Dine al fresco on a spectacular weekend away in National Harbor.
National Harbor

20 Things to See and Do in the Capital Region

By Jim Meyer
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Dine al fresco on a spectacular weekend away in National Harbor.
National Harbor

Just outside Washington, D.C., unforgettable adventures await. Delight your senses, satisfy your cultural and culinary cravings, and explore history throughout Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

1
Stroll along the streets of Bethesda
Bethesda Row
Eh Pien

Bethesda, one of the most renowned communities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, is known as the go-to place for ethnic restaurants, great shopping, trendy hot spots. Bethesda’s Arts & Entertainment District is brimming with inspiring artists and art venues, like the Strathmore, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club; art events, unique galleries and public art fill the streets.

2
Discover the spirit and charm of Frederick
man walking past shops and restaurants in Frederick
Visit Frederick

Hip and historic, the city of  Frederick charms visitors with award-winning restaurants, cool art galleries and cultural happenings, and craft beers loved by locals. No wonder the National Trust of Historic Preservation recognized Frederick as one of “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.” 

3
Savor Sunsets on National Harbor
At the heart of the National Harbor is a resort which boasts a huge spa, beautiful atrium and stunning views
Gaylord National Resort

Gaylord National Resort is a Marriott property that places you right on the water in the National Harbor, not far from the famed Capital Wheel and 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.

4
Commemorate the Civil War at the Monocacy National Battlefield
Monocacy Battlefield Sign

Site of “The Battle that Saved Washington D.C.” during the Civil War, Monocacy has been called the loss that won the war. The Union delaying action fought here bought Federal troops enough time to fortify the capital and prevent its falling to the Confederacy.

Immerse yourself in the story of this hallowed ground, site of the “Battle that Saved Washington.”  Explore its picturesque landscape that has changed little since 1864. The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center provides a hands-on history lesson perfect for all audiences from kids and casual travelers to the dedicated Civil War enthusiast.

5
Toast to local wines at Black Ankle Vineyards
Grapes at Black Ankle Vineyards
Black Ankle Vineyards

Visit on the weekend to tour and learn about this beautiful winery nestled into the rolling hills of Mount Airy. Stroll the grounds or pack a picnic and enjoy live music on Friday nights. In the cooler months, cozy up by the fire pits outside the tasting room.

6
Traverse Trails along the Towpath
Bike the long stretches of trail along the C&O Towpath Trail, part of the Maryland Scenic Byways.

Built to carry coal from the Allegheny Mountains to the nation’s capital, the C&O Canal Towpath is now a popular walking and biking destination through some of the most scenic parts of the state. Locks, support buildings and aqueducts dot the route as do visitors centers offering information about the canal. You can even stay overnight in a lock house.

7
Be a Rocket Scientist for the Day
Goddard Space Flight Center
Nasa.gov

Learn about the intricacies of space missions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Visitors can see model exhibits of the Hubble Telescope and experience the thrill of space through interactive displays and events, such as live science experiments and model rocket launches for the kids.

8
Climb to the peak in Rockville
For zip lining and active fun outdoors, head to the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course in Rockville.

Scale to the dizzying heights of the forest canopy at the Go Ape adventure course in Rock Creek Regional Park. The course is bound to thrill with zip lines, rope ladders, and swings. If indoor adventures are more your style, Earth Treks’ Climbing Center in Rockville is the largest indoor climbing wall in the nation. First-timers and veteran climbers will be at home on more than 38,500 square feet of climbing walls.

9
Fly Like a Superhero at Six Flags America
Roller Coaster
Six Flag America

At Six Flags America, waltz down Main Street 1776, a recreation of Colonial America, tangle with the Joker in Gotham City or relax with a float down Wahoo River. Hurricane Harbor hosts a bodacious wave pool that’s the largest in the nation. You’ll also find brainmelting thrill rides including Apocalypse: The Last Stand, BATWING Coaster, Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth, Mind Eraser and  FIREBIRD.

