Split Rocker sculpture in full glory on the crest of a clover-covered hill.

10 Can't-Miss Things To Do in the D.C. Suburbs

By Jim Meyer
Split Rocker sculpture in full glory on the crest of a clover-covered hill.

Whether you want to get back to nature with an outdoor adventure, explore the arts and theater, shop ‘til you drop, or paint the town red with a fantastic night out, Maryland’s D.C. Suburbs have got it all. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Spend A Day at National Harbor
evening view of Gaylord National Resort and Capital Wheel from the water
Gaylord National Resort

Take a sightseeing cruise or learn to stand-up paddleboard on the Potomac; ride the amazing 18-story Capital Wheel, and stroll the boardwalk at National Harbor, home to world-class waterfront dining, plenty of outlet shopping and nightlife options. It’s a quick ride over to MGM Casino if a game of poker is more your speed.

Take a Look at the Secret Side of History at the National Cryptologic Museum
National Cryptologic Museum Hebern device

Housing artifacts dating back to the 1500s, this one-of-a-kind museum gives visitors a behind the scenes look at the secret world of spies. Get to know the real James and Jane Bonds of the world and learn that truth is often way weirder than fiction.

Catch a Show at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

Originally built in 1938, this gem from the golden age of cinema has been refurbished into a state-of-the-art hub for theater and cinema. Located in the heart of Silver Spring, the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center features classic cinema, unusual art-house fare and main stream movies as well as local theater productions.

Split Rocker sculpture in full glory on the crest of a clover-covered hill.

Glenstone, a contemporary art museum in Potomac - 15 miles from downtown D.C., features about 1,300 works in many mediums from artists around the world, it is noted for seamlessly integrating art, architecture, and nature into a serene and contemplative environment.

Visit the Fantastic Glen Echo Park
Glen Echo Park Carousel in Glen Echo, Maryland

One of the most charming and unusual parks anywhere, Glen Echo began as an amusement park in 1891 and now is a cultural center run by the National Park Service. First thing’s first: ride the amazing antique Dentzel carousel—this rare enclosed carousel is home to an enchanting menagerie. Or learn to line dance, drop in for a yoga class or catch a concert in the beautiful Spanish Ballroom.

Have a Swingin’ Good Time at the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course
For zip lining and active fun outdoors, head to the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course in Rockville.

Live your Tarzan fantasy swinging through the trees at this amazing Rockville action park. Ziplines let you rocket through the forest canopy on Go Ape’s 2.5-hour guided adventures with programs for all ages and physical abilities.

Scream for Ice Cream at the University of Maryland Dairy & Ice Cream Parlor
Ice Cream Cone with Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream

Think you know good ice cream? Prepare to get schooled. A College Park institution, students at the University of Maryland’s dairy have been making terrific ice cream with milk from the college’s own cows for more than 80 years.  And with 22 flavors to try, you will be coming back.

Get Your Groove On at the Capital Jazz Fest
Chaka Khan at the Capital Jazz Fest

From the old school to the new, the Capital Jazz Fest has been bringing the best artists to Merriweather Post Pavilion for more than two-decades. Featuring not only jazz, but also R&B and hip-hop, the Capital Jazz Fest brings generations of music together for one incredible destination festival.

Enjoy Outdoor and Water Activities at Great Falls Park
Great Fall Park
Department of Natural Resources

For hard-core river rats, the Class V rapids are the stuff of legend. For the rest of us, two overlooks offer perfect vistas of the falls and any kayakers brave enough to run them. Take a mule-drawn boat-ride on the C&O Canal, bike or stroll the smooth, flat towpath, or scale the daunting Billy Goat Trail, one of the toughest hikes in the region.

A&E Districts
performers in mid-air
Prince George's County Gateway Arts & Entertainment District

Just outside Washington, D.C., the A&E Districts of the Capital Region are unique enclaves that have always drawn and produced profound artists in music, theater, the visual arts, and beyond. The Capital Region is home to arts districts, ground breaking galleries, world class museums, and poignant and powerful public arts.