Travel | 3 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Walking tour of Bethesda
Bethesda is a small town in Montgomery County, in the Washington-Arlington metro area. When Vera and I purchased Metro daily passes while visiting Washington, we had to use them to get our money worth. So we decided to take the train and travel from one side of the city to the other. It was a Friday afternoon, my conference was over and we had plenty of time.
We boarded the train at the Metro Center station in downtown Washington City. Metro escalators are long and go far under ground. We were impressed…
Long escalator accessing the Metro station
The RED Metro line goes from Glenmont in the far North of the city to the downtown and all the way to Shady Grove in the northwest suburb area of Washington. After about 20 minutes from downtown the train stopped in Bethesda and we decided to explore this place on foot. I heard that if you go by car it will take at least 45 minutes, because traffic can be really heavy.
Bethesda Metro Center : band was playing when we were there.
Main square in Bethesda
Waiting for the Circulator bus which never came…
Bethesda, Maryland is a small town in Montgomery County, in the Washington-Arlington metro area. In general, Bethesda is center for government and private research organizations. The town is a thriving urban district, brimming with nearly 200 restaurants, two live theatres, 20 art galleries, and some of the best shopping in the Washington, DC Metro Area. The district has ample parking, and is accessible by the previously mentioned Metro Red Line. Located just outside Washington DC, Bethesda MD is also the home of the Bethesda Naval Hospital (Bethesda Naval Medical Center) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One tradition says the community was named after a local church; another traces its name directly to the biblical place. The population, at the time of the 2000 census, was about 55,000.
Being a suburb, there’s not a ton of stuff to do in Bethesda. However, Vera and I followed the route of the Circulator bus from the town’s brochure and it took us only 30 minutes of walking.
Very colorful restaurant… I think it was Mexican…
Tourist center with plenty of brochures…
Bethesda has more restaurants per square mile than the US, so there’s bound to be a great place to eat that will satisfy your family. The most popular ones and family favorites are Cafe Deluxe, Austin Grill, Jaleo (a bit pricier), as well as Stromboli’s and Vace’s for Italian. There’s also a Potbelly’s (a famous sandwich shop on the east coast) and Chipotle, etc. These restaurants are all pretty much within walking distance of the Residence Inn.
But ultimately your best choice for a great lunch with local flavor might be to get some good crab cakes near BWI, if you want to leave a little later than you’re planning. Three places that usually leap to mind are G&M Restaurant, the Olive Grove and Timbuktu. Opinions are widely varied as to which is best (ask ten different Marylanders on where to find the best crab cakes, you’ll get ten different answers, I’m sure you’ll hear some here), but I don’t think you can make a mistake going to either of the three.
Their dining rooms all open at 11, but the atmosphere of eating in is nothing special at any of them. All three will do carryout if you want to have that picnic lunch (G&M and Olive Grove’s carryout operations open at 10).
For movies, there’s a Regal Theater right across the street from the Bethesda Court hotel.
Since the metro is pretty much across the street from the center square in Bethesda, it is very easy to get back and forth from DC. I’m not sure when you’ll be coming to the area, but the Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade is always a big hit with kids. You can also rent paddle boats in the Tidel Basin.
North Bethesda shares a common history with most of its Montgomery County, Maryland Montgomery County neighbors. Archaeological evidence suggests that Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland Native Americans lived nearby, along the banks of the Potomac River. These peoples traveled along an ancient route known as the Seneca Trail (which is today approximately followed in North Bethesda by Old Georgetown Road). Like many ancient roads, the Seneca Trail followed a ridge line – in this case, the high ground between the Potomac River and Rock Creek (Potomac River) Rock Creek. Much later, development would spring up along this route.
The recorded history of the area commences with the colonial era. Settlements formed along Rock Creek and the Seneca Trail in the 17th Century, with recorded land grants in this area known originally as “Dan” and “Leeke Forest.”
In the early 19th century, much of the area was part of a 3,700 acre tobacco plantation owned by a slave owning family with the surname of Riley. One of the Rileys’ slaves, Josiah Henson, is thought by historians to be the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. During this period, the Washington Turnpike Company was founded to improve the old Seneca route, by then known as the Georgetown-Frederick Road. The road was opened in 1828, but had nearly washed away by 1848. The Riley plantation house was located on this road, and the plantation house’s kitchen (in which Henson is known to have slept) still stands near the course of this road.
By the late 19th century, the area was privileged with stops along a train route, and by the early 20th century with its own trolley tracks on the line connecting Georgetown and Rockville (along current-day Fleming Avenue). During this time, development bloomed around train and trolley stops, and a number of wealthy families, including those of Captain James Frederick Oyster and Charles I. Corby (who developed methods that revolutionized the baking industry), lived or summered in the area. Nonetheless, the area remained sparsely populated through the 1920′s.
The arrival of the automobile eventually transformed the area into a commuter suburb of Washington, D.C. By the 1950’s, the area had sprouted a number of developer-conceived neighborhoods with tract houses for the middle-class.
Today, the area remains largely a commuter suburb, with most residents traveling an average of 30 minutes to their workplace. While some traditional neighborhoods remain, other areas have struggled with issues related to suburban sprawl. Over the last few decades, the area has become increasingly affluent and, like most areas in southern Montgomery County, Maryland Montgomery County, has attracted a highly educated and older population.
Have a good and healthy year.
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