July is historically Maryland’s hottest month. While we have enjoyed a rather mild summer so far, it’s time to crank up the air because the heat is on.
The National Weather Service has already released its hazard outlook for the mid-Atlantic and two words are sure to catch the eye of anyone in Chesapeake Country this weekend into next week: excessive heat.
Don’t melt just yet, CBM Bay Weekly has some ideas and options for you to beat the heat.
First up, a look at swimming around the region and where to splash when the Bay hits that bathwater temperature that even the fish don’t like. (At last check the buoy data out of Annapolis said the water was 85 degrees.) And these hot late summer weeks also attract some of our least favorite visitors: jellyfish.
If you love nature but not the heat, consider visiting a park after dark. Many sites around the region offer nocturnal activities that are much more bearable and are sure to bring out the night owls. The Patuxent Research Refuge lured CBM Intern Noah Hale away for an after-dark adventure.
And finally, ice skating isn’t just for winter. Find out where to go so you can literally, chill on ice.
Get Cool in a Pool
By Judy Colbert
If you’re a local, you’re almost guaranteed to hear from a constant parade of friends and relatives who want to crash in your spare bedroom while they visit Annapolis, Washington, D.C. or Baltimore. No big problem. You just take them to the Metro or light rail station and pick them up after their exhausting day of sightseeing.
Until they decide they’re tired of walking 20,000 steps a day or you’re faced with one of our notoriously hot and humid days. Even if you don’t have visitors, you suddenly realize it’s time to find a deliciously cool place to just relax for a few hours. But if you don’t have a membership to your neighborhood pool—or live in a community that even has a pool—where can you go?
We found a few options for your summer swim break, some are county-operated pools, a couple of nearby beaches, and a resort with all the bells and whistles.
Like locations across the country, there is a shortage of trained lifeguards currently, so be sure to call or check websites before heading out. Same goes for hours, restrictions regarding age, toilet training, food and beverages, towels, lap swimming, shallow-entrances, slides, location, cost, indoor/outdoor, and other options.
Pools with competitive swim teams may have Saturday morning meets or other team events that may close the pool. Keep an eye out for those pools that accept online reservations which may offer a discount and allow you to enter the facility just by showing your reservation.
Our list is not definitive. Rather, it highlights facilities in a variety of geographic areas, with a range of admission fees, and an assortment of facilities. If you are a DOD employee, check for special admission to swimming pools at the Naval Academy or Fort Meade.
If you prefer to swim in a more private setting, look to Swimply.com. This site operates like the Airbnb of swimming pools. Homeowners rent their own pools by the hour on the site, you just select the location, the number of guests, and the time and Swimply points you to a nearby pool for rent. Some of the pools feature amenities like outdoor restrooms, barbecue pits, hot tubs, playgrounds, heated pools, saltwater pools and more. Most pools range from $30 an hour to $100 or more, depending on size and amenities. A 10 to 15 percent fee goes to Swimply.
Anne Arundel County
Arundel Olympic Swim Center
2690 Riva Road, Annapolis, 410-222-7933, aacounty.org/departments/recreation-parks/aquatics/aosc
Currently closed through Aug. 8 for extensive renovation. The county’s largest public indoor pool (50 meters x 25 meters) includes a wading pool, 17-person spa, two 1-meter diving boards, water fitness classes, locker rooms with coin-operated lockers, and is handicapped accessible.
Youth (3-17) $5/$9; Adult $7/$11; Senior (60+), active military, disability $5
North Arundel Aquatic Center
7888 Crain Highway S., Glen Burnie, 410-222-0090, acounty.org/departments/recreation-parks/aquatics/naac
The North Arundel Aquatic Center offers an eight-lane 25-yard competition pool and a leisure pool. The leisure pool is a zero-depth entry pool with three 20-yard lap lanes, a 134-foot water slide, splash down area, water buckets, preschool water slide, vortex area and poolside spa for adults. The lap pool and water park require separate admission. A maximum of 125 tickets will be issued (first come, first served) for each water park session. Tickets sell out early, and can be purchased online, on the day of a given session. To purchase admission to the water park, please make an account at ActiveNet. To ride the yellow slide, you must be 48″ tall. To ride the red slide, you have to be under 48″ tall.
Fees: (Resident; non-resident)
Youth (3-17) $5/$9; Adult $7/$11; Senior (60+), active military, disability $5
Dunn Municipal Pool at Truxtun Park
251 Pump House Rd., Annapolis, 410-263-7928, annapolis.gov/1081/Aquatics
The leisure pool features beach entry, two curly slides, water elements, splash pad, six-lane lap pool (25 yards), snack shop (cash only), and new bath house (as of 2020) that is ADA-compliant.
