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Attractions, Sites, and some Fun Things to do in Rockville and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area

Welcome to Rockville, Maryland, and to Balisage. August in the Washington metropolitan area offers many wonderful options for site seeing. You will have the opportunity to experience some of the world’s most famous and beloved museums, monuments, and other attractions. You can also potentially expect some high temperatures combined with intense humidity. Below is a short list of museums and activities you and/or your family might like to visit. As with any big city, there can potentially be lots of walking. Please wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated. This list is divided between places that are walking distance from the conference hotel, Metro accessible, a short drive, and a longer drive. Have a wonderful visit!

Walking Distance in Rockville

Rockville Town Square

The Rockville Town Square is walking distance from the Cambria Hotel. You will find numerous activities in this community friendly area including: restaurants, shops, events, and other places to gather.

Downtown Rockville is the home of Mulberry Technologies. We are housed in the Garza building.

If you are a literary buff, you can also find the grave site of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Located in the small cemetery at historic St. Mary’s Church which is nestled at 520 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville, behind the intersection of routes 355 and 28.

Beall-Dawson House and Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine, open Thursday-Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Built in 1815, the Dawson house is an example of how wealthy individuals lived during the early 19th century. You can tour the original mansion which includes slave quarters. The Stonestreet Museum of Medicine, located on the mansion grounds, is a one-room doctor’s office with medical and pharmaceutical tools, furniture, and books from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Located at 111 West Montgomery Avenue.

Earth Treks Rockville Climbing Center, hours vary; check website.

Earth Treks’ Climbing Center in Rockville, MD is one of the LARGEST indoor climbing walls in the nation with more than 38,500 square feet of climbing. Shorter, less steep walls allow new climbers and kids to be successful while ample steep and technical terrain challenges even the most advanced climbers. Located in the Marlo building, just south of downtown Rockville and 4 blocks south of the Rockville Metro station (Red Line).

Dawson’s Market Farmers Market, open Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Located in front of Dawson’s Market you can find an array of local produce, baked goods, prepared foods, art, and more. There is also an additional Farmers Market, open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. located at the corner of Route 28 and Monroe Street. The market offers in season fruits and vegetables picked that day as well as bedding plants, cut flowers, preserves, honey, herbs, baked goods, and more.

Rockville Swim and Fitness Center, hours vary; check website.

The Rockville Swim and Fitness Center is a full-service aquatics, fitness, and recreation facility. Conveniently located near Rockville’s Town Center, the facility features two indoor and three outdoor pools along with a whirlpool and fitness/exercise room. A one-day pool pass can be purchased for $7 and a full-facility pass is $8. Open swim time varies. Attendees are welcome to drop in on a water exercise class, providing space is available for that class.

York Castle Tropical Ice Cream, open 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily

Ice Cream Store

A Mulberry favorite, York Castle Tropical Ice Cream, located at 827 Hungerford Dr, is less than a mile from the Cambria Hotel. (“Hungerford Drive” is one of the many local names for “Rt 355”, which is “Rockville Pike” a block from the Cambria, “Wisconsin Avenue” to the south, and “Frederick Road” a bit further to the north.) We like all of the tropical flavors and especially recommend the coconut, lychee, and tamarind. Walk to “The Pike”, turn north, in less than a mile you’ll see the blue picnic tables outside York Castle.

Self-Guided Walking Tours

Rockville Interactive Maps

We recommend the following three interactive walking tours of Rockville. You’ll find the maps on the City of Rockville website. Click on “Explore Rockville” at the tool bar on the top, then on “History of City” and finally on “Explore Rockville’s History” on the left tool bar. A panel of photos pops up. The interactive walking tours are the top two on the first vertical row of photos. On your cellphone, go to and click on “Living In”, then “History of Rockville”, and finally “Explore Rockville’s History”. Pick an interactive map. You’ll be warned that you are leaving the City’s website and your tour will be initialized. Swipe left for each stop on the tour.

Rockville’s African American Heritage

This walking tour documents the people and places in Rockville’s downtown core that played significant roles in black history from the 18th century through the 20th. The tour touches on the historic themes common to the African American experience, such as slavery, emancipation, religion, education, commerce, and civil rights. Click here for a printable version.

Historic Rockville Interactive Walking Tour

This tour highlights downtown Rockville as it existed between 1801-1850. Click here for a printable version.

