Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Mount Rainier, MD

  • Published 2023/03/20

Tucked in Maryland is a small city bordering Washington, D.C., known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant art scene.

Named after the towering natural wonder Mt. Rainier in Washington, this quaint and unassuming town in Prince George’s County attracts visitors for its simple beauty.

Mount Rainier is home to residents who enjoy numerous places to roam around and learn.

From several scenic nature parks, interesting hang-out spots, and thriving art communities, it does not fail to make any visitor stand in awe and wonder.

While it is relatively small, the city is a welcoming community for everyone who wishes to see a different side of Maryland.

The best things to do in Mount Rainier, Maryland, define traveling off the beaten path.

Walk around the Mount Rainier Historic District

Buildings at Mount Rainier Historic District

Nonvirtual, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spanning around 260 acres, the Mount Rainier Historic District is a national gem built in 1900.

Starting as a streetcar suburb, the district is home to over 1,000 buildings comprising single-family and primarily scaled houses erected close to each other.

When you stroll around the district, you’ll observe a common intersection where duplexes and small apartment buildings are built with storefronts.

The houses follow the Queen Anne style, popular from 1880 to 1910.

In 1990, the Mount Rainier Historic District was included in the list of the National Register of Historic Places, making it a leading attraction in the city.

Discover Art at Gateway Arts and Entertainment District

To connect with local artists or check out the art and culture scene, visit the Gateway Arts and Entertainment District along Route 1.

Established in 2002, the art district encompasses two miles of the thriving arts scene.

It covers four municipalities, including Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Hyattsville, and North Brentwood.

Formed in 2001, Gateway Arts and Entertainment District has numerous galleries, entertainment centers, and enterprises related to the arts.

It has art supply stores, arts and crafts shops, and designer studios.

The place also comprises various coffee houses and restaurants, which contribute to the economy in the district.

Play around Mt. Rainier Park

Despite its size, Mount Rainier is known for its many outdoor spaces where locals and visitors gather for fun under the sun.

Mt. Rainier Park at 30th Street is a small community park frequented for its lush trees and expansive open space for playing with kids or walking dogs.

It has bountiful shaded trees that make up a perfect picnic spot while birds chirp around from above.

Others can have fun in swings and slides installed around the play park.

Mt. Rainier Park is one of the three parks in the city which are within walking distance from one another.

Spring Park at 33rd Street and Mt. Rainier Upshur Park at 34th Street are the other two parks.

Spend the Day at Mount Rainier Nature Center and Recreation Center

Mount Rainier Nature and Recreation Center is the only urban nature center in Prince George’s County.

Located at 31st Place, this unique facility offers various fun and interactive programs and activities focusing on learning about nature and wildlife.

You can discover different hands-on exhibitions about nature and animals, watch plays at its outdoor amphitheaters, and hang out around its campfire pit.

Then, you can observe fish in a pond or have fun at its outdoor playground.

Mount Rainier Nature and Recreation Center also features programs on animal care and urban beautification.

You can enjoy all these features without spending as the place offers free admission from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Admire the St. James Catholic Church

The stunning St. James Catholic Church is another must-see attraction in Mount Rainier.

Aside from being a place of worship and prayer for churchgoers, it is also a destination worth checking out for its exteriors and rich history.

Boasting Romanesque architecture, the large church at Rhode Island Avenue was completed in 1926.

Since then, it has become a towering wonder in town.

It was built with a steel skeleton covered in bricks and massive stones, completing its elegant look, which many find enticing up to this day.

From the outside, you’ll see the St. James Catholic Church adorned with small stained-glass windows, several steps upward, a towering round arch that welcomes visitors, and a large white cross on the right.

Surrounding the church are separate buildings, such as a rectory, school, and convent, constituting a large complex where many gather for events.

Ride a Bike through the Anacostia River Trail

The Anacostia River Trail, also known as Anacostia Riverwalk, is a 20-mile nature trail southeast of Washington, D.C., opened in 2004.

Because of its length, it also runs through Maryland, where the Northwest Branch Trail and the Northeast Branch Trail can be accessed.

Both Maryland trails pass through Mount Rainier, where people can go biking amidst the scenic views of the winding river.

The wooded Anacostia River Trail allows a calming experience while being close to nature and the diverse wildlife in the river.

While biking, you will also see other visitors kayaking and paddleboarding.

Learn Glass Techniques at Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School is a learning facility for people who want to learn techniques and skills to make kiln-cast, fused, and cold-worked glass sculptures.

Initially located in Washington, the school found its home along Otis Street at Mount Rainier when it had to relocate due to the construction of the Washington National Parks.

When you enroll in the school, you can select different courses, including glass bowl making and welding, while learning about various artworks such as jewelry and architectural elements.

With classes held mainly on evenings and weekends, Washington Glass School is a great place to unleash new skills.

Check Out Vintage Games at Brewer’s Arcade

Gamers and vintage enthusiasts will surely love to visit Brewer’s Arcade, an expansive and detailed collection of classic arcade machines.

Located at 35th Street in the basement of Joe Brewer, lead singer of rock band [velvet], the arcade features museum-quality 1970s and 1980s classic pinball machines and video games.

