Gaithersburg, MD

Overview

Picture a perfect blend of outdoor space, quality restaurants, urban accessibility and friendly neighborhoods and you'll get an idea of what Gaithersburg is all about. Incorporated toward the end of the 19th century, this well-run city sits in the center of Montgomery County, just north of Rockville and about 27 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. The city splits into east and west sides with I-270 as the dividing line. The older eastern section contains the site of the original town, referred to as "Olde Town" and the western section consists of three planned living communities: Lakelands, Washingtonian Center and the award-winning Kentlands. With a school system ranked among the best in the nation, a range of dining and entertainment options, plenty of parks and an easy commute into D.C., Gaithersburg attracts families, couples, government workers and singles.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Gaithersburg displays a mix of international cuisine from Mediterranean to Indian to Latin American, found gathered around the planned areas of Kentlands, Washingtonian Center (locally known as "Rio") and Lakelands. Gazebo Cafe provides a cozy, family-run spot to study, hang out or grab a caffeine boost. Dip a warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie into a peppermint latte to satisfy that sugar craving. Grab cheap, fresh tacos at Tortacos where locals recommend the warm tortilla chips with house-made guacamole and an order of pollo and pastor tacos, and be sure to take advantage of the fresh salsa bar. Unwind at the neighborhood dive bar, Quincy's Bar and Grille, with cheap beer and live music Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and with a group for $7 pitchers of beer on NFL Sunday. The Rio and Kentlands both have state of the art movie theaters which provide family-friendly, low-key evening entertainment. After catching the latest flick at Kentlands movie theater, head across the street to get a 10 percent discount with ticket stubs at Pasha Land Restaurant and Lounge where the traditional Mediterranean and Moroccan dishes come fresh and perfectly spiced. Customers rave about the homemade hummus and lamb kabobs. Come Fridays and Saturdays for live Middle Eastern music with belly dancing and after 10 p.m. on Saturdays for free entrance to international/Latin dance night.

History & Culture

With roots as an agricultural settlement since 1765, the city of Gaithersburg became incorporated in 1877, named after landowner, Benjamin Gaither. The area stayed mostly farmland until the 1970s, when business and residential areas grew and the city developed into a thriving and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Locals flock to Gaithersburg's performing and visual arts center, Arts on the Green which uses the classy Kentlands Mansion, built in 1900, and the adjacent Art Barn as venues. Head to the mansion for an elegant chamber music concert or local art exhibit and to the barn for an intimate play or magic show. Each year residents stroll along Main Street during the Kentlands Oktoberfest to enjoy the local arts and crafts. If you're looking to increase your knowledge of scientific history and view some constellations, head to the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory, a National Historic Landmark,

Transportation

Those residing in one of the planned communities on the western side, such as Kentlands, can walk for some errands and leisure activities, though most use a car as well. Drivers take I-270 or Frederick Avenue/Route 355 to head into Washington D.C. or other parts of Maryland. Street parking can be tricky in busier areas and typically takes the form of parking garages charging a moderate fee. Some commuters go to the Shady Grove Red Line stop to take the metro into Rockville, Bethesda and D.C. The Metrobus also provides access to other parts of Montgomery County and D.C. as well as around Gaithersburg. Alternatively, the MARC commuter train has two stops in the city that head straight into D.C. Use a ride or car share program such as Uber or RelayRides when needed. Though you won't be able to hail a cab, you can set up a trip by scheduling ahead. If you're looking to bike around, be careful as many streets don't provide bike lanes.

Cost

The cost of living in Gaithersburg runs about 6 percent below the average in Washington, D.C. Residents still pay a decent amount for housing at an average of $1,368 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Commuting into downtown D.C. by Metrorail costs $5.90 during peak hours and $3.60 during off-peak hours. The Metrobus is $1.75 for a regular ticker and $4 for an express fare. When you want to unwind with a fresh cold beer, it'll cost you about $5 per pint at the neighborhood pub. Expect to pay about 10 percent above the national average cost of gasoline.

Shopping

Gaithersburg provides an overwhelming number of shopping options from the usual stores to unique local establishments. Take your pick from three huge shopping centers. Shop sales at JC Penney at Lakeforest Mall, at Payless Shoes at Kentlands Center, or the Barnes & Noble at the Washingtonian Center. Those ready to pay a pretty penny for classy yet trendy women's fashion browse the racks at 525 Boutique in Kentlands. If you want to pick up more reasonably priced women's clothes and accessories, check out the vintage gear at the Lipstick Lounge, also in Kentlands. Book lovers browse the shelves of Wonder Book on Shady Grove Road. Not only do customers find great bargain reads, but deals on movies, music and video games as well. Those looking for the perfect, unique present and free gift wrapping pick something from Artisans Gallery on Darnestown Road. Locals get their weekly grocery shopping done at Whole Foods, Giant and Trader Joe's for the widest selections. For international foods, head to Zam Zam Market for Peruvian, Lotte Plaza for Korean and India Bazaar for, of course, Indian. Grab your fresh local meats and produce at Gaithersburg Main Street Pavilion Farmers Market weekly or the Lancaster County Dutch Market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Locals highly recommend the fresh fried chicken while browsing the meats, produce, homemade sweets and solid furniture at the Dutch Market.

Parks

The lucky residents of Gaithersburg never lack outdoor recreation and exercise options with numerous well-kept parks, trails and farmland. Seneca Creek State Park centers around a lake and provides picnic pavilions, kayaks, paddle boats, Frisbee golf, fishing, walking and biking paths, and a playground, making this park perfect for all ages and for dogs as well. The park charges no fees except for the boat rentals. Residents take kids of all ages to enjoy the smaller Diamond Farms Park to play tennis or basketball or to picnic in the green space. Every year the city holds a popular Backyard Concert program featuring various musical performances ranging from contemporary folk to interactive comedic magic and music shows. Held in the fall, this free program is hosted by various parks, including Diamond Farms. Paws in the Park occurs annually in various parks with a one-mile walk for people and dogs along with demos, pet games and prizes. All proceeds go to the Montgomery County Humane Society, For free outdoor music, head to the City Hall Concert Pavilion in Olde Town every Thursday mornings for a kids show and Thursday evenings for live music in the summertime. Get in the festive spirit at the annual Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek State Park where locals drive though 3.5 miles of more than 365 light displays, about 65 animated displays.

1 Neighborhoods in Gaithersburg, MD

  • Montgomery Village

    Families, up-and-coming professionals, government workers and seniors come to Montgomery Village for a well-organized community and proximity to Washington, DC, and the thriving "technology" corridor in Montgomery County. Sitting just outside the Gaithersburg city limits, this unincorporated neighborhood lies about 28 miles north of Washington DC.

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