Today is the first day of spring. The sun is out, the crocuses are coming up, and even though there's still snow on the ground, it's as spring-y as it's felt around here in quite some time.

In other words, a great time to think about getting outdoors.

Today on Midday on the Bay, our monthly radio show in collaboration with WYPR in Baltimore, we'll be talking about great places to go outdoors.

I love being outdoors, but I'm hardly an expert on the many recreation activities. So I recruited two people whose knowledge of the outdoors is far greater than mine.

Candy Thomson was The Sun's outdoors columnist for decades. A terrific writer who managed to be both an expert in fishing and figure skating, Candy was/is also a great colleague, always willing to lend her expertise to prevent a rookie reporter from making an embarrassing mistake (that'd be me, trying to write about crossbows). Candy has taken her talents over to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, where she is a member of the communications staff and a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Police. She is the original Outdoors Girl and she'll have some great stories to tell.

Brooks Paternotte is the new executive director at Irvine Nature Center, a gem of a place in Owings Mills. But when you think of Owings Mills, you probably think of townhouses, the light rail and shopping. Irvine is nestled between these lovely valleys that Baltimore County preserved 40 years ago. The valleys are one of the many surprises in this state, where highly developed areas exist side-by side with rural beauty. We've got a lot of them.

Brooks is a longtime educator who's led Outward Bound-type excursions and has fished in world-class streams all over the place. Irvine, in my opinion is lucky to have him. Oh, and he speaks well, too, so well that WYPR has given him his own radio show, a segment called the Nature of Things, which will be on weekly at 5:30.

Finally, there is Dan Rodricks. He doesn't talk about it that much, but he's an avid fisherman with a real love for the outdoors and an appreciation of the beauty here.

They certainly know more than i do, but I'll try to hold my own.

I made a list of my favorite places to bike, hike, kayak, bird-watch and take my kids, among other things. They will have their own ideas. When the show's done, I'll put the list together, with links, on here.

A couple things to note: There have been major improvements to the amenities at state parks. So, cabins are nicer now - I think you may still have to bring your own linens - but the prices are still pretty much a bargain.

We're going to be talking mainly about Maryland, because the show is based in Baltimore, but I'd like to acknowledge the very fine parks in Virginia - excellent staff, beautiful views and equipment for rent. I'm hoping to check out some state parks in West Virginia this summer - other than Harper's Ferry, I haven't explored there too much.

Another note: If you want to get your kids plugged into nature, I suggest getting them outdoors. Look in the Bay Journal's bulletin board section. You will find activities to suit every interest, every age group, and some of them even include desserts. Kathleen Gaskell does a terrific job putting it all together.

Many nature centers offer camps. These are the best deals around! Cromwell Valley offers an all-day summer camp that costs $100 for a week. I'd send my kid all summer if i could - alas, they only let each person do a week. But trust me, it's a bargain, and the camp is wonderful.

Another thing to excite the kids - a night hike. I like the frog walks and the owl prowls. There's nothing like walking through the woods at night listening to nature.

Do you have a favorite place? Call us and tell us about it from 1-2 today; 410-662-8780. Or leave a comment here. or on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you.