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Grab a Seat at Top Entertainment Venues
Music Center Strathmore Sunset
Jim Morris

The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda is one of the most striking venues you’ll ever see and the perfect spot for a night at the symphony. The Fillmore, in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, offers big names, while the nearby AFI Silver presents both modern independent films and classics

11
Dream Big at MGM National Harbor
MGM National Harbor exterior
Stephen Wilkes

This gleaming facility on the Potomac has it all—table games and slots, a 3,000-seat theater (Cher made it her East Coast stage in 2017 and 2018), restaurants from José Andrés and the Voltaggio brothers, Bryan and Michael, as well as a luxurious hotel to unwind in after all the fun.

12
Watch Live Shows in a Historic Theater
The Weinberg Center
Weinberg Center

Originally opened as the Tivoli in 1926, this glamorous theater in Frederick retains much of its original (and since refurbished) charm, including a Wurlitzer organ. Now, the Weinberg Center for the Arts schedule entails both live music and shows for all ages along with movies and speakers from Dr. Temple Grandin and Ted Koppel to Mitch Albom.

13
Roam with Animals on a Safari
See Zeebras at the Catoctin Zoo Safari

Featuring a safari ride through 25 acres filled with animals moseying up to be petted, Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont is an ideal day trip. Kids love feeding the animals, camel and safari rides when in season and other wildlife encounters.

14
Catch a Keys Game Where Pros Played
Harry Grove Stadium - Frederick Keys

Major League stars Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy once played for the Keys, a Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles in Frederick. This cozy, family-friendly stadium offers fans an affordable way to watch professional baseball.

15
Sleep Under the Stars in Frederick
Cunningham Falls is known for its scenic beauty, history and 78-ft. cascading waterfall, plus great hunting, swimming, beaches, boat rental, hiking, and camping.

Cunningham Falls State Park’s namesake falls, reaching 78 feet, are a wonder to behold. There’s plenty of hiking, swimming and canoeing available to fill your time, so claim a camping spot or rent one of the cabins available from April to October.

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A College Park Classic
University of Maryland students

Whether you’re returning to campus as an alumnus or visiting for the first time, The Hotel at the University of Maryland is classy and contemporary with multiple restaurants and an Elizabeth Arden spa. Take a leisurely stroll or board the free shuttle to explore the surrounding area.

17
Local Brews All Around at the Beer Fest
Glass of Evolution Craft Beer with foam that forms Maryland map
@evolutioncraftbrewing-Instagram

Frederick has become the state’s beer mecca, and each May it hosts Maryland Craft Beer Festival—a party in celebration of the explosive growth of locally brewed artisan ales. More than 40 Maryland breweries poured over 180 different types of beer as live music played and revelers enjoyed the lively downtown scene.

18
Civil War Sites for History Buffs
Known for "The Battle that Saved Washington," Monocacy Battlefield saw Civil War action in July of 1864 when Confederate General Jubal A. Early invaded the North for the final time.

Known for "The Battle that Saved Washington," Monocacy Battlefield saw Civil War action in July of 1864 when Confederate General Jubal A. Early invaded the North for the final time.

Any trip to Maryland’s Civil War battlefields should start at Monocacy, where Union troops thwarted the Confederacy’s bold plan to seize D.C. and disrupt the election of 1864. Visitors interested in the history of the fight for South Mountain can start at Washington Monument State Park, where guides help you navigate the scattered battle sites. Located on the Gettysburg Campaign Trail, Frederick’s National Museum of Civil War Medicine makes for a fascinating side trip, as immersive exhibits detail the valiant work done by caregivers tasked with healing. 

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More ideas?
Antrim Porch with Maryland Flag
Clark Vandergrift, OTD
20
Paddle through History in Bladensburg
Float along the Anacostia River, one of the most historic waterways in America.

The Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center and Waterfront Park, part of The Star-Spangled Banner Scenic Byway, tells the story of the people, places and events of the War of 1812. Located on the Anacostia River, the waterfront park features a riverside walk and public fishing pier. Bring or rent a canoe, kayak or rowboat to explore the historic waterway.