Brewer has been restoring vintage finds for over a decade.

He continues numerous old machines to bring back to life.

Aside from arcade machines, Brewers also specialize in left-handed guitars that are hard to find and guitar stomp boxes.

Learn about Arts at Joe’s Movement Emporium

As a cultural arts hub, Joe’s Movement Emporium was established in 1995 as an avenue to cultivate creativity in the town when it lacked artistic diversity.

Founded by dance and performing artist Brooke Kidd, this center at Bunker Hill Road offers performing arts and education programs.

Since it opened, it has welcomed over 70 000 visitors annually and remains a top summer class hub for people who want to learn about the arts.

You can unleash your creative prowess by choosing dance, yoga, theatre, and digital media programs.

See the Original Federal Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia

History enthusiasts will surely enjoy following the original federal boundary stone markers of the District of Columbia in Mount Rainier.

Out of the 51 historical markers sprawled across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, two are in the city.

The Northeast 5 Boundary Stone is found at Eastern Avenue, while the Northeast 6 Boundary Stone is erected at Eastern Avenue and 34th Street intersection.

The Daughters of the American Revolution erected both markers in 1916.

The stones are set from 1791-1792 that delimited the 100 square miles of the District of Columbia.

By tracing these Original Federal Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia, you’ll find yourself walking down the historical path of the District of Columbia.

Climb Webs at Forest Village Imagination Playground

A day at Forest Village Imagination Playground at 37th Street is a perfect avenue to get your energy going.

The playground features multiple play web structures suited for older children, including climbing tree tops, webs, towering walls, and massive rocks.

A distinct feature of the woodland theme area is an animal tracker with buttons that play animal sounds when pushed.

Besides, kids can also enjoy playing around Forest Village Imagination Playground with sliding play areas for smaller ones.

Buy Upcycled Pieces at Tanglewood Works

Tanglewood Works is a unique place to find exciting pieces, a home décor, and a furniture shop focusing on upcycling materials.

Tanglewood Sue, the artist behind the lovely local shop, specializes in repurposed homer décor that promotes sustainability.

Walking into this creative space at Oak Lane, you will be amazed by its colorful displays with a fun, bohemian vibe, as well as the painting materials for sale.

You can enroll in one of Tanglewood Works’ classes about furniture painting and upcycling to start your DIY project.

Other Things to Do Nearby

While Mount Rainier offers several attractions, you can explore beyond the city to make the most of your trip.

Pitch a Tent at Greenbelt Park

The grounds of Greenbelt Park

Lissandra Melo /

About a 20-minute drive and 7.1 miles from Mount Rainier, Greenbelt Park is in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The parkland was designated a National Park in 1950 and has been one of the town’s best outdoor areas, thanks to its 1,100 acres.

One of the significant activities many do at Greenbelt Park is camping.

A lake at Greenbelt Park

Lissandra Melo /

You may pitch your tent in its campground covered by towering forest trees such as Virginia pine and oaks and surrounded by wildflowers.

Camping provides a close encounter with nature and an excellent opportunity to experience fresh air and hear the sounds of the wildlife soaring from above.

While camping, you may also want to tackle its 5.2-mile hiking and equestrian trails, which add to the one-of-a-kind experience.

Welcome sign of Greenbelt Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience Art at Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Enter the world of famous Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh through an interactive exhibit called Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Washington, D.C.

You can find it on Rhode Island Avenue and just a 15-minute drive from Mount Rainier.

It is a spectacular 360-degree experience that lets you dive into the work of Van Gogh inside a 2,000 square feet light and sound exhibit.

For around 60-75 minutes, you’ll learn about the life of one of the world’s greatest artists and unleash your inner artist through its exciting activities.

The Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience was built in 2017.

Ride a Boat around Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Signage of Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you drive six minutes east of Mount Rainier, you’ll end up in Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Bladensburg, Maryland.

Located at the historic Anacostia River, this waterfront attraction offers boating activities perfect for those who have loved the waters since it was developed in 2000.

The waters of Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rent a boat and row through the scenic river while learning about its history, which dates back to 1812.

Bladensburg Waterfront Park is a quick side trip for our Mount Rainier itinerary.

A playground at Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll around the Beautiful Gardens of Montpelier Mansion

Exterior of Montpelier Mansion

Preservation Maryland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 18th-century Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, Maryland, is another site worthy of a 22-minute drive from Mount Rainier.

This Georgian country house was a plantation for iron production and agriculture.

It has five parts, including a hexagonal mansion, pavilion, and plantations.

Constructed in 1781, the summerhouse boasts 70 acres of expansive gardens with a 200-year-old boxwood maze and wooded paths.

Surrounding the country house are flowering vines, orchids, summer flowers, tropical plants, and fruit gardens.

The Montpelier Mansion is a National Historic Landmark and frequent events venue.

Final Thoughts

Mount Rainier is an enchanting little place in Maryland with its share of interesting places.

From art districts and outdoor play areas to scenic riverfronts and historic landmarks, the city gives you a sense of relaxation and an excellent opportunity to learn.

These best things to do in Mount Rainier, Maryland, prove that you have a lot of attractions to look forward to when you visit the city.

Start planning your trip today!

© All rights reserved.