8 Natural Escapes in Baltimore
If you’re like me, you need to be in nature at least every once in a while to relax and take a break from your daily routine. It’s been shown in studies that spending time in nature improves your mental and physical health, so it’s an important part of self-care. Even though I live in the middle of a city, there are multiple options within city limits for when I feel the need to escape from the concrete, noise, and craziness of city life. These are a few of those options for anyone living in or visiting Baltimore City.
1. Rawlings Conservatory
The Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places in Baltimore City. It includes outdoor gardens, as well as five indoor rooms that feature a distinct environment. There’s the Palm House, Orchid Room, Desert House, Tropical House, and Mediterranean House, each with a climate and plants to match the environment. There are also benches in the rooms if you want to quietly write, reflect, or relax. I always try to visit early in the morning when there aren’t many people around so I can have some peaceful alone time without interruption or distraction. They also host events like seasonal displays and the Plants and People Program series. Entry is always free with a suggested donation of only $5.
2. Cylburn Arboretum
Cylburn Arboretum is 200 acres of trees, gardens, and manicured lawns that are especially nice to visit in spring when the flowers are blooming. The park is centered around Cylburn Mansion which was built in 1863 and is open for tours, including a holiday open house in the winter. The park also includes 3.5 miles of hiking trails through the surrounding woods, a greenhouse used for educational programs, and events like the annual Market Day. Cylburn Arboretum in the spring, summer, and even autumn is the perfect place to have a picnic, take an easy hike, or relax outside with a book.
3. Canton Waterfront Park
Living in a city with a harbor is a major advantage for people who love to be around water and use it as part of their self-care. Canton Waterfront Park is a part of the harbor that has more of a grassy and tree-lined area than other neighborhoods like Fells Point, Federal Hill, or the Inner Harbor. That makes it perfect for picnics, reading, just sitting down and looking out on the water, or taking a walk along the boardwalk and piers. It’s also great for when the weather gets very warm since the breeze off the water will cool you down. Multiple events are held here, including WTMD’s First Thursday concerts, the Baltimore Seafood Festival, and the Baltimore Wine Fest, so make sure to check before planning out your relaxing self-care day in the park.
4. Federal Hill Park
Although Federal Hill Park is a city park and not even the most lush one, the fact that it’s elevated gives it the feeling that it’s not quite part of the city. Once you climb the steps or walk the path to the top and look down on the Inner Harbor and beyond, the noises of the city become muffled and you feel a nice breeze from the height. The park is a good place to bring a book and grab a bench for some reading time, take some scenic photos, or have a picnic when the weather is nice. I always find it to be a soothing relief from the city even though it’s right in the middle of it all.
5. Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park
Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park is the second largest woodland park in the country, crossing Baltimore city and county lines. It’s the only place on this list where you can completely forget you’re in the middle of a city. There are six different hiking trails throughout the park, as well as historic structures like the Civil War-era Orianda mansion and other historic stone buildings.
6. Druid Hill Park
Druid Hill Park borders the Maryland Zoo and houses the Rawlings Conservatory on its land. It includes a swimming pool, tennis courts, pagodas for events, barbecues, hidden trails, and Druid Park Lake, which is encircled by a bike and footpath, but is currently closed because of pipeline construction. On Sundays you might come across a drum circle in the park or any number of events, including a weekly farmer’s market or annual festivals.
7. Sherwood Gardens
Sherwood Gardens, now a 6-acre park, is located on land that belonged to A.S. Abell, founder of the Baltimore Sun, in the 1800’s. Today, it’s known for its manicured gardens, especially the over 80,000 tulip bulbs imported from Holland. Aside from the Tulip Display in April, the Gardens also host music and family events and a Tulip Dig where visitors can dig up tulips to take home and to make room for summer flowers.
8. Patterson Park
Patterson Park is another great urban park that includes a swimming pool, ice skating rink, tennis courts, lake, lots of green space and walkways, and the pagoda (shown below) that is decorated in lights for the holidays and surrounded by blooms in spring. There’s plenty of space for long walks or runs, picnics, and events that are hosted there like the Baltimore Kite Festival and Wine at Sunset concerts.