The Insider's Guide to Silver Spring

The Insider's Guide to Silver Spring

Here's a guide to some of the community's offerings, from the restaurants and shops that locals frequent to the events that draw thousands to its downtown each year.

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Named for a spring discovered in 1840, Silver Spring became a shopping mecca for Montgomery County residents back in the 1950s, then faded as shopping malls opened in Wheaton and Rockville. Now, it has reemerged as a local?destination, with a rich diversity of dining, shopping, entertainment and recreation.

Ongoing development of retail projects and upscale housing, the construction of a state-of-the-art public library and the expected completion this fall of a new transit center at the Silver Spring Metro Station provide ample evidence of a community on the move.

“Silver Spring has sprung,” says Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the county’s Silver Spring Regional Center, paying tribute to the motto of the redevelopment effort. “Our challenge is to maximize this amazing, wonderful energy that is a combination of the old and the new, big businesses and small businesses, to celebrate and affirm all that Silver Spring is.”

Here’s a guide to some of the community’s offerings, from the restaurants and shops that locals frequent to the events that draw thousands to its downtown each year.

Entertainment & Recreation

Put on your dancing shoes and head to The Fillmore for a concert. Or, lace up hiking boots for a walk in the woods on the Northwest Branch Trail. Skip the shoes altogether and rent ice skates at Veterans Plaza. The downtown Silver Spring area offers plenty of entertainment and recreation for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get out and about.

Entertainment

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Photo by Michael VenturaThe Fillmore Silver Spring. This concert hall, with a capacity of 2,000 people, has already hosted big names like Mary J. Blige and Blondie since opening in late 2011. With killer acoustics and rock-star décor—psychedelic rock posters cover the dark-red walls and crystal chandeliers dangle from the 40-foot ceilings—it’s a perfect place to see a show, even if your “seat” is one of the standing variety. (8656 Colesville Road, 301-960-9999, fillmoresilverspring.com)

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. What’s better than seeing classic films such as The Godfather or North by Northwest on the silver screen? Seeing those films on the massive screen of a historic, elegant 1938 theater that serves as the cultural hub of the American Film Institute, that’s what. AFI Silver regularly offers a mix of classic cinema, documentaries and independent and foreign films in its main theater and two smaller venues. Add a pre-movie steak dinner at Ray’s the Classics across the street, and you’ve got a perfect date night. (8633 Colesville Road, 301-495-6700, www.afi.com/silver)

Round House Theatre Silver Spring. If live theater is more to your liking, check out this 150-seat black box theater, which hosts productions by Forum Theatre, its company-in-residence, and local companies such as Silver Spring’s Lumina Studio Theatre, which produces Shakespeare, Dickens and other classics. (8641 Colesville Road, 240-644-1100, www.roundhousetheatre.org)

Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center. Located on Georgia Avenue just outside the downtown district, the center offers a 500-seat theater that has hosted Bill Cosby and other big-name entertainers since opening in 2009. There also is a smaller “laboratory” theater, a dance studio and a gallery of student photographs, drawings and paintings. The arts center hosts a number of programs, including the Main Stage Guest Artist Program, which has presented artists representing cultures as diverse as Irish, African and Native American. (7995 Georgia Ave., 240-567-5775, www.montgomerycollege.edu/cac)

Outdoor Recreation

Ice skaters take a spin around  the rink at Veterans Plaza on Ellsworth Drive. Courtesy Photo.Ice Skating at Veterans Plaza. Music blares from the speakers. An illuminated roof glows with multicolored panels. Buckets strategically placed on the ice provide less-confident skaters with something to hold onto other than the railing. That’s the scene at Veterans Plaza during the winter months, when the seasonal ice rink draws nearly 50,000 people to lace up annually. Not in the ice-skating mood? Watch friends and family show off their skills while sipping a glass of wine at Adega Wine Cellars & Café or while grabbing a burrito at Baja Fresh located on the terrace above the rink. Rink admission is $8 for adults, $7 for those 12 and under and seniors. Skate rentals are $3. Regular hours are noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. (8523 Fenton St., 301-588-1221, www.silverspringiceskating.com)

Sligo Creek Trail, Rock Creek Park, Northwest Branch Trail and Georgetown Branch Trail. Don’t let the bustle of Ellsworth Drive fool you—Silver Spring also boasts serious green space for hikers, cyclists, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The 10.2-mile Sligo Creek Trail offers a wide, paved path that wends through deeply wooded sections of the community along Sligo Creek. A favorite for local marathon runners and weekend walkers, the trail runs from the Prince George’s County border to Wheaton Regional Park. (301-650-2600, www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/ParkTrails/trails_MAPS/sligo.shtm)

Rock Creek Park, the popular nature mecca for Washingtonians, also is easily accessible in Silver Spring via Beach Drive, less than a mile from downtown. (www.nps.gov/rocr, www.montgomery?parks.org/parks_facilities_directory/meadowbrooklp.shtm)

Just a few miles north of downtown Silver Spring, the Northwest Branch Trail is another great option for hiking or a leisurely walk. The trail parallels the northwest branch of the Anacostia River for more than 10 miles. Parking is available in two small lots on Colesville Road, which provide easy access to the natural surface trail. (www.montgomery?parks.org/PPSD/ParkTrails/trails_MAPS/NorthwestBranch.shtm)

The 4-mile Georgetown Branch Trail, accessible off Stewart Avenue about a mile outside of downtown Silver Spring, connects to the popular Capital Crescent Trail, which runs between Bethesda and Georgetown. Often used by local cyclists commuting to downtown Washington, the Georgetown Branch Trail’s crushed gravel-surface may not be suitable for skinny tires. (202-234-4874, http://www.cctrail.org/map1.htm)

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