- For other places with the same name, see Bethesda (disambiguation).
Bethesda is in Montgomery County, Maryland, just 1.5 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Wealthy and well-educated, Bethesda is best known for its numerous restaurants and as the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health.
Bethesda was a quiet suburb until 1984, when the Red Line of the Metrorail was extended. This brought an explosion of growth, and many high rise office and apartment buildings were built. Bethesda became the major suburban destination in Maryland for wining and dining, and is much more family-friendly than anywhere in D.C. itself. Bethesda is generally ranked #1 in the list of the most educated cities in the U.S. and the richest neighborhoods in the U.S.
Baltimore-Washington International (BWI IATA), Dulles International (IAD IATA), and Washington Reagan National (DCA IATA) airports are all more or less equidistant by taxi from downtown Bethesda, usually taking about 30-45 minutes, without traffic. Budget an extra 30 minutes during rush hour.
For information on getting from the airports to Bethesda, see Washington, D.C.#Get_in
Bethesda is served by WMATA trains via its Red Line, travel time from central Washington, D.C. is just over 20 minutes. 1 Bethesda Station is located at the intersection of Wisconsin Ave and Old Georgetown Road
From New York City
- Tripper Bus, ☎ 1 718 834-9214. Service to Penn Station in New York City. Pickup/dropoff near the Metrorail stations in Bethesda and Rosslyn. $27+ discounts available with multiple online tickets purchased.
- Vamoose Bus, ☎ +1 301 718-0036. Service to Penn Station in New York City Pickup/dropoff near the Metro stations in Bethesda and Rosslyn. $30+ free ticket with every four purchased.
From other points in Montgomery County, MD
Wisconsin Ave (Route 355) and Connecticut Avenue run from Downtown Washington DC to Bethesda.
The Capital Crescent Trail, which runs from Georgetown to Silver Spring passes through Bethesda. Between Bethesda and Georgetown the trail is smooth asphalt suitable for rollerblading, while from Bethesda to Silver Spring is currently loose gravel.
Bethesda Circulator operates free bus service within downtown Bethesda. It runs every 10 minutes M-Th 7AM-11PM, F 7AM-midnight, Sa 10AM-2AM, Su no service.
You can walk around downtown Bethesda—it's not so big.
Parking meters cost $2.25 per hour. Parking enforcement is aggressive and fines start at $45 for an expired meter.
Bethesda is not known for its sights; it's known for its restaurants and bars. Nonetheless, you might be interested to see:
- Art Galleries. There are several art galleries in Bethesda and regular tours of the galleries are organized.
- 1 The National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike (north on Wisconsin). The mammoth collection of buildings housing the majority of the nation's government bio-research. Due to worries about the security of the bio-weapons research programs here, admission of non-employees to the grounds requires a security screening.
- 2 Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The view from Wisconsin Ave of the main building is plenty impressive. If you see a helicopter landing on that main building, it's probably the president or one of the top cabinet officials—this is where they get their repairs. Frankin Delano Roosevelt sketched the design for the impressive main building.
- The Madonna of the Trail statue, Wisconsin Ave & Old Georgetown Rd. The Madonna of the Trail memorial was dedicated at Bethesda in 1929 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is one of 12 identical memorials that mark the National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. Each Madonna of the Trail monument stands 18 feet tall and weighs 17 tons and is constructed of algonite stone. The statue depicts a pioneer woman clasping her baby with her young son clinging to her skirts and is a tribute to the women that headed west with their pioneer husbands.
Bethesda Urban Partnership sponsors many events including free concerts, movie showings, and art exhibitions, all of which are posted on the website.
- Elm Street Urban Park, 4600 Elm St. Sunrise to sunset. A 2.1-acre park in downtown Bethesda. Occasionally is the site of free dance classes on weekends.
