0
Votes

101 Ways to Have Fun in Potomac

photo

Ride and look at this replica canal boat.

photo

Ride horses at the Potomac Horse Center.

photo

There are classes to learn how to ride the falls safely.

photo

The Potomac Library offers free events for all ages.

Potomac may lack the nightlife of downtown Washington, D.C., but there’s no shortage of ways for all ages to have fun, both in Potomac proper and the surrounding area. Outdoor recreation abounds, as do cultural opportunities, whether somebody wants to experience the fine arts or become a fine artist. Read on …

Visit F. Scott Fitzgerald’s gravesite

600 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville

www.peerlessrockville.org (Click "Peerless Places," then "F. Scott Fizgerald's Gravesite")

Fitzgerald's classic novels were set in Long Island, France and Princeton, N.J., but the author himself is buried alongside his wife Zelda in Saint Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, a National Register-listed historic site. Fitzgerald never lived in Montgomery County, but had friends and relatives in the area, and made periodic visits throughout his life.

Visit Walter Johnson's gravesite

1350 Baltimore Road, Rockville

www.thedeadballera.com/GravePhotos (Click “Walter Johnson")

All apologies to Livian Hernandez, but Washington's greatest all-time baseball pitcher was Walter Johnson, one of the five original-class Hall of Famers. Johnson had 417 career wins with the Senators from 1907-1927. After retiring from baseball, Johnson served on the Montgomery County Commission, precursor to today's Montgomery County Council, and lived on a farm in Germantown. He's buried in Rockville Union Cemetery.

See a fire station

Station 10 Fire House

8001 River Road, Bethesda, 301-365-2255

When the Jaws of Life cut up a car, it’s a sight to behold. The simulated car extraction is just one of the attractions at Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department’s annual open house. Other activities include live action demonstrations, including stop, drop and roll, and stove fire demonstrations. Proceeds benefit the station. Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department’s open house takes place every fall, usually in October.

See stunning Potomac homes

St. Francis Episcopal Church

10033 River Road, Potomac, 301-365-2055

http://www.stfrancispotomac.org/pcht.htm

St. Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac Village conducts an annual Potomac Country House Tour for charity. During two days each October, tour participants follow a provided map and booklet to four or five Potomac homes — some modern, some historic, but all fascinating. Last years houses included the home of oil painter Howard Behrens and then 18th century homestead Walnut Grove. Events at St. Francis during the House Tour include a silent auction and luncheon.

Celebrate Potomac

www.potomacchamber.org

Potomac Day in October is biggest community event of the year here. Thousands come out for the morning parade followed by a fair with rides and games for children, live entertainment and displays by local merchants and organizations. Potomac's leaders and local politicians come out, and the community honors its person of the year, businessperson of the year, and student of the year. The event is organized by the Potomac Chamber of Commerce. Potomac Day is held each October.

Go bird watching on the C&O Canal

Goldsborog Road and MacArthur Boulevard

www.potomac.org/action/ctg/lockhouse.html

Potomac is a great place to take your camera or binoculars and go bird watching. The canal has river, forest, marsh and field habitats alongside the towpath, and Riley’s Lock and Lock 7 are favorites of local birders. A local bird guide and a hike in C&O Canal National Historical Park is a great start for those who wish to go solo. The Lockhouse 8 River Center, located between Great Falls and Glen Echo on the C&O Canal operated jointly by the Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service, holds regular events including “Second Saturday” nature programs on the second Saturday of every month. The programs include nature walks and bird walks.

Look for bald eagles

www.nps.gov/choh/Nature/Eagles.html

Our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle remains on the endangered species list, but has recovered in the last two decades. Just upstream from Great Falls Tavern, a bald eagles’ nest sits atop a tree on Conn Island. The River Trail, accessible from the C&O Canal towpath above Great Falls Tavern, offers views of the nest. The best time for viewing the eagles is in the winter months, when eagles engage in courtship, mating, nest building, and egg laying.

See deer

www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/wtdeerbiology.asp

Overpopulated by whitetail deer, Potomac is considered a “deer hotspot” by county and state wildlife officials. So long as they’re not devouring somebody’s farm or garden, deer are beautiful creatures to observe, and Potomac isn’t hurting for places to see them. Any field clearing at the edge of forest growth around sunset is a good bet for finding deer — alongside River Road near its intersection with Great Seneca Highway is pretty close to a sure thing. Be sure to drive with caution around deer hotspots.

Adopt an animal

Partnership for Animal Welfare, 301-572-4729

dogs@paw-rescue.org (for dog adoption)

cats@paw-rescue.org (for cat adoption)

www.paw-rescue.org

Montgomery County Humane Society, 240-773-5960

14645 Rothgeb Drive, Rockville

www.mchumane.org

The Partnership for Animal Welfare offers dog and cat adoptions.

For dog and cat adoptions send questions to the above e-mail addresses. Animals can also be adopted through the Montgomery County Humane Society.

Meet your neighbors, seriously

Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission

8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, 301-495-4600

http://www.mncppc.org/

Homeowners associations aren’t just for nitpicking about the neighbors’ grass. Potomac is full of associations that play a vital role in county decision making — from school construction and closures to traffic controls to land use. Joining one means you won’t find out about the highway being paved in your back yard when concrete trucks roll in. Sound boring? The groups also host outings, evening social events, and summer barbecues, and many publish their own newsletters. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission maintains a regularly updated list of civic and homeowners associations, which may be viewed for free at their Montgomery County office. A fee is charged for copies.

Meet fellow Newcomers

www.potomacnewcomers.com, 301-320-3514

The Potomac Area Newcomers Club welcomes new residents to the community, with monthly meetings. Call for locations and reservations.

Join Club Friday

Potomac Community Center

11315 Falls Road, Potomac, 240-777-6960

From October through March, the Potomac Community Center hosts Club Friday, a program for children in third through sixth grade. Every Friday from 7-9 p.m., children in Club Friday enjoy dancing, bingo, movies, basketball, pool, ping-pong and more. Sign up early — membership is limited to the first 550 applicants, and there is almost always a waiting list.

Join the MOMS Club of Potomac

www.momspotomac.org

MOMS Club of Potomac offers activities for stay-at-home moms and their children on the third Monday of every month They offer playgroups that meet weekly and a full calendar of fun activities every month.

