Hooray! You got the day off from work. First things first…do a happy dance! Next, pack the kids into the car and head to the Hammerman Area of Gunpowder Falls State Park. There’s a beach, a playground, and picnic spots, making it the perfect place to chillax (sans email) with your little ones. Bonus: The park is only an hour and a half outside of Washington, D.C., so you’ll be back just in time to prep for that a.m. meeting.


Sand and Deliver
The swimming beach at Hammerman Area offers 1,500 feet of sand on the banks of Gunpowder River. The beach river’s waves are mellow enough for toddlers to navigate, and there’s plenty of sand to keep the kids entertained for hours.

Insider Tips! Clean public restrooms and showers are located a short walk from the beach, near the concession stand.  Lifeguards are on duty at the swimming area from 11 am to 6 pm, Thursday through Sunday, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.  Beach parking does fill up, especially on the weekend, so get there early!sandy-baby

Play All Day
There are a few small playgrounds in the Hammerman Area (located near picnic pavilions), but the coolest playground is a recycled tire playground, officially known as Gunpowder State Park Tire Playground.  With tire climbers, a tire car, a tire boat, tire bridge and a massive metal slide, kids can play for hours here.  There is also a bathroom and picnic tables located nearby.

Insider Tip! The Hammerman Area runs in a loop and the tire playground is located at the end of the loop, close to the park exit.  To get here, drive around the circle, passing the beach area and a couple of small playgrounds, until you arrive at the tire playground.  It’s the largest playground in the park, with its own picnic pavilion, parking lot and restrooms. #hardtomisspic5

Yummy, Yummy. In My Tummy.
Hammerman Area includes a concession, The Riverside Grille, open during the summer, which offers a variety of food and drinks at a reasonable rate (think: small cones for less than one dollar).  Kids and adults will enjoy dining al fresco on the Riverside Grille’s patio while gazing across the beach at Gunpowder River. If you choose to BYO lunch, the park offers picnic tables and grills on a first come-first serve basis.  For larger parties, consider reserving one of the four pavilions that can be rented May through October.

Insider Tip: Call ahead to confirm the concession is open if you plan to eat there (or pack emergency food).  Visitors must pay fees each time entering the park, so if you leave for food, you will need to pay park entrance fees again to reenter. hammerman1

Getting there: From I-95 take exit 67A for Route 43 east (White Marsh Boulevard). Follow 43 to Route 40 east. Turn right at the first light onto Ebenezer Road and follow it for 4.5 miles. The park entrance will be on your left.

Fees: Weekends and holidays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day: There is a $5 per person service charge for entrance into the Hammerman Area for Maryland residents ($7 per-person fee for non-Maryland residents).  Kids in car seats are free. Weekdays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day: There is a $3 per person service charge ($5 per-person for non-Maryland residents for entrance.

Gunpowder Falls State Park
7200 Graces Quarters (Chase, Md)
Online: dnr.state.md.us

Have you been to Gunpowder Falls State Park? Tell us about your trip below!

—Shelby Settles Harper and Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Photos courtesy of Shelby Settles Harper