- Bowlmor Lanes Bowling, 5353 Westbard Ave, ☎ . M 5PM-2AM, Tu-Th 5PM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11:30PM. A big, 34-lane upscale bowling alley with two large and popular bars. $4-9/game depending on time, Monday night special: $14 all-you-can-bowl +shoes 8PM-close.
- Bethesda Live, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue.
- Strathmore Hall (The Music Center at Strathmore), 5301 Tuckerman Lane North Bethesda, MD 20852-3385 (Adjacent to "Grosvenor-Strathmore" Metrorail station), ☎ . A fantastic hall for seeing concerts because of its state-of-the-art acoustics and great seating. Even the last row has great sound and viewing lines. Check the schedule to find everything from classical music symphonies to rock concerts to kids music performances.
- Bethesda Row Arts Festival. Mid-October, 10AM-5PM. A festival featuring arts and crafts for sale by local artists and live music.
- Taste of Bethesda. Early October, 11AM-4PM. The taste of Bethesda is the biggest festival of the year, when people from all over the area come to sample Bethesda's restaurant offerings and to enjoy big free concerts. A pack of 4 taste tickets costs $5, and restaurants will give you a food serving for 1-4 tickets. Many great restaurants participate!
- 2 Bethesda Farm Women's Market, 7155 Wisconsin Ave. Dates back to the Great Depression. Food, drink, and crafts are sold.
- 3 Westfield Montgomery Mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd. Includes many clothing stores such as Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Forever 21, GAP, Old Navy as well as an Apple Store and a food court
Bethesda is known throughout the Washington D.C. area for its nearly 200 restaurants.
- 1 Bangkok Garden, 4906 St. Elmo Ave, ☎ . This Thai restaurant is one of the best in the D.C. area. It has relatively inexpensive food served in a warm, inviting atmosphere.
- 3 South Street Steaks, 4856 Cordell Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-3AM. Philly cheesesteaks. No, really: authentic Philly cheesesteaks on Amoroso rolls, right here at a sit-down eatery in Bethesda, and they taste like you got them right out of Geno's window in Philadelphia. If you're not from Philadelphia, you can look like you are in the know by ordering a "nine (or twelve) inch whiz wit." Don't worry, they'll understand that, you won't look silly, and you'll get your cheesesteak with the traditional cheese whiz and grilled onions. In addition to legit Philly cheesesteaks and late hours, this eatery draws customers with a bunch of specialty subs, like the missteak, a monstruous sub stuffed with 1 lb steak, 8 pieces bacon, pepperoni, fries, and three types of cheese (feeds up to four). $7-16.
- 4 Tastee Diner, 7731 Woodmont Ave, ☎ . 24 hours daily. Looking for the true American diner experience with greasy spoons and waitresses with too much eye shadow? How about cheap eats any time of day or night? Look no further than the Tastee Diner to serve your needs. Indeed, this might be the most dineresque diner in the D.C. area. $3-11.
- 5 Vace's Italian Deli, 4705 Miller Ave, ☎ . M-Tu,Sa 9AM-8PM, W-F 9AM-9PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Vace's serves the best, most authentic New York style pizza you'll find anywhere this far south. Takeout only. $8-12.
- 6 Bethesda Crab House, 4958 Bethesda Ave, ☎ . 9AM-11PM daily. What better reason to cross the District line into Maryland than a Maryland crab feast! This is not a nice restaurant, it is a crab shack that somehow made its way into Bethesda, with the brown paper on the table, buckets of crabs, tons of Old Bay seasoning, and a lot of messy patrons. $20-40; all-you-can-eat crab feast: $35/person.
- 7 Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-midnight. José Andrés' excursion to Bethesda brings the same excellent modern takes on Spanish tapas and the same excellent sherry and port lists. While extremely popular, this location is big enough where you can get a table without reservations. $20-40.
