Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Gaithersburg, MD

  • Published 2023/01/21

Located in Montgomery County, Gaithersburg is one of the most diversified cities in the United States and the fourth largest city in Maryland.

The city dates back to 1765 as Log Town and was officially incorporated in 1878, making it one of the oldest municipalities in Maryland.

After its incorporation on April 5th, 1878, it officially became known as Gaithersburg.

Despite its small beginnings, the town quickly started to develop, with churches, schools, and hotels built around the railroad station.

There is a historic district centered around the eastern part of Gaithersburg, with many historical landmarks still standing from that era.

One includes Olde Towne, a historically significant part of the city that showcases much of its history and growth over time.

All these activities will prove you don’t need to break the bank as you explore Gaithersburg.

Below are 15 free things to do in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Try Fun Activities at Seneca Creek State Park

The waters of Seneca Creek State Park

Robert A. Powell /

Seneca Creek State Park is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for various activities.

Situated over 6300 acres along Seneca Creek, the park offers a variety of amenities.

It opened its doors in 1958 and expanded with additional land purchases thanks to funding from the Maryland General Assembly between 1965 to 1968.

With more than 50 miles of trails, explore the natural beauty of forests and meadows on horseback or by bike.

Bench overlooking the waters of Seneca Creek State Park

refrina /

For those seeking a challenge, trek through hills and valleys for an unforgettable journey among nature’s wonders.

In the Clopper, Day-use area lies Clopper Lake, a 90-acre oasis surrounded by farmland and forests that adds to the beauty of nature.

Furthermore, visitors can explore a self-guided tour route and take in a 19th-century cabin that was restored onsite; all are free to enter Monday through Friday!

Whether you’re seeking adventure or want to soak up some serene scenery, Seneca Creek State Park delivers—grab your camera before you go!

The grounds of Seneca Creek State Park

refrina /

Explore the Stars by Visiting International Latitude Observatory

Situated on DeSellum Avenue in Gaithersburg, only some locals know the obscure location of the International Latitude Observatory, tucked away in a residential neighborhood.

Although it may appear largely unimportant, the observatory has been one of the reasons for a better understanding of earth science; its data helped scientists identify patterns in weather and examine physical properties.

It was one of six observatories constructed during the early 1900s.

After being out of active use for several decades, it was officially recognized through its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Tucked away to the south of an observatory lies a unique sight—the Meridian Mark Pier—a white steel gazebo structure that stands four feet tall and measures two feet square, utilized to align the International Latitude Observatory’s instruments.

In addition to the observatory and Meridian Mark Pier, five other geodetic markers can be found near this remarkable scientific site which deserves greater recognition for its part in modernizing earth science.

Experience Travis Park’s Natural Beauty

Enjoy exploring the wonders of nature at Travis Park!

A charming spot located at Travis Avenue, it boasts an impressive scenic area with a 1.42-acre lot for you to play around and marvel at nature’s beauty.

The park has a half-court basketball court, a bench, and a gazebo—perfect for an afternoon of leisurely strolling with company or even some quality solo time.

Not to forget, kids are well taken care of here with two playgrounds and a tot lot—offering plenty of entertainment while they learn more about the environment!

Whether you’re looking to have some fun or simply appreciate what nature has to offer, Travis Park is a must-visit.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Constitution Gardens Park

Constitution Gardens Park on Brookes Avenue is an incredible place for the whole family to explore.

Visitors are welcomed at the park’s entrance with a stunning fountain and herb garden, all carefully designed to integrate the city’s cultural and historical legacy.

There is even a special homage to the Gaithersburg Library, which was located at this spot in the 1980s.

Kids will be thrilled by the expansive playground featuring structures like “Bird’s Nest” made of log poles, prepared for imaginative play, and an insect lodge complete with mason bee boxes.

You can also find a grass hill with stepping stones, slides, and tree trunk scramble tracks for outdoor fun!

Get ready to explore the unique climbing features, navigate sand playgrounds and log playrooms, relax at tables with trunk chairs, or take an exciting ride on one of the many water slides.

