Brace yourself — the dreaded dog days of summer are imminent. It won’t be long before pleasant breezes give way to sweltering heat, taking many activities from enjoyable to unbearable.
But summertime in Harford County is saved by shady spots, nighttime novelties and plenty of waterborne recreation. Stay cool and entertained this season with these 10 activities to help you beat the heat.
1. Sip a cold beer.
A nice cool beer after work or on a Saturday night can be, for some, the perfect way to unwind. This summer, chill out at one of Harford County’s breweries, like Falling Branch Brewery or Independent Brewing Company. At Falling Branch, which is open Saturdays and Sundays, you can hang out in the taproom or relax out in the beer garden, where there’s fun for the whole family and shelter from the sun. Over at Independent Brewing Company, you can even bring your pup and sip a wide selection of gluten-free beers and ciders.
2. Head to the trees.
Escape the harsh rays of the sun for the leafy cover of the forest. A spot in the shade can feel 10 to 15 degrees cooler than direct sun, making for much more pleasant summer hikes and picnics. For a hike, head for higher ground — which sometimes brings cooler temperatures — on the White Trail in Rocks State Park, which is a moderate-to-difficult trek that leads to the impressive King and Queen seat, a natural rock outcrop that sits 190 feet above Deer Creek. For a picnic, try the Rock Ridge Picnic Area, which offers shaded tables, grills and plenty of parking near trail entrances.
3. Take a dip.
One of summer’s tried and true staples is breaking out the sunscreen, slipping on your bathing suit and diving into the community pool. Conowingo Pool, overlooking the gleaming Susquehanna River, offers both full and partial summer memberships (after July 10) as well as daily walk-in admission for $6 before 4 p.m. and $4 starting after 4 p.m. There’s a water slide over at the Arena Club’s pool (membership required). And at Aberdeen Family Swim Center, managed by the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County, you can walk-in for $15 if you’re 16 and older, or $10 for children.
4. Set sail (or paddle).
Feel the full effect of the sea (or river) breeze from watercraft the summer. The Havre de Grace Marina offers yacht and sailing services as well as activities for the public to enjoy. If you’re over 18 (or with a parent) you can rent a kayak (starting at $40) or stand-up paddleboard (starting at $30). At the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon, early morning and sunset canoe and kayak trips offer a chance to enjoy water activities before the temperatures rise or as they lower again.
5. Go chasing waterfalls.
By now, the stunning Kilgore Falls is no longer a secret. The Rocks State Park waterfall, which made its debut in the 2002 film adaptation of “Tuck Everlasting,” is now a popular spot to cool off in the summer. But Instagram-worthy water shots also await those who visit Little Gunpowder Falls in the eponymous state park. Though its small cascades don’t come close to the scale of Kilgore, the waterway, which runs along Harford County’s border with Baltimore County, features Twin Falls, two small waterfalls along the Little Gunpowder Trail between Harford Road and Bottom Road. Susquehanna State Park visitors will also find a waterfall-like spectacle at the Mill Pond Dam, located southwest of the historic Rock Run Mill. If you decide to brave the crowds at Kilgore, park staff recommend arriving before 9 a.m. to claim your spot.
Little Gunpowder Trail from Jerusalem Mill Village, 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville; 410-592-2897; dnr2.maryland.gov.
6. Reach for the stars.
Some of the summer’s coolest activities are best enjoyed under the night sky. The Harford County Astronomical Society hosts monthly open houses at Harford Community College’s observatory. Visitors can beat the heat inside with a peek through the observatory’s enormous Astrophysics 1200 telescope, or venture outside to try out a variety of telescopes provided by Society members. On clear nights, summer stargazers can spot Jupiter, Saturn, planetary nebulae and globular clusters — which Society president Rick Fensch describes as “staring at a handful of diamonds.” Society members will also be on hand to point out stars, like the giant orange Aldebaran, at this family-friendly event.
Harford County Astronomical Society open houses will be held July 1 and Aug. 5 at 8:30 p.m. Harford Observatory, 401 Thomas Run Rd., Bel Air; harfordastro.org.
7. Break the ice.
You don’t have to wait for winter to lace up and get out on the ice. At Aberdeen’s Ice World, which is open year-round, you can abide in the winter tradition even during the sweltering heat. Daily admission is $10, plus a $4 skate rental. The skating facility offers lessons and can accommodate parties and special events. Not a bad idea for summer birthdays, date nights and unconventional summer fun.
With white walls and machines, and long, clean communal tables, Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Mount Vernon feels more like a laboratory than a coffee shop.
8. Get your caffeine fix.
Early mornings, busy days and tight deadlines don’t stop just because the weather is nicer. Itching for a caffeine fix that won’t raise your temperature with your stress levels? Give the latest coffee trend a try at a shop like Bel Air’s Coffee Coffee. The spot is among those offering cold-brew coffee, a drink that is never heated, less diluted than iced coffee, and boasts lower acidity and more caffeine than the regular stuff. At Coffee Coffee, customers will find a variety of inventive cold brews, including Kenya Sumatra and the flavored Almond Joy.
9. Savor sunset cinema.
Summer is synonymous with blockbusters. For a free outdoor way to take part in one of America’s greatest pastimes, check out Shamrock Park’s free summer movie series hosted by the Downtown Bel Air Alliance. “Minions” and “Storks” are coming up this month and “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Finding Dory” on the schedule for August. The best part? Movies start at sunset, just as temperatures start to drop.
People will travel miles and miles to sample fresh-off-the-farm ice cream and learn about the treat's origins. That's been the experience of dairy farmers participating in a state agriculture-tourism initiative kicking off its fifth summer.
10. Treat that sweet tooth.
If you didn’t have a snowball, did yohttp://marylandsbest.net/u even do summer? Get that refreshing fix at a local stand like Emmorton Snowballs and Ice Cream Shop, a community fixture since 1981. In addition to classic snowball flavors like grape, egg custard and watermelon, Emmorton offers specialties like hand-dipped coconut pineapple ice cream and a Snickers snowball with peanut butter sauce, caramel and peanuts in the middle and on top. Or kick off a trip down Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail with visits to its Harford County stops, Keye’s Creamery and Broom’s Bloom Dairy, both of which make the frozen treats from cows raised onsite.
Emmorton Snowballs and Ice Cream Shop, 101 E Wheel Rd., Abingdon; 410-569-29411; emmortonsnowballs.com.