Also known more informally as the Amish Market, Lancaster County Dutch Market offers charming stores such as Lapp’s Candy, Lydiann’s Flower Garden, The Bake Shop, Zook’s Cheese, and Lancaster County Meats. All goods are high in quality and come with the reassuring guarantee of supporting a local, family-owned business. The traditionally renowned Amish furniture lives up to its promise of high-quality workmanship, but the food here is what draws many loyal customers, from fresh cuts of meat and smoked cheeses to giant pancakes and pumpkin rolls. The pretzel stand is incredibly popular, with hand-made pretzel dough (choose from regular, no salt, sour cream and onion, cinnamon, sugar, and glazed raisin) wrapped around meat and any cheese of your choice.
12613 Wisteria Dr., Germantown, MD, USA, +1 301 515 1019
Once a 37 acre peach farm with a log house owned by a single couple, Butler’s Orchard now grows over 25 varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and trees on over 300 acres. Still a family-owned and operated business after three generations, Butler’s Orchard benefits from three different children with University of Maryland horticultural degrees. Attend their farm market for freshly grown produce and products such as preserves, local honey, gourmet condiments, seasonal decorative items, and cider, or opt to pick your own fruit. There’s a large range to choose from, including strawberries, thornless blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cherries, red raspberries, apples, or even pumpkins. Visit Pumpkinland in October, a display of fairytale characters built out of pumpkins, or opt for a hayride bonfire, giant slide, pony ride, or straw maze. In the winter, you can cut your own Christmas tree, and in the summer, you can enjoy a Strawberry Blossom Tour or Bunnyland.
22200 Davis Mill Rd, Germantown, MD, USA, +1 301 428 0444
Home of the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, the Great Seneca Stream Valley Park is an ideal place for a variety of nature activities, from day hiking to mountain biking to trail running. With a fairly flat terrain offering only a few moderate inclines, the trail is forgiving for the very young and very old alike, as well as anyone with previous injuries. As it passes through several types of forestation, it also offers a great deal of shade in the summer, as well as a refreshing view – and possible quick wade during breaks – of the delightful Seneca Creek. Options include a three-mile-trail as well as a 7.8 mile trail. Other options for non-hikers include a park with playground, lovely picnic areas, and boating opportunities.
Frederick Rd, Rt. 355 to Watkins Mill Rd, Germantown, MD, USA, +1 301 976 6581
The foremost venue for performance and visual arts in Upper Montgomery County, Maryland, the BlackRock Center for the Arts has had 14 seasons, with over 17,000 attendees per year. First conceived in the early 1990s by a community-conscious group of Germantown residents, the center now provides its community with high-quality performances, free gallery exhibitions, and arts education classes. Come watch the top touring talent at the regional, national, and international level, in all genres from pop, jazz, rock, blues, folk, world, and classical music, as well as dance and theater for families. A non-profit organization, the building, designed by Thomas Sayre, is a tribute to Germantown’s past, with monoliths representing the strength and permanence of Germantown, and terrazzo floor representing Seneca Creek, the nearby railroad, and BlackRock Mill.
12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown, MD, USA, +1 301 528 2260
A treetop adventure course composed of six ziplines, numerous rope ladders, and 44 rope crossings, Go Ape is perfect for everyone from the adventurous experimenter to the seasoned ropes-course enthusiast. Centered around the beautiful 75-acre Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Regional Park, this ropes course includes the first skateboard zipline in the US and two tarzan swings. Each of the six individual sections escalates into a higher and more exciting zip line, and the obstacles are vary in difficulty and type. Each station provides water and hand sanitizer, but 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.
6129 Needwood Lake Dr, Rockville, MD, USA, +1 800 971 8271
As a regional park, Black Hill is free to enter, with ample parking and plenty of options for an activity-filled day. Covered pavilions with grills, picnic benches, and rubbish bins offer an appealing place to enjoy an outdoors lunch; a playground with events twice a month for toddlers will keep small children occupied. Intersecting trails, which range from easy (paved) to difficult (rocky) are spotted with quirky workout stations for extra exercise. At the lake, you can rent a kayak for just eight to 10 dollars per hour – the staff are rumored to be competent and helpful – or, if that sounds like a bit too much effort, you can opt for a $4 guided pontoon boat tour of the lake, which spans over 500 acres and is home to white and blue herons and turtles. To view more wildlife, you can also visit the expansive nature center.
20930 Lake Ridge Dr, Boyds, MD, USA, +1 301 972 9396
Old Town Gaithersburg is bounded by two streets: Summit Street and Diamond Avenue. Browse these two roads to view old architecture, featuring restaurants, boutique stores, small parks, and an old-fashioned drug store with a hot lunch counter. There is also a whimsical little commuter train station that offers tickets to various areas of Maryland, City Hall (housed in an old mansion), St. Martin’s Catholic Church, the Old Town Museum, and other various delights. An abundance of antique and secondhand stores fulfill all shopping needs, while American and ethnic restaurants, ranging from Thailand to San Salvador, guarantee a wide variety of culinary options.
RIO Washingtonian Center is the leading shopping and dining destination of the area, perfectly situated in the heart of Montgomery County. With over 50 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues hosted in its 760,000 square feet, RIO Washingtonian Center is the perfect place for an enjoyable evening of whatever your heart desires. Stores include Target, Ann Taylor LOFT, Barnes & Noble, and Dick’s Sporting Goods; the Washingtonian also offers AMC/Loews Rio Cinemas for the latest film, paddle boats for a relaxing aquatic outing, and plenty of places to eat, from Joe’s Crab Shack to the California Pizza Kitchen. It also hosts a constant stream of events; for a comprehensive schedule, click here.
209 Boardwalk Pl, Gaithersburg, MD; USA. +1 301 203 4186
Located in Bohrer Park since 1990 with approximately 80,000 visitors per year, the Water Park at Bohrer Park hosts families, summer camps, and day care providers alike. It includes a main pool with palm trees, multiple slides, inflatable animals, and a tumble bucket, as well as a children’s splash pool with flume slides for those 54 inches and under. For those over four feet, choose the white slide for a relaxing journey, or pick the blue slide for a breathtaking ride of twists and turns. With child-friendly bathrooms and locker rooms, the park offers all modern amenities in both adult and kid-sizes. Once you’re tired of the water, you can enjoy the playground, picnic table, and snack bar, as well as high-back sand chairs and chaise lounges in both the sun and shade.
512 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD, USA, +1 301 258 6445
The Arts on the Green Performing Arts Program offers everything from musicals, dramas, comedies, monologues, and other classic theater to more unconventional shows such as magic shows, pantomime, puppetry, repertory, and a One-Act festival in this small theater. The diminutive size and abundant lighting ensures a stellar view no matter your seat, and the sound is incredible for the range of production. Tucked away inside a small Kentlands community, the Theater at the Arts Barn also hosts musical concerts ranging from classical to pop music. With acts like The Musical of Musicals, Mark Twain and Mr. Clemens Tonight!, and Aladdin Junior, this hidden gem is not to be missed. Check their schedule here.
311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg, MD, USA, +1 301 258 6394