Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Silver Spring, MD

  • Published 2023/02/09

Silver Spring is one of the unincorporated communities surrounding Washington D.C. on the side of Maryland.

Many may not know this small community as a top travel destination in the nation, but it has a lot to offer.

Silver Spring, part of Montgomery County, is home to over 81,000 inhabitants, most of whom study and work in nearby Washington D.C.

If you ask Washington D.C. locals, they consider Silver Spring a nice place for relaxation and recreation.

This small community has a vibrant arts scene with an eclectic collection of attractions that are entertaining and worth checking out.

Silver Spring has come a long way from a small settlement named after Francis Preston Blair’s mica-flecked springs.

If you’re searching in Maryland for a nearby and budget-friendly travel destination, then Silver Spring is your go-to place.

It has plenty of attractions and activities that won’t require you to break the bank.

If you’re planning to visit this place anytime soon, here’s a list of the free things to do in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Wander through Downtown Silver Spring

Shopping area of Downtown Silver Spring

Andriy Blokhin /

There’s no better way to start your Silver Spring travel adventure than dropping by Downtown Silver Spring.

Silver Spring’s downtown area has a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of activities to enjoy, from entertainment to dining and shopping.

Water fountain at Downtown Silver Spring

Rob Crandall /

If you’re not eager to spend money, don’t worry.

Downtown Silver Spring has plenty of attractions, such as colorful turn-of-the-century buildings, gorgeous streets, public art installations, buskers, and street performers who give more life to this place.

It’s also home to numerous historical attractions.

Shops along Downtown Silver Spring

Rob Crandall /

Get Active at the Takoma-Piney Branch Local Park

The Takoma-Piney Branch Local Park is one of the many parks you can visit in Silver Spring.

You can check it out along Darwin Avenue.

The park spans over 17.4 acres, featuring plenty of sports facilities, two playgrounds, a picnic pavilion, and other amenities.

The park has a basketball court, a soccer field, a sand volleyball court, a softball field, a skate park, and plenty of public art installations.

Many Silver Spring locals love to spend time at this park to play sports or relax in its green open space.

Takoma-Piney Branch Local Park offers the best outdoor activity to sweat out and get active.

Hike through the Sligo Creek Trail

Sligo Creek Trail is Montgomery County’s most traversed trail.

This trail has a concrete surface spanning over 10.2 miles, meandering through Sligo Creek.

Hiking through this trail allows you to see more of Silver Spring’s community and scenic locations, such as parks, the river, and neighborhoods.

Along the way, you’ll see fellow hikers, joggers, bikers, rollerbladers, and even equestrians.

Include Sligo Creek Trail in your Silver Spring travel itinerary.

Travel Back in Time at the Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station

Depot of Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station is a significant area for Silver Spring’s development back in the day.

You can visit this old train station along Georgia Avenue.

For over 50 years, this train station has become a regular place for commuters visiting the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

At the same time, it’s a drop-off area for goods and other essentials that paved the way for suburban communities such as Silver Spring to thrive.

Today, this train station is one of the only two remaining in Maryland, making it an important historical site for locals.

You can drop by and see this historical train station and be amazed by its restored 1945 architecture which offers plenty of fascinating backstories.

Of course, remember to snap gorgeous photos at Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station for souvenirs.

Pass the Time at Ellsworth Urban Park

Ellsworth Urban Park is a lovely pocket park that is worth visiting as the other parks in Silver Spring.

It is along Ellsworth Drive.

The park spans over four acres featuring a nice playground for kids, and a couple of tennis courts.

One of the best reasons to drop by or spend time at Ellsworth Urban Park is its proximity to Silver Spring’s downtown area.

If you’re itching for a picnic with your friends or family, you can buy food and drinks at stores or shops in the nearby downtown area.

It’s also an ideal place to take a break after visiting Silver Spring’s best attractions.

Spot the Giant Acorn at Acorn Urban Park

Daytime view of Acorn Urban Park

babbage, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Acorn Urban Park is a pocket park in Silver Spring’s downtown area.

This park is situated along Newell Street.

Many locals know this park for its larger-than-life acorn, which serves as its gazebo.

Most parkgoers take photos beside or with the giant acorn as their background for some souvenir photos.

Acorn sculpture at Acorn Urban Park

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the same time, parkgoers appreciate the gorgeous spring grotto and the abundance of trees that provide shade from the sun.

The acorn gazebo has been standing since the 18th century and serves as a decoration for Francis Preston Blair’s plantation named Silver Spring.

Blair ordered the construction of this giant acorn gazebo to symbolize his love for his wife after he proposed to the latter under an oak tree.

Bask in Nature at Wheaton Regional Park

Garden at Wheaton Regional Park

w:User:Rkphoto, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wheaton Regional Park is a vast forested area that borders numerous communities in Montgomery County, including Silver Spring.

You can visit this park along Shorefield Road.

The park spans 536 acres, home to a wide array of recreational and educational opportunities.

Silver Spring’s portion of the park is a popular hiking, horseback riding, and biking destination for locals in Montgomery County.

