Montgomery County lies north of Washington, D.C.
Though part of the Washington metropolitan area, most of its population is scattered across unincorporated communities.
Montgomery is the most populous county in Maryland, with census-designated place Germantown seeing the most concentration.
The county was founded in 1776 by Thomas S. Wootton and formed from a portion of Frederick County.
Named after Irish soldier Richard Montgomery, it was the first county in the thirteen colonies not to be after a British referent.
In 1976, 200 years after its founding, the county adopted the Montgomery family motto, “Gardez Bien”, which translates to “Watch Well”.
Here are the best things to do in Montgomery County:
See Hundreds of Azalea Varieties at the Brookside Gardens
Established in 1969, it was originally part of a small landscaping and gardening center owned by Stadler Nurseries.
It opened with a 25-acre garden and a conservatory, gradually expanding to 54 acres throughout the years.
Brookside Gardens was developed to give the average homeowners ideas on how to incorporate local species into their own gardens.
The garden is divided into several areas, each one highlighting different species of plants.
The Azalea Garden is one of the most popular, containing over 300 varieties of azaleas and 2,000 plants as well as shade-tolerant perennials like Japanese andromedas, witch hazels, and hollies.
Other sections include the Butterfly Garden, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Style, and the Fragrance Garden.
Hop Aboard the Wheaton Miniature Train at the Wheaton Regional Park
The 538.7-acre public park and protected area was established in 1960, combining large tracts of land into one of the biggest parks in the county.
It’s divided into three major areas: the Shorefield Area, the Glenallan Area, and the Orebaugh Area.
The Glenallan Area houses the Wheaton Riding Stables and has several miles of paved and natural trails where visitors can go on guided trail rides.
The Orebaugh Area contains sports facilities, including the Wheaton Indoor Tennis Facility and the Wheaton Ice Arena where ice skating classes are being offered.
The Wheaton Miniature Train, a replica 1863 C.P. Huntington engine train, starts its tours in the Shorefield Area, taking visitors on a 2-mile trek of the Wheaton Regional Park.
Beat Your Fear of Heights at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
Located on Norwood Road, Sandy Spring is The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring.
The aerial forest park is the first of its kind in Maryland and is considered the world’s largest man-made outdoor climbing park.
It boasts 14 courses with 7 difficulty levels and more than 200 climbing and ziplining elements.
The 3-hour general admission includes a safety briefing and practice stage where beginners can get a feel of what to expect when they enter the course.
For younger climbers, the Labyrinth is highly recommended.
The structure is separate from the main Aerial Forest and features exclusive 2-tier elements, including zip drops, bigfoot, and bridges.
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring also offers night climbing for those who want to zipline and climb under the stars.
See Albert Einstein’s Brain at the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Established in 1862 as the Army Medical Museum, its main purpose was to be the center of specimen collection and research in military medicine during the American Civil War.
Under the leadership of renowned military physician and surgeon William Hammond, army medical officers were tasked to collect specimens and foreign bodies for study.
The specimens, together with photos of wounded soldiers, amputations, and other medical procedures, were the first pieces to be displayed in the museum.
In 1989, AMM became the National Museum of Health and Medicine and relocated to its present location.
Today, the museum boasts over 25 million artifacts, including 12,000 pieces of medical equipment, 8,000 preserved organs, and 5,000 skeletal remains.
Some of the most important pieces in the collection include the remains of Albert Einstein’s brain and artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Hop On the Cabin John Miniature Train at the Cabin John Regional Park
The outdoor recreation area boasts 8.8 miles of natural-surface trails that follow a stream perfect for biking and hiking.
The wooded suburban park has various athletic fields for different sports, such as soccer, softball, and baseball as well as indoor and outdoor tennis courts.
The highlight of Cabin John Regional Park is the 2-mile miniature train ride that takes visitors on a scenic tour of the park.
The Cabin John Miniature Train goes through the wooded portion of the park, where visitors can appreciate the local flora and fauna from a different perspective.
At the end of the 15-minute train ride is the Train Station Party Room which can be rented out for private events.
Pick-Your-Own Fruits at Butler's Orchard & Farm Market
The family-owned and operated farm was started by George & Shirley Butler on a 37-acre farm with a log house.
The Butlers initially grew 25 acres of peaches and sold them to a local grocery store at their own farm market.
Today, Butler's Orchard & Farm Market is over 300 acres and grows more the 25 varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and trees all year long.
One of the most popular activities on the farm is “Pick Your Own” where visitors can harvest produce in season.
Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can be picked from June through August, while October is pumpkin season, which kicks off the month-long Pumpkin Festival originated by the Butlers.
Spend the Day at Black Hill Regional Park
Located on Lake Ridge Drive, Boyds is Black Hill Regional Park.
The 2,000-acre outdoor recreation park surrounds Little Seneca Lake and offers plenty of activities that families can enjoy.
The park, through Black Hill Nature Programs, offers educational tours and volunteer opportunities to groups and families who would like to know more about the natural and historical resources of Montgomery County.
Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks at the Boathouse and explore the lake’s beauty by following the Black Hill Water Trail.
The lake is also stocked with bluegill, catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass for those who want to go fishing.
Black Hill Regional Park has 20 miles of hard and natural surface trails that are popular among bikers and equestrians.
