Most people who’ve been to Druid Hill Park don’t actually know it. They go down to the Maryland Zoo (which is right in the middle of Druid Hill) and leave without ever noticing anything else the park has to offer. They don’t see the baseball diamonds, or the historic, famously desegregated tennis courts, or the for-whatever-reason very Asian looking pavilions. They miss the small, historic cemetery, the arboretum, and the surprisingly pristine blue shock of Druid Hill Lake.

When it’s the right temperature in the summer and there’s nothing else to do, sometimes I’ll ride my bike down to Druid Hill Park. The first time I wanted to do this, I had no clue how to get there, so I printed out directions from Google maps that took me on a zigzag though the back streets of Sandtown. On just that trip, five people asked to buy my bike, and one tried to knock me off it.

I’ve since learned that you can get to Druid Hill just as quickly by taking the Hilton Parkway to Gwyns Falls, bypassing Sandtown and all the dangers it holds for a thin, white kid on a bike. To do so, though, I feel somehow detracts from the experience of Druid Hill. When you get there, to see the blocks of row-homes and stoop-dwellers give way to 700-some acres of greenery is beautiful in a way that’s difficult to understand if you’ve stuck only to the safe roads. A lot of what makes Druid Hill Druid Hill is this interplay between city and nature, between the concrete and bark. It’s not an oasis or haven from Baltimore – just because it’s green doesn’t make it any less urban than the blocks around it – but it’s definitely a well deserved change of pace. When I bike now, I still ride through Sandtown, but I stick to the main roads, where the sidewalks are wider and more cars drive by.

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