Don’t forget to stop by Log Town’s tactile garden—you won’t want to miss out on this fun experience.

Take in Stunning Views at the Washington Square Neighborhood Park

Washington Square Neighborhood Park is the perfect destination for those looking to spend a day in nature.

Explore five acres of open green spaces, trees, and grassy fields perfect for sports activities or a stroll with friends.

Play with your family and friends on the basketball and tennis courts and picnic shelter setup to enjoy lunch under sunny skies!

Drinking fountains are available throughout the area, making it easy to get refreshed on an afternoon outing.

Washington Square Neighborhood Park is a great spot for enjoying time outdoors with friends and family.

Bask in the Tranquility of Inspiration Park

Inspiration Park has become a beloved haven for relaxation, contemplation, and tranquillity.

On September 11, 2002, the city dedicated this park to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Inspiration Park is an oasis of natural beauty and serenity in the idyllic Kentlands neighborhood.

Here you can take a peaceful stroll and enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Helene’s calm waters and its sister, lake Inspiration, nearby.

Get ready for bird-watching during migration periods; various species make their way around this stunning spot!

Adding to the area’s tranquillity are two securely positioned benches and a curving brick path lined with roses and other greenery, such as trees, plants, and wildflowers.

These combined features make Inspiration Park an ideal place to spend time basking in serenity.

Discover Gaithersburg’s Vibrant Past at the Gaithersburg Community Museum

Exterior of the Gaithersburg Community Museum

Doug Kerr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get to know Gaithersburg’s fascinating history and explore its evolution from a woodland area to the bustling city it is today by visiting Olde Towne’s Gaithersburg Community Museum on Summit Avenue.

The museum is in the 1884 B&O Railroad Station complex, which has been renovated into an educational space filled with captivating displays and events for your entire family.

Delve deep into maps, census records, rail cars, and other exhibits that depict life in this region throughout time.

It includes hands-on learning experiences specially tailored for kids!

Rotating activities and programs allow everyone to discover history in this interactive venue.

As part of Gaithersburg Community Museum’s outdoor collection, visitors can marvel at an impressive 1918 steam locomotive, a classic caboose from C&O Railroad, or an iconic 1950s Budd vehicle, all standing as tangible reminders of times gone by.

Let Your Dogs Exercise at Green Park

Take a trip to Green Park and let your pups get the exercise they need in the Dog Exercise Area.

Spanning one acre, this area is divided into two distinct sections.

Located at Bickerstaff Way, the upper section of the Dog Exercise Area features bluestone gravel and dust so that your dog can pad around with plenty of traction, while the lower grassy portion gives them room to roll in lush blades.

Both enclosures are equipped with benches so you can take a seat while watching your dog mingle, and there’s even drinking water available.

Best of all, double gates provide safe entry; remember to keep your pup on a leash until they’ve passed through security.

Join the Gaithersburg Book Festival

If you’re looking for an entertaining and educational way to spend a day, join the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Founded in 2010 by Jud Ashman, a city council member, this event has rapidly become one of the premier literary gatherings in the United States.

Set against an idyllic park setting, hundreds of award-winning authors, renowned artists, and acclaimed musicians attend every year.

There’s something for everyone at the one-day festival—from book releases and signings to interactive workshops and live entertainment—and, best of all, it’s free!

Gaithersburg generously supports this event, and it is also buoyed by contributions from its generous sponsors.

Come out to Olde Towne Gaithersburg to join the celebration!

Watch Fireworks during SummerFest at Bohrer Park

Visit the city on the first week of July for SummerFest at Bohrer Park.

It’s the perfect time for friends and family to come together and celebrate America’s freedom.

You can enjoy delicious snacks from local food trucks, craft beverages from nearby breweries, musical performances, activities for children, and so much more!

After the event, you won’t want to miss out on the breathtaking fireworks show, followed by an exciting SummerGlo After Party!

Blankets are welcome if you’d like to bring your food and have a picnic

SummerFest at Bohrer Park promises a spectacular evening for everyone.

Hike a Trail at the Blohm Park

At Blohm Park on Watkins Mill Road, each visitor is welcomed by 24.33 acres of peace and serenity.