Meet fellow seniors

Potomac Community Center

11315 Falls Road, Potomac, 240-777-6960

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rectmpl.asp?url=/content/rec/Seniors/ptmsr.asp

Potomac seniors meet every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program offers entertainment, health screening and education, chair exercises, crafts, informational speakers, counseling on issues of interest to seniors, and Tai Chi.

Give a toast at the Toastmasters club

Potomac Community Center

11315 Falls Road, Potomac, 240-777-6960

ASCE Toastmaster Club meets at 9:20 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the Potomac Community Center, and at Davis Library in Bethesda on the fourth Saturday of each month. Newcomers welcome.

Perfect one’s English

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

Join the English Language Conversation Club every Saturday from 3-5 p.m at Potomac Library. Join in practicing and improving your spoken English with the help of volunteers leading discussions.

Go to the Azalea Festival

Landon School

6101 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, 301-320-3200

www.landon.net

The Landon Azalea Festival takes place in the Perkins Garden and throughout the entire Landon 75-acre wooded camps and gardens. Attend the Maryland Craft Show, purchase many varieties of plants and flowers as well as items from the festival boutiques.

Go to the Strawberry Festival

Potomac United Methodist Church

10300 Falls Road, Potomac, 301-299-9383

www.potomac-umc.org/

The festival takes place at Potomac United Methodist Church in May from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Berries, a silent auction, bake sale, rummage sale, craft fair, dollar items and games and activities for children. Proceeds benefit charitable programs for women and children in need.

Go to an arts festival

www.waltwhitman.edu

www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/woottonhs

www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/churchillhs

Potomac’s three public high schools all host two-day arts festivals in the spring, featuring live performances; painting, ceramics, photography, and visual art displays; silent auctions and more. The festivals take place in mid-May.

Experience world cuisine

www.bethesda.org (Click "Dining")

Nearby Bethesda has grown into a regional dining center, with traditional pubs and diners, quick bites, wine bars, fine dining, and everything in-between. International cuisine includes Indian, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Spanish, and Mongolian as well as the dining mainstays like Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.

Take the Farm Tour

Montgomery County Farm Tour at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary

P.O. Box 507, Pooleville

www.animalsanctuary.org

Poplar Spring hosts the annual County Farm Tour each July. Meet animals, enjoy hay rides, lemonade, and vegetarian food. Shop at the gift shop and browse the annual giant yard sale in the carriage barn. All sales at the event benefit rescued animals.

Go to the Renaissance Festival

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Crownsville Rd, Crownsville (outside of Annapolis), 1-800-296-7304

www.rennfest.com, info@rennfest.com

Go back in time at the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country on Saturday, Aug. 26. Gates to the recreated 16th century English village, Revel Grove, open at 10 a.m. Pause to listen to a musician, watch a glassblowing demonstration, quench your thirst with ale, catch the gossip from the fishmonger, and watch a jousting match. Come in period costume and stay until the gates close at 7 p.m.

Go to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.

Montgomery Village Fairgrounds, 301-926-3100

http://www.mcagfair.com/

If you’re looking for a fair closer to home, try the annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, which runs from Friday, Aug. 11 to Saturday, Aug. 19. Check out arts, crafts, photography, pony club events, traditional carnival rides and more. For a schedule of events, prices, parking information, and times, visit the Web site.

Watch a Play or Musical

Potomac Theatre Company, potomactheatreco.org

Those looking to catch a good show should know that they don't have to go into D.C. to do it. Local theatre companies abound, and Potomac's own Potomac Theatre Company has been putting on shows for 20 years now. Fall and spring productions range from plays to musicals to children's shows and are run by and feature Potomac residents, though auditions are open to all who wish to come. Shows are held in the Bullis School's Blair Family Center for the Arts located at 10601 Falls Road in Potomac.

See an art show opening

Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery

7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, 1-301-371-5593

www.yellowbarnstudio.com

The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery is part of Glen Echo Park, the cultural center and former amusement park. It offers classes and workshops for all ability levels throughout the year and hosts regular art shows featuring the work of Yellow Barn students and local artists.

Watch a puppet show

The Puppet Company

7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, 301-320-6668

www.thepuppetco.org

The Puppet Co. puts on shows at Glen Echo Park. The new Playhouse, opened last year in celebration of the company’s 20th Anniversary, is one of the very few facilities in the United States designed and built from ground up for puppetry, assures a bigger and better facility to enjoy various puppet shows.

Go to a concert

Veteran’s Park, Bethesda

www.bethesda.org

Bethesda hosts a variety of music performers at Veterans Park as part of its summer concerts series. The concerts are on Wednesdays from 12-2 p.m. and on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. Visit the Web site for more information.

Drop the Kids, Grab a Drink

The Hunter's Inn, 10123 River Road, Potomac, 301-299-9300

Known for their oversized martinis, The Hunter's Inn is arguably the most happening scene on Friday nights in Potomac. In particular, many parents who drop their children at Club Friday just down the road at the Potomac Community Center head into the village to grab a drink and catch up with friends. A place to see or be seen, one can also disappear into the cozy leather booths in the bar or grab a good meal in the Berman locally-owned restaurant's dining room.

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

6119 Tulane Avenue, Glen Echo, 301-229-6600

www.irishinnglenecho.com

Those in search of wild — or late — nightlife will probably look to Bethesda and Washington, DC. But Potomac offers several relaxed and charming locales for a glass of wine or a pint of brew. Hunter's Inn in Potomac Village is a local institution, and not a bad place to spot powerful Washingtonians. The Irish Inn at Glen Echo has a full-service restaurant and a separate pub, run by Christy Hughes, proprietor of the Dubliner on Capitol Hill and the Four Provinces in Cleveland Park.

Eat Finely by the Canal

Old Angler's Inn, 10801 MacArthur Boulevard, Potomac, oldanglersinn.com

The recently renovated Potomac fixture is just off the C&O Canal and in fact has it’s own Canal entrance named after it. Long a destination solely for upscale dining and entertainment, the restaurant last year opened up a patio area for lighter, more casual fare during the spring and summer, perfect for Canal-goers who want to stop off for a bite to eat and a shady respite.

Take high tea

Strathmore Hall

10701 Rockville Pike, 301-530-0540

www.strathmore.org

Afternoon Tea is served at Strathmore Hall, every Tuesday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. Prepaid reservations required, $17. There is no afternoon tea during the month of August, but it will resume in September.

