Plenty of places to visit from Md. to Pa.

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­

What des­ti­na­tion in Mary­land can af­ford you up-close views of crea­tures with strange-sound­ing names such as the sooty grunter, earth­e­ater and saucer­eye porgy?

This place has tanks full of gelati­nous blobs with trail­ing ten­ta­cles and unique monikers like blue blub­ber jel­ly­fish and lion’s mane jel­ly­fish (na­tive to the Arc­tic, of all places). There’s even a touch tank where you can gen­tly pat the top of a moon jelly.

You can see rain­bow lori­keets on the wing, along with scores of cock­atiels and para­keets, emer­ald doves and green and gold tan­agers. You prob­a­bly know the place, but just in case you haven’t guessed it yet, here’s one fi­nal clue.

This place has a rain­for­est ex­hibit and if you are a pa­tient ob­server — and have a lit­tle bit of luck — you might catch a glimpse of one of the elu­sive sloths that call the Na­tional Aquar­ium in Bal­ti­more home.

One of the best things about liv­ing in South­ern Mary­land is our close prox­im­ity to the city, the moun­tains and the seashore, all within rea­son­able driv­ing dis­tance for a day trip or short week­end away. Dur­ing the colder win­ter months, get­ting out­side to do fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties can some­times be chal­leng­ing. And a trip to the Na­tional Aquar­ium is just the ticket to en­joy­ing na­ture with­out hav­ing to worry about the less-than-pleas­ant as­pects of Fe­bru­ary like the cold wind and early dusk.

On our way to Penn­syl­va­nia for the Great Amer­i­can Out­door Show this past week­end, we stopped over in Bal­ti­more to tour the Na­tional Aquar­ium for the af­ter­noon.

The ex­hibits are top-notch and var­ied — from re­gional ecosys­tems to the co­ral reef, to a wing ded­i­cated solely to a menagerie of fish, rep­tiles and birds on loan from Aus­tralia — and there is some­thing for ev­ery­one to en­joy.

If you haven’t made a trip to the Na­tional Aquar­ium be­fore or you’re a fre­quent vis­i­tor, there’s al­ways some­thing new to learn and dis­cover. For more in­for­ma­tion about ex­hibits and to pur­chase tick­ets, go to https://

Mom-and-pop eater­ies get­ting scarcer

It was the end of an era when the Cozy Restau­rant in Thur- mont closed in 2014. The iconic restau­rant was a place my fam­ily al­ways stopped when we took a road trip north.

With its close prox­im­ity to Camp David, the walls were dec­o­rated with presidential mem­o­ra­bilia and the restau­rant counted among its visi­tors Churchill, Mamie Eisen­hower, Ari Fleisher and Ge­orge Stephanopou­los. It was the old­est restau­rant in Mar yland owned and op­er­ated by the found­ing fam­ily, in busi­ness for 85 years.

In an age of fast food chains and restau­rant fran­chises, din­ing at a fam­ily-run restau­rant is like step­ping back in time. Mom-and­pop eater­ies are get­ting scarcer. It’s hard to find a one-of-a-kind diner along the crowded Route 301 or Route 235 cor­ri­dors.

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