20 Best Things to Do in Potomac, MD

Potomac, MD
Guillermo Olaizola / shutterstock.com

This suburban destination in Maryland gets its name from the Potomac River, and it’s also proof of the continuing progress of the United States over the centuries.

In recent years, the city of Potomac has become the twenty-ninth-richest zip code and the sixth wealthiest city in the entire country.

Thanks to this prosperity, many people consider Potomac one of the best places to live in the United States.

In 1881, the Irish settler John McDonald renamed the former Offutts Crossroads to Potomac.

He asked to change the name to solve difficulties with the post office who handled other communities named “Crossroads.”

During the 20th century, Potomac saw unparalleled progress. More people settled there, giving rise to flourishing businesses.

The number of residents kept growing, so they decided to suburbanize in the 1950s.

Today, Potomac, Maryland, is the seventh most educated small town in America.

It is a town of knowledge and learning, a terrific place to live, and an excellent visit.

Do you want to know more about Potomac, MD?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town:

Marvel at the Great Falls of the Potomac

Great Falls of the Potomac River.
Jon Bilous / shutterstock.com

The first thing on your Potomac checklist should be a visit to the Great Falls, considered one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Washington, D.C. area.

Admire this force of nature as it crashes down steep and jagged rocks and slows down to flow along the Mather Gorge.

The waters of Great Falls of the Potomac
Andrei Medvedev / shutterstock.com

Join other people worldwide and visit the Great Falls, where you’ll find a series of rapids and 20-foot waterfalls.

These falls drop 76 feet, covering less than a mile of distance.

What makes the Great Falls special?

It’s an awe-inspiring fall line rapids in the eastern rivers, and it’s also one of the steepest.

Scenic view of Great Falls of the Potomac
VIKVAD / shutterstock.com

Go Hiking along the Ford Mine Trail

This 4.5-kilometer out and back trail is special because you’ll see a waterfall along the way.

It’s a moderately challenging trail, too, so you need to be prepared.

However, the effort should be worth it.

You can also bring your dog on a leash while walking or running on the trail.

This trail follows a lollipop shape, meaning you begin your trip on a long stretch of trail until reaching the loop section.

Celebrate Milestones at the Rockwood Manor

For the past 30 years, the Rockwood Manor transformed from the long-time home of the National Girl Scout Camp to a popular and unique retreat destination for the whole family.

Feel like a scout again by staying in the manor’s camp lodging and remodeled cabins.

Don't worry if you’re with a large party because the manor can accommodate 85 guests for an overnight stay.

When you arrive, you’ll see a row of champion trees stretching their branches out to welcome you.

Then, after settling down, you can relax in a rocking chair outside your cabin and then enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the fire pit when it gets cold.

Rockwood Manor is perfect for a weekend getaway from the grind of city life.

It’s also terrific for events such as weddings, mitzvahs, birthday parties, family reunions, or corporate rentals.

Check Out Masterpieces at the Glenstone Museum

Scenic View of Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland
Sdkb, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides nature, Potomac also features interesting arts and culture destinations.

For instance, you can drop by the Glenstone Museum to admire a private collection of roughly 1,300 pieces made after World War II and taken from artists worldwide.

Reflection pool outside the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland
Sdkb, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The American businessman Mitchell Rales founded this museum and built it on a picturesque green landscape.

You’ll certainly enjoy a day at the museum because you’ll be looking at art from established artists, which have seen exhibitions for over 15 years.

Exterior of Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland
Ron Cogswell, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grab Fresh Meals at O’Donnell’s Market

If you want original dishes cooked in the signature Norfolk style, then O’Donnell’s Market is the place for you.

This family-owned restaurant offers freshly prepared meals for you to take home, fresh seafood, and top-quality meat.

Likewise, the O’Donnells are also willing to share their family recipes with everyone who asks.

This market is also known for its rum buns, which the pastry chef makes from scratch daily.

Head inside and grab a bite, or go to the grill raw bar and sample dishes made from the fresh ingredients on display.

Get a Taste of New York at Brooklyn’s Deli

Another Potomac restaurant that serves unique and delicious food is Brooklyn’s Deli, where you can grab a taste of New York-style Jewish dishes.

If you miss slow-cooked corned beef, knishes, rugelach, and matzo ball soup, just head on over to Brooklyn’s for a slice of New York.

You won’t find many of these specialty dishes outside the five boroughs, so grab these made-to-order meals.

Likewise, you can buy top-quality meats at Brooklyn’s.

These meats are all in-house, too, so you can be sure of only the highest quality meat.

