 south of North East, (410) 287-5333, www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/elkneck.html, $3-$4, although the rifle range is more. Over 2,000 acres of beaches, marshlands, and wooded bluffs to explore and camp on. Do a little swimming, fishing, or canoeing while you’re out there. Or rifle-ing.
Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area, Routes 273 and 213, Elkton, (410) 398-1246, www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/fairhill.html. Learn about conservation of the park’s resources at the Nature Center, or do a little hiking, cycling, or horseback riding on the trails. Or a li’l betting on the horses if you are so inclined. We are.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Fort Avenue and Wallace Street, (410) 962-4290, www.nps.gov/fomc. Check out the sights at the fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” as brave Americans held off a British attack during the War of 1812.
Friendship Landing, Friendship Landing Road, Nanjemoy, (301) 932-3470. Nanjemoy Creek offers kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. In fact, the dock is a free fishing zone, which means that no license is required to throw your reel.
Gettysburg National Military Park, 97 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, Pa., (717) 334-1124, www.nps.gov/gett. Now’s your chance to go without a permission slip and chaperon, so take in some of the local culture while exploring the battlefields.
Greenbrier State Forest, near White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., (304) 536-1944, www.greenbriersf.com. Hike trails that loop around Kate’s Mountain, offering the chance to see wildlife, rare flowering plants, and a view from the top. On your less motivated days, take a fishing or boating trip or enjoy the outdoors from a shaded picnic area.
Gunpowder Falls State Park, Kingsville, (410)-592-2897, www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/gunpowder.html. With over 100 miles of trails as well as canoeing, hunting, swimming, and fishing, you’ll find no shortage of ways to get your blood pumping here.
Gwynns Falls Trail, Leakin Park, (410) 396-0440, www.gwynnsfallstrail.org. Take refuge from the hustle and the bustle in 2,000 acres of green shade available for hiking, biking, roller blading, fishing, picnicking, bird watching, or just napping under a tree.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Harpers Ferry, W. Va., (304) 535-6029, www.nps.gov/-hafe. Harpers Ferry is a hotbed of American history. Visit the original buildings and learn the stories of John Brown’s 1859 raid on the U.S. Arsenal, and uncover how the Harpers Ferry went from a small town to one of the nation’s first industrial centers.
Hopewell Recreational Area, Bradford, Pa., (814) 723-5150, website. Do you like camping? Fishing? Restroom facilities? Of course you do. Just remember to leave the car behind, since the grounds are only accessible by walking or by boat.
Jane’s Island State Park, 26280 Alfred Lawson Drive, Crisfield, (410) 968-1565, website. Paddle the waterways around the island for fishing or crabbing opportunities, rent a cabin, and call it a weekend.
Lake Waterford Park, 830 Pasadena Road, Pasadena, (410) 222-6248, website. The 108-acre park is perfect for hiking, fishing, and picnicking, and offers a “boundless” playground. Don’t miss out on their “adopt a duck” program.
Loch Raven Fishing Center, Loch Raven Reservoir, 12101 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 887-7692, website. Rent a boat and enjoy a tranquil afternoon on this 2400-acre reservoir, testing your skills on a variety of fish.
Martinak State Park, 137 Deep Shore Road, Denton, (410) 820-1668, website. So nearby, it’ll be like camping in your own backyard—that is if your backyard was surrounded by the Choptank River and Watts Creek. Try your rod at fishing for bass, catfish, perch, and sunfish, or relax at the campsite.
Marshy Point Nature Center, 7130 Marshy Point Road, (410) 887-2817, website. Take a day to do a little bird watching and exploring in one of Baltimore’s newest nature centers.
Mountain Club of Maryland, 7923 Gallop-ing Circle, (410) 377-6266, . Thomas Jefferson once owned this 90-foot wide and 215-foot tall natural wonder situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges near the Lace Waterfalls. Stay ‘til dusk for the sound and light show that, according to the Web site, “transforms the Bridge and glen into a marvel of living stone.”
Oregon Ridge Nature Center and Park, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Hunt Valley, (410) 887-1815, website. Originally a mining site, this large Baltimore County park now sports a nature center, several exciting trails, and a ton of other “get back to nature”-type stuff.
Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, (410) 461-5005, website. One of Maryland’s first state parks, the 14,000 acres of land that stretch along 32 miles of the Patapsco River offer activities for anyone looking to get some fresh air while hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or just plain picnicking.
Pemberton Historical Park, Pemberton Drive, Salisbury, (410) 548-4900, website. Do a little hiking or fishing in one of the oldest parks in Maryland. It’s educational too—check out the museum and plantation house.
Purse State Park, 2750 Sweden Point Road, Marbury, (301) 743-7613, website. You can fish, hunt, hike, and bird watch on this 90-acre reserve, but the real draw is fossil hunting along the shore. Just check the tides before you go.
Robert E. Lee Park, entrances off of Lake and Bellona avenues, (410) 396-0808. Take it easy or test your hiking mettle on the twisty trails that wind around Lake Roland.
Rocks State Park, 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville, (410) 557-7994, website.
html. Come seat yourself on the same rock thrones once occupied by the Susquehannock Indian King and Queen. You can also occupy yourself with rock climbing, fishing, hiking, and canoeing.
Rocky Gap State Park, 12500 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, (301) 722-1480, website. There’s a ridiculous amount of outdoorsy activities in this 3000-acre park, including cycling, hiking, swimming, and fishing.
Rocky Point Beach and Park, Rocky Point Road, Essex, (410) 887-3873, website. This 375-acre park, which offers swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, and assorted beach-type activities, is located at the mouth of the Back and Middle rivers. Have a picnic and just watch the waters ripple.
Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis, (410) 974-2149, website. Enjoy swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and windsurfing on this 786-acre park, or just have a picnic with a breathtaking view of the Chesapeake Bay.
Sassafras River Natural Resource Management Area, 12 miles north of Chestertown on Turner’s Creek Road, (410) 820-1668, www.kentcounty.com. This 1000-acre park is teeming with wildlife such as raccoon, deer, and chipmunk, but the real draw is the opportunity to see bald eagles in their natural habitat. Show a little patriotism and check it out.
Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Mill Road, Gaithersburg, (301) 924-2127, website. This 6,300-acre park has all the essentials for the weekend outdoorsman, including a 16.5 mile trail along the Seneca Creek Greenway, and a restored 19th century one-room schoolhouse.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201