We’re heading back to Maryland this week to check out a DC suburb that has grown to become the second-largest incorporated city in Maryland: Rockville. Read on to find out what Rockville residents like about it, and why it’s worth a visit.
History: Rockville was one of Maryland’s oldest towns and had an important role in the Revolutionary War. It got its name in 1801 because of its proximity to Rock Creek, and developed slowly for most of the 1800s. In 1873 the B&O Railroad came through town, and the area grew even more. But the real surge in growth in Rockville didn’t happen until after the 1950s, when the population increased sevenfold in thirty years. Today Rockville is home to over 60,000 residents. For a more detailed view of Rockville’s history, check out the city’s historic preservation website.
Neighborhood Character: Rockville isn’t just a neighborhood, it’s a growing urban center with several different neighborhoods. The area is home to both more urban areas like Rockville Town Square as well as smaller, quiet residential neighborhoods. Rockville is 13 square miles, and includes a lot of residential areas, some shops along Rockville Pike and the Town Center, and county offices downtown, and some office parks along I-270. Many of the residential neighborhoods have grown into attractive suburbs, with tree-lined streets and sidewalks, and more people are choosing to live downtown close to the Metro.
Transportation: Rockville has two Metro stations, Rockville and Twinbrook. It also has a train station, right next to the Rockville Metro station, that serves Amtrak and MARC. There’s great bus service through RideOn and MetroBus from Downtown Rockville. And it’s really easy to get around the downtown area by foot or by bike. There’s great highway access here too, with I-270 and the Beltway just minutes away.
What to See: Next time you’re in Rockville, here are a couple places to go and things to do:
- There’s live music and a farmers’ market every Wednesday between 11 and 2 during the summer and fall at Out to Lunch Wednesdays. East Montgomery Avenue is closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian mall, with lots of great local restaurants offering food. Every Thursday from 6-8 is Concert in the Square at the plaza in Rockville Town Square.
- There’s also a good farmers’ market every Saturday from 9-1, offering fruits and vegetables, fresh-baked breads, flowers, honey, and preserves.
- So many community events happen in Rockville, it’s hard to name them all. A couple can’t-miss events include Uncorked Wine and Music Festival is coming up August 28, the Twilight Runfest (no relation to the awful books) is a run and summer block party in July, and an Antique & Classic Car Show coming up in October.
- Rockville is home to great shopping! Some local favorites include boutique toy store Toy Kingdom, handcrafted gift and jewelry store Ten Thousand Villages, and an outpost of Revolution Cycles.
- Go outside! Rockville has plenty of great parks, including the 153-acre Civic Center Park, the beautiful Croyndon Creek Nature Center, and an awesome climbing gym.
- Hungry? Try Ize’s Deli for fantastic bagels, China Bistro for out-of-this-world dumplings, and La Limena for authentic Peruvian cuisine.
- Strathmore is technically in North Bethesda, but it’s easy enough to get to via Rockville. It is a beautiful performing arts center offering a variety of performances. Check out the 2010-2011 season.
What’s Nearby: Rockville is north of Bethesda (it’s actually north of North Bethesda), and south of Gaithersburg along I-270.
Why We Love Rockville: Rockville offers a wonderful balance of suburban and urban life. There’s highway access, great housing options, and a well-respected school district, but there’s also an urban center that hosts community events almost every day and offers great restaurants and shopping. It’s far enough from DC that neighborhoods are quiet and you can have a yard, but close enough that you can get downtown easily. And not only does Rockville offer the best of both worlds, it has so many festivals, gatherings, and things to do that you’ll always have something to do.