Quiet Waters Park's 336 acres of land are a mixture of art and nature. The park, approaching its 12-year anniversary, was chosen by Bay Weekly readers as their favorite, and its popularity is only increasing.
With its inspiring nature trails, assorted wildlife, formal gardens and scattered fountains and gazebos, there is always something to enjoy at Quiet Waters. The park is also part of a sculpture program, and works are displayed throughout the grounds. A new dog park has only added to the excitement, as pet owners can now bring their dogs to play leash-free with other dogs in the designated area, which includes a dog beach. The six miles of paved trails winding through the park are good for jogging, walking, or biking, and for those who prefer the water, kayaks, canoes and paddleboats are available to rent.
Quiet Waters also has art galleries filled with works by regional artists in the Visitor Center along with the Quiet Waters Cafe. The park is home to a series of concerts throughout the year, as well as an Earth Day festival in the spring and an arts festival on November 9 and 10. In the winter time, an ice rink is opened for ice skating.
With so much to enjoy, no wonder readers chose Quiet Waters for the second year running as the Bay's Best Park.
Best Public View
North Beach Boardwalk
Bay Weekly readers know a good thing when they see it. Boardwalks come to us from another era the long, hot days before air-conditioning when people flocked to shores to catch heat-beating breezes. Like porches, boardwalks fell on hard times when America turned on the air-conditioning.
Until the 1990s, when Chesapeake towns discovered that a waterview without a boardwalk was a little like a theater with front rows. Taking advantage of Calvert Countys smooth coastline, Solomons, Chesapeake Beach and North Beach now have boardwalks.
If you want the best view in Chesapeake Country, go to North Beachs boardwalk, Bay Weekly readers advise.
In that high opinion, theyre not alone. Morning, noon and night, the seven-block stretch is the place to be and be seen. Strollers, moms and tots, runners, joggers, speed-walkers, amblers, lovers, octogenarian couples, dog-walkers, bikers and skaters, on their special adjacent path theyre all over those planks, communing with the Bay, enjoying the splendid garden planted alongside, reading historic markers, sitting a spell on benches inscribed with dedications to people no longer with us whove enjoyed this view.
This is not only a great Bay view, its a community.
Best Scenic Drive
Entering Bay Ridge, you have to slow down. The roads are narrow, some winding, dipping close to the water. But its more than just the roads that ease your foot off the accelerator.
Catboats are pulled up on the beach. Seagulls perch atop the pilings. Pampas grass grows wild. A gusting wind ruffles the trees.
The well-kept homes sit back from the road. Large windows and porches provide the residents with an ample view of summer sun and winter storms.
And from every lane you can hear, see or smell Chesapeake Bay.
Best Place to Bike/Trail Ride
With gentle hills, an abundance of greenery, numerous access points and a smooth 10-foot wide ribbon of asphalt, its not surprising that the B&A Trail is Bay Weekly readers favorite. Cyclists, hikers, joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, equestrians and dog-walkers all enjoy the 13-mile trail in harmony.
Of course, in such a setting, its difficult to be in a foul humor. Flowerbeds of black-eyed Susans smile up at you, and poplar trees shade your back. On a hot day, you can stop at the snowball stand in Severna Park or rest on one of the trails many benches.
The trail follows the route of the old B & A Short Line Railroad and passes through residential areas, wetlands, woods and pastures. Wooden-planked bridges carry you over most roads and, at the few you cant avoid, the drivers politely wait for you to cross. After all, they wish they were riding the trail instead of sitting in their cars: web.aacpl.lib.md.us/rp/parks/bat.
Best Places to Paddle
Quiet Waters Park Herring Bay
Still waters run deep? Not at Quiet Waters, where paddlers have once again chosen this accessible nature park as a favorite place to launch their kayak onto Harness Creek on the South River near Annapolis. Paddlers can bring their own, or rent sea kayaks (and canoes and pedal boats) from Amphibious Horizons, the parks concessionaire. For rentals, paddling instruction and guided trips daily except Tuesdays through October, call 410/267-8742. Park admission is $4, plus rental or instruction fees.
Kayaks havent edged out sailboats or pleasure boats yet in Herring Bay, but paddlers have discovered to their delight this broad, beautiful bay within the Bay, bounded roughly by Deale to the north and Rose Haven to the south. Finding a spot to launch your kayak remains the real challenge. Busy local marinas serving power and sailboat slip owners arent able to accommodate extra auto parking for paddlers. Rose Haven Waterfront Park a scant acre on the Bay with parking for only four or five cars is a possible launch spot. Or you could move to one of the many waterfront communities on Herring Bay.
