Consider this your checklist for making the most of what’s left of the season.
1. Dive Into a Swimming Hole
Channel summer-camp nostalgia at Beaver Dam Swimming Club (10820 Beaver Dam Rd., Cockeysville), a freshwater quarry with a rope swing, diving board, and rolling log. The swimming hole is about 50 feet deep, and there are also two shallower pools for more fun in the water. Once you’ve splashed around, hang in the sand with a cold treat from the snack bar or bring provisions for a cookout on the grill. Admission starts at $20 for adults, $16 for ages two to 11.
2. Crack Some Crabs
Don’t bid farewell to summer without enjoying at least one crab feast. In fact, this later point in the season is the best time to find meatier crustaceans. For a classic crab-house experience worth the drive, Cantler’s Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis) has picnic tables on its waterfront deck. Steamed blue crabs are rubbed with J.O. Spice, a seasoning similar to Old Bay. Other summer-sendoff options include Nick’s Fish House in Baltimore (2600 Insulator Dr.) and, closer to home, DC’s Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse (1356 Okie St., NE).
3. Hit the Beach
When a trip to the coast is not in the cards, consider a shorter jaunt to Terrapin Nature Park and Beach (191 Log Canoe Cir., Stevensville). Just across the Bay Bridge, about an hour from DC, the Queen Anne’s County park is home to a long, narrow beach at the end of a walking and biking path. Coolers, shade structures, and swimming are prohibited, but beachgoers can relax on a blanket or stroll the shoreline for sea glass, shells, and other sandy treasures. Leashed dogs are welcome. (For an off-leash swim, Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has a great dog beach.) After, cool off with a milkshake or soft-serve from nearby Bark Barbecue Cafe (371 Log Canoe Cir., Stevensville).
4. Hunt for Sharks’ Teeth
Play paleontologist while searching for sharks’ teeth at Calvert Cliffs State Park (10540 H.G. Trueman Rd., Lusby), about 90 minutes from DC. You’ll have to hike to get to prime tooth-finding territory: The dog- and kid-friendly Red Trail (3.5 miles round-trip) leads directly from the parking lot to the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. Once you reach the water, you can hunt for prehistoric teeth—the park’s claim to fame—cool off with a dip, and take in the scenic cliff views.
5. Pick Fruit and Flowers
Late summer brings lush produce and pretty petals to local fields. Here are three things to pluck—and where to go—for your next farm excursion.
At Butler’s Orchard (22222 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown), blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries adorn bushes like gemstones. Once you’ve perused the shrubs, kids can greet the cows, pigs, and goats. Admission is $4 per person, plus the cost of the container.
Juicy stone fruit is a summer staple, and Great Country Farms (34345 Snickersville Tpk., Bluemont) plants different peach varieties for an extended season. The Loudoun County farm also hosts a festival during the last weekend of July and the first two weekends of August, with pit-spitting contests and peachy treats. Regular admission is $13 for adults, $11 for ages three to 17; peaches are $1.99 a pound.
Cut your own bouquet at Sunflowers of Lisbon (11788 Scaggsville Rd., Fulton). The 14-acre field in Howard County hosts a three-weekend festival in August once the sunflowers are in bloom. (Check the website for updates.) In addition to flower-picking, there are hayrides through the fields as well as sunflower mazes. Admission is $15 a person.
6. Go River Tubing
Rather than languishing inside during sticky summer days, consider a lazy tube ride down a cool waterway. To float along a flat section of the Shenandoah River, drive about an hour and 15 minutes from DC to the adventure company River Riders (408 Alstadts Hill Rd., Harpers Ferry). The outfitter drops passengers off at the river, then shuttles them back after the two-to-three-hour journey. You can even rent a tube for your cooler ($19) to pack snacks and refreshments. The price is $36 to $53, depending on type of tube.
7. Look Up at the Stars
Summer nights are a respite from daytime heat, making them ideal for an outdoor adventure—especially of a celestial variety. The Analemma Society, an astronomy nonprofit, runs free Friday stargazing sessions in the observatory at Turner Farm (925 Springvale Rd., Great Falls). The roof is rolled back from 8:30 to 10:30 so patrons can peer at the sky through high-tech telescopes and see stars, planets, and galaxies far, far away. (If you have a large group, notify the organizers in advance so they can prepare.) For an out-of-this-world evening, bring a blanket on August 12 to lie out and watch the annual Perseid meteor shower.
8. Snack on Fair Favorites
Caramel apples, funnel cakes, and all things fried: A county or state fair has many attractions, but are any better than the decadent food? Here are three local fairs to check out and what to try at each one.
Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
When: August 11–19.
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds (501 Perry Pkwy., Gaithersburg).
What to eat: New Orleans–style snowballs, grilled cheese, and vendor Pacha Mama’s “Berry Good Waffle,” which won two “fair foodie” awards last year.
Arlington County Fair
When: August 16–20.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 S. Second St., Arlington).
What to eat: All the usual fair favorites—deep-fried Oreos, caramel apples, funnel cakes—plus the offerings at Food Truck Alley, returning for its second year.
Maryland State Fair
When: August 24–27, August 31–September 4, and September 7–10.
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds (2200 York Rd., Timonium).
What to eat: A “crabby patty” (a sandwich of crabcake topped with soft-shell crab), peach sundaes, and a Baltimore signature—deep-fried Berger cookies.
This article appears in the August 2023 issue of Washingtonian.