See a foreign or independent film

Bethesda Row Cinema

7235 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda, 301-652-7273 www.landmarktheatres.com/market/WashingtonDC/BethesdaRowCinema.htm, (Click "Features and Showtimes")

Tired of mainstream movies? Try seeing an independent or foreign film at Bethesda Row. The theater houses eight screens with stadium style seating, as well as a gourmet concession stand with an espresso bar and fresh, locally-baked pastries and cookies. There is also a traditional concession stand. Bethesda Row shows a variety of films often not available at more mainstream theaters and is currently showing films like Gran Torino, The Wrestler, The Reader and Doubt, among others. Visit the Web site for shows and show time listings.

See a free movie

Strathmore Hall

10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, 301-816-6958

http://filmfestnih.org/

Sit back, relax and enjoy a movie under the stars on the field of Strathmore Hall. The 8th annual Comcast Film Festival benefiting NIH Children’s Charities runs Aug. 11-20. The 10-day festival plays movies for all ages, from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, to Walk the Line, to Curios George, to favorites like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the Princess Pride. The movie starts around 8 p.m. or when it is dark enough to see the show. Dine at concessions stands serving foods like pizza, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and popcorn. Parking for the event is available at Grovernor Metro Station Parking Lot and visitors are asked not to park in the neighborhood surrounding Strathmore Hall. Visit the Web site for more movie listings. Blankets and beach chairs are advisable.

Shop for antiques

Flora’s Feathered Nest

12211 River Road, 301-765-0003

Potomac Village Antiques

9906 River Road, 301-983-0140

http://antiques-usa.com

Potomac’s country-town history makes it a haven for antique enthusiasts. Local shops selling antiques include Flora’s Feathered Nest and Potomac Village Antiques. Many private antiques dealers work out of their homes. Flora’s Feathered Nest’s hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday during the summer months. Potomac Village Antiques’ is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

Buy a cheap book

Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

Book sale at Potomac Library on Saturday, July 8 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of the Potomac Library. Most hardbacks $1.00 and paperbacks 50 cents.

Buy fresh, local produce

Potomac Farmer’s Market, 10301 River Road (Behind Potomac Presbyterian Church)

Bethesda Farmer’s Market, Norfolk and Woodmont Avenues

Homestead Farms, www.homestead-farm.net

Butler’s Orchard, www.butlersorchard.com

Potomac is home to two seasonal farmers markets and in the neighborhood of several other markets and pick-your-own farms. All of the markets sell only locally-grown produce, flowers, and plants, and homemade baked goods and treats. The Potomac Farmer’s Market is open every Thursday from 1-4:30 pm, May-October. The Bethesda Farmer’s Market is open every Tuesday from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., May-October. Just up the road in Poolesville, Homestead Farm is a pick-your-own farm that also sells Christmas Trees in winter and hosts a bevy of annual events. The farm stand at River Road and Congressional Parkway sells pumpkins in the autumn, flowers in the spring, and produce in the summer. Butler's Orchard in Germantown, a pick-your-own farm and farmer's market is another local favorite.

Go to the Bethesda Flea Market

Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative Market

7155 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, 301-652-0100

pages.areaguides.com/BethesdaFleaMarket/ or e-mail jamesbonfils@aol.com

The Bethesda Flea Market is one of the area’s oldest flea markets. Situated on the grounds of the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, the flea market is open every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. Market vendors sell an assortment of items from antiques, furniture, and jewelry, to collectibles. There are no fresh goods or flowers sold. To set up a stall and sell goods at the market, come to the site before 8 a.m.

Roam the neighborhood

Drive around a neighborhood and look for Yard Sale signs. Most people have sales on Saturdays or Sundays, so pick a weekend and go to some — one never knows what one can find. What is more, it’s a great way to get to know neighbors and the neighborhood.

Volunteer with KEEN

www.keenusa.org

Come and make a difference by working with children and young adult athletes with disabilities. KEEN has provided sports from soccer to tennis to swimming to the martial arts for area athletes with disabilities. No athletic experience is required for volunteers. Visit the Web site for this weekend’s KEEN activities and locations.

Join the Volunteers in the Park program

Call Jim Heins at 301-949-3518 or Steve DeLanoy at 301-530-6862

E-mail Jim Heins or Steve DeLanoy at c&ocanalvip@toyhouse.org

Joggers, birders, bikers, day-trippers, hikers, and historians of all ages love the C&O Canal, and now there’s a way to give back. The C&O Canal Association’s Volunteers in the Park leads monthly upkeep and maintenance projects along the canal. Sessions are aimed to be pleasant, rewarding, and somewhat informal — no volunteer is obligated to commit to multiple projects.

Volunteer with Farm Animals

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary

P.O. Box 507, Pooleville,

Contact Terry Cummings, 301-428-8128 for volunteer opportunities

www.animalsanctuary.org

Volunteer at Poplar Springs. Opportunities include taking care of the animals, feeding them, and cleaning them. Families and individual are welcome. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Contact Terry Cummings for volunteer opportunities and more information.

Give blood

American Red Cross, 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (to schedule a donation)

www.my-redcross.org.

Blood supply levels are at a critical low. The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region of the American Red Cross is offering all blood program participants an exclusive “Be the One We Count On” t-shirt. Give blood and become eligible to win $100 worth of free gas in a weekly drawing, not to mention, provide an invaluable service to the community. Information about Regional Blood Donor Centers or community blood drive locations and times can be found on the Web site.

Spot a national celebrity

Potomac is home to congressmen, media personalities, current and former professional athletes, and local leaders. There are no Beverly Hills-type “star maps” for Potomac celebrities and there is no real secret to finding them. Keep your eyes open and if you see someone famous, say hi. They’re your neighbors.

Turn your children into celebrities

Imagination Stage

4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, 301-961-6060

www.imaginationstage.org

Act Two

477 S. Fredrick Avenue, Gaithersburg, 301-990-3499

www.acttwo.org/index.htm

At Imagination Stage, there are options for children who wish to perform in a play or movie — or to compose one. Imagination Stage was founded in 1979 in response to the urgent need for arts education for young people. Imagination Stage has grown from a handful of children in a single classroom to a full-spectrum theatre arts organization. Its classes, student ensembles, summer programs and outreach programs complement a year-round season of professional children’s theatre. Act Two hosts a number of dancing, acting, and voice classes. It also holds ensemble auditions for age groups ranging from 3rd grade to 12th grade to perform in productions like “Vertigo,” “Overture,” and “Forte.” Act Two also has a school year program.