Learn Mosaic Art at Amazing Art Studio
The woman-owned and operated art studio is the largest do-it-yourself artist playground that offers classes on pottery, fused glass, painting, mosaic, and board art.
Founded by Julya and John Myers, Amazing Art Studio has experienced artists that conduct intimate classes where students of all ages and abilities can craft their own projects.
Students can pick the art type they want to learn, and the studio’s staff will have all the materials ready and will walk them through every step of the process.
A must-try is mosaic art, where you get to choose your base, pick from over 50 kinds of tiles, and lay out your designs.
You can then grout the design at home on your own or pay a fee and let the studio staff grout it for you.
Go Wildlife-Watching at Rock Creek Regional Park
Located on Needwood Road, Derwood is Rock Creek Regional Park.
Inside the 1,800-acre nature preserve is the 75-acre Lake Needwood and the 55-acre Lake Frank.
The park offers 13 miles of trails that go through the wooded areas and along the shores of the two lakes.
The trails are popular for wildlife spotting, allowing hikers to see various species in their natural habitat, including bald eagles and beavers.
Rock Creek Regional Park also has several recreation facilities that will keep visitors busy all day long.
The Archery Range located near picnic shelter #3 provides archers with a sheltered range with measure shooting positions for 20 to 100 yards.
There’s also the Go Ape interactive treetop adventure where visitors can take on different obstacles, including ziplines, rope ladders, trapezes, and Tarzan swings.
Eat Authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine at Olive Lounge & Grill
Located on Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park is Olive Lounge & Grill.
The bar and grill boasts authentic homestyle Middle Eastern classics, including falafels and gyros.
Opened in 2008, the family-owned and operated restaurant was started by the Hishmeh brothers who immigrated to the US in the 1970s.
The brothers initially opened a bakery that sold Middle Eastern baked goods and fresh pita and eventually ventured into the restaurant scene in the 2000s.
Their homemade falafel served with hummus and pita is one of the crowd favorites alongside the gyro smothered with tzatziki sauce.
Other must-tries at Olive Lounge & Grill include lamb shawarma, babaghnoush, kubbah, and gyro and feta flatbread.
Shop Fresh Produce and Baked Goods at the Lancaster County Dutch Market
The market brings together vendors from central Pennsylvania under one roof where they can show off locally-grown produce and heirloom recipes.
Lancaster Meats is the go-to for barbecue-ready fresh meats while Esh Produce offers home-grown fruits and vegetables perfect for healthy smoothies.
For hot food options, there’s the Dutch Family Restaurant which serves traditional Amish cooking, and Mom’s Pantry which specializes in fresh homemade salads.
For baked goods, Beiler’s Doughnuts boasts more than 30 flavors of freshly made donuts as well as year-round fruit pies, while Lapp’s Soft Pretzels offers rolled pretzels and pretzel wraps in various flavors.
Go Fishing at the Seneca Creek State Park
The 6,300-acre public recreation area runs along the 14-mile-long Seneca Creek, winding down the Potomac River.
Opened in 1958 as the Seneca State Park, a series of land acquisitions saw the park expand between 1965 and 1968.
The developed portion of the Seneca Creek State Park encompasses the 90-acre Clopper Lake, which is a popular fishing destination.
Its shallow portions serve as a breeding ground for a wide array of fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and sunfish.
The park also has around 50 miles of paved and natural surface trails that can accommodate hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
Experience French Fusion Food at Mosaic Cuisine
The family-owned and operated restaurant offers French fusion cuisine curated by Chef Thierry Jugnet.
Mosaic Cuisine marries different dishes from all over the world with an elegant French touch, elevating classic favorites to cater to every palette.
One of its signatures is the Waffle French Toast, which takes the ordinary Belgian waffle to another level by dipping it into a sweet cinnamon egg batter and baking it until golden.
Another must-try is the Parisian Mushroom & Brie Omelette, which is made with sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and melted Brie.
The Croque Monsieur and the Boeuf Bourguignon are also crowd favorites.
Try Peruvian Fine Dining at La Canela
The Peruvian restaurant offers fine dining in its elegant space decorated with wrought-iron accents.
The family-owned and operated restaurant was opened in 2007 to bring authentic Peruvian cooking closer to Maryland.
One of La Canela’s best-sellers is Chicharrones de Cerdo, which is made with slow-cooked, golden crisp braised pork ribs and served with yuca logs and sarza criolla.
Another must-try is the Arroz con Mariscos made with shrimps, calamari, scallops, and mussels cooked with jasmine rice, white wine, and a mixture of Peruvian spices.
La Canela also has a great selection of specialty cocktails that includes their famous house-made Pisco.
Join the Festivities at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
During the month of August, the county celebrates its agricultural heritage and features a wide range of activities and exhibits, including livestock shows, agricultural displays, arts and crafts, exhibits, carnival rides, games, and live entertainment.
The festivities typically last for 9 days, attracting thousands of farm enthusiasts from all over Maryland.
One of its highlights is the carnival where kids and kids-at-heart can enjoy fun rides.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair is also popular for its animal displays and farm equipment exhibits.
If you’re looking for a suburban getaway near the metro, Montgomery County is the right place for you.
With its vast nature preserves and sprawling farms, it’s the perfect destination for a laidback, slow-paced vacation.
So, on your next trip, consider trying the best things to do in Montgomery County.