Montgomery County, Maryland is known for its exciting cities and towns, all within a short drive of Washington, DC With Montgomery County’s unique history, it offers something exciting to visitors in every city in the county. With five major cities, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville, and Silver Spring, there’s a lot to do in any part of the county! From historic sites, art museums, events, recreational actives, and family friendly activities, there’s plenty to do in one of the best suburbs of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Filled with golf courses, adventure parks, art and entertainment districts, and shopping centers, family of all shapes and sizes won’t be bored. Be sure to look through our list of cities, organized by area of the county, for more information about a specific city or for things to do in Montgomery County or while visiting DC.
During the Civil War, historic Beallsville was known as Monocacy Church, home to the 1748 Anglican “Chapel of Ease” from which the town acquired its name. Beallsville was a crossroads on the road from Rockville to the Monocacy River and Nolands ferry, making it a strategic spot for the Union. It is also home to the historic Darby Store and the Monocacy Cemetery, which dates to the American Revolution.
Incorporated in 1888, Barnesville sits atop a ridge with views of Sugarloaf Mountain to the north and the Catoctin Mountain and Blue Ridge ranges to the west. The town’s motto, “A Caring Community,” is a testament to the sense of place enjoyed by the town’s residents and their neighbors in the Agricultural Reserve of Western Montgomery County.
Boyds began as a village for workers constructing the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in the 1870s and is now served by the MARC train system. It is home to Black Hills Regional Park and Little Seneca Lake, as well as the historic Boyds Negro School, the only public school made for African Americans who lived in the area from 1885-1936. The school is currently open to the public the last Sunday of every month, from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Clarksburg is named for Native American trader William Clarke and was established at the intersection of the main road between Georgetown and Frederick and an old Seneca trail. Since 2000, there has been major growth in the area of Clarksburg. A town center is currently being built in the heart of Clarksburg.
Currently a commercial center for the northern part of the community, Damascus was the first surveyed in 1783 as “Pleasant Plains of Damascus.” It remains a beautiful agrarian area with rolling hills and valleys.
Poolesville was named after its first settler, John Poole, who settled there in 1783. Located near the Potomac River, this tightly-knit community has retained much of its historic charm.
Hyattstown is one of Montgomery County’s earliest villages and the county’s most northern point. Founded in 1798, the community is known for its rural scenery and historic homes.
Because of its location along I-270, Germantown is one of the county’s fastest growing communities, with an extensive number of new homes, communities, schools and commercial centers. Known for the administration complex for the US Department of Energy and headquarters for its Office of Biological and Environmental Research, it’s a well-known suburb full of entertainment, like the BlackRock Center for the Arts, and the Maryland SoccerPlex complex, and Butler’s Orchard.
Gaithersburg is located in the heart of Montgomery County and is home to many high-tech headquarters. Established in 1878, Gaithersburg has grown from an agrarian community to an award-winning neo-traditional urban city. It’s also home to the RIO Washingtonian Center, which is the premier shopping and dining destination in Gaithersburg.
Kensington, another historic community listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was founded in 1890. The town, near the Connecticut Avenue beltway exit, is known for its elaborate Victorian homes and antique row commercial area. Kensington also plays host to the Washington, DC, Temple Visitor’s Center, where you can admire the castle-like temple and learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Laytonsville was originally known as Cracklintown. This name originated from the popular cracklin bread, which was baked in the locale. This recipe, essentially a bacon corn bread, also lent the entire area the name of Cracklin District. Laytonsville was incorporated in 1892.
Originally a Methodist meeting ground founded in 1872 on a 200-acre tract of land, summer camp followers eventually constructed year-round homes. You can still walk the tree-lined streets of “The Grove” and see the original summer cottages in their idyllic settings.
Montgomery Village was created in 1962 by Kettler Brothers, Inc. The vision for a planned community in Gaithersburg is credited to architect Charles Kettler, who incorporated Kettler Brothers with his brothers Milton and Clarence in 1952.
Established in 1794, Brookeville is one of the county’s earliest settlements. The small town is known as “U.S. Capital for a Day,” where the President James Madison fled when the British burned Washington, D.C., in the War of 1812.
