When Pete and Kate Vonderheide moved from Hawaii to Annapolis to live closer to their family, they thought they'd have to give up a career of ocean kayaking to resume responsible office jobs. Soon they recognized the historic city harbor's lack of kayak tours and knew they couldn't stay inside forever. Their shared passion for history spurred them to research and interview the locals until they'd compiled enough historic material to start leading tours. Today, their tours can teach something new even to locals.
The Vonderheides continue to assemble a team of outdoor guides certified in CPR and first aid who all bear a well-researched knowledge of area wildlife and history. These experts lead two-hour scenic tours through the historic harbor. Starting each excursion with a brief paddling lesson, they put first-timers at ease with basic instruction and an amiable demeanor, unlike guides who rely only on their convincing Captain Ahab impressions. Excursions begin at the Spa Creek headwaters in Truxtun Park and lead participants into open-harbor waters to drift in full view of the state capitol building, the US Naval Academy, and historic Eastport. Trips peak at the City Dock, where participants receive a break to take photos and rest. On the return trip, guides field open-ended questions about city history such as presidential visits, the crabbing and oystering trade, and whether George Washington had to swim using floaties.
Like cookouts and sunscreen, the swimming pool is a summertime staple. At Pointer Ridge Swim & Racquet Club, three pools welcome visitors each summer to splash amid the facility's 5 wooded acres. Members can learn the breaststroke at lessons or show off their butterfly skills during lap swimming. And after dips, guests can lounge on the pool deck and nibble on treats from the snack bar rather than slurp down a pool noodle keeping a fellow swimmer afloat. The pool closes when summer fades into autumn, but Pointer Ridge's four tennis courts stay open year-round for lessons and adult and junior programs.
Replete with rolling fairways and picturesque wooded hills, the course at Bay Hills provides a fun challenge for ball-based beginners and putting-pros alike. The 18-hole, par 70 links feature a wide expanse of water challenges, placing a large emphasis on strategy. With a two-month membership, a bundle of benefits emerge, including waived twilight-hours greens fees (twilight hours begin at 1 p.m. until March 1 and at 2 p.m. thereafter), unlimited range balls, and merchandise discounts. Although not included with today's deal, each cart fee (usually about $17) includes two draft beers or fountain drinks for staying hydrated through gritty sand traps. Additionally, each membership comes with one anytime round of golf with both cart fee and drinks included, ensuring at least one spectacular day of wearing heavily starched knickerbockers, which historically keep the feral golf gnomes at bay.
Pasadena Golf Center lets visitors create the satisfying thwack of a club hitting a golf ball in one of two locations. They can make out the sound on the 18-hole mini-golf course—where ears will also pick up the sound of trickling waterfalls and the gurgling of landscaped streams and ponds—or at the driving range. Golfers can manipulate a variety of clubs there since targets are set up at different lengths, and 20 of the range’s 34 hitting stations are covered to provide shade during warm months and heat during cold ones. In addition, a full setup of lights let them swing away into the evening or when Apollo's chariot of fire is in the shop. To assist in swing mechanics and proper alignment, the center organizes lessons led by Golf Academy of America–certified instructor, Brett Francisco.
Pasadena Golf Center is also equipped with a nine-station batting cage that challenges visitors with baseball pitches of varying speeds as well as slow- and fast-pitch softball. A 1,600-square-foot patio nearby can facilitate birthday parties or other special events.
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