Historical Buildings Tour

This tour provides an inventory of historic sites and buildings in the City of Rockville as published in the 2011 Historic Buildings Catalog. The catalog includes 478 homes, places, and buildings built between 1790 and 1990, and provides a snapshot of life in Rockville. Included are sites with local and national historic designation as well as those not officially designated as historic, but deemed significant to the city’s past.

Art in Public Places

Rockville Art in Public Places

Rockville’s Art in Public Places program was established in 1978. The program helps to generate an identity that continues to make Rockville a prime destination in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area. The different pieces, scattered throughout the City, reflect the vitality and diversity of the people and businesses within the community. The arts are very important to the residents of Rockville, and serve to maintain and enrich the character of the community, improve the quality of life, and foster economic development. Similarly, there is a county-wide project you can explore here.

Metro Accessible*

National Mall, open 24 hours a day

For many individuals visiting the Washington area, the National Mall is their first stop. Open around the clock, this area can be enjoyed during daytime hours when one can go inside and visit one of the adjacent (air conditioned) museums, or at nighttime by lamplight. The tree-lined, grass-carpeted Mall spans from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. About a 5-mile jaunt; wear comfortable shoes. The Washington Monument is closed for tours until August 2019.

The Textile Museum, hours vary, check their site.

One of the world’s foremost resources for the study of textiles, the Textile Museum’s collections of more than 20,000 objects represent five millennia and five continents, including cultures from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The museum is also home to the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection of historical artifacts that tell the story of the founding and evolution of our nation’s capital.

National Building Museum, open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. This is one of the most family friendly museums in Washington, D.C. Located just four blocks from the National Mall, the Museum occupies a magnificent building with a soaring Great Hall, colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns (among the tallest in the world), and a 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze.

Smithsonian Museums, open 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily

The Smithsonian Institution, also known as the nation’s “attic” is a group of museums and research centers. In the Washington Metropolitan area, this comprises nineteen museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoological Park (the Zoo). The National Mall houses 11 of the local Smithsonian museums. The Air and Space Museum has an iMAX theatre where you can view the classic film "To Fly", among others.

National Zoo, exhibits open daily at 10:00 a.m.

Enjoy seeing many animals outside including, but not limited to, cheetahs, zebras, gazelles, lions, tigers, and elephants (oh my!). Many more animals are on exhibit throughout the day in air-conditioned or heated buildings, including the Reptile Discovery Center, Invertebrate Exhibit, Small Mammal House, Bird House, and Amazonia. The best time to see the giant pandas is between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. There are plenty of places to picnic or grab a bite to eat. Located at 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. on the Red Line Metro*. When going to the zoo, you can exit from either the Woodly Park or Cleveland Park Metro stops. However, Woodly Park is uphill to the zoo, and Cleveland Park is a downhill walk to get to the zoo.

Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens, open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with tours available

Marjorie Merriweather Post bought Hillwood in 1955 and soon decided her home would be a museum that would inspire and educate the public. Her northwest Washington, D.C. estate endowed the country with the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, a distinguished 18th-century French decorative art collection, and twenty-five acres of serene landscaped gardens and natural woodlands for all to enjoy. Opened as a public institution in 1977, today Hillwood’s allure stems from the equally fascinating parts that make up the whole. From the captivating life of Marjorie Post to the exquisitely maintained Mansion and Gardens, the experience of Hillwood outshines even the Faberge eggs. Located about one mile from the Van Ness Metro stop on the Red Line (detailed directions are available on their website).

Newseum, open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily

The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism that promotes free expression and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, while tracing the evolution of communication. This museum houses 15 theaters and 14 galleries. The Newseum’s Berlin Wall Gallery includes the largest display of sections of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. The Today’s Front Pages Gallery presents daily front pages from more than 80 international newspapers. Other galleries present topics including news history, the 9/11 attacks, the First Amendment, world press freedom, and the history of the Internet, TV, and radio. The adult admission fee is $24.95. Located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. Metro* accessible on the Red Line at either the Gallery Place or Judiciary Square stations; approximately four to two blocks distance respectively.

