The Top Things to Do in Germantown, Maryland

Butler’s Orchard provides outdoor fun for the entire family
Butler’s Orchard provides outdoor fun for the entire family | © Have Camera Will Travel | North America / Alamy Stock Photo
Chrissy Pak

Germantown may only be a small part of Maryland, but this bustling hub of suburban life has everything from beautiful parks to luxurious shopping centers. Savoring tasty treats at Lancaster County Dutch Market, exploring Black Hill Regional Park and catching a theater performance at Arts on the Green are just a few of the best things to do here.

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Lancaster County Dutch Market

The Lancaster County Dutch Market offers charming stores such as Lapp’s Candies, the Flower Garden, Zook’s Cheese and Lancaster County Meats. All products come with the reassuring guarantee that you’re supporting a local, family-owned business. Traditional Amish furniture lives up to its promise of high-quality workmanship, but the food here – from fresh cuts and smoked cheeses to giant pancakes and pumpkin rolls – is what draws many loyal customers. Don’t miss the handmade pretzel stand by the market entrance.

Butler’s Orchard

Once a 37-acre (15ha) peach farm, Butler’s Orchard now grows more than 25 varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers and trees on more than 300 acres (121ha). Still family-owned and operated after three generations, the orchard has benefited from three family members with University of Maryland horticultural degrees. Attend the farm market for freshly grown produce, including preserves, local honey, gourmet condiments and cider, or opt to pick your own fruit. Visit Pumpkinland in October for a fairytale pumpkin display and straw maze or in winter for the chance to cut your own Christmas tree.

Great Seneca Stream Valley Park

The Great Seneca Stream Valley Park is ideal for day hiking, mountain biking and trail running. With a fairly flat terrain offering only a few moderate inclines, the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail is suitable for various hiking skill levels. As it passes through several types of forest, the path also offers a great deal of shade in the summer and a refreshing view of Seneca Creek. There’s a smaller 3mi (5km) trail and an 8mi (13km) option. For non-hikers, there’s a playground, a picnic area and boating opportunities.

BlackRock Center for the Arts

Now the premier venue for performance and visual arts in Upper Montgomery County, the BlackRock Center was first conceived in the early 1990s by a community-conscious group of Germantown residents. Today, the non-profit center offers theater, exhibitions and arts education. Come to watch the top touring talent across all musical genres – from pop and jazz to classical – as well as dance and family shows. The building is a tribute to Germantown, with monolith sculptures and terrazzo floors representing Seneca Creek, the nearby railroad and BlackRock Mill.

Go Ape

A treetop adventure course comprising zip lines, rope ladders and rope crossings, Go Ape is perfect for the daring adventurer and the seasoned enthusiast. Centered around the beautiful 75-acre (30ha) Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Regional Park, this ropes course also includes two Tarzan swings. While each station provides water and hand sanitizer, it’s up to you to bring enough layers; when high up in the forest canopy, the temperature can become chilly, even in the summer.

Black Hill Regional Park

Black Hill is free to enter, with ample parking and plenty to do. Covered pavilions with grills offer an attractive place to enjoy an outdoor lunch, while a playground with bi-monthly events for toddlers will keep little ones occupied. Intersecting trails, which range from easy (paved) to difficult (rocky), are dotted with quirky workout stations for extra exercise. At the 505-acre (204ha) lake, you can rent a kayak; if that sounds like a bit too much effort, opt for a guided pontoon boat tour. To view more wildlife, you can also visit the expansive nature center.

Olde Towne Gaithersburg

Olde Towne Gaithersburg is in the Summit Street and Diamond Avenue area, with quaint architecture, boutique stores and small parks – kids will love the interactive water feature in the Olde Towne Plaza. There’s also the St Martin of Tours Church and the Gaithersburg Community Museum, along with a whimsical commuter train station. For food, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a range of American and international restaurants, ranging from Thai to Salvadoran.

Rio Lakefront

Rio Lakefront is the leading shopping and dining destination in Montgomery County. With more than 50 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, it’s the perfect place to treat yourself to whatever your heart desires. Stores include Target, Ann Taylor LOFT, Barnes & Noble and Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s also home to an AMC Dine-In theater for the latest films, paddle boats for a relaxing aquatic outing and plenty of places to eat, including California Pizza Kitchen. It also hosts a constant stream of events.

Water Park at Bohrer Park

In Bohrer Park since 1990, this water park hosts families, summer camps and daycare providers. It includes a pool with palm trees, slides, inflatable animals and a tumble bucket, as well as a kiddie splash pool with flumes for those 54in (137cm) and under. For those over 4ft (1.2m), choose the white slide for a relaxing journey, or pick the blue for a breathtaking ride of twists and turns. Once you’re tired of the water, enjoy the playground, picnic table and snack bar, or recline in a chaise lounge in both the sun and shade.

Arts on the Green

The Arts on the Green performing arts program offers everything from musicals, dramas, comedies and monologues to magic shows, pantomime and puppetry in the small Arts Barn theater. The diminutive size and abundant lighting ensure a stellar view no matter your seat, and the sound is incredible for the range of production. In the Kentlands neighborhood, the theater also hosts musical concerts. This theater is not to be missed, with shows such as Godspell and Frozen Junior gracing its stage.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels in Maryland. For more things to do, check out our guide to the best things to do in nearby Bethesda.

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