See a professional golf player

Congressional Country Club

8500 River Road, Bethesda, 301-469-2000

www.attnational.org

After a year’s absence, the PGA returned to Potomac in 2007 as Tiger Woods held his inaugural AT&T National tournament. The tournament brings out the world’s best golfers and Tiger himself (though he didn’t play last year due to injury). The event brings an annual boom in business — and traffic — late in the spring, as thousands come out to watch the golf. The tournament will definitely be back this year but beyond that its future in the Potomac area is murky, so enjoy it while its here. Congressional will host the U.S. Open — one of pro golf's four major tournaments — in 2011.

Go to Hadley's Playground

Falls Road, Potomac

www.hadleyspark.org

The one-acre playground at Falls Road Local Park is focused on "theme play" and has seven different types of play. As the flagship Hadley’s Playground all other sites were modeled after this one.

Get a Halloween pumpkin

Behnke Nurseries

9545 River Road, Potomac, 301-983-9200

www.behnkes.com

Pumpkins on sale for Halloween, starting in early or mid September at Behnke Nurseries.

Fun for all ages at Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

The Potomac Library offers year-round activities for locals of all ages. Visit the Web site for updated listings on activities, lessons and events at Potomac Library.

Watch movies with one’s pre-schooler

Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

Pre-school films at Potomac Library every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Three films are shown for pre-school-age children.

Discuss Illustration

Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

Local illustrator, Jennifer Barrett O'Connell, discusses and demonstrate her work, using her "Ten Timid Ghosts." The illustration techniques will be discussed on July 5 from 7-8 p.m at Potomac Library. Call to preregiter.

Discover Chemistry

Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 240-777-0690

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/branchinfo/pt.asp

In the "What's the matter? Chemistry with fizz, form, and flash" event, presented by the Maryland Science Center, young scientsts explore the fun behind chemistry. For children ages 5-13, at 7.m. on Tuesday, June 20 at Potomac Library. Call to preregister.

Visit Brookside Gardens

1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, 301-962-1400

http://www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/brookside/

Brookside Gardens, an award-winning 50-acre public display garden, has several distinct gardens, including azalea, rose, children’s formal, fragrance, Japanese style, and trial gardens. Admission to the gardens is free. Brookside also has seasonal exhibits like a “Wings of Fancy” butterfly summer exhibit and a “Garden of Lights” winter walk. The gardens also host classes and workshops on horticulture, as well as summer camps and programs for schools and youth groups. Brookside gardens is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. Visit the site for more information on programs.

Take a challenging hike on the Billy Goat Trail

Great Falls Tavern, 301-767-3714

www.nps.gov/choh and click the links under “Plan Your Visit”

More than 16 side trails are off the towpath near Great Falls Tavern. Among them, the granddaddy is Section A of the Billy Goat Trail, which begins 0.6 miles below Great Falls Tavern and requires climbing over rocks and boulders as it follows a cliff until its end, 0.7 miles above Old Anglers Inn. Don’t be fooled by the moderate-sounding 1.1-mile distance — this section is strenuous.

Take a moderate hike on the Billy Goat Trail

Great Falls Tavern, 301-767-3714

www.nps.gov/choh/Recreation/ and click the links under “Trails”

The downstream portions of the Billy Goat Trail — sections B and C — are longer than Section A, but are also flatter and less treacherous.

Find out more: Area or the parking lot across from Old Anglers Inn. Section C of the Billy Goat Trail is 1.4 miles of “moderate” hiking, according to the National Park Service. Hikers may access it from Carderock Recreation Area, and it is marked with blue blazes.

Section B of is 1.6 miles long, also dubbed “moderate” by the Park Service. Hikers may access it from Carderock or at Old Angler’s Inn.

Take a leisurely hike on the C&O Canal towpath.

Great Falls Tavern, 301-767-3714

www.nps.gov/choh for hiking information and a trail map.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas raised support for turning the C&O Canal into a national park when he led a group of nine men on a hike along the entire 184-mile canal. Naturalists will enjoy the flora and fauna along the towpath, while history buffs can see surviving lockhouses and locks of the 176-year-old canal. Remember to walk on the right-hand side of the path — pedestrians are sharing the towpath with bikers, who don’t always signal as they approach a hiker (although they’re supposed to).

Start a running routine

Montgomery County Road Runners Club, 301-353-0200

www.mcrrc.org

Montgomery County Road Runners holds weekly workouts for various ability levels in Rockville, Gaithersburg and the Kentlands. They also conduct race training, youth clinics, and regular member events. Membership is $25 per year for individuals and $40 per year for families.

Start a hard-core running routine

Montgomery County Road Runners Club, 301-353-0200

www.mcrrc.org/program.html

The Montgomery County Road Runners Club offers a six-month program that trains first-timers to run the Marine Corps Marathon. The club also sponsors races, training runs, special events and other activities for runners of all ages and experience levels.

Run for a cause

Cure Autism Now 5K, www.canrun.org

Potomac Library

10101 Glenolden Drive, Potomac, 301-765-4083

It’s a Potomac Fourth of July tradition since 2001. Cure Autism Now hosts a 5-kilometer road race and 1-mile walk to help raise money for autism research by Potomac Library every July 4. Runners and walkers enjoy food and music after the race, and free random prizes. Registration for the race is $30 until July 1, $35 at the Potomac Library on July 3, and $40 the day of the race. Children are $15 to register.

Shred asphalt, water or snow

potomacboardrats.org

The Potomac Board Rats are a group of local enthusiasts whose passion for riding any type of sport board – skateboard, surfboard or snowboard – is their unifying commitment. The group is for all ages and holds events, competitions and trips for its members throughout the year. The new season of events starts Jan. 10 but the group always welcomes new members so those interested in serious shredding.

Play tennis, honor a legend

www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/enterprise/tennis/cabin_john/cabin.shtm

Pauline Betz Addie may not be a household name, but true tennis buffs know that there may have never been a better woman to pick up a racket. Betz Addie won six major titles – including the 1946 Wimbledon without losing a set – but her career was interrupted by World War II and then cut short by rules that banned her from the tour for talking to a sports agent because at the time tennis was an amateur sport. A longtime area resident, Betz Addie helped to start and then for years taught at the Cabin John indoor tennis facility, which is now run by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Renamed in her honor last year, the center was upgraded with improved lighting and now features photos and information about its pioneering namesake. Because of its popularity reservations are best made well in advance.

