15 Free Things to Do in Wheaton, MD

Free Things to Do in Wheaton, MD
Guillermo Olaizola / shutterstock.co

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How this article was written: Our team first analyzed the scores and feedback across major platforms like Google Maps, Yelp, and Trip Advisor, considering not only the ratings but also the consistency of positive feedback. Following this, we conducted interviews with over 30 local residents who have been to these attractions and places to gather authentic, first-hand experiences. You can read more about our research process here.

While this list showcases some remarkable attractions, it's important to note there are many other exceptional places in Wheaton that are not featured here. Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Explore the Grounds and Flowers at Brookside Gardens

Scenic view of Brookside Gardens
Guillermo Olaizola / Shutterstock.com

When mentioning Wheaton, it's never right to forget to mention Brookside Gardens in the same sentence.

This 50-acre park is open daily.

It features a vast number of theme-specific gardens and miles of well-maintained landscapes and shrubbery.

The experience I had walking through these gardens and taking photos in between the formal gardens is beyond extraordinary.

People at Brookside Gardens
Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com

The conservatory was a glorious affair, too.

I don't have to say more; I highly suggest coming by this garden yourself and seeing what the hype is all about.

You won't regret it!

Brookside Gardens is a highlighted attraction on Glenallan Avenue.

A butterfly at Brookside Gardens
Walter Payne / Shutterstock.com

In Wheaton, arts and creativity are always celebrated concepts.

Wheaton Arts Parade Gallery makes sure of this.

This gallery is a volunteer-run organization that showcases masterpieces from local artists within Montgomery County.

It also sells art pieces.

But what drew me to this gallery is its range of free events and workshops for everyone—residents and visitors alike.

I came for the free Mindful Making activity, which is a family-friendly event that encourages the use of the senses in a sort of meditative state.

It was a transformative experience that helped me stay in tune with the present.

Long story short, I loved it, and I'd come back for a second visit if I get to have that chance.

If you're coming with your little ones, you might like enrolling them in a free Storytime and Art Making event.

Wheaton Arts Parade Gallery finds its home at Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center on Veirs Mill Road.

Browse through the Murals and Public Artworks within Wheaton

Wheaton's public art scene is as vivid and vibrant as I hoped it'd be before I came to visit the place.

This is why I made it a mission to go on a mural-spotting adventure across Wheaton.

The 9/11 Mural was my first stop on Blueridge Avenue.

Next was the Community Quilt Mural on the same street.

Both murals offered an enriching experience with a different perspective on tragedy and community, respectively.

I also got to get a glimpse of the 12 Bronze Sculptures by Judy Sutton Moore on Georgia Avenue.

These art pieces sit on top of planters and sidewalk benches, greeting pedestrians as they walk past.

Obviously, there are more public art installations worth checking out, so keep an eye out for them if you've got the time.

Enjoy the Festivities at Taste of Wheaton

You have not fully experienced Wheaton's culture without attending its signature admissions-free event, Taste of Wheaton.

This yearly event takes place in June.

It offers a portal into the food culture of the community, as well as promotes its restaurants, cafes, and other dining facilities.

When I first attended this event, I was in awe of the solidarity of everyone involved in the festivities.

From the live musical performances to the balloon sculptures and caricature drawings, everyone had a part to play; I was only happy I got to witness it.

I also loved flitting from booth to booth within downtown Wheaton and sampling good cuisine inspired by a variety of cultures.

Some food samples may not be free, but they all come at reasonable rates.

Taste of Wheaton is completely free for everyone to enjoy!

You can start your food adventure in Marian Fryer Town Plaza on Reedie Drive, the event's go-to venue.

Learn More about Native and Flora at Brookside Nature Center

Brookside Nature Center is one of the most sophisticated free attractions I have ever visited in Wheaton.

This small center puts a direct spotlight on the native flora and fauna within this part of the community.

The key features of this landmark are its exhibits, one of which is the Earth Sciences room and its collection of gems and minerals—my favorite spot.

While mostly geared towards children of all ages, it's a must-experience for the whole family!

Surrounding this facility are woodlands and interpretive boardwalks, which solidified my nature discovery further.

You can find Brookside Nature Center on Glenallan Avenue.

Roam the Nature Spaces at Wheaton Claridge Local Park

Wheaton Claridge Local Park has been my go-to park for a bit of a breather and some nature trekking.

This park features a rushing stream and man-made facilities for rent.

At 21 acres, this predominantly green space has done wonders for my meditation with nature.

Its walking trails are one of my favorite features of this park because of its scenic vistas throughout its path, alongside its creek.

I got to sit by the creek and watch as the water rushed over—seemingly never-ending.

The park also comes with a recreational facility, a children's playground, and a basketball court.

Wheaton Claridge Local Park sits along Claridge Road.

Trek the Trails of Wheaton Regional Park

A lake at Wheaton Regional Park
Guillermo Olaizola / Shutterstock.com

Wheaton Regional Park is a public park and protected preserve complete with man made facilities and natural areas.

Located within the forestlands of Wheaton, it comes with 11 miles of multi-use trails that I had a fun time trekking.

Some of its more notable amenities include the Brookside Gardens, the Wheaton Indoor Tennis Facility, and the Wheaton Ice Arena.

I loved the inclusivity of the park, as well as its pet-friendliness.

Everywhere I looked, there was always something beautiful to see or something fun to do.

Wheaton Regional Park is on Shorefield Road, free of charge.

Some of its amenities inside may come with a fee, though, so better watch out for that.