The peace-filled haven is dedicated to the memory of Richard Blohm, the former director of parks and recreation from 1970 until 1999.

Along with the paved paths, bridges, and gazebo, visitors can enjoy a hike on one of the trails that meander along the property’s pond.

The terrain is full of beautiful trees, perfect for inspiring long walks for those who don’t need the challenge to stay entertained.

Plenty of benches are also available along the way.

If you’re looking for a serene spot to relax, consider Blohm Park!

Visit the Historic Olde Towne Plaza

Olde Town Plaza is an area of nostalgia and renewal, bringing the past and present together in one place.

This iconic spot—originally home to a bustling train station—has been transformed into a vibrant hub for Gaithersburg locals and visitors alike.

After the City of Gaithersburg bought the land from the railroad in 1984, they strived to turn it into a vibrant space where both visitors and locals could come together to relax and explore.

This revitalized plaza’s amenities include interactive fountain displays, exhibits in the Community Museum, and relaxing benches.

You can also use the comforting Adirondack chairs as you await your next MARC train journey.

Olde Towne Plaza perfectly blends history with modern-day amenities.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Gaithersburg is an excellent destination for travelers looking to explore the rich heritage and culture of the area.

These nearby regions offer plenty of attractions as well!

Bask in Nature at the Rock Creek Regional Park

Aerial view of Rock Creek Regional Park

Nicole Glass Photography /

Enjoy nature at Rock Creek Regional Park, just 12 minutes from Gaithersburg.

This stunning 1,800-acre park features two lovely lakes: 55-acre Lake Frank and 75-acre Lake Needwood.

Spend the day meandering along the 13 miles of trails and paths, weaving through forests and nearby lake shores.

Lake Needwood at Rock Creek Regional Park

Bohemian Baltimore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy many activities such as boating, hunting, picnicking, or exploring playgrounds dotting the landscape.

The Meadowside Nature Center at Rock Creek Regional Park is a unique feature that allows visitors to learn more about the local wildlife.

After spending some time outdoors, take advantage of boat rentals from Needwood Boat Rental and Snack Bar, or spin around the lake for an unforgettable experience!

Conquer the Schaeffer Farms Mountain Bike Trail

Situated in Germantown and just a 17-minute drive from Gaithersburg, you can find Schaeffer Farms Mountain Bike Trails.

This cross-country trail network is the ideal spot to ride your mountain bike and enjoy magnificent views.

Here in Schaeffer Farms Mountain Bike Trails, you’ll be surrounded by nature as you ride your bike.

To add an extra level of challenge, the hill climbs are steep, and the roots of trees can throw off those that aren’t prepared for turns!

Be cautious when biking here on weekends, as it can get crowded with other riders.

You can also enjoy as few as four miles or embark on an all-day excursion thanks to the way the loops are set up.

As a result of its history with MORE beginning in 1994, Schaeffer Farm has become a known destination for mountain bikers from all over looking for a unique experience among nature.

Take a Step Back in Time When You Tour the Agricultural History Farm Park

A bird at Agricultural History Farm Park

Robert A. Powell /

Experience a journey back in time with an exploration of the Agricultural History Farm Park, situated 13 minutes away from Gaithersburg.

Spread across 455 acres, it allows you to discover and understand what life was like on 19th-century Maryland farms while participating in numerous engaging activities!

With green meadows, open fields, and an apple orchard, this lovely park is home to many domesticated animals, barns, and historic structures that will take you on a journey of Montgomery County’s farming history.

You can also check out the modern agricultural activity center, which allows visitors to learn more about sustainable farming and participate in educational activities.

Be sure to bring your camera when you visit the Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood—this inspiring landscape provides the perfect photographic backdrop!

Final Thoughts

With a vibrant history and diverse culture, Gaithersburg is a great location to explore the wonders of culture and nature without spending a fortune on activities.

There is no shortage of free things to do while enjoying your stay in this beautiful city.

Gaithersburg is filled with stunning outdoor beauty and plenty of attractions to explore.

Make the most of your trip by trying these free things to do in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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