- 8 Maki Maki, 8023 Wisconsin Ave, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9:30PM. Just a bit north of the hotbed of restaurants, this unassuming but pleasant and friendly corner sushi bar is excellent. They specialize in creative sushi (or Maki) dishes like the "Red Dragon" (spicy crunchy tuna inside, topped with avocado, tobiko and spicy sauce) and "Fuji Maki" (eel, tobiko, shrimp tempura, cucumber, tamago, cream cheese & eel sauce). $15-30.
- Mussel Bar & Grille, 7262 Woodmont Ave, ☎ . Mussels, frites, and Belgian beer.
- Olazzo, 7921 Norfolk Ave, ☎ . Italian food in a rustic environment.
- Passage to India, 4931 Cordell Ave, ☎ . 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-10PM daily. The often fiery cuisine here is some of the best Indian food you'll find anywhere in the metro area, and it's also attractive, rather quiet, and has reliably excellent service. If you are up for a challenge, try to finish one of their vindaloos without asking them to dull down the spice level. $16-30.
- Raku, 7240 Woodmont Ave, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su noon-3PM; dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. Arguably the best Asian food in Bethesda. It's kid-friendly and rather noisy, but the food is made with incredibly fresh, high quality ingredients, and will not likely disappoint. Very popular so make a reservation or get there early. $11-35.
- Redwood, 7121 Elm St, ☎ . M-F: 11:30AM-9:00PM; Sa: 11:30AM-11:00PM; Su: 10:30AM-9:00PM. Featuring seasonal New American cuisine using natural, organic, and sustainable ingredients. 3-course brunch: $25; Lunch specials: $16-22; Pasta dishes: $18-27.
- 10 Uncle Julio's, 4870 Bethesda Ave, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-S 10-11:30. Serves the absolute best Mexican food in Bethesda, everything authentic. Tortillas made in front of your eyes, and free chips before your meal.
- 2 Black's Bar & Kitchen, 7750 Woodmont Ave, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-1AM, Sa noon-1AM, Su noon-10PM. A very nice place for a few drinks with some oysters on the half shell, particularly during happy hour (M-F 4PM-7PM), when there are good deals to be had on both the oysters and the drinks. It can get very crowded around meal times—make reservations.
- 3 Brickside, 4866 Cordell Ave, ☎ . Local modern American bar. A relaxed environment with artisan bar food, creative drinks, and neighborly service. Crowded during happy hour with a professional crowd and hosts trivia nights on Wednesdays.
- 5 Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle Pub, 4844 Cordell Ave, ☎ . Good Irish pub with all the beer and food you'd expect.
- 6 Rock Bottom Brewery, 7900 Norfolk Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa 11AM-2AM. The food is fine, but this small but national chain is best visited for the excellent beers on tap, which can be ordered in sampling glasses. DJs show up F-Sa nights, but this isn't really the sort of place for that. Great people watching from the outdoor seating in good weather.
- 8 Villain & Saint, 7141 Wisconsin Ave, ☎ . Live music and good food. Try the buttermilk fried chicken, pork ribs,zucchini pancakes, or wok-fried eggplant.
- 3 Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd, ☎ . This hotel offers conference space and services for any event. It also offers a fitness center, heated indoor pool, restaurants, the largest ballroom in Maryland.
- 6 Hyatt Regency Bethesda, 1 Bethesda Metro Center (On Wisconsin Ave, next to Bethesda Metro station), ☎ . $140-260.
- 7 Residence Inn Bethesda, 7335 Wisconsin Ave (One block from the Bethesda metro station.), ☎ . $270-360.
- Rockville includes the grave of American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer of The Great Gatsby.
- Silver Spring
- Washington, D.C. is only a 10 minute ride south on the Red Line Metrorail from the Bethesda Metrorail Station.
|Routes through Bethesda|
|Frederick ← Rockville ←||W E||→ END|
|Springfield ← Potomac ←||W E||→ Kensington → Silver Spring|
|Gaithersburg ← Rockville ←||N S||→ Upper Northwest Washington → East End, Washington|