Located just north of Washington, D.C., Silver Spring, Maryland is considered one of the leading arts and entertainment districts in the area. Downtown Silver Spring recently went through a “renaissance” of commercial and residential developments, emerging as a leading city in the early 2000s. Silver Spring is known for its diverse representation of cultures, people and ideas, which are showcased through local events and artistry. The district is the fourth most populous area in Maryland, and maintains a busy stream of visitors from D.C., Baltimore and even Virginia.
Silver Spring is named after an actual spring discovered by Francis Preston Blair in 1840. If you want to see the site of the original spring, check out Acorn Park in the southern side of the district. Don’t forget to look for the iconic acorn gazebo that’s nostalgic of the mid-1800s. Silver Spring is also a foodie’s paradise, with cuisine reflecting the diversity of cultures represented in the area. Take your pick among Ethiopian, Moroccan, Salvadoran or even Jamaican eats, or check out one of the many fusion dining options in Silver Spring. The city is also home to the World Headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and has numerous religious institutions representing many denominations. For arts and entertainment enthusiasts, the cornerstones of downtown Silver Spring are the Fillmore, a live entertainment and music venue; the American Film Institute; and Discovery Communications. Downtown is hopping with live events and productions each week, with bigger festivals held throughout the year such as the Silverodcs Documentary Film Festival in June, the Silver Spring Jazz Festival in September and the Thanksgiving Day Parade each November. For unusual sights, the National Museum of Health and Medicine is where tourists can see the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln as well as a human hairball. The downtown Silver Spring Market has trendy shops and sights, with a farmers market on Saturdays.
It’s so easy to make day trips from Silver Spring that it’s not a matter of how you’ll get there, but where you’ll go. The Metro will get you from Silver Spring to Washington D.C. in less than 30 minutes, where you can tour the national monuments, the stunning waterfront, or any of the free Smithsonian museums. Baltimore, which is less than an hour drive from Silver Spring, also has its share of museums and sights, including the American Visionary Art Museum and the National Aquarium. Also less than an hour away is Mount Vernon, the legendary home of George Washington. The site’s state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and visitors’ center add to the experience of exploring the 18th-century plantation. If you’re traveling with kids, the National Children’s Museum is around 30 miles away in National Harbor, Maryland. It’s designed for kids ages 8 and under, but even adults can get a kick out of the Sesame Street-themed exhibit and the interactive shows.
Downtown Silver Spring has accommodations that are within walking distance of the Silver Spring Metro station. These lodgings are close to many food options, shops and attractions. The hotels, inns and suites can get a little pricey, starting above the hundred-dollar mark for two-star accommodations, but this is the center of all the action. There’s another cluster of hotels just south of downtown Silver Spring towards Jesup Blair Local Park. This area is more residential, but close enough to the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College to have a selection of dining and transportation options. The prices in this neighborhood start below the hundred-dollar mark. There are also a few B&Bs interspersed throughout the city. The Forest Glen Metro Station area near the Capital Beltway is one of those areas. This neighborhood is on the quieter side, with the Meditation Museum and Tropical Lagoon Aquarium nearby attractions.
There are a couple of options for getting in and out of Silver Spring. The Greyhound bus, MARC Train, and various Metro lines are options to consider. Silver Spring is a stop on the Brunswick Line of the MARC Train, which runs from Washington, D.C. to Martinsburg, West Virginia. The city is also a stop on the Metrorail Red Line, a rapid transit system between Montgomery County, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The metrorail service is very easy to use and probably the best option for getting to downtown Washington, D.C. The Metrobus is also a way of getting around Silver Spring in addition to services such as Ride On and VanGo. Ride On is a public transportation system that operates 80 routes throughout Montgomery County, Maryland. VanGo is a free shuttle service in downtown Silver Spring that runs Monday through Saturday from 7 AM to midnight on weekdays and 2 AM on the weekend.
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