International Spy Museum, open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily

The Spy museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on the elusive profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events. The Spy Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display, some of them for the very first time. These artifacts illuminate the work of famous spies and pivotal espionage actions as well as help bring to life the strategies and techniques of the men and women behind some of the most secretive espionage missions in world history. The mission of the International Spy Museum is to educate the public about espionage in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of its important role in and its impact on current and historic events. The Museum focuses on human intelligence and reveals the role spies have played in world events throughout history. It is committed to the apolitical presentation of the history of espionage in order to provide visitors with non-biased, accurate information. The adult (ages 12-64) admission fee is $22.95. Located near L'Enfant Plaza red line metro stop at 700 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC.

Union Station

Union Station is a national landmark featuring shopping and dining housed in a historical structure. On the Red Line Metro*, this building also is a major transportation hub for trains and buses. Open 7 days a week, hours vary for shops and restaurants.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is the home of some of Washington, D.C.’s finest museums, historic homes, and foreign embassies as well as a variety of ethnic restaurants, bookstores, and private art galleries. This cosmopolitan neighborhood is the heart of Washington, D.C.’s nightlife. Dupont Circle is on the Red Line Metro.

Ford’s Theatre, open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily

During the Civil War, Ford’s Theatre was one of Washington’s top entertainment venues. President Lincoln visited Ford’s Theatre on at least 10 formal occasions. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln and his wife decided to visit the theatre to see the comedy Our American Cousin. John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, snuck into the President’s Box and shot Lincoln with a single-shot Deringer pistol. Booth fled into the night, and Lincoln died the next morning in the Petersen House, a boarding house located just across the street from the theatre. The theatre remained closed for the next 103 years. Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site is located on 10th Street between E and F streets. The site is within walking distance of the Metro* stops at Metro Center and Gallery Place. Parking garages and metered street parking are located nearby.

Mansion on O Street, tours daily

Experience a visual treat as you wander around the large O Street complex, which has a spectacular history of renovation. The mansion’s collections rotate and change daily. From the art, to the music, to the surroundings, no visit is ever the same. Visit this palace of eclecticism for an amazing experience. Galleries are not limited to one genre; they promote and embrace life, from every culture, resulting in a wide-ranging collection of paintings, photographs, sculpture, books, artifacts, and music, from all over the globe. These works celebrate life, culture, all religions, science, education, and more. O Street Museum offers a fascinating and dynamic tactile experience where you will hear rare studio cuts, leaf through manuscripts, touch sculpture, and tour through a multitude of architectural styles. No matter where you look, you will miss something. But it’s not what you miss, rather what you’re willing to see. All tours are daily, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., unless specified otherwise. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. All tours are available by online reservation only, based on availability.

Bethesda Row

A great place to explore a multitude of shops, boutiques and places to eat in an open air environment. On the Bethesda red line metro stop. Metro is recommended, parking can be challenging.


Other ...

Shopping and Restaurants at Friendship Heights (on the Red Line Metro*, Friendship Heights station). Perhaps the “Beverly Hills” of Maryland, this residential/shopping/dining area has high-end designer boutiques such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and Tiffany. You can also find upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, and Neiman Marcus which is the anchor store at Mazza Gallery. There are more traditional department stores such as Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s. If you are looking for a bargain, try Loehmann’s or Filene’s Basement. Fabulous shopping with ample dining opportunities.

Metro Maintenance 2019

In general, we recommend that you take the Metro. But the Metro is undergoing ongoing maintenance, which can mean extensive disruptions to service. The Metro will be running during the day on weekdays, but will be very slow weekday evenings. There will be bus service to connect closed Metro stations, but it will be slower than the train. We suggest checking the Metro’s Planned Metrorail Track Work or using the Metro Trip Planner. If you are looking for information for a future trip, click on “MORE OPTIONS” and tell the system when you want to travel.

Short Driving Distance

Glenview Mansion, open Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Glenview Mansion is an elegant 1926 home included on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the 153-acre Rockville Civic Center Park, this is also a great place for a hike. The Glenview Mansion houses an art gallery upstairs and hosts concerts and other events. The first Sunday of every month from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. is the reception for that month’s art exhibit, and there is usually some sort of free concert downstairs. The art is usually by local artists, and often complimentary refreshments are served. The Glenview Mansion is located at 603 Edmonston Drive in Rockville.