Best Golf Course
Twin Shields the 18-hole, par-70 championship golf course near Dunkirk in Calvert County is a secret no longer. Voted Best of the Bay for the second year running, the 34-year-old course (it was designed and built by twin brothers Ray and Roy Shields in 1968 on nearly 300 acres of tobacco farmland) now attracts players from all over the area.
So if summer heat has fried your lawn at home, and you're longing to gaze down a long cool, green fairway, call the friendly folks at Twin Shields for tee times. To improve your short game (or long), or get a handle on the game, Twin Shield Golf Pro John Dodson will put you on course. Be advised, Twin Shields Golf Club is a non-metal spike facility, does not accept credit cards and does require shirts with a collar: 410/257-7800
Herrington Harbours North and South
Within an hours drive of Washington and Baltimore and convenient to boaters in between, Herrington Harbour's award-winning full service marinas provide an impressive and comprehensive array of facilities and services.
Calling itself the Caribbean on the Chesapeake, Herrington Harbour South Marina Resort offers lodging, dining and music, pool and catering on top of 620 slips with direct access to the Bay and local services.
Herrington Harbour North, a marina with a "countryside setting" and 680 slips, accommodates boats up to 90 feet with four travelifts with capacity to 70 tons and a range of services including engine mechanics, ship's carpentry, fiberglass repair, painting, detailing, rigging and prop shop and West Marine Store. Both home and resort comforts are here too, in the form of pool and restaurant, e-mail capability and laundry facilities.
Both are also well located for bicycle and small-boat jaunts. From Herrington South, you can paddle Herring Bay and bike to North Beach. From Herrington North, you can paddle Rockhold Creek into Herring Bay and bike around Deale.
Add the fact that both marinas are as friendly to the environment as they are to sailors and powerboaters, and it's easy to see why Herrington Harbour Marinas are voted best of the Bay.
The Best Public Beach
Sandy Point State Park
How do those of us in northern Chesapeake Country avoid beach traffic but still get to the beach? We choose Sandy Point State Park. For swimming, boating, fishing and picnicking, you cant beat the recreation possibilities for just $60 for an annual pass.
Go there any summer weekend and theres a party going on. Theres music in the air and the smell of burgers grilling. Launch your sailboat, take a dip. Theres plenty of public beach, lots of boat ramps and trailer parking, picnic tables for every family gathering, playgrounds, showers and concessions. The kids can play in the Bay sand while you relax. There are no rogue waves or undertow to drag them under.
Osprey fly overhead, there are several lighthouses in view and from the beach you can watch the traffic jams on the Bay Bridge while you enjoy yourself.
Breezy Point Beach
Best Place to Swim
Instead of sitting on steaming hot asphalt in traffic bound for Ocean City, many Bay Weekly readers cool off at Breezy Point Beach, just six miles south of Chesapeake Beach.
There are three reasons visitors prefer Breezy Point Beach, says Doug Meadows of Calvert County Parks and Recreation. No nettles! is the big one, thanks to a nettle net protecting swimmers. Secondly, Breezy Point offers a wide, clean, sandy beach (the county cleans up trash and debris daily). And when sunbathers need a reprieve from the sun, they can retreat to a shaded picnic area to munch on lunch (a concession stand will sprout up for next year's visitors).
Better yet, at the end of the day, campers can spend the night, the weekend or a week at a Bayfront campsite; pack a picnic or take a chance and fish for dinner on the fishing pier.
Breezy Point is open daily through October 31. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 kids (camping costs extra).
Best Place to Picnic
Quiet Waters Park
You may prefer a blanket in the middle of an open field, or a spot at the Overlook with a view of Harness Creek. Or perhaps you would rather rent one of the park's six Victorian-style pavilions. Either way, Quiet Waters Park has the perfect picnic spot for you.
That's why Bay Weekly readers voted it the Best Place to Picnic. The park has assorted nooks and crannies all over for those looking to have a good old-fashioned picnic or to entertain a large group of people. Their only rule is to leave the alcohol at home because it is prohibited in the park.
Quiet Waters Park is open from 7am to dusk except Tuesdays. Located off Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis: 410/222-1777.