News Column

Fly high into the sky on a Big Adventure Day

May 30, 2014

By Rachel S. Karas and Kelsi Loos, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

May 30--Ever felt the urge to hoist yourself thousands of feet into the sky with nothing but a flame above and a tiny basket below? Zipline through treetops? Indulge in a meal that features your favorite bouncing marsupial on a bun? Look no further than our Big Adventure Day.

Tailwinds Over Frederick offers the county's closest thing to a magic carpet ride, drifting you up, up and away courtesy of pilot Patrick Smith.

Frederick County's topography is stunning from above, offering an aerial view of everything from high schools to fleeting deer and foxes; clear days reveal cities as far as Baltimore, Washington and York, Pennsylvania. The balloon itself is a celebrity, turning the heads of humans and animals alike along its flightpath.

Most rides rise to around 3,000 feet, or half a mile, and Smith often hosts newlyweds at 6,000 feet so couples can lay claim to a mile-high wedding. But Smith's favorite flights pass over Lake Linganore, when perfectly still air allows him to hover and dip the balloon so low that it barely brushes the water.

The leisurely atmospheric stroll lasts about three hours from start to finish. That includes balloon setup, the tour itself, an impromptu meet-and-greet with whoever owns the landing spot, a champagne toast, and a drive back to the launch location.

It's a hands-on process that can bring out the child in anyone. Riders help Smith and his family unpack and inflate the balloon before climbing into the steel-reinforced basket, then break it down for storage once the journey ends.

Smith said ballooning is an experience for the young and young-at-heart, those looking for a unique way to celebrate a special occasion or anyone with the spirit of adventure -- "people like us," he said. Riders must be at least 8 years old.

Prices are $265 per person for one to three passengers or $250 each for four or five passengers. Special rates apply for private couple flights and for children ages 8 to 14.

Wear jeans and a comfortable T-shirt or sweatshirt, Smith said -- clothing that's appropriate for landing no matter where the wind takes you.

Tree-top shenanigans

If you really liked tree houses and monkey bars as a child, Upward Enterprises might be the perfect place for an adventure.

The company offers zip lining, a canopy tour, a giant swing and other outdoor activities at its facility in Adamstown.

"The idea is to give these people a sense of adventure and to get them up high," said owner operator Clive Felgate.

The course can be adjusted to be more or less thrilling, according to the guests' tastes, Flegate said. Guides can offer activities with a greater perceived risk for the more adventurous and activities for those who would like a more relaxed experience.

Upward Enterprises also offers team-building exercises for people who are interested in honing their communication, leadership and team work skills while they swing through the trees.

Programs are by appointment only and pricing varies according to the number of people in the group, starting at about $100 for one person. However, the ideal group size is around 10 people, Felgate said, adding that each would pay around $50. The company offers two-and-a-half-hour and three-hour packages.

Adventure Park USA

At the aptly named Adventure Park USA, you while away the hours in a family-friendly land of games and rides. Go for the three-hour pass ($25.95 per person) if time is tight; an extra $4 will land you the all-day ticket.

Rides like The Scrambler, a roller coaster and bumper boats pair with mini golf, go karts, faux gem mining and a helicopter simulator for an action-packed afternoon outdoors. These attractions are open daily June 12 through Aug. 23 (weather permitting); laser tag, the ropes course, rock wall, bumper cars, soft playground and arcade games are available year-round.

And never fear! Adventure Park USA is an option for family fun on all but three days a year: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Free Spirit Stables

For an adventure closer to the ground, Free Spirit Stables offers horseback riding for any experience level.

Riders can pick from a variety of trails, from the farm's own trail to a tour of the Gettysburg battlefield to a ride in Little Bennett Park.

There is also an indoor riding ring, where people can ride while staying out of the elements.

"We just want (guests) to have fun. We want everybody to have fun and enjoy," manager Linda Runner said.

Rides are $35 per hour and can be arranged by calling 301-606-4077.

Maybe you need a swift kick to leave your normal routine; maybe you prefer your usual Saturday to be a little, well, unusual. But no matter your price range or comfort level, Frederick County offers a dose of adrenaline and oddity for anyone to have a good time. The real adventure? Try to do these all in one day.

Tailwinds Over Frederick

Hot air balloon rides; $265 per person for one to three passengers or $250 each for four or five passengers.

240-415-8094 or email

Upward Enterprises

3035 Buckeystown Pike, Adamstown

Outdoor activities; prices vary or 301-834-6140

Free Spirit Stables

Rushing Winds Farm, 9912 Masser Road, Frederick

Horseback riding; $35 per hour


Adventure Park USA

11113 W. Baldwin Road, New Market

Amusement park with games and rides; 3-hour pass, $29.95

301-865-6800, www.


The Lodge

5100 Buckeystown Pike Suite 174, Frederick.


This bar and grill's standard meat is organic beef, but oddities include elk, boar, bison and ostrich. Head for the Big Bleu Bacon burger made with none other than kangaroo ($9.49).

Ayse Meze Lounge

6 N. East St., Frederick.


Middle Eastern small plates include some of Frederick's best Brussels sprouts and saganaki, or flaming cheese ($10)

Mariachi Restaurant

5854 Urbana Pike, Frederick


Authentic Mexican dishes include lengua al vino, slices of beef tongue in sherry wine sauce ($13.99)


The Trail House

17 South Market St., Frederick


Hunting Creek Outfitters

29 N. Market St., Frederick



4502 Old National Pike, Mount Airy



Learn to Fly Day

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 7

Frederick Municipal Airport

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association hosts a high-flying adventure, including free flights to people age 8 and up as a way to introduce the public to general aviation.

Walkersville Southern Railroad

Weekends, May through October; special events, year round

34 W Pennsylvania Ave, Walkersville


Unique dinner rides and murder mysteries in vintage 1920s passenger cars and open flatcars, as well as Easter trains, Santa trains, a ghost train, three weekends of steam locomotive operation, Jesse James Day, Civil War re-enactors, July 4 fireworks and more. Rides last an hour and 10 minutes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with some exceptions.

-- Rachel S. Karas and Kelsi Loos


(c)2014 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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