Pasadena, MD 21122
Admission Fee: $6 per vehicle of $40 for an annual pass
Downs Park is a beautiful park on the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. It’s one of 4 county parks with entrance fees (the others are Quiet Waters, Ft. Smallwood and Kinder Farm.) The entrance fee is $6 for each park or you can buy an annual pass for $40 ($30 for AA county residents). We have the annual pass and it is well worth it – these 4 parks are beautiful and we visit all the time! You can buy the pass at the entrance gate at any of the parks.
There are many different areas to park, but when we arrive we park in the main lot near the playground and visitor center. From there, you can walk straight out for widespread views of the Chesapeake Bay. We usually start out at the playground.
The new playground just opened February 17, 2021 and it is really impressive. There are 2 main structures, one for older kids and another for younger. The larger structure is probably the tallest playground equipment I’ve ever seen. When I first saw pictures I immediately pictured my kid climbing to the top and not being able to (or refusing) to come down 🤪😂 this ended up being a non-issue the first time we visited because in order to get to the second and third levels – you had to be able to climb this slanted netting and pull yourself up to the next level – way too hard for my newly 3 y/o’s! I did see one mom climb to the top with her toddler but that was not a challenge I was willing to take on 😂 This structure would be a blast for older elementary kids! Update – The second time we visited, my girls were 3.5 and an inch taller and did manage to make it to the top and down the big slides – so it really depends!
My girls really loved the smaller structure which included a tube slide and a regular slide, as well as a musical element that was perfect for my little one. There was a turtle to climb on, a spinning merry-go-round and swings for all abilities.
If you visit, plan for it to be busy for a while since this playground just opened and is really one-of-a-kind for this area.
After the girls are done playing, we like to explore the rest of the park. From the playground, we usually turn left on the paved trail towards the fishing Pier. Just before you get to the pier there is a small beach (follow signs for kayak launch). There is no swimming allowed here but mine love to dig in the sand and wade.
After the beach you can walk out onto the pier for amazing views of the bay and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
If you keep walking down the path past the pier, there is a pond behind the dog beach. There is a small dock (railings on all sides) where you can look for HUGE snapping turtles, frogs, ducks, etc. depending on the season.
After the pond, if you keep going further down the same path you will hit a pedestrian bridge that goes over Pinehurst Drive. My girls LOVE waving to the cars driving underneath and getting them to honk 😂 For reference, the walk from the visitor center to the pedestrian bridge was a little over half a mile – all on paved and perfectly maintained trail.
After visiting the bridge, we turn around and retrace our steps back to the visitor center. We usually have lunch at one of the benches on the bay. Afterwards we walk the other direction on the trail to the South Overlook for more beautiful bay views.
If you walk straight back from the overlook, you will see a tree tunnel and signs for the aviary on your left. The aviary currently has a Turkey vulture and a Red Tailed hawk. After the aviary we also love to visit the wishing bench and Mother’s Garden – this area is especially nice in the summer because it provides lots of shade!
After all this we’ve usually spent about 3 hours here and are ready head to the car. Every time we come to this park I feel like we find something new, so if there’s anything we still need to check out, please let me know!
🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: super clean public restrooms were open in the visitor center (center is closed but bathrooms have exterior doors)
👩👧👦Solo w/ kids?👩👧👦: yes!
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: yes – perfect for stroller walks
🦠Covid-safe🦠: brand new playground so will likely be busy for a while. Try to avoid peak times!
🅿️Parking🅿️: Large parking lot. $6 admission fee per car
⏰Timing⏰: 1 hr if just visiting the playground – but you can really spend 4+ hours here exploring the rest of the park!