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Life in the Baltimore-Washington Metro Area: A 3-Part Exploration—Part 3

Posted on July 15, 2021 by Web Dev

Miller & Smith is a prolific home builder and real estate developer (almost 20,000 and counting) in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. Our single-family homes and townhomes are luxurious, spacious, and contemporary.

We are proud of building some of the most imaginative and innovative homes throughout Stafford and Loudoun County in Virginia, and Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick County in Maryland. We love this area and we enjoy giving homeowners beautiful places from which to experience everything this region has to offer.

Welcome to this third and final part in our series of blog posts exploring the benefits of living in a Miller & Smith home in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. In this post, we’ll be highlighting all the ways you can have fun outside on land (biking, hiking, skiing, and camping) and on or near the water (boating, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), and living it up at the beach).

Enjoying the Land
The land of the Baltimore-Washington area gives us plenty of space to get out into the sun, to connect to the planet, and to play. There are no better ways to experience the natural beauty of this area than to go biking, hiking, camping, and skiing!

Biking and hiking go hand-in-hand, sharing many of the same trails and paths. Here are six of our favorite places to bike and hike around the metro area:

1. Baltimore Waterfront Promenade – 4.4 miles of paved, Baltimorean trails from Canton Waterfront Park to Fells Point. This path is a great destination experience: bike or hike to Fells Point, have fun touring all the boutique shops, eat an amazing meal, and then work that meal off on your return bike or hike.

2. BWI Hiker-Biker Trail – Watching planes take off and land brings out the kid in everyone! No matter how much you understand the science and mechanics, it’s always a little magical. This 12.5-mile trail circles BWI airport, providing you some nice exercise as you wonder where everyone is coming from and going to.

3. Capital Crescent Trail – Many great biking and hiking trails follow once-used railroad tracks, and this is no exception. The Capital Crescent trail is 11 miles long and follows the former Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad from Silver Spring, MD to Georgetown in Washington D.C. It’s historically beautiful and healthful!

4. The Gwynns Falls Trail – Connecting over 30 Baltimore neighborhoods with parks, history, nature, and each other, the Gwynns Falls Trail is a wonderful place to explore on feet or feet-powered wheels. This trail leads to additional parks with their own trails, giving you access to about 20 miles of bonus trails to venture down.

5. Walking Tour of Monuments and Memorials – Everyone comes to Washington, D.C. for the monuments and memorials, and no matter how long you live here, they are always special places to visit. This 11.3-mile tour takes you through all the major sights and is perfect for all skill levels.

6. C&O Canal Toe Path – The longest trail on our list, the C&O Canal Toe Path stretches from D.C. into western Maryland and is 184.5 miles long. One of the first large-scale, civil works projects, the canal shares its history and longevity with you anytime you stroll or bike a part of it.

Camping is another great way to really feel how special this area is, and a great home base for an extended hiking or biking adventure. Living for even a short time out in nature in a tent, camper, or cabin connects you to the land, refreshes your spirit, and recharges your body’s batteries. And while there are many wonderful places to camp all throughout the Baltimore-Washington metro area, here are three that offer a little something different:

1. Patapsco Valley State Park – This state park, just west of Baltimore, is massive, with over 16,043 acres, 8 recreational areas, and more than 200 miles of trails. Patapsco Valley State Park is a beautiful place to camp, offering fishing, horseback riding, and canoeing opportunities. You can even catch a postcard-worthy glimpse of the historic Thomas Viaduct—the world’s longest, multiple-arched, stone railroad bridge.

2. Greenbelt Park – About 10 miles outside Washington D.C. is the verdant oasis of Greenbelt Park. Boasting 174 camp sites, 9 miles of trails, and 3 picnic areas, this park is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Showers and bathroom facilities mean you never have to worry about getting too covered in nature.

3. The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground – This one has something really unique. Backing to the Appalachian Trail, The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground adds a twist. Of course, you can always pitch your own tent—or you can rent a treehouse! Add indoor bathrooms, indoor/outdoor heated showers, and a camp shop for all the essentials, and you can easily see what makes this one such a fun adventure.

Skiing is a great way to get out into nature, to swoosh between the trees, and experience the land in an exciting way! Nothing beats the cold breezes, the soft sound of crunching snow, and the warmth by a fire after a day on the slopes. You can be in the city in the morning and out on the snow in the afternoon! Enjoy these curated picks:

1. Liberty Mountain Resort – Liberty Mountain Resort is just 1 hour from both the Baltimore and Washington beltways. It features 100 acres of skiable terrain and 16 trails of varying difficulty. Of course, it’s also a full resort with all the extras: dining, shopping, skiing and snowboarding lessons, and more.