Glen Echo Park, open from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily

Glen Echo Park is situated on the Potomac palisades near Bethesda, Maryland. Originally a Chautauqua retreat, then an amusement park, this National Park now presents various arts and cultural programs. There are 14 resident artists and arts organizers offering classes in pottery, painting, photography, silversmithing, or textiles. Enjoy a puppet show or theater performance with your kids, ride the historic Dentzel carousel, or perhaps attend an art class. On weekend evenings, there are a variety of different styles of dances, such as tango, swing, and contra, accompanied by live bands. Dances take place in the beautiful and pristinely restored 1933 Spanish Ballroom.

Wheaton Regional Park, Shorefield Area

Located off Georgia Avenue at Shorefield Drive, this park has a newly refurbished playground featuring small, medium, and large slides, as well as a climbing mound and other structures to swing, play, and explore. If you enjoy vintage carousel rides, there is a Herschell Spillman Company turn-of-the-century musical carousel, one of the oldest still in existence. You can also take a miniature train ride that goes through the park (operating weekends only in April and September and daily from May through August).

Brookside Gardens, open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily

Brookside Gardens is Montgomery County’s incomparable, award-winning 50-acre public display garden. Included in the gardens are several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden, and the Woodland Walk. The Formal Gardens areas include a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden. The butterfly exhibit, Wings of Fancy, is something you won’t want to miss. There is ample parking available and many fun things for kids to do also.

Longer Driving Distance

Baltimore, Maryland (about an hour drive, or two hours by train)

Baltimore Inner Harbor

The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, tourist attraction, and landmark of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The name “Inner Harbor” is used not just for the water but for the surrounding area of the city, with approximate street boundaries of President Street to the east, Lombard Street to the north, Greene Street to the west, and Key Highway on the south. The harbor is within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. A water taxi connects passengers to Fells Point, Canton, and Fort McHenry.

Information on the water taxi can be found here: Baltimore Water Taxi

National Aquarium, open daily, hours vary; check website.

Located at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the National Aquarium houses coral reefs, jelly fish, sharks, and an Amazonia exhibit as well as an exhibit on animals native to Maryland and more. The Living Seashore exhibit is an interactive, hands-on exhibit featuring two touchpools where you can touch an Atlantic stingray or the bell of a pulsing moon jelly.

Port Discovery Children’s Museum, open daily, hours vary; check website.

Consistantly ranked among the top Children’s Museums in the U.S. by publications such as Parenting Magazine and Forbes. If you are bringing children with you to Balisage, visiting this Museum combined with the Aquarium would be a very good way to spend an entire day. There is fun to be had by children of all ages. Port Discovery features, upon entrance, a soccer field and a 3.5 story urban tree house with a slide and zip line. Other attractions in this three-story museum include a water works room (slickers, crocs, and dryers are provided); Tiny’s Diner, a realistic 50s style diner; Miss Perception’s Mystery house; and a Studio artist workshop, to name a few.

Fort McHenry, open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily

A good hands-on learning experience for you and your family. During the war of 1812, Fort McHenry successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy. It was during the bombardment of the fort that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write The Star-Spangled Banner, the poem that would eventually be set to the tune of To Anacreon in Heaven and become the national anthem of the United States. The film at the Visitors Center is a must see. You can take the water taxi from the Inner Harbor to get to Ft. McHenry.


Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria is nationally recognized for its rich history and beautifully preserved architecture. It is a welcoming, appealing, and completely walkable historic area. Here you will find trendy shopping, exquisite dining, arts, culture, and night life. The Torpedo Factory Arts Center is located in Old Town which is home to the largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios in the U.S.; you can get there via the Metro on either the Blue or Yellow Line and exit at the King Street station (just west of Old Town).

Potomac Mills Mall, about an hour drive. Open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Potomac Mills is one of the world’s largest outlet malls with over 200 discount stores featuring designers and brand names including Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Nautica, Crocs, Vera Bradley, Gymboree, and much more. Potomac Mills has numerous dining options ranging from fast-food to the Olive Garden, Silver Diner, and Ruby Tuesdays. Potomac Mills is located just off of I-95 at exit 156 in Prince William, Virginia. The mall is about 30 minutes south of Washington, D.C.

Colonial Williamsburg, long drive about 3 hours from the metro area

Allow at least a day to explore and experience this well-preserved former capital of Virginia. You will meet townspeople, tradespeople, shopkeepers, political figures, women, and the enslaved that call Williamsburg home and learn of their hopes, struggles, and fears in these uncertain colonial times. As you explore the challenges of daily life set against the backdrop of revolution, look for the many opportunities to play your role as a citizen of the Revolutionary City.