By: Julekha Dash
ONCE A BEDROOM TO D.C., BETHESDA IS NOW A SHOPPER’S PARADISE
When it comes to shopping, Bethesda—part city, part small-town downtown—has lots to offer visitors and locals. What was once a sleepy D.C. bedroom community has grown into a haven for foodies, shoppers, and arts lovers. The tony Montgomery County town was named one of the best places to live by Money magazine in 2018. Along with its preponderance of highly educated and well-heeled residents, the article noted Bethesda’s abundant dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
You can visit both the walkable live/work/play destination Bethesda Row and the newer Pike & Rose development in North Bethesda. The mix of upscale national stores and eclectic locally owned shops, coupled with appealing architecture that recreates Main Street and urban living in suburbia, makes Bethesda one of the state’s best shopping destinations.
Tree-lined brick sidewalks, outdoor cafes, and frequent events enliven Bethesda Row. Peruse the latest bestsellers or try out the latest tech gadgets at the Amazon Books store, one of just a handful of the internet giant’s physical locations. A Belgian chocolatier founded in 1857 that has served royals, Neuhaus proffers its famous pralines and truffles—and even offers free tastings. Shop for designer dresses and accessories at Luna, one of just four locations (the others are in Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte). The three level Anthropologie, which houses a lightfilled garden themed Terrain Cafe, anchors the town center.
With stone and brick sidewalks and colorful murals, the five-year-old Pike & Rose lifestyle center transformed a former strip mall into an award-winning shopping and entertainment destination. A park with stone benches, a fountain, and a “beach” hangout (complete with sand and Adirondack chairs) make it a lively community gathering space.
Grab some beauty supplies at Bluemercury and Sephora or ditch the makeup and gear up for your next hiking adventure at outdoor suppliers REI and L.L. Bean. Pike & Rose is home to the designer women’s clothing store Scout & Molly’s, where in-house “style scouts” and affordable prices help take the stress out of boutique shopping. The locally owned Olive & Loom, which sells soaps and towels along with kitchen and bar accessories, is a great place to find something for a host or a housewarming. Pike & Rose also offers entertainment options including a movie theater, bowling alley, and concert venue. The 250-seat AMP by Strathmore is a smaller venue two miles from the main Strathmore performing arts center.
Bethesda has plenty of other shopping venues, including the traditional enclosed shopping mall Westfield Montgomery and strip malls like The Shoppes of Bethesda.
Plan to have dinner and a movie in Bethesda—whether or not date night follows a day of shopping. You can opt for fast-casual, bistro fare, or a juicy steak before a flick at Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema or combine the noshing and viewing at Pike & Rose’s IPIC, a chain that offers in-theater dining. Craft beer lovers can head to World of Beer or Rock Bottom Brewery while wine aficionados can sip at the French bistro Mon Ami Gabi or farm-to-table restaurant Cooper’s Mill.
Owen’s Ordinary owensordinarymd.com l Owen’s beer program features some 75 Maryland brews—both bottles and drafts—and its menu offers classic American staples with a commitment to regional farmers.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery rockbottom.com l Beer lovers have something to cheer about at this downtown Bethesda brewery, which offers 11 small batch beers organized according to flavor profile. Choose from crisp and refreshing, roasty and dark, fruit and spice, or others.
World of Beer worldofbeer.com l With a selection of more than 500 bottles from around the world and 50 rotating taps, World of Beer is an essential stop for any craft beer lover.
Cooper’s Mill coopersmillrestaurant.com l Diners will find Maryland crab cakes, along with wines and brews from Maryland partner producers: Crow Vineyards and Winery (Kennedyville), Old Line Spirits and Heavy Seas (Baltimore), Jailbreak (Laurel), and 7 Locks (Rockville).
Duck Duck Goose ddgbethesda.com l Small plates that reinvent French classics and clever cocktails are the draw at this brasserie.
Mon Ami Gabi monamigabi.com l The French bistro offers an extensive wine list and classic dishes such as French onion soup and steak frites.
Bethesda Row bethesdarow.com l Choose from eclectic locally owned stores or shop the chains at this pedestrian-friendly downtown mall. Check the calendar for family-friendly events.
Pike & Rose pikeandrose.com l The retail destination opened five years ago and continues to grow its shopping and entertainment options.
Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District bethesda.org l Designated since 2002, the district implements projects that contribute to the growth of downtown Bethesda including the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival, Bethesda’s Contemporary Art Awards, the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards, Play In A Day, as well as manages Gallery B and Studio B, among other artsy ventures.
Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club bethesdabluesjazz.com l An intimate space to enjoy some world-class blues, jazz, and comedy acts.
Strathmore strathmore.org l This flagship arts center presents world-class performances by major international artists of folk, rock, blues, pop, R&B, dance, and classical music. Or enjoy a more intimate experience at the 250-seat AMP by Strathmore at Pike & Rose.