2. Roundtop Mountain Resort – With 20 trails for every experience level, 4 places to eat, a luxurious lodge, and the largest paintball operation in Central Pennsylvania, Roundtop Mountain Resort truly has something for everyone. It’s this variety that makes Roundtop a wonderful place for families to explore together.

3. Bryce Resort – In the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Bryce Resort offers skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating when the weather is freezing. But when the mercury rises, the bike park, golf course, and water activities on Lake Laura really shine. And don’t get us started on all the dining experiences!

Exploring the Water
The Baltimore-Washington area is also known for our proximity to the water. In fact, without that closeness, this region wouldn’t have become as prosperous as it is today. The Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean: all provide connection, commerce, and loads of family fun! Explore the water with stand-up paddleboarding, boating, and splashing at the beach!

Stand-up paddleboarding is an excellent way to explore the waterways of the region at a slower pace, to really immerse yourself in nature, and to see things you might not see from the shore. There are loads of great places to take your SUP in the BWI region, and here are a few of our favorites:

1. Jonas Green Park – Located in Annapolis, MD, arguably the nexus of SUP in the region, Jonas Green Park is a great place to explore on your board. It’s about a mile away from downtown Annapolis, and close to the Navy Rock Wall, a great sight to check out. It’s also free to launch from the beach and there are public restrooms.

2. Stinky Beach (AKA Homer Gudelsky Park) – In West Ocean City and close to the Ocean City Inlet, this is a spot best left to advanced paddlers due to constant boat traffic and harsh rip currents – but the thrills! When you’ve worked up an appetite in Assawoman Bay or out on the Atlantic Ocean, you can check out the Ocean City Boardwalk and grab a funnel cake or some Thrasher’s Fries before heading back. There is a port-o-potty on site for your convenience, and it is free to launch from this site.

3. Rocky Gap State Park – Located in Western MD, you will find beautiful mountains, crisp breezes, and a crystal-clear lake. No gas boats are allowed here, so this is a great spot for beginners, since the lake is glassy and calm. You’ll pay $5/person to launch from the beach, but it’s oh-so-worth-it.

Boating is another enjoyable way to have fun on the water. Some picture boating as hard work and a form of exercise, while others envision it as a more relaxed endeavor. In actuality, it’s both of those—and more. Here are three boating adventures you mustn’t forget about:

1. National Harbor – National Harbor is terrific launch into all that is fun on the Potomac River. Rent a kayak, a pedal boat, or a hydro bike and glide through the waters to your heart’s content. And afterwards, get some food and enjoy the views from The Capital Wheel or take a spin on The Carousel.

2. Alexandria Canine Cruise – Cruises can be fun for the family, and we mean the entire family—no matter how many feet they have. See the sites of the Potomac, D.C., and Alexandria with your canine companion by your side on this 45-minute cruise. Best of all, four-legged family members cruise for free!

3. Urban Pirates – Setting sail from Fells Point in Baltimore, Urban Pirates takes you for a very different sort of tour. Perfect for younger children, your family will learn how to act and talk like a cartoonishly fun pirate. You’ll even get to protect your ship’s treasure from evil pirates with water cannons.

The beach is a special place. The sea and sun and sand create an atmosphere that feels separate from regular life. It’s as if everything busy gets put on hold, and only peace and the sound of the surf remain. Here are three spots to take in all the beach has to offer:

1. Ocean City – Ocean City and “the beach” are synonymous in the Baltimore-Washington area. It’s where we all go “downey ocean.” Full of exquisite dining, exciting nightlife, and tasty, tasty French fries, Ocean City has all the fun above (hiking, biking, camping, skiing (water, that is), SUP, and boating) and then some.

2. Virginia Beach – Just like Ocean City, Virginia Beach is one of the area’s go-to destinations. Everything, just everything, can be found at Virginia Beach: all the activities, all the food, and the entertainment. everything. And, you’re only about half an hour away from Busch Gardens, for even more excitement.

3. Assateague Island – Located in between Ocean City and Virginia Beach is Assateague Island. This is a beach back to the basics: just sun, sea, and sand. But Assateague adds to this serene surf with something you can’t find at Ocean City or Virginia Beach: wild horses. It’s an amazing feeling to smell the salty air, hear the surf, and see horses running free in the distance. Definitely worth the visit!

Note: As with all public places and services, check before you visit to make sure they are open and you know what safety measures are being taken or needed.

We hope you have enjoyed this 3-part series exploring the Baltimore-Washington metro area and how wonderful it is to live here. (And if you missed them, here are links to Part 1 (Career & Educational Opportunities) and Part 2 (Culture & Dining)). Miller & Smith is proud to build new homes in the Baltimore-Washington here. We provide homebuyers—our new neighbors and friends—with award-winning (over 500 to date!), stylish, and luxurious places to call home.