It’s time to celebrate a very big birthday. The National Park Service turns 100 in 2016. In recognition, NPS is inviting everyone to explore green spaces across the country. Baltimore has one national park—Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine—in addition to many excellent local parks. Besides hiking, biking and picnicking, visitors and locals alike enjoy movies, concerts and fun-filled festivals highlighting these verdant natural treasures throughout the year. Many sites below are part of the Baltimore National Heritage Area with ties to the city’s history, including the War of 1812 and the significant Battle of Baltimore.
Canton Waterfront Park
A fishing pier, a boat ramp and access to the Waterfront Promenade makes Canton Waterfront Park a picturesque recreational area. The green space features a circular Korean War Memorial with a map of the Asian peninsula and the names of 527 Marylanders who died in the conflict. With views of Fort McHenry and lots of harbor action, the park is a popular spot for picnickers and local events.
Get there: 3001 Boston St., 410.396.7931
A period mansion anchors this former private estate. Walk, hike or jog along 11 trails, or visit the Nature Museum displaying Maryland birds, bird eggs, fossils and seashells.
Get there: 4915 Greenspring Ave., 410.367.2217
Druid Hill Park
The city’s largest and oldest green space is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to The Maryland Zoo, Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, a playground, a pool, trails and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Get there: 900 Druid Park Lake Dr.
Federal Hill Park
Get there: 300 Warren Ave., 410.396.7900
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
From this fortress during the War of 1812, American troops successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy. The stellate site also inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Now, visitors from all over come for cannon firings, ranger talks and “living history” demonstrations.
Get there: 2400 E. Fort Ave., 410.962.4290
Baltimore’s “best backyard” offers playgrounds, fountains and the Audubon Center. From the top of the 1891 Victorian Pagoda, views extend to Downtown and the harbor. At the boat lake, glimpse great blue herons and other wildlife.
Get there: Easter and Patterson Park Aves.
West Shore Park
Families relax or work out on the “great lawn” of this Inner Harbor waterfront plot. Kids head to the Walter Sondheim Fountain to frolic with interactive spouts.
Get there: 401 Light St., 410.779.4700