Cylburn Arboretum, Coldspring
The city’s living plant museum is home to all manner of domestic and exotic species in 20 themed gardens on 207 acres. We suggest throwing down a blanket near the Heritage Rose Garden behind the park’s stone mansion.
Lillian Holt Park and Center for the Arts, Overlea-Fullerton
This out-of-the-way oasis offers 13 acres of trails and gardens, including an arboretum, a lily pond, and a labyrinth with a Zen meditation garden. Chain restaurants proliferate nearby, or bring your own edibles.
Druid Hill Park, Reservoir Hill
Druid Hill Park stuns with its outdoor botanic gardens, which can be seen for a suggested $5 donation.
Jonas Green Park, Annapolis
This little sliver of greenery on the banks of the Severn River opposite the Naval Academy is beloved for its free fishing pier, petite beach, and tidy picnic area.
Flying Point Park, Edgewood
Jutting out into the Bush River, this serene slice of upper bay waterfront boasts ample recreational facilities, including picnic areas with grills and tables, plus a horseshoe pit, playground, and boat launch.
Downs Park, Pasadena
Another unheralded bayside gem, this 236-acre expanse of open space features walking trails, picnic amenities, a large playground, and, best of all, a dog-friendly beach. $6/car.
Middle Branch Park, Cherry Hill
Just over the Hanover Street Bridge from Federal Hill/Riverside, Middle Branch Park offers lovely views of the Patapsco. You may even see a crew team or two stroking down the river thanks to the nearby boathouse.
Wyman Park Dell, Johns Hopkins/Homewood
The 16-acre, bowl-like dell shields visitors from traffic on Charles and 29th streets. The shady lawns and slopes are especially helpful when seeking protection from the full heat of a Baltimore summer.
Patterson Park, Upper Fells Point/Butchers Hill/Canton
Pick your picturesque position: by the boat lake, perched near the pagoda, in front of the marble fountain, or down by the dog parks. Grab grub from any of the nearby eateries. We recommend a crab pie from Matthew’s Pizza.
Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia
Shake off suburban office park stupor with a jaunt around this 27-acre man-made lake. Pop over to the nearby Whole Foods for a grab-and-go meal and you’ll be back at your desk with time to spare.
Federal Hill Park, Federal Hill
Gaze upon the hustle and bustle of downtown at this grassy rise overlooking the Inner Harbor. Benches, monuments, and a large playground make it fun for the whole family.
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum, Catonsville
This 142-acre site honors the life of Benjamin Banneker, often called the first African-American man of science. The park offers good walking trails and picnic areas, but do make time for the exhibits, too. Snacks from either Atwater’s or The Breadery will complete the experience.
Fort McHenry, Locust Point
The star-shaped fort played a “key” role in American history when Francis Scott Key watched its bombardment during the War of 1812 and wrote what would become the lyrics to our national anthem. There’s a $10 entrance fee to the historic area, but walking the perimeter along the water is free.
Hampton National Historic Site, Towson
There’s plenty to absorb at this former estate that once belonged to the prominent Ridgely family, from the beauty of the stately, cream-colored Georgian mansion to the sobering exhibits on slavery and indentured servitude.