Play Table Tennis

Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road, Potomac, 240-777-6960

Whatever you do, don't call it ping pong. True players know it by its real name and know that it has a specific set of rules. Some of the nation's best players live in and around Potomac, and every Wednesday and Saturday night the Potomac Community Center hosts table tennis tournaments. The center's gym is filled with tables on those nights as players – many wearing special shoes – stand well behind the tables and blast spinning shots back and forth across the net. It is a sight to behold, and those with the tenacity to give it a shot are welcome. For those looking for a more casual game of table tennis, there are tables in the back of the main lobby of the center every day of the week.

Go mountain biking.

Seneca Creek State Park

11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301-924-2127

Cabin John Trail

Parking and access points on MacArthur Boulevard, River Road, Democracy Boulevard and Tuckerman Lane, 301-299-0024

www.more-mtb.org (Click “Where to Ride”)

Mountain bikers who crave hills and tricky terrain may grow tired of the C&O Canal’s flat towpath, but they need not despair — two local trails permit mountain bikes. The Cabin John Trail is 10 miles long and runs alongside Cabin John Creek between the Beltway overpass near Seven Locks Road and Montrose Road. Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg offers multiuse trails at Schaeffer Farms that are especially popular with mountain bikers. Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts is a nonprofit organization representing area mountain bikers. Done these already? Another good resource is “Mountain Biking the Washington, D.C./Baltimore Area” by Scott Adams and Martin Fernandez, published by Globe Pequot Press. Find it online or at local book stores.

Bike to work

Washington Area Bicyclist Association, 202-518-0524

www.waba.org

For far too many people in the Washington, D.C. area, the morning commute is a miserable, traffic-choked affair. Biking to work — or at least to a nearby bus stop or Metro station — is a more realistic possibility than many people in the Potomac area think. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has an online Bicycle Commuter Assistance Program, an interactive guide that provides commuter information and maps online. Each spring, WABA hosts Bike to Work Day, and provides pit stops, convoy routes and information for those who join.

Walk or bike to school

International Walk to School, 919-962-7419 (long distance)

www.walktoschool.org

Beverly Farms Elementary

8501 Post Oak Road, Potomac, 301-469-1050

Cold Spring Elementary

9201 Falls Chapel Way, Potomac, 301-279-8480

Wayside Elementary

10011 Glen Road, Potomac, 301-279-8484

Every weekday morning throughout the school year, local streets near elementary schools are choked down amid gridlock from buses and a parade of SUVs dropping students off. In recent years, Beverly Farms, Wayside, and Cold Spring were among dozens of county schools participate in Walk to School Day, to show families that there’s another option for many students and a healthy way to get to school in times of increased child obesity and Type II diabetes. Walking isn’t an option for every student in Potomac, but it may be worthwhile for parents to explore this possibility with their children. International Walk to School Day is in early October each year.

Go road biking locally

Washington Area Bicyclist Association, 202-518-0524

www.waba.org

Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, 202-363-8687

www.bikepptc .org

Montgomery Bicycle Advocates, 301-767-5998

www.internetigloo.com/mobike

Every weekend, Potomac’s roads fill up with hard-core and not-so-hard-core bikers enjoying the area’s scenery and open roads. The most popular routes are along MacArthur Boulevard, Falls Road, and River Road, which conduct bikers to popular and less-trafficked areas upcounty. Montgomery County Bicycle Advocates (MOBIKE) and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) conduct bicycling advocacy and provide maps, safety information and other resources for bicyclists. Potomac Pedalers provide weekend ride schedules for trips throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

Go road biking upcounty

Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation, 240-777-7170

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/dpwt/ (Click “Sidewalks & Bikeways”

Washington Area Bicyclist Association, 202-518-0524

www.waba.org/new/paths/gwaba.php

Poolesville, 15 miles away from Potomac Village, has roads better suited for bike riding than many of the narrow and busy roads in Potomac.

Find out more: Montgomery County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation has a bikeways map that includes a route along roads in the Poolesville area. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association publishes the “Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas,” with suggested routes for 67 bike tours. The last (fifth) edition is out of print, but a revised edition is supposed to come out soon.

Bike part of the C&O Canal

C&O Canal National Historical Park, 301-739-4200

www.nps.gov/choh

Bike Washington

www.bikewashington.org/canal

The C&O Canal towpath is 184 miles of biker’s paradise. It is almost completely flat, making it great for families, children, and inexperienced bikers. For most of the 22 miles between Georgetown and Seneca, the towpath is smooth and wide — it’s rougher and narrower above Seneca.

Bike all of the C&O Canal

C&O Canal National Historical Park, 301-739-4200

www.nps.gov/choh

Bike Washington

www.bikewashington.org/canal

Alzheimer’s Association Tour de Canal, 703-359-4440

http://www.alz-nca.org, type ‘Tour de Canal’ in the search box on the top right

The C&O Canal offers the opportunity for long, scenic rides that more serious bicyclists will enjoy. There is one detour along the 184 miles, a stretch 84 miles upstream from Georgetown at Big Slackwater near Williamsport, Md. The National Park Service conducts occasional canal through-rides, with overnight camping and a support vehicle to carry gear. Other organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, conduct through rides for charity.

Rediscover canoeing

www.ccadc.org

Swain’s Lock

These days, kayaking may seem to hold more of an X Games appeal, but for cruising the C&O Canal, or the Potomac River above Seneca, canoeing may be the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors. The Canoe Cruisers Association teaches canoeing basics courses at the Fletchers Boathouse in Georgetown. CCA also holds beginning whitewater canoeing courses, beginning whitewater kayaking courses, and swiftwater rescue classes. The Club holds general meetings at the Clara Barton Community Center on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. One must be a member of CCA to enroll in classes.

Find out more: The Canoe Cruisers Association teaches canoeing basics courses at Fletchers Boathouse in Georgetown.

Swim outdoors in the summer

Bethesda Pool

Little Falls Pkwy & Hillandale Road, Bethesda, 301-652-1598

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rectmpl.asp?url=/content/rec/pools/aqua_beth.asp

Washington summers are famously humid and muggy. One sure way to cool off is a swim at a local pool. Potomac has numerous private swim clubs and easy access to several public pools. The Montgomery County Department of Recreation operates eight outdoor pools. The closest is the Bethesda Pool. Its facilities include a six-lane, 50-meter pool, 1- and 3-meter diving boards, junior pool, tot pool, separate 6-lane 25-meter lap pool, bath house, and snack bar. One place definitely not to swim is the Potomac River. Nearly every year, people — both locals and out-of-town visitors — die in the Potomac River, and others are rescued from life-threatening situations. Though a few victims fall in, most either wade in, try to swim to an island, or just decide to “take a dip,” and are swept away. While the surface may appear calm, strong currents exist underneath.