Admission: City of Annapolis Resident/Non-Resident
Age 2 & under FREE with paying adult; Youth (age 3-12) $4/$7; Teen/Adult (age 13-61) $6/$10; Senior (age 62+) $4/$7
Sandy Point State Park
1100 E. College Pkwy, Annapolis, 410-974-2149, dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/southern/sandypoint.aspx
There are lifeguards on duty on the southern beaches at this state park on the Chesapeake Bay, just beyond Cape St. Claire; the park includes a bathhouse, snack bar, playgrounds, picnic area, hiking trails, 22 boat ramps, and fishing from designated areas. Dogs are permitted from October through April at the beach and have a designated pet park to explore.
Admission fees: May 1-Sept. 30: weekends and holidays $5/person; weekdays $4/person; Oct. 1-April 30: $3/vehicle
Cove Point Pool
750 Cove Point Rd. Lusby, 410-394-6248, calvertcountymd.gov/3123/Cove-Point-Pool
June 17 – Sept 5: This 25-meter outdoor pool includes a partially shaded children’s pool, 1-meter diving board, half-meter diving board, lap lanes (no lap swimming this summer), leisure pool, picnic area, shade area, shower rooms, snack/concession stand, sun bathing area, water spray, whale fountain and water buckets, waterslides. You may bring a 10’ x 10’ pop-up tent, to be erected along the fence line, space permitting.
Infants free/$3; Children and seniors $4/$6; Adults $6/$8
Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center
130 Auto Dr., Prince Frederick, 410-414-8350, calvertcountymd.gov/395/Aquatic-Facilities
The indoor pool is open all year. The competitive pool includes heated lap lanes (50 meters by 25 yards); 1-meter diving board, 3-meter diving board, movable bulkhead, open recreation swim area; step, ramp and ladder entry; Wibit inflatable obstacle course, adult swim (18+) the last 15 minutes of each hour, locker rooms, family/handicap changing rooms, fitness room.
The heated leisure/children’s pool (zero to 3 feet) has youth slides, beach style/ramp and ladder entry, and water drop buckets. The therapy pool (for adults 18+) is a heated 3.5-4.5 foot pool with adjustable walking bars, with an exercise well of 8 feet, hand rails around inside perimeter of pool, step and ladder entry, and underwater bench. There is also a 9-reson spa/hot tub for adults (ages 18+) with step entry.
Adult (18-59) $6/$8; child/senior $4/$6; Infant (1-2) Free/$3
Chesapeake Beach Water Park
4079 Gordon Stinnett Ave., Chesapeake Beach, 410-257-1404, https://chesapeakeBeachWaterPark.com
Through Labor Day. Closed Mondays; county residents only on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Admission: Weekdays 48” or taller $30/$46.75 (Thursday and Friday); Weekdays 48” or under $24/$43.25 (Thursday and Friday); Saturday and Sunday 48” or taller $30/$58.75; Saturday and Sunday 48” or under $24/$54
Kings Landing Pool
3255 Kings Landing Rd., Huntingtown, 443-968-8763, CalvertCountyMd.gov/aquatics
Now open Tuesday through Thursday, noon-4pm., through Sept. 5.
Adult (18-59) $6/$8; senior (60+) $4/$6; child (3-17) $4/$6; summer pass, adult $180/$234; senior and children $120; $156; household and 10 visit punch passes available
North Beach Boardwalk
9023 Bay Ave., North Beach, 410-286-3799, northbeachmd.org
Enjoy mostly calm waters (not suitable for surfing) on this Bayfront beach; restroom in welcome center; free boat slip for visitors; fee for umbrellas ($15), low beach chair ($10), high beach chair ($15), inner tubes (hourly $10/daily $30).
Admission: resident/non-resident (North Beach residents are free)
Adult (12-54) $9/$25; Child (3-11) $6/$10; Military/senior $6/$9
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
100 Heron Blvd. at Route 50, Cambridge, 410-901-1234, Hyatt.com or resortpass.com
Head over the Bay Bridge to visit this resort that offers day passes for its pools, depending on the month and day (and weather). The resort includes a seasonal family outdoor pool with waterslide, an outdoor tranquility pool, indoor heated pool with water volleyball, family hot tub, adults-only hot tub, poolside food and beverage available for purchase from Dock’s Poolside, game room and lawn games (bocce court, hula hoops, giant Jenga, giant Connect 4, and cornhole), nine-hole outdoor mini and disc golf course with unlimited play, dive-in-movies at the indoor pool, fitness center, complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary self-parking.
Choose from Day Pass: starts at $45 (adult); $20 (child); or the Cabana package: $250 (for up to six people). The Cabana pass includes a private shaded cabana with premium comfort sofa seating and chaise lounge chairs, complimentary bottled water, complimentary s’mores and snack kits.
For a real deal, drop off the kids for the Kids Camp Hyatt day camp (9am-noon) for ages 4-12 (afternoon and all-day camp options also available) and get access for one adult for all the Day Pass amenities while the kids enjoy special activities.
