No trip to Annapolis would be complete without a tour of the city’s diverse, lovely parks. Whether you crave oneness with nature or need a venue for a rowdy family picnic, you’re in the right place. Here are eight great spots to find inner peace or outdoor adventure.
Sandy Point State Park
1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409
There’s no better place to get up-close and personal with nature. The scenic views of magnificent Chesapeake Bay are just the beginning.
Sandy Point lies within the Atlantic Flyway, so the bird-watching can’t be beat. Around 1 million geese, ducks and swans head to Chesapeake Bay in winter. Shorebirds and songbirds stop for a breather in spring and fall.
If observing wildlife isn’t your thing, something else in the park is bound to be. Swimming, boating, fishing, crabbing and hiking are just a few possibilities. Kids enjoy the turtles, frogs and snakes on display at the Sandy Point Nature Center. There are always fun interactive exhibits, and children who already know what they want to be when they grow up can dress up as park rangers.
Quiet Waters Park
600 Quiet Waters Park Rd, Annapolis, MD 21403
Sprawling over 340 acres, Quiet Waters Park features six miles of walking trails, boating and fishing opportunities, playgrounds, pavilions for picnics and even a dog beach. Art galleries, formal gardens and a banquet hall make it ideal for fancier occasions; the park is a popular site for weddings. Special events include live concerts, food truck dining, and wine and craft beer festivals.
Jonas Green Park
2001 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd, Annapolis, MD 21409
This park may be small, but it has a lot to offer. There are gorgeous views of the Severn River, especially if you take advantage of 24/7 fishing from the pier.
The park is named after a local Colonial-era printer. It’s situated near the U.S. Naval Academy Bridge and is part of the East Coast Greenway, a national trail that winds up the coast from Florida to Maine.
You’ll meet canoers, kayakers, hikers and bikers. You might even spy an artist or two perfecting their plein air painting techniques.
Be advised that swimming is not allowed because of the river’s strong undercurrent. Aside from that, the fun never ends, and admission is free.
William Paca Garden
186 Prince George St, Annapolis, MD 21401
This is a great place to be serenaded by songbirds and brush up on history at the same time.
The gardens extend from the William Paca House. Paca signed the Declaration of Independence and served three terms as governor of Maryland.
The stately home and lavish gardens were redesigned when the house was converted to a hotel in the 1800s. Relying on archaeological evidence and a 1772 portrait of Paca that depicted the property in the background, designers restored the enclave to its original splendor. Even the shrubs and flowers were thoughtfully chosen according to 18th-century books and correspondence.
The walled 2-acre garden is distinguished by a fish-shaped lily pond, latticework bridge and two-story summer house. There are two distinctly different sections: a parterre garden, which is characterized by its formality and symmetry, and a naturalized wilderness garden.
There are guided tours of the house, but you can meander through the gardens on your own.
Thomas Point Park
3890 Thomas Point Rd, Annapolis, MD 21403
This quaint 44-acre park is a great escape for swimming, fishing or boating. Since a permit is required for entry, Thomas Point is typically less populated and quieter than the free parks.
There are plenty of herons, geese and ospreys to observe, and you might spot a family of deer or a fox scampering into the underbrush.
Revel in breathtaking views of the bay. Remember to pack binoculars for viewing the historic Thomas Point Shoal Light. It is more than 140 years old and is the most recognized lighthouse in Maryland.
Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401
From inside, you’d never know that this charming spot for bird-watching and reflection is tucked away in a bustling government office park. The 5-acre garden recreates various geographic features around the state, including a forest, a peninsula and a streamside.
The barrier-free retreat was named in honor of one of Maryland’s first ladies, Mrs. J. Millard Tawes. The trickling ponds and intense fragrances go a long way to relieve stress.
273 Hilltop Ln, Annapolis, MD 21403
The main city park boasts 80 acres of green space and accommodates picnickers, hikers, cyclists and skaters. There are three baseball fields, five basketball courts and 12 tennis courts. The city also threw in a public boat ramp for good measure.
The Roger W. “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center is a popular destination for families with hyperactive kids. The multi-level Ballocity playground features punching bags, crawl spaces, pogo bouncers and other interactive chaos. The center also has an indoor rock-climbing wall and a four-lane track for jogging or power-walking.
Susan Campbell Park
Dock St, Annapolis, MD 21401
You have 1950s civic leader Robert Campbell to thank for making City Dock a visitor-friendly waterfront. Before he envisioned a public park, the harbor was a gritty, uninviting dumping ground.
Susan Campbell, his daughter, was fond of gardening in the small park her father conceived. She died of cancer in her teens, and the park was later renamed in her honor. A memorial plaque attests to her kind, gentle nature.
This is an excellent place to stroll the boardwalk, people-watch or take in the majestic sunrise. Boat tours operate from the park, and shopping is within walking distance.
With such a myriad of possibilities, Annapolis is a great place to park it. There’s a number of great spots in the city with hiking and biking trails, too.