Where: Scotland, Md.
Why: Laser tag, a jammin' guitar shop and countless shooting stars over the Chesapeake.
How Far: About 75 miles, or an hour and 45 minutes from Oxon Hill.
Get ready for a star-studded overnight show. Not "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" -- the Perseids meteor shower. The annual event (fondly called an astral "Old Faithful" ) peaks this Wednesday night and early Thursday morning with dozens (and potentially hundreds) of shooting stars visible every hour. The best way to catch it is far from city lights, and this week only, Point Lookout State Park -- located at the tip of rural Southern Maryland and offering miles of darkness at night -- is rolling out the welcome mat for stargazers.
If the weather gods cooperate, streaking stars may appear as soon as the sun sets. Park naturalists will host an all-ages "star party" starting Wednesday at 8 p.m., with pointers on observing meteors. Make a night of it by packing lawn chairs, blankets, snacks, bug spray, water and something caffeinated to stay awake (no alcohol is allowed). To minimize light, cover flashlights with a red filter, such as a bandana or tissue paper. Then, settle into a dark spot, look skyward and enjoy your star search.
The route to the park offers a constellation of diversions. Two old military posts kick it off in Prince George's County: Fort Foote has a pair of 15-inch Rodman cannons, the most powerful Civil War weapons, and nearby, Fort Washington stands as an archaic fortress that once protected the capital. Want to play? Pump quarters into the Hyper Space Fun Center arcade in Hollywood, or bowl some frames at Esperanza Lanes in Lexington Park. For last-minute munchies in Scotland, swing into Buzzy's General Store, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary (and gives out free posters of what the area looked like during the Civil War).
Point Lookout is normally open only to active fishermen after sunset but will open overnight for stargazers today through Aug. 15. Guests will have access to the causeway, pier and point, as well as the bayside shoreline between the causeway and the point. $3 to $6 per vehicle. Camping allowed at the campground only with advance reservations (call 888-432-2267).
Road Trip maps are available online at www.washingtonpost.com/roadtrip, as are addresses and hours of operation. Have an idea for a trip? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.