I grew up in Central New York, where the nearest state park is usually no more than a 10-minute drive away. The number of parks plus the fact that there really isn’t much to do in Syracuse meant that spending time outside became one of the most important parts of my life.
Coming to Baltimore made me realize how lucky I had been. With the city’s population of over 600,000, I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.
I wanted to avoid being trapped by the metaphorical bubble that causes most Hopkins students to spend their weekends and weekdays in the tiny section of the city that is Charles Village.
That’s when I texted my dad, who was raised in Baltimore, and asked him for advice.
The three options I was presented with were:
1. Go to the zoo, which isn’t that much better than the zoo I grew up with (according to my dad), although the Baltimore one has a polar bear.
2. Make the trek down to Fort McHenry and face the potentially bracing winter winds of the harbor.
3. Go to the picturesque and nearby Arboretum.
Obviously, I went to the Arboretum.
The Cylburn Arboretum is located north of Woodberry, Md. along the Jones Falls Trail on the lands of the old Cylburn Mansion. It has a large wooded area with trails that wind through it as well as a visitor center and the opportunity to look at the first floor of the Civil-War era mansion.
Best of all, it doesn’t have an entrance fee, and you can bike there from campus (or take an Uber, if that’s your preferred method of transportation).
I first went to the Arboretum as a kid and loved running through the woods and exploring all the ecosystems. Now, as a college student, I still love exploring the woods, and it’s also cool to see what kinds of trees and plants I recognize.
These species include but are not limited to a large patch of bamboo you can walk through, oak trees, maple trees and a small fort made of fallen branches that is hidden among the large trees.
Even if nature isn’t really your thing (I have a friend who claims to be allergic to non-air conditioned spaces), it’s still really nice and important to get off campus every once in a while. The Arboretum isn’t the only green space along the Jones Falls Trail.
If you’re biking from campus (like I did on a JHOC trip in early September), you also pass through the (free) Druid Hill Park and the (not free but worth paying for) zoo, with the opportunity to visit Hampden on your way back.
The phrase I hear most often at Hopkins is “I would go off campus and explore the city but...” followed by an explanation of the three midterms and two papers they have due in the next month.
Fun fact: Spending time outside when you have assignments coming up can reduce the stress your 20-credit semester has caused instead of increasing it.
Whether you’re a GECS or EPS major who would rather spend time outdoors than anywhere else or an engineering major who has grown too accustomed to the dim lights on D-level or just someone who has spent too much time walking around Charles Village without actually going anywhere, Baltimore has a green space for everyone.