So, you can buy corned beef, hand-carved pastrami, brisket, roasted turkey, and ham, among others.

You can have a corned beef hash, artisan bagels, pancakes from scratch, and good old omelets for breakfast.

Go Hiking along the Billy Goat Trail

Daytime view of Billy Goat Trail
christianthiel.net / shutterstock.com

This 4.7-mile hiking trail should be an unmissable spot for tourists who love the great outdoors.

Following the Potomac River and the C&O Canal path, the Billy Goat Trail should offer you a relaxing stroll amid nature.

The Billy Goat Trail’s most popular section is Section A, which leads you across rocky terrain and a steep climb along a cliff face along Mather Gorge.

Waters along the Billy Goat Trail
christianthiel.net / shutterstock.com

You’ll even need to navigate huge boulders on the path.

However, all the work should be worth it for the sights that slowly present themselves to you.

On the other hand, the other sections are much easier, so you don’t need to worry, especially with amateur hikers.

Rock formations at Billy Goat Trail
christianthiel.net / shutterstock.com

Grab a Bite at MoCo’s Founding Farmers

When you hear your stomach grumbling in Potomac, drive to MoCo’s Founding Farmers to fill your belly with scrumptious farm-to-table meals.

Their menus consist of traditional American meals, but they’re all organic.

They also prepare your food from fresh ingredients, including bread, pasta, desserts, ice cream, and sodas.

After all, the restaurant is cooperative-grower-owned.

Even the design of the place is handcrafted, with a dining room created with reclaimed and recycled materials.

They also serve cocktails from the award-winning cocktails they’ve made.

Likewise, their ingredients come from American-owned family farms.

Swing Away at the Falls Road Golf Course

This public golf course should give you enough fun for a weekend, and you just need to drive a few minutes from the nation’s capital.

You’ll need to go east of Potomac, where you’ll find the course sitting on 150 acres of farmland.

Bring your friends for a nice round of golf.

You’ll find rolling hills, four sets of tees, expansive fairways, and wide greens.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner.

This course is friendly to newcomers and veteran players alike, from juniors to seniors.

See Wildlife at Olmsted Island

Boardwalk trail at Olmsted Island
Jon Bilous / shutterstock.com

Various wildlife species call the tiny Olmsted Island, lying in the middle of the Potomac River by the Great Falls.

So, if you want to see rare animals in their natural habitat, visit this Potomac attraction as soon as you can.

You’ll see herons, wild geese, and small lizards among the animals.

View from an observation deck at Olmsted Island
Jon Bilous / shutterstock.com

Likewise, Olmsted Island is home to threatened or endangered plant species.

You’ll need to stay behind a fenced-in walkway on the island’s southern section if you want to see them.

However, this walkway also gives you a tremendous view of the Great Falls, so it’s still worth it.

Trail at Olmsted Island
Jon Bilous / shutterstock.com

Spend the Day at Falls Road Park

In 1986, the city of Potomac built the Falls Road Park, or as the locals call it, Hadley’s Park.

It’s a 20-acre urban park designed for outdoor activities such as sports, picnics, and festivals.

Bring your friends there for a fun baseball, soccer, football, and softball game.

In 1999, the park saw the addition of the Hadley’s Park playground, intended for children of all skills and abilities.

Bring your kids there, and watch them make new friends and play at the three playsets, including a pirate ship, castle, and frontier village.

The playground also features handicap-accessible swing sets and a surface trail fit for wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, bikes, etc.

Buy Unique Décor at the Potomac French Market

In 2017, Teri Troxell and Rene Redfield Shaw established the Potomac French Market out of their desire to share their passion for beautiful home decoration.

They brought unique décor to farmers' markets, such as the open-air markets of New Orleans and Paris.

Of course, they got the name “French Market” from their Paris adventures.

When they returned home to Potomac, they decided to open their décor shop, where you can find unique treasures that you can bring home.

For example, you can buy an authentic 1800s farmhouse table or a vintage mirror.

Bike along Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

People walking along Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com

Do you love bike lanes that wind through forests where the sun occasionally peeks?

Have you ever explored the tiers and locks of an enormous stone aqueduct?

Suppose you want to feel like you're on a European backpacking vacation without all the hassle.

In that case, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is the way to go.

More than 184 miles long, it stretches across Virginia and Maryland and almost enters Pennsylvania, making it an excellent destination for anyone searching for natural beauty and variety.

Traveling by car is the most usual way to see the city's buildings, parks, bridges, tunnels, and canal ports.

