Traveling to D.C.? Here’s Why You Should Visit Nearby Silver Spring, Maryland

September 11, 2018Diana Lengerson

Unless you live near or frequent the Capital Beltway, you probably aren’t that familiar with Silver Spring, Maryland. That’s unfortunate because Silver Spring is full of surprises. Here are just a few fun facts you never knew about Silver Spring.

It’s a Hub of Diversity

As one local blog points out, Silver Spring stands out as a prime example of America’s ethnic diversity. According to the 2010 census, Hispanic or Latino people comprise 26.3 percent of the population, 27.8 percent are African-American and 45.7 Caucasian. A large community of people with Ethiopian ancestry calls Silver Spring home.

Nature in the Beltway?

If you picture a bustling metropolis when you think of the Capital Beltway and Silver Spring, that picture changes in a hurry with a visit to Rock Creek Park. The park sits, in part, along the western edge of Silver Spring.

Rock Creek Park became the third federally-designated park in the nation in 1890. The 1,754-acre city park provides a welcome respite from traffic and crowds.

Hikers find a lot to love in the park’s more than 32 miles of trails. The primary Western Ridge Trails and Valley Trail include many connecting trails that give hikers endless possibilities. Hike for 1 mile or 10, wherever your boots take you.

The Planetarium, located in the park’s Nature Center, is one of the more popular stopping points. Stargazing programs occur monthly from April through November. The planetarium hosts special events during celestial happenings, such as eclipses and meteor showers, many of which are free.

Oh, What a Menu!

Silver Spring is a haven for foodies. With over 150 restaurants, Silver Spring offers a cross-section of cuisine few business districts can claim. Find Indian, Irish, Italian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, Mexican, Portuguese, Peruvian and Asian cookery along with good old American and deli standbys.

There are almost as many dining settings as restaurants. Eat in dramatic elegance or soak up industrial chic as you wolf down a burger.

If It’s a Festival You Want, Silver Spring Delivers

Music, film and ethnic festivals have something for everyone. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Discovery Channel founded the AFI Docs documentary film festival in 2003. Held every June at the AFI Silver and Washington D.C., the 5-day festival showcases the best documentary films from around the world. In addition, the festival connects audiences with film creators and opinion leaders.

Local artists as well as famous greats, including past performances by Wynton Marsalis, Aaron Neville and Sergio Mendes, make the Silver Spring Jazz Festival in September the biggest draw of the year. The festival also includes a battle of high school bands contest that’s nearly as much fun as the big name performances.

Is There a Spring in Silver Spring?

It’s dry now, but when Francis Preston Blair and his daughter, Elizabeth, found a spring flowing with mica back in 1840, the region’s destiny was sealed. Blair built a summer home nearby, dubbed the 20 room mansion Silver Spring, and the rest is history.

Visitors can still see the dry spring at Acorn Park. The small 0.12-acre park also has an acorn-shaped gazebo and artificial grotto. Acorn Park — just one more of those Silver Spring surprises!

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