Four great parks to explore within easy driving distance.
By Mary Ann Ellifritz
If you’re searching for a fun day with the family close to home, look no further! Local parks provide an abundance of great activities, no matter the time of year. Here’s the inside scoop on the most popular parks in our area, so get out there and enjoy!
Hagerstown’s Historic Jewel
The first designated park in Hagerstown, MD, City Park opened in 1915. Featuring a lovely collection of man-made lakes, wooded walking trails, picnic facilities, and active recreation facilities, City Park welcomes 100,000 visitors annually to enjoy its natural beauty and peacefulness. Home to a large variety of waterfowl, the Park’s white swans are local celebrities in their own right, drawing both children and adults to watch their graceful dance across the tree-lined lake.
Historic City Park is home to the Jonathan Hager House & Museum, the original homestead of the City’s founder, Jonathan Hager. The park is also home to The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, one of the finest small museums in the nation, and the Mansion House Art Gallery, a Georgian-style mansion house built by John Heyser in 1846, which serves as the headquarters for the Valley Art Association.
Fun fact: City Park lake is fed by seven springs and was constructed by modifying natural features.
Visitors can also enjoy summer concerts at the Peter Buys Band Shell by the lake, dedicated in 1960 to the conductor of the Municipal Band, or visit the newly-built Vietnam War Veterans Monument. A railroad museum features items from the Western Maryland Railroad Company, and visitors can explore Steam Engine 202, built in 1912 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and retired in 1953, which carried passengers and baggage between Baltimore and Hagerstown. Annually, City Park hosts the Hagerstown Municipal Band, Gospel, and modern concerts, Christmas tree lighting, Fall Fest, and picnics in its five pavilions. A recent addition is the Christmas light show with music on the lake and surrounding area.
Parks manager for the City of Hagerstown, Mark Haddock finds that people enjoy “the peacefulness of the swans, ducks, and geese on the lake, the natural rock formations, trees, shoreline and other untouched natural features throughout the park—along with the playgrounds, pavilions, sitting areas and Art and cultural attractions.”With so much to see and do, Haddock is sure that “everyone that visits City Park will create their own favorite memories and stories to cherish and share.”
501 Virginia Avenue, Hagerstown, MD
Southern PA’s Sports-Lovers Paradise
What began as a small park with a municipal pool in 1970 has become the center of outdoor activities in Chambersburg. Superintendent of Recreation Julie Redding estimates that over 200,000 people visit the park each year. The wide variety of community events — like outdoor concerts at the band shell and the annual Independence Day celebration with fireworks, food trucks, and fun — complement the Recreation Department’s camps and activities, soccer leagues, and the seasonal draw of the Aquatic Center.
Chambersburg Memorial Park is all about staying active! The 38-acre park features two playgrounds for children 2–12 years of age, with recently-installed fully- inclusive components, the We-Go Swing and the We-Go Round. The colorful rides are fun for individuals of all abilities but are especially beneficial for those with a wheelchair, who can roll up and lock on with their wheels to enjoy its benefits.
Fun fact: Chambersburg Aquatic Center, Cumberland Valley’s only water park, is visited by more than 60,000 people annually.
The park has options like a continuous loop for walking and rollerblading; fields for soccer and baseball; and courts for pickleball and tennis. The family-favorite Chambersburg Aquatic Center has a pool and splash park with three water slides, a Lazy River, a “sprayground,” tot pool, mini-golf course, and sand volleyball and basketball courts.
Redding also recommends visiting the Recreation Department’s website for a complete list of activities. She also noted that the Recreation Department welcomes volunteer participation and relies on volunteers to offer various youth sports year-round.
Memorial Park is beloved, says Redding, “because it offers something that the vast majority of people would find to be an enjoyable form of recreation, either passive or active.” Judging by the large number of people who enjoy the park and its well-curated offerings, Memorial Park has found a home in the heart of the Cumberland Valley community.
Chambersburg Memorial Park
1 Washabaugh Way, Chambersburg, PA
Remembrance in the Eastern Panhandle
War Memorial Park is the most visited of Berkeley County’s 16 parks, with an outdoor pool facility, leisure pool, multi-purpose room, six pavilions, two outdoor tennis courts lined for pickleball play, two sand volleyball courts, an 18-hole lighted miniature golf course, four playgrounds, open picnic areas and a covered concert stage with bleachers.
The zero-entry pool offers summer swim lessons, as well as a senior swim session every weekday in the summer. the park hosts several annual events,
such as the June Jubilee, the free Toni Saylor Summer Concert Series, and the Labor Day Breakfast, which is hosted by the War Memorial Foundation to support the Park.
Executive Director Bob Williams points out that the 19.5-acre park has always been supported by “incredible people that come together to make a difference for our community.” This has been true from the very beginning when, on March 28, 1947, the Berkeley County War Memorial Association Inc. was officially formed and purchased land for $15,000 to memorialize area residents who lost their lives in World War I. Officially dedicated in August 1959, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation took over daily operations in 1987.
Fun fact:Tuscarora Creek rambles through War Memorial Park and is a popular spot for wading and trout fishing.
At the center of War Memorial Park is a WWI doughboy statue which includes the names of 41 soldiers from the area who served in World War I, along with a list of nurses and a separate list of African American soldiers.
In an area noted for its many lovely outdoor spaces, Bobs thinks he knows why War Memorial Park in particular attracts so many repeat visitors. “It has something for everyone. From spending time on the playground, enjoying a dip in the pool, playing a round of mini-golf, shooting hoops, having lunch in a pavilion, or watching ducks down by the Tuscarora Creek, you will have a fun time. It’s the heart of the community. We have memories here. We honor and respect our veterans here. We gather with friends and family here.”
War Memorial Park
500 Tennessee Avenue, Martinsburg, WV
War Memorial Park
A Green Oasis in the Heart of Downtown Frederick
Baker Park is home to miles of trails for walking, biking, and running, athletic facilities, playgrounds, historic structures, pools, and much more — making it a gathering point for the community for holidays, concerts, and special events like Frederick’s Fourth and the summer concert series.
Jake Wynn, the marketing and communications manager for Visit Frederick believes the trail system is one of its most unique features. Baker Park’s “proximity to downtown means it’s easy to have a city experience and then take a lovely stroll or bike ride through a green space directly adjacent to the historic district.” At 58 acres its large size sets it apart, touching various neighborhoods in Frederick.
Fun fact: Baker Park recently installed new bocce courts that are a unique addition to the park’s sports offerings.
Named for Frederick businessman Joseph D. Baker and opened in 1927 during segregation, Baker Park was built as a whites-only park and remained that way until it was desegregated during the Civil Rights era. (Mullinix Park, located
nearby on two rocky, sloping acres across Carroll Creek served Frederick’s Black community.) Now, the park plays a part in a major flood control system that protects historic Downtown Frederick, utilizing a beautifully built system of waterfalls and tunnels to funnel water underneath the streets.
The park itself is home to the Joseph D. Baker Bell Tower and Carillon, a 70-foot-tall structure constructed in 1941 of Baltimore County granite. Its initial 14 bells were manufactured in Holland, each bell bearing the inscription “The Joseph Dill Baker Memorial.” These original bells are stationary; only the clappers — weighing 15,000 pounds — move. Nine new bells were purchased in 1966; restoration of the bell tower in 1995 included an addition of 25 bells, bringing the total to 58.
Asked what people love most about Baker Park, Jake says “The views! It’s the best place to see Frederick’s skyline. It’s a great place to go for a peaceful outing and experience wildlife and the waters of Carroll Creek and Culler Lake.
121 N. Bentz Street, Frederick, MD