On the other hand, you may take your time and see all of its sights by biking or backpacking.

Multiple trails at Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Meditate at ISKCON of DC

The Hare Krishna community in an ISKCON of DC and its members practice Bhakti Yoga.

There are 12 acres of stunning woodland around its Potomac temple.

Even though you can visit the temple any day of the week, don't miss the Sunday Open House!

Activities include mantra meditation, Bhakti Yoga, and a vegan lunch.

Come as you are and try its guided mantra meditation session.

You will receive beads and mantra cards to use throughout your practice.

For lunch, you'll have Prasadam, translating to "mercy," a vegetarian meal served to Lord Krishna.

Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and maintain silence as you explore the area.

Experience Yoga with the Locals at Bette Carol Thompson Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center

The Scotland neighborhood is between Seven Locks Road and Interstate 270, home to the Bette Carol Thompson Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center.

Bette Carol Thompson, a longtime resident of the area and dedicated campaigner, inspired the center's renaming.

Thompson has devoted her life to making her neighborhood a safe and inviting place for everyone who lives there via her various volunteer efforts since 1990.

The facility's area was one of the first African American communities to form in all of Montgomery County.

After a renovation in 2014, it now provides a wide range of activities for locals of all ages.

Activities like yoga, athletics, cooking, music, dancing, community gatherings, and festivals are a few examples.

Enjoy Ice Cream at Sprinkles Potomac

Sprinkles Potomac is a neighborhood ice cream shop that has been in operation for over 33 years and is owned and operated by women.

Since 1989, it has been serving handcrafted ice cream to Potomac Village residents and tourists. It uses fresh, high-quality ingredients to create its small-batch ice cream.

Sprinkles Potomac is proud to provide a wide variety of baked goods, including bagels, smoothies, sweets, pies, donuts, cakes, and more.

Thanks to its newly elected party collections, you can get unique birthday cards, candles, decorations, and more in a single visit.

In addition, it sells various products, such as mugs, napkins, greeting cards, and treats for your pets.

Stop by for some eye candy and tasty eats.

Buy Fresh Produce at Potomac Village Farmer's Market

This weekly farmer's market takes place in the heart of Potomac from May through October.

Organic dairy products, fresh eggs, seasonal vegetables, and pasture-raised poultry and pig are just some of the farm-to-table options available.

Fresh seafood, including lobster, fish, and produce from nearby farms, are delivered weekly.

Enjoy this fantastic farmer's market in our backyard, where you can pick up a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers and savor a slice of handmade pie.

Stuff your belly with freshly baked goods, including pie, bread, pizza, and more!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Experience History at Lockhouse 22

View of Lockhouse 22 in Maryland
TwoScarsUp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just eleven minutes away from Potomac lies the city of Rockville, where you can revisit history by spending the night at Lockhouse 22.

What is a blockhouse? It’s a cabin where the person in charge of a canal or river lock stayed, hence the name.

You can rent Lockhouse 22 in Rockville and see how people in the mid-1830s to 1840s lived.

For instance, you’ll see period-accurate furnishings inside the cabin, helping you get fully immersed in the experience.

Exterior of Lockhouse 22 in Maryland
TwoScarsUp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enter Nature at the Locust Grove Nature Center

This time, drive fifteen minutes from Potomac to reach the city of Bethesda, where you can find the Locust Grove Nature Center.

If you want a break from the hustle and grind of the city, you need to visit this place to recharge yourself.

You can wander along the trails or enjoy the splendor of nature on their observation deck.

Likewise, you can check out the nature exhibits inside and outside the center or bring your kids to the natural playground.

Otherwise, you can bring your kids to the campfire nature walks and deepen your bond.

Let Loose at Cabin John Regional Park

You don’t need to leave Bethesda to find the Cabin John Regional Park, where you can participate in various fun activities.

For instance, you can play several sports like tennis, indoor and outdoor, or simply do Tai Chi.

You can even ice skate in the summer by visiting the Cabin John Ice Rink.

Likewise, you can let your kids ride the park’s model train or hang out with your family at the picnic and playground areas.

Your kids might want to check out the Adventure Playground, the park’s main attraction that comes with a totem pole.

You can also spend the night there.

Pick one of the park’s seven walk-in campgrounds, settle in, and follow more than five miles of trails on foot or by bicycle.

Final Thoughts

When you just need to get away from the hustle of downtown life, just head to the city of Potomac to see nature and recharge your body and spirit.

You can also deepen your bond with your family and friends by just hanging out in the city’s various recreational areas.

Book your Potomac trip today!

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