Water fun in the Baltimore area with no pool membership
By By Allison Eatough and For Maryland Family magazine
May 22, 2015 at 2:23 PM
You and your family love the water, but maybe you're not quite ready to plunge into a pool membership.
Don't sweat it. From county and state parks to lakes, splash pads and water parks, there are plenty of local places to cool down and enjoy the water this summer with no contract required.
County and State Parks
Gunpowder Falls State Park, Hammerman Area 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville dnr.maryland.gov or 410-592-2897
On the banks of the Gunpowder River, the Hammerman area includes 1,500 feet of beach and swimming areas, picnic tables, pavilions, a bathhouse and food and drinks on-site at the Riverside Grille. Lifeguards patrol the swimming area from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until Labor Day. Visitors can also use the area's small boat launch for canoes, kayaks and rowboats. For an extra fee, kayaks, sailboats and stand-up paddleboards can be rented on the beach at Ultimate Watersports.
At the mouth of Back and Middle rivers, Rocky Point Park in Baltimore County is home to a 300-foot beach, swimming area, bathhouse with a first-aid station, fishing pier, pavilions, shaded picnic groves and playground. Lifeguards patrol the area from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day. Group or individual sailing lessons are also available at the park through the Baltimore County Sailing Center. Park closes at sunset.
$12 for ages 12 and older, $5 for seniors ages 62 and older on weekends and holidays. On weekdays, $7 for ages 12 and older. Discounted admission available after 4 p.m. Children under age 12 are free.
Sandy Point State Park 1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis dnr.maryland.gov or 410-974-2149
Located on the Chesapeake Bay's northwestern shore, Sandy Point has a lengthy swimming beach with views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Lifeguards protect part of the South Beach area weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. A bathhouse with restrooms and showers is on site, as are snack foods and beach and picnic supplies. Tents are not allowed, but visitors can bring see-through sun shelters without a bottom floor. Park closes at sunset.
$4 per Maryland resident, $6 per nonresident through September 30.
The splash pad, located inside North Harford Park, includes a three-ring sprayer and a whale's tail single spout. It is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
South Germantown Recreational Park Splash Playground 18056 Central Park Circle, Boyds montgomeryparks.org or 301-670-4680
The splash playground includes a 280-jet water maze, a cave with a waterfall, spraying animals, water-bucket drops and a slide. To make a day of your trip, check out the park's 18-hole mini-golf course, adjacent to the splash playground.
$4 per person. Children under age 2 are free. Splash and golf combo $6.50 per person.
Skip, hop or just run right through the streams of shooting water at this interactive fountain, located between the Maryland Science Center and Baltimore Visitor Center in West Shore Park. The fountain, which opened in 2008, draws hundreds of children each summer. Nearby tables and umbrellas can provide a break from activity if needed. In the summer, the fountain runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Free.
While the Beaver Dam Swimming Club is home to two pools, it is also home to one of the most popular swimming holes in the state. The flooded marble quarry averages 40 feet deep, is surrounded by rocks, trees and grass. Be sure to check out the rope swing — a favorite for generations of thrill seekers. Basketball and volleyball courts are also on site, as are picnic tables and grills.
$15 for ages 12 and older on weekdays, $16 on Saturdays and $17 on Sundays and holidays. Always $12 for children age 11 and under.
Cascade Lake 2844 Snydersburg Road, Hampstead cascadelake.com or 410-374-9111
The 6-acre, spring-fed lake in Carroll County includes a roped-off swimming area, a 150-foot waterslide and platforms. Nearby the "spray 'n playground" provides geysers, bubblers and water tunnels for little ones, nonswimmers and those who just want a break from the lake. In the lake, swimmers between 8 and 21 years old must pass a swim test to go beyond the 5-foot depth markers. Picnic tables and grills are scattered across the property, and paddleboats are available for a fee. The on-site Cascade Cafe sells burgers, sandwiches and snacks.
$15 for adults and children over age 7 and $12 for children ages 1 to 7 on weekends and holidays. On weekdays before 2 p.m., admission costs $10 and $8, respectively. Infants are free.
This Calvert County water park is home to eight water slides, fountains, a lazy river and a kids' activity pool. Throughout the summer, the park also hosts "night slide" events on Fridays and "character days," when figures such as Anna and Elsa of "Frozen" or Cookie Monster and Elmo of "Sesame Street" stop by for a visit. The on-site Beachcomber Grill sells salads, sandwiches and pizzas, as well as snacks and summer favorites like funnel cakes. Picnic pavilions and cabanas are available for a fee.
General admission is $21. Guests under 48 inches tall are $19. Children age 2 and under are free. Discounted tickets are available for Calvert County and Chesapeake Beach residents, seniors and military members.
Six Flags America 13710 Central Ave., Upper Marlboro sixflags.com or 301-249-1500
With a massive wave pool generating ocean-sized waves, a raft ride called "Tornado" that carries riders up to 35 feet per second, a 517-foot, high-speed inner tube slide, smaller-scale double slides and a lazy river, Six Flags America's Upper Marlboro water park has water adventures for all ages. Life vests are available for visitors under 48 inches tall or those who are not confident swimmers. And if you need a break from all the wet and wild fun, visitors can reserve cabanas, with tables, chairs, food and beverage service and tube rentals, for a fee.