Find all these passes at resortpass.com and search for Hyatt Regency Chesapeake. Note: only one adult pass is included with Kids Camp. Parents must stay on property at all times during your child’s stay in camp.
Bullfrogs on Parade: Walking the Patuxent at Night
By Noah Hale
I’m a nature-lover at heart—my childhood was built upon walks on the beach and hikes in the woods; that’s what happens when you grow up in the middle of nowhere. You get used to the outdoors. For some people, maybe that’s why they don’t find themselves coming back to it all. How many more mosquito bites and muddy sneakers can one person live with before they shut themselves up indoors, safe and sound?
But every once in a while, if you’re like me, you hear the call of the wilderness, and you say to yourself, “How can I say no?” That’s how I found myself outdoors in the dark last month for a night hike in the Patuxent River Research Refuge in Laurel.
The concept is self-explanatory: hikers meet late in the evening to walk one of the park’s many trails. You can expect to encounter a unique set of wildlife that thrives in the dark, since most of the refuge’s residents are nocturnal.
Soon after I parked my car, a volunteer showed the group pictures of some of the animals that we might see: bats, beavers (the best time to see beavers, he told us, was at sundown), foxes, toads, frogs, and opossums, to name a few. Our group was just as miscellaneous as all of these animals—some were students; some were solo; some were families; and the rest were volunteers who were there to help guide us.
As soon as we left the parking lot, I could immediately feel something change. It was getting darker, and our arrival seemed to perfectly coincide with nature’s living light show, the fireflies. They were all around us, so I was surprised when the ranger said that there were usually a lot more of them on these hikes. But while we were lacking fireflies, we weren’t lacking amphibians. There were thousands and thousands of toads and frogs. Or so it seemed.
At first we heard them from a distance. I didn’t think their volume was any louder than what you’d normally hear in your own backyard, but eventually the footpath changed direction and the ranger had us stop next to a pitch-black swamp. We could hardly hear each other; the only thing we could hear were the throaty calls of the creatures that surrounded us—the baritone notes of common toads, the banjo-like notes of young green frogs … It was backwoods rock-and-roll, all the way through. If you listened for long enough you could even tap your foot to a rhythm. The biggest rockstar here, though, had to be the bullfrog who had followed us everywhere we went. Its characteristic jug-o-rum was the theme song of our hike, and no matter where I stopped to get a drink of water, I could find one sitting next to the trail or hear an army of them jug-o-rumming in the darkness of the woods. It was humbling to see this jumper sitting next to me in the moonlight, its big throat bulging, probably wondering why this weird ape was crouched down to look at it.
After the hike, Ranger Jeff Bolden said he began the night hikes ten years ago in order to show off more of the park. “We had an evening hike called an ‘owl prowl’ where they would go and look for owls, but I didn’t want just birders, I wanted an overview of the whole place,” he said.
Now Bolden plans night hikes for different times of the year when the wildlife and the landscape change with the seasons. He is a passionate educator and took his time to answer questions and point out interesting plants and animals.
“For people who don’t understand nature, or who are afraid to go out, this is the best time to do it,” said Bolden. “It’s with a group of people, and I’ll supply anything like a flashlight or bug spray … my main goal is to try and get people out, and to try and get them interested in nature.”
The next night hike is scheduled for October, when the dead leaves will lay the foundation for yet another set of feet—animal and human alike. By that time I’m sure I’ll hear nature again. Of course I’ll go.
Put the Heat on Ice at a Skating Rink
Trade your flip-flops for ice skates this summer—here are a few ice rinks in the area that are currently open to the public.
City of Bowie Ice Arena, 3330 Northview Dr., Bowie: 301-809-3090, cityofbowie.org/105/Ice-Arena
The City of Bowie’s Arena will be holding several different skating events this summer including public and family skate sessions and “Recess on Ice,” a fun-filled program designed for young kids on the ice. Admission is free during their “Skate in the Shade” events. Check their monthly calendar for the next available session. $6 Resident/$8 Non-Resident. $3 Skate Rental.
Piney Orchard Ice Arena, 8781 Piney Orchard Pkwy., Odenton: 410-672-7013, pineyicerink.com
Formerly the practice facility for the Washington Capitals, this ice rink now offers public skates and skate lessons throughout the summer. See their website for upcoming events, and if you’re interested in a public skate session, make sure to register online. $11 Admission. $3.30 Skate Rental.
The Gardens Ice House, 13800 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel: 301-953-0100, thegardensicehouse.com
Visit the largest ice skating facility in the Delmarva area. Covering 150,000 square feet, there is plenty of room for activities such as ice skating lessons and hockey games—and public ice skating of course. There’s even a gym on the second floor. If you’re hungry while you’re there grab a bite to eat at their Icebreakers Cafe. Register on the website. $7.70 Admission. $4.75 Skate Rental. thegardensicehouse.com