Swim indoors year round

Montgomery Aquatic Center

5900 Executive Boulevard, North Bethesda, 301-468-4211

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rectmpl.asp?url=/content/rec/aqua.asp

Even on the coldest of winter days, local swimmers need not despair. The Montgomery County Department of Recreation operates three indoor pools. The Montgomery Aquatic Center’s facilities include an indoor pool, hot tubs and hydrotherapy pools, a 10-meter diving platform, an exercise room, a snack bar, locker and shower facilities, saunas and racquetball courts.

Join a community swim club

www.mcsl.org

The Montgomery County Swim League sponsors competitive swimming and other activities to help young people learn to love swimming and further develop their aquatic skills. A number of pools in the area are members of MCSL and other leagues. The swim clubs have other social events throughout the summer, both for children and adults alike.

Join a summer swim team

Montgomery County Swim League

www.mcsl.org/teamdiv/team.html

Where can local children ages 6-18 join together on summer weekends? At any of the local summer swim clubs, many of which field teams that compete in the Montgomery County Swim League. Saturday morning meets are chock-full of shouting, cheering and splashing as the swimmers compete in five different age groups. Many parents are involved as team reps or officials, and the clubs often have social events for the adults.

Play golf

Congressional Country Club

Members Only Club

10800 Falls Road, Potomac, 301-299-5156

Poolesville Golf Course

16601 W. Willard Rd., Poolesville, 301-428-8143

www.montgomerycountygolf.com

You don’t have to be a millionaire to play golf in Potomac. Home to world-famous tournament courses at Congressional Country Club and the Tournament Players Club at Avenel, Potomac also has its own public golf course on Falls Road, with another public course up the road in Poolesville. The courses, operated by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, include clubhouses, driving ranges, and pro shops offering equipment and lessons.

Learn to dance

Spanish Ballroom and Bumper Car Pavilion

7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, 301-634-2222

www.glenechopark.org/dancing.htm

Glen Echo park offers classes in waltz, swing, contra, salsa, and more. Dances take place in the historic Spanish Ballroom and Bumper Car Pavilion.

It also hosts regular social dances, open to the public, for all ages, with no prior experience or partner required. Many of the dances offer an introductory lesson, and live music. Tickets are $7-$15 and are sold at the door. Dress is casual, and layers are recommended, because the dance halls are neither heated nor air-conditioned.

Become the next Freddy Adu

www.msisoccer.org (Montgomery Soccer, Inc.)

www.bethesdasoccer.org (Bethesda Soccer Club)

www.potomacsoccer.org (Potomac Soccer Association)

Before he joined the U.S. Under-17 soccer team and MLS, the locally-grown soccer phenom played on a club team in Potomac Soccer Association and then in the Bethesda Soccer Club. Local soccer leagues offer a variety of levels for school-aged children, from club teams that travel to Brazil to beginners’ teams that travel a short ways down Falls Road.

Watch insane kayakers

Great Falls Tavern & C&O Canal National Historical Park

www.nps.gov/choh

Some of the world’s best kayakers come to the Great Falls area of the Potomac river to train. One way to see them is simply to go: a summer hike along one of the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s riverside trails is sure to yield some spotting opportunities. The Potomac Whitewater Festival, held annually in July, features dozens of events including dramatic runs over Great Falls. Watch from the Maryland overlook in C&O Canal National Historical Park by crossing the wooden walkway to Olmstead Island near Great Falls Tavern.

Become a sane kayaker

www.potomacpaddlesports.com

www.liquidadventures.org

www.valleymill.com

Want to try paddling yourself? Safety first. The C&O Canal, with a closed water system and little flow, is an ideal place to learn, and several outfitters offer lessons there. Inexperienced paddlers and swimmers are injured or killed every year entering the water without proper training and equipment. Learn from professionals at schools like Potomac Paddlesports, Liquid Adventures or Valley Mill Kayak School.

Traverse an EPIC trail

Equestrian Partners in Conservation, epicmontgomery.org, pbhta.org

Potomac has long been horse country, and for those that love to ride there are new trails that have recently been cleared by local riding organizations as part of an ongoing effort to create more routes for horse enthusiasts in the area. The trails are designed to be used by hikers as well, but they can be challenging so those who are new riders or are unfamiliar with the trails are encouraged to go with a guide for their first time out.

Go fishing

Buy a permit at:

www.wildlifelicense.com

12085 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland (Hudson Trail Outfitters)

12055 Rockville Pike, Rockville (The Sports Authority)

601 Hungerford Drive, Rockville (Atlantic Guns)

14125 Seneca Road, Darnestown (Adrian's Market)

16315 Old River Road, Poolesville (Poole's General Store)

There are lots of great fishing spots along the Potomac River that can be accessed from the C&O Canal — Violet’s Lock and Riley’s Lock are popular spots to catch smallmouth bass and sunfish. Maryland requires a fishing permit for all fishermen 16 and older in non-tidal waters. An annual recreational fishing permit costs $10.50. Buy a permit online or at any of the above local businesses.

Go rock climbing

www.adventureschool.com

Carderock Recreation Area is one of the region’s hottest rock climbing spots. It can be accessed by bicycle from the Great Falls or Old Angler’s Inn entrances to the C&O Canal National Historical Park. On foot, it’s about an hour’s hike from Great Falls. By car, take the Clara Barton Parkway and follow the signs, exiting at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s access gate. The Carderock area has restrooms and picnic tables and non-climbers can enjoy walks along the towpath and great views of the river, as well as views of the climbers from both above and below. (The tops of the climbing walls can be reached on trails without actually climbing.) The climbing includes a wide range of difficulty levels, but no one should climb without the necessary training and safety equipment. Novices should climb with an instructor, school, or reputable climbing organization.

Go horseback riding

Potomac Horse Center

14211 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg, 301-208-0200

www.potomachorse.com

or

Tulip Pond Farm

14901 Partnership Road, Poolesville, 301-977-6767

www.tulippondfarm.org

Horses are a huge part of Potomac’s history. Before it was a wealthy Washington suburb, Potomac was home to scores of horse farms and historic hunts and horse organizations. These days, much of the horse activity has been pushed to Poolesville, Darnestown and other areas upcounty, in the 90,000-acre Agricultural Reserve, where development is severely restricted. Horse stables include the Potomac Horse Center and Tulip Pond Farm. They host clinics and lessons.

