So many people say they move to Anne Arundel County because they want to be surrounded by greenery — they love the trees, grass, bushes, and other plants. They love being in nature. They want their kids to have the opportunity to run around and explore. They want an excuse to get out in the fresh air. And even if your home has a great backyard or your neighborhood has a spacious common area, it’s sometimes nice to have a change of scene and go somewhere you can hang out underneath the bright sunshine and take in the beautiful view.
And in Anne Arundel County, there’s no better place to do that than one of our amazing parks. At the parks, you’ll find a wide-open world where you can have the best day ever, with places where you can access the water, places where you can picnic, places where you can ride a bike or go for a hike, and places where you can learn about the environment. And then the next weekend, you can go right back and do something completely different!
While there are many parks in the greater Annapolis area, here are our picks for the top five parks you don’t want to miss.
- Quiet Waters Park
Located in Annapolis right between the South River and Harness Creek, Quiet Waters Park offers a little bit of everything. Spread across 340 acres, this destination is a mix of shady woods and grassy fields with plenty of sun exposure. Walk or ride your bike along the 7 miles of paved-trail that winds its way around the park, or make a stop by the playground, where parents can kick back and watch their kids play on the slide, swing, or monkey bars.
When you’re done exerting all your energy, refresh yourself by enjoying lunch at one of the picnic tables. You could also go relax on one of the benches or gazebos overlooking the water. Bring Fido to run around in the fenced-in dog park or splash around in the water on the dog beach (unfortunately, swimming is restricted to only dogs — people aren’t allowed to swim or bathe in the water).
While Quiet Waters Park might not have swimming access, people can still get out on the water via the cartop boat launch. Don’t have a vessel? Rentals are available during the spring and summer. Get a boat or a standup paddle you can use to navigate the water.
The fun at Quiet Waters Park isn’t just limited to the summer. During most winter seasons, there’s an ice rink available for a nice cold-weather outdoor activity. (Unfortunately, the ice rink is closed for the 2021 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic).
- Baltimore & Annapolis Trail
Although the B&A Trail isn’t exactly a park in the traditional sense of the word, it’s still a great place to go on beautiful days year-round. The 13 miles of paved trail run from Boulters Way in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, cutting through interspersed patches of woods and suburban community (with access to retail shopping and restaurants). There are also plenty of rest stops with picnic tables, benches, and (for those who are getting their workout in) chin-up bars.
Be sure to make a stop at the Hatton Regester Green in Severna Park, approximately at the midpoint of the trail. This picturesque rest area offers a gazebo, fish pond, gardens, and benches where you can sit to enjoy the scene.
- Sandy Point State Park
Want to go to the beach but don’t have time to drive all the way to the ocean? Sandy Point State Park is a great option. Located right on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, this park offers nearly a mile of sandy swimming beaches where visitors can bask in the sun or take a refreshing dip in the water on a hot summer day. During the on-season, chair and umbrella rentals are available, as are snacks from the concession stand.
But swimming isn’t the only activity you can enjoy. The 780 acres of this state park boast public boat ramps, small craft ramps for kayaks and standup paddles, picnic areas with grills, piers for fishing and crabbing, and trails for viewing birds or other wildlife.
Be prepared to spend the full day at Sandy Point and it’s very likely that even then you won’t have time to do everything you want to do. Better plan another trip soon!
- Kinder Farm Park
With wide open fields, miles of paved trails, quiet forested areas, and fun playgrounds, Kinder Farm Park in Millersville has a lot to offer — but what really sets this park apart from others is its agricultural history. Once a farm owned by the Kinder family, the park is a place where local residents can go to learn about how farmers in the early part of the 20th century lived. Just stop by the visitor center to see artifacts from the Kinder family’s life, including a tobacco press used for harvesting tobacco crops.
That’s not the only tie the park has to the agricultural industry. There are barns and animal pens where visitors can stop by to see the farm animals owned and cared for by the Kinder Farm Park 4-H Livestock Club. You’ll get to see chickens, turkeys, geese, cows, pigs, goats, and sheep.
- Downs Park in Pasadena
A little farther north than the other parks on this list is Downs Park in Pasadena. Located right on the Chesapeake Bay, this park boasts more than 200 acres of natural area and recreational space. Visitors can walk or bike along the five miles of paved trails or stop by the fishing pier to cast a line. Take in the amazing view of the bay from one of the benches or get out on the water via the kayak launch. Don’t be afraid to bring the dog — like Quiet Waters Park, Downs Park offers a small beach where dogs can splash around in the water.