Olney was established in the early 1800s as a community of artisans, traders and merchants. Olney was also the highest ranked town in Maryland for America’s Best Places to Live. Originally known as Mechanicsville, Olney has many different historic homes, restaurants and museums.
Settled by Quakers in 1725, this charming town offers many wonderful examples of historic architecture, including the town’s Friends Meeting House constructed in 1817. Sandy Spring has a wonderful museum that shows a lot of the history of Sandy Spring and how it became a well known town in Montgomery County today. It also includes a great adventure park (Adventure Park at Sandy Spring) that is great for family fun of all ages!
Settled in the 1750s and incorporated in 1801, Rockville served as an important crossroads community offering train and transportation lines. Rockville is the County seat of Montgomery County. Rockville now serves as one of the largest cities in the county, with many wonderful things to visit, like the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Park and the Cabin John regional Park Ice Rink.
Bethesda/Chevy Chase Area
Bethesda, one of the most renowned communities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, is known as a great destination for ethnic restaurants, boutiques, home décor shops and artistic and trendy hot spots. Additionally, as home of the National Institute of Health, National Library of Medicine and the National Naval Medical Center, it is one of the leading biomedical research centers.
From award-winning theatre to independent films, downtown Bethesda’s Art and Entertainment District is filled with inspiring artists and art venues, like the Strathmore, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club, and more. Unique galleries and public art fill the streets. The Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District is managed by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc.
Chevy Chase, developed by the Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890, was built on Connecticut Avenue, which the Land Company extended. One of the area’s first fully planned communities, Chevy Chase was designed by well-known planners and architects. It was also easily accessible by a trolley line which ended at Chevy Chase Lake, both the community’s power plant as well as an amusement park.
Potomac is considered to be one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, as well as the 7th highest educated in the area. Originally settled by Edward Offutt, it grew into the huge suburban area it is today. Here you’ll find small shopping centers with upscale retail establishments, scenic views and residential subdivisions. Potomac is also home to the C&O Canal National Historic Park for more family fun activities in the area.
The Baltzley Brothers established Glen Echo Park as a Chautauqua in an effort to promote the surrounding area in real estate development. The town was incorporated in 1906 and contained a successful amusement park. The park is now operated by the National Park Service as an arts center. Glen Echo also hosts the Clara Barton House, a historical home of the founder of the American Red Cross.
Wheaton/Silver Spring Area
Silver Spring’s family-friendly, walkable downtown atmosphere is the perfect place to stay when visiting the Washington, D.C., area. Strategically located minutes from the Nation’s Capital and the Beltway, Silver Spring offers excellent restaurants and stores for every budget and a vibrant mix of arts and entertainment, like the Fillmore Silver Spring and the Solver Spring Civic Building. Take a look at this video to also sample a variety of music found in the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District.
Just minutes from the nation’s capital, perfectly situated in the center of three major thoroughfares and conveniently located on Metrorail’s Red Line, Wheaton is in the center of it all. From a world-class botanical garden, a nationally renowned music center, and one of the region’s largest shopping centers (with specialty shops, award-winning restaurants, and outdoor events), Wheaton boasts activities and attractions that are as eclectic and diverse as its residents.
Established in 1898, Garrett Park is a small town of some 900 residents. Garrett Park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has the community spirit that is epitomized by its local celebrations and quaint Town Hall.
Considered to be Washington, D.C.’s first commuter suburb, Takoma Park was founded in 1883. The town has an extensive historic district with everything from large Victorian homes to tiny bungalows. Be sure to take a drive through town to see the beautiful buildings!
White Oak is home to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the Federal Research Center, a growing biotech hub in the Silver Spring area of Montgomery County. Named after the Maryland state tree, White Oak was formerly home to the Naval Ordnance Laboratory.
East County Area
The community of Burtonsville, originally called Burton’s, takes its name from Isaac Burton, who in 1825 bought out his siblings’ shares of his father’s land and became the major landowner in the area. The community itself grew around the intersection of Old Columbia Pike and the road to Sandy Spring.