Go ice skating indoors

Cabin John Center

10610 Westlake Drive, 301-365-2246

www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/enterprise/ice/gen_info

The Cabin John Center is operated by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It has changing facilities, a snack bar and three ice rinks and offers public skating sessions, skating lessons, and use for hockey and other ice sports. General admission is $3 for children 4 and under, $5 for seniors and children 5-10, $6 for adults, and $6 for all ages on public holidays. Skate rental is $3.

Go ice skating outdoors (cautiously)

301-767-3707 for a recorded message about ice skating in the C&O Canal National Historical Park, updated by park rangers

During cold winters, the C&O Canal freezes and becomes a huge outdoor skating rink for enthusiasts, children, and families. Even walkers enjoy the view of the often snow-dusted ice — and the ability to cross the canal wherever they want. But attempting to skate on outdoor ice poses serious safety risks. The National Park Service monitors the thickness of the ice, which should be at least four inches for safe skating. When the ice is thick enough, park rangers post signs reading “Ice Skating at Your Own Risk.” If the signs read “Unsafe Ice,” if there is no sign, or if you are unsure, stay off the ice.

Go camping

Obtain a permit (The Marsden Tract): 301-767-3731

www.nps.gov/choh/Recreation/Camping

Obtain a permit (The Robert C. McDonnell Campground): 7701 Tuckerman Lane

www.mc-mncppc.org/permits/facility/camp/cabin_john

The C&O Canal National Historical Park offers several free and fee-charging campsites in the Potomac region. There are “hiker-biker” campgrounds — which are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of one night — at Swains Lock. The sites have picnic tables and outhouses. The Marsden Tract, located at C&O Canal mile 11 near Old Angler’s Inn, is a group campsite, available by reservation only for $20 per night. The Robert C. McDonell Campground at Cabin John Regional Park offers 7 walk-in primitive sites, accommodating up to 10 campers each. Campsites feature grills, tables, a campfire circle and pit toilets. There are two tent pads on each site. Campsites are available year-round with no running water between Nov, 1 and March 31. An $18 per site, per night permit is required. The Marsden Tract is available only to scout groups, civic organizations, and groups on organized camping trips. A permit can be obtained by calling the Great Falls fee office.

Learn Tae Kwon Do

East West Tae Kwon Do

10620 River Road, Potomac, 301-869-7072

http://www.eastwesttkd.com

Literally translated as the art of punching and kicking, tae kwon do is a martial art with origins in Korea that aims to build positive attributes of an individual’s personality. As a college student, Parshotam Sharma founded the University of Maryland’s tae kwon do program. These days, he instructs students in the Potomac area at East West Tae Kwon Do. In recent years, East West Tae Kwon Do students have qualified for the national tae kwon do tournament. Many students are school-aged, but not all — some entire families train at East West.

Learn yoga

Potomac Community Center

11315 Falls Road, Potomac, 240-777-6960

The Potomac Community Center offers yoga lessons at varying times throughout the week. An array of other lessons are also available.

Become an artist

Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery

7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, 1-301-371-5593

www.yellowbarnstudio.com

www.glenechopark.org

The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery is the painting residency at Glen Echo Park. Resident painter and instructor Walt Bartman's goal is to provide a place where those interested in painting can have the opportunity to meet, collaborate and display their work. The Yellow Barn Studio provides a variety of classes in watercolor, oil and acrylic for students at all levels representing a diversity of philosophies and approaches taken by the faculty. The Yellow Barn Gallery hosts individual and group art exhibits year-round and is open to the public on Saturday and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. Summer classes include Summer Landscape on Location Painting Class, Introduction to Watercolor, Figure Painting Studio, Intermediate Watercolor, Principles of Drawing and Figure Drawing.

Learn about birds with the experts

8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, 301-652-1088

www.audubonnaturalist.org (Click “Birding”),

www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/nature_centers/locust

www.mdkinc.com/mccbird

The Audubon Naturalist Society conducts free bird walks, bird counts for research and bird watching events for charity. It also oversees three local nature sanctuaries, including the Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase. Locust Grove Nature Center in Cabin John Regional Park has naturalists who lead bird watches in the area. The Montgomery Bird Club is a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society that sponsors bird field trips and holds monthly meetings. The club holds meetings on the third Wednesday of every month at the Potomac Presbyterian Church from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Take a Nature Hike, Ask a Naturalist

Locust Grove Nature Center, Cabin John Park, 7777 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, 301-299-1990, www.mcparkandplanning.org/parks/nature_centers/locust/

Locust Grove Nature Center in Cabin John Park is stop number one for any local nature enthusiast. The center's naturalists are experts on local flora and fauna and the center hosts an array of activities throughout the year, from bird watching to nature hikes and more. A great place to visit for anyone of any age with a passion for the outdoors.

Build a bat house

Locust Grove Nature Center

777 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, 301-299-1990

www.mc-mncppc.org/parks

Don’t believe the media’s portrayal of bats — they may not fight crime, but they do gobble up pest insects on summer nights, require less electricity than a bug zapper, and smell better than insect repellent. Leslie Sturges, park naturalist at Locust Grove Nature Center, leads bat-watching activities for all ages on spring and summer evenings.

Become a better writer

Writer’s Center

4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, 301-654-8664

www.writer.org

Looking for guidance in writing the Great American Novel? Interested in composing poetry? Hoping to get travel writing published? The Writer's Center in Bethesda offers workshops to learn different writing styles, such as travel writing, screenwriting, personal essays, short fiction and many more.

Read the Potomac Almanac

703-917-6465 (for a free mailed subscription)

www.potomacalmanac.com

From politics to leisure to business to sports, the Almanac strives to feature stories and items of interest to its readers. The Almanac was named Newspaper of the Year by the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association in 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2003, and has won multiple awards for public service.

Submit to the Almanac

703-917-6431

potomacalmanac@hotmail.com

Is there something we’re not covering? Would you like to see yourself published? Submit to the Potomac Almanac. The paper accepts all types of submissions from engagement, marriage, and birth announcements to letters to the editor to calendar notes, health notes and faith notes, to promotions.