It has a designated 11 miles of paved and natural surface trails, leading you to numerous natural areas such as Pine Lake.

Besides these outdoor activities, Wheaton Regional Park is also famous for fishing, relaxation, and picnicking, making it a recommended place to hang out.

Browse through the Odd Displays of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Exterior of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Cohee, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Museum of Health and Medicine allows you to learn about medicine.

You can visit this museum along Linden Lane.

Former U.S. Army Surgeon William A. Hammond established it in 1862 as the former Army Medical Museum.

This one-of-a-kind museum displays a huge collection of odd samples of preserved body parts, organs, and pathological specimens.

At the same time, it has a dedicated exhibit for modern and ancient medical instruments and vast historical medical records.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine is a haven for those who love bizarre history and medical science because of its vast collection of fascinating exhibits related to medicine dating back to the 1800s.

Have a Picnic at the Argyle Local Park

Argyle Local Park is a spacious park known for its family-friendly atmosphere.

Like most parks in Silver Spring, it has top-notch amenities.

The entire park covers roughly nine acres with a nice green open space, a multi-use field, a picnic area, and a playground.

For sports buffs, the park has basketball courts, softball fields, and tennis courts for everyone to enjoy.

Argyle Local Park is a great place to lay down your picnic basket and share food and drinks with your family or friends.

You can visit this park along Forest Glen Road.

Watch the Festive Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade

Parade dancer during the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade

Bezhan Muradi /

You can join the locals and celebrate Thanksgiving at Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade, a unique and colorful tradition in Silver Spring.

The parade features huge turkeys, well-decorated floats, penguins, Thanksgiving-related novelties, and marching bands.

Cub scouts during the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade

S Pakhrin from DC, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of thousands of people throughout Maryland and Washington D.C. flock to Silver Spring’s downtown area to watch the nationally televised parade.

The parade starts from Ellsworth Drive to Fenton Street and goes to Georgie Avenue and Silver Spring Avenue.

Besides the main attractions, the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade has plenty of sidelight events after the parade, making you stay for the entire day with your family.

Ride the Famous Wheaton Station Escalator

View of the long Wheaton Station Escalator

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

The Wheaton Station Escalator is famous for being the longest set of escalators in the Western Hemisphere.

Visiting this place is a rare feat, especially if you’re not a local of Montgomery County who regularly commutes at Wheaton Station.

It’s a 230-foot escalator, which descends below Silver Spring street to the second-deepest train station in the Washington Metro area.

You can join locals commuting the train during rush hour to get to their offices, shops, and schools in Washington, D.C.

Descending through the deep tunnel is a rare and awesome experience you must not miss.

Head to the Wheaton Station Escalator to experience using Western Hemisphere’s longest escalator.

Bask in Tranquility at Hastings Neighborhood Conservation Area

The Hastings Neighborhood Conservation Area is an undeveloped outdoor recreation spot you can visit along Granville Drive.

This place, which was acquired by the Silver Spring community in 1976, is known for its peaceful ambiance, lush wooded area, and green space.

Unlike other parks and outdoor places in Silver Springs, this one is known for being quiet and peaceful since it’s less crowded.

Head to the Hastings Neighborhood Conservation Area whenever you’re yearning for some quiet time.

Read Countless Books at the Silver Spring Library

Exterior of the Silver Spring Library

Andriy Blokhin /

Silver Spring Library, currently known as the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library, offers a different perspective on learning about the place’s history.

You can visit this public library along Wayne Avenue.

This library is part of the more extensive Montgomery County Public Libraries System.

Building sign of the Silver Spring Library

Andriy Blokhin /

It houses a vast collection of historical records that detail Silver Spring’s history.

At the same time, this library which opened in 1931, features various resources, from books to magazines, and newspaper clippings.

The Silver Spring Library also has a coffee shop where you can hang out while reading books.

Drop by Indian Spring Terrace Local Park

Indian Spring Terrace Local Park is a spacious outdoor recreation area, perfect for some sports and other activities.

The 30-acre park has a playground and numerous sports facilities for soccer, softball, basketball, pickleball, and tennis.

It also has a picnic area for those who want to chill and unwind.

The Indian Spring Terrace Local Park is also one of Silver Spring’s popular venues for birthdays, community events, and weddings.

You can visit this park along Lawndale Drive.

Find Solemnity at St. John the Evangelist Church

Exterior of St. John the Evangelist Church

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last on this list is the St. John the Evangelist Church.

Despite being completed in 1962, it boasts a modern architectural design, unlike other churches with gothic or baroque styles.

Interior of St. John the Evangelist Church

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting this church allows you to enjoy a solemn time for some prayers.

Non-Christians can also admire St. John the Evangelist Church’s architecture and discover the 200-year-old history of the Jesuit missionaries that established the church.

Final Thoughts

This list of free things to do in Silver Spring, Maryland, shows that this small community has more to offer than meets the eye.

Silver Spring has a fascinating history, laid-back atmosphere, gorgeous neighborhood parks, and plenty of outdoor activities.

With all these things you can enjoy for free, remember to include Silver Spring on your travel bucket list.

© All rights reserved.