In Bethesda, Maryland, one of the metro area’s fanciest suburban hang-outs, an hour or so with kids in tow is easily spent, but that doesn’t mean you have to have big bucks to back it up. From the library next to a playground, to fresh chicken fingers and micro-brew sodas at Taylor sandwich shop, Bethesda is on Metro’s red line, with pedestrian only areas to walk, and just the right combination of adult ambience and kiddo pleasing stuff to do.

4774535672_4036fcf03c_zPhoto: Zhao ! via Flickr

Bethesda Library
Bethesda Library’s nicely equipped children’s area, patient librarians, and hours as late as 9 pm (6 pm Fridays and Saturdays), make for a good low key choice after a day of shopping, or while waiting to meet for dinner. With a quick snack from the nearby Giant grocery store or exercise time at the playground thrown in, both conveniently walkable along Arlington Rd., this one’s a no brainer. Plan ahead also to take advantage of the library’s free programming, like Read to a Dog, Build and Learn with Duplo or Lego (hint: their floor, not yours) and Born to Read, a storytime for babies and toddlers.

7400 Arlington Rd.

screenshot-2016-12-28-at-8-51-01-pmPhoto: Taylor Gourmet

Taylor Gourmet
Located in the heart of downtown’s shops and nearby the Barnes and Noble, always good for a quick stroll through for the latest books and toy selection, this sandwich shop offers more than just your average lunch break. The fresh ingredients and worth-the-sugar all natural sodas do not disappoint, and both the chicken fingers and grilled cheese served with a drink make delicious wallet friendly choices for young diners. Kids also love available counter-style seating with a floor to ceiling window view of the street.

7820 Woodmont Ave

Let the Creative Juices FlowPhoto: All Fired Up!

All Fired Up!
Family owned and operated since 2004, this paint your own pottery joint (previously Red Tri recommended) does not charge studio fees and offers several different discount opportunities during the week. In addition to a little paint and glaze, budding ceramicists can also dabble in mosaic and fused glass. For those times when the wait time for a kiln fired piece is just too much for the young artiste, the studio offers acrylic painting, making same day masterpieces possible, and also making it the perfect choice for a last minute gift.

4923 Elm St.

screenshot-2016-12-28-at-9-05-54-pmPhoto: Imagination Stage

Imagination Stage
An internationally respected children’s theater, Imagination Stage not only puts on professional main stage productions worth a full afternoon, but also features early childhood programs to fulfill any toddler’s I-gotta-be-me fetish in just under an hour. Saturday Song Circle is offered for young families almost every week right through to Spring, along with Sunday Fun Day, and smaller stage productions especially for ages 1 to 5 including the long-running Aquarium, and Blue, beginning January 3rd.

4908 Auburn Ave.

Photo: eddie welker via Flickr

Capital Crescent Trail
One of the busiest among area trail systems, the Capital Crescent is also one of the family-friendliest with a paved path for an anytime hike, and where perhaps because of the number of people out on a nice day, you can be reasonably assured even the youngest cyclist won’t go flying over the handlebars. By bike, or foot, or even skate, enter the trail nearby Pottery Barn Kids at Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues, and depending on the season, stop at a local playground, or swim at Bethesda Outdoor Pool. In Spring, go off-path into the Kenwood neighborhood for a quick tour of the enclave’s popular cherry blossom display.


What are your favorite things to do in Bethesda? Tell us in the comments section below.

–Ayren Jackson-Cannady