Watch an Entertaining Show During the Wheaton Family Theatre Series at InterAct Story Theatre

If you're a fan of the performing arts, you don't want to miss out on the Wheaton Family Theatre Series.

Hosted by InterAct Story Theatre, this event series comes every fall to the community of Wheaton and ends in the blossoming season of spring.

As this list suggests, this series is free to everyone, families and children alike.

It combines a range of performing arts, including dance, storytelling, and theater, among many others.

I happened to stumble upon a pantomime sketch during my visit, and I came home with laugh lines on my face and a satisfied heart.

I only wished I got to see some of its other programs, including dance performances, puppet shows, and other art workshops.

The Wheaton Family Theatre Series is a yearly staple on Georgia Avenue.

Jam to Live Music and Performances at Wheaton’s TGIF Summer Concert Series

Wheaton's TGIF Summer Concert Series is a live music series happening from July to September.

It features local artists and bands within an outdoor setting for a more freeing concert experience.

Its main highlight is its diverse genres of music, including reggae, Latin rock, and even swing and blues.

I loved the atmosphere that comes during these concerts.

I got to dance and jam to the lively tunes and watched as other people did too.

Just be sure to bring a blanket or a chair with you if you plan to stay for the whole setlist.

The TGIF Summer Concert Series has taken place in both Wheaton Veterans Urban Park and Marian Fryer Town Plaza.

Spend Time in the Outdoors at Wheaton Forest Local Park

Wheaton Forest Local Park is an outdoor sanctuary that I was glad to have stumbled upon while in the area.

Established in 1965, this park spans about 9 acres.

It comes with a playground, multiple sports courts, and a rentable picnic shelter.

I appreciated the serenity and peacefulness of this quaint park during my visit.

I have yet to try playing at its sports courts, but I did have a fun time just taking in the scenery and exploring the vast area of green space.

Located along University Boulevard West, Wheaton Forest Local Park is worth checking out.

So, be sure you're adding it to your itinerary!

Browse through Folk and Traditional Art at HalloWheaton

Among Wheaton's long list of seasonal events, HalloWheaton takes the cake as one of my memorable visits.

This event takes place in Marian Fryer Town Plaza.

I had a blast joining some of the lawn games and activities that this event hosted.

There were some s'mores and caramel apples, too, which were only some of my favorites among the range of vendors.

More importantly, costumes are highly encouraged, so I got to see some familiar faces and characters parading around the park.

It's an event I will surely remember for the rest of my years.

HalloWheaton is ready to spook everyone just in time for the spookiest time of the year on Reedie Drive.

Other Things to Do Nearby

If you're within the Wheaton area, you may also like the following free activities:

Admire the Architecture and Surrounding Gardens of Washington D.C. Temple & Visitors' Center

Exterior of Washington D.C. Temple & Visitors' Center
Joe Ravi / Shutterstock.com

Architecture and the Christian culture come together in a seamless blend within Washington D.C. Temple & Visitors' Center in Kensington.

This temple features a stunning array of exhibits within what is famous as the third-largest temple in the whole world.

I loved exploring the models of the temple at the visitor's center and even getting to see models of churches within the Latter-day Saints congregation.

Most importantly, the elegance of this temple from its salient exterior to its minimalistic interior has me dying to come back for a second time.

Its 50-acre property also has gardens and woodlands that offer superior beauty to the place.

Washington D.C. Temple & Visitors' Center sits along Stoneybrook Drive, but even from far away, this facility stands as a majestic fortress on top of its hill.

It takes 10 minutes to get to this landmark from Wheaton.

Check Out the Local Art at the Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum

The Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum fuses Biblical significance with local art in an exhibit-filled facility.

This unique museum brings Biblical characters and objects to life with intricate collections and exhibits.

One of the exhibits I adored most is the museum's take on the Scriptural ark.

I also loved the non-Christian displays, including the Alice in Wonderland collection of sculptures and Shakespeare's drawings.

Everything I got to see at this facility was worth the trip, so experience it for yourself.

The Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum is free and open to the public!

It is 11 minutes away from Wheaton and resides along Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.

Discover More about Medicine History at the National Museum of Health & Medicine

Exterior of National Museum of Health & Medicine
Cohee, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Within the community of Silver Spring, the National Museum of Health & Medicine is an educational divulgence on the history of military medicine.

Founded in 1862, its collections range from the rise of technology in the medical field in the past years to Civil War medicine and pathology.

Despite its small size, this museum was an informative visit that I remain in awe of even months after my visit.

I got to learn so much about the human body that I otherwise had overlooked during science lessons.

The National Museum of Health & Medicine on Linden Lane is about a 6-minute drive from Wheaton.

Find Solitude within Nature at Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail

Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail is an 18-mile asphalt-led pathway for hiking and biking expeditions.

It lies at the core of the Washington metro area and ends at Rock Creek Regional Park in Derwood.

I liked the hilly parts of the trail and the scenic vistas everywhere.

With only a stretch of trees and nature throughout the route, it was easy for me to remain laid back and enjoy the scenery without worries.

I also shared the trail with some friendly bikers, which helped me appreciate the experience even more.

Whether you choose to hike, bike, or rollerblade, this trail is the place for you.

Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail is about 19 minutes from Wheaton.

Final Thoughts

Wheaton may not be as big as some of Maryland's cities, but it has a cool collection of attractions and landmarks that I'll always choose to come back to time and time again.

And this is why this community is one that I will always cherish most within Montgomery County.

It's only a bonus that this place's free spots and activities are accessible to everyone, including non-residents.

Did you like the list above of the free things to do in Wheaton, Maryland?

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