Go to School

www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/whitmanhs

www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/woottonhs

www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/churchillhs

www.bullis.org

www.mcleanschool.org

www.holychild.org

www.landon.net

www.gprep.org

www.heights.edu

www.holton-arms.edu

www.stoneridge.org

www.saes.org (St. Andrew’s Episcopal School)

See a high-school performance

Potomac’s high-school students put on dozens of high-quality and often award-winning plays, musicals, revues, and dance performances every year. Seeing high school theater is inexpensive and close to home and supports school art programs. The Almanac previews many of these shows, but keeping in touch with local schools through their Web sites and listservs is the best way to make sure you won’t miss a curtain call. Most school Web sites provide information on how to sign up to receive regular e-mails about school events.

Have a Blast at ‘Blast from the Past’

Winston Churchill High School

11300 Gainsborough Road, Potomac, 301-469-1200

Devo’s “Whip It,” Neil Diamond’s “America,” Lenny Kravitz’s “Lady” and Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” all in one show? It can only be Winston Churchill High School’s annual “Blast From the Past” music and dance revue. Every year, more than 200 Churchill student signers, dancers and musicians perform costumed song-and-dance routines to a range of tunes that offers something for everybody.

See the annual Landon-Georgetown Prep lacrosse game

Landon School

6101 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, 301-320-3200

Georgetown Prep

10900 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, 301-493-5000

One local lacrosse coach has likened it to a “Braveheart” scene — giant, roaring mobs of battle-painted Prep and Landon students charge into the student sections before the game to cheer their schools on in America’s greatest high-school lacrosse rivalry. Both schools send an annual crop of graduates to Division I college programs. The crowd is rowdy, the action is fast and hard-hitting and the winner takes home more than just bragging rights as the two teams frequently meet in the Interstate Athletic Conference finals.

Watch a high-school football game

Stadiums come alive on Friday nights each fall. Rivalries between local the football teams at Winston Churchill, Walt Whitman, Thomas Wootton and Walter Johnson are intense. Wootton and Churchill met in the season finale for both teams last season with a playoff berth to the victor on the line. Wootton won, setting the stage for what is sure to be an emotional battle when the two teams meet next fall. But it’s not just the football players putting on a show, either — Churchill, Whitman and Wootton all have pep bands, cheerleaders, and pom squad (dance team) shows at halftime. Local private schools Bullis and Landon compete in the Interstate Athletic Conference, while Georgetown Prep plays in the A Division of the Maryland Interstate Athletic Association.

Watch real wrestlers compete

The excitement of a high-school wrestling match begs the question: Why did somebody bother to create the scripted, gimmicky spectacle of “professional” wrestling? Varsity teams feature 14 different wrestlers, from 103-pounders to 275-pound heavyweights. Potomac’s three public high schools have each had plenty of success in the postseason recently, and with the annual tournaments just around the corner wrestling enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to.

See the next Freddy Adu

There are more elite youth soccer players where Freddy came from. Walt Whitman High School’s girls soccer team made it to this year's state championship and won the ‘04 state title match, and the boys teams at Whitman and Winston Churchill also won state titles in the past six seasons. Each season, local public high schools schedule several doubleheaders featuring the same two schools’ varsity boys and girls teams. Many private schools also have outstanding soccer teams — Freddy’s little brother Fro Adu plays for Georgetown Prep. Varsity soccer is a fall sport for both girls and boys in Montgomery County.

See Great Falls

MacArthur Blvd and Falls Rd, Potomac

http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/grfa/

For centuries, visitors from all around the country have come to Great Falls for the breathtaking scenery. In C&O Canal National Historic Park, the closest entrance to Great Falls is located at the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Falls Road, mere minutes from Potomac Village. Visitors to the park can enjoy several hiking trails, including the challenging Billy Goat Trail, picnic/snack areas and a museum/visitor center at Great Falls Tavern. There is a fee of $5 fee per vehicle or $3 per cyclist/walker at this entrance.

Visit Clara Barton's house

7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, 301-492-6245

www.nps.gov/clba

As founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton used this house as its headquarters. The house is shown by guided tours on a daily basis from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See an old schoolhouse

Seneca School House:

16800 River Road, Germantown, 301-972-8588

www.poolesville.com (Click “Visitor’s Guide,” then “Seneca Schoolhouse Museum”)

Boyds Negro School House:

19510 White Ground Road, Boyds, 301-461-4646

What was it like to learn a single-room schoolhouse with 25 students grades 1-7, and a teacher living on $200 a year? The Seneca Schoolhouse Museum, up River Road near Poolesville, closed in 1910 but has since been restored to its original appearance.

Another one-room schoolhouse, Boyds Negro School, stands as a reminder of the days when Montgomery County schools were segregated — county schools began integrating in the 1956-57 school year and finished in 1961. The Boyds School is open by appointment only, but the school’s interior is visible through the windows. The Schoolhouse is usually open on Sundays 12-5 p.m. Groups may schedule educational visits to the schoolhouse, where a teacher in period costume conducts classes using McGuffy’s Readers.

See an abandoned gold mine

The forest trails leading down from MacArthur Boulevard to the C&O Canal National Historical Park were once the home to an operating gold mine, discovered around the time of the Civil War. The (fenced-off) mine shaft, a water tower, and a few other vestiges of the historic mine remain, with signs describing the site's history.

Though the entire network of trails linking MacArthur and the park above Old Anglers Inn are known as the gold mine trails, take the entrance closest to the C&O Canal National Historical Park sign to see the former mine. Another advantage: park entry via the gold mine trails is free.

See a historic lockhouse

www.nps.gov/choh

www.candocanal.org

www.potomac.org/action/ctg/lockhouse (Lockhouse 8 River Center)

During the C&O Canal's operational period in the mid 19th century, lock operators lived in small houses beside the canal locks, manning them day and night, year round. Most of the historic houses still stand, and several are occupied. One — Lockhouse 8 — has been restored in a three-year joint project of the National Park Service and Potomac Conservancy, and now functions as a visitors center, with displays on the ecology and history of the Potomac River and C&O Canal. The lockhouse at Riley's Lock can also be visited on weekends. Other lockhouses between Washington and Cumberland, Md. can only be viewed from the outside.

See a Civil War site

From Potomac Village, drive north up River Road, pass Pennyfield Lock Road, and turn left into the parking lot a mile past Pennyfield.

www.mc-mncppc.org/gis/index.shtm Click "Park Maps," then "Blockhouse Point Conversation Park" for map

In 1861, the Nineteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was ordered to protect a 13-mile stretch of the Potomac River from Seneca to Great Falls. The regiment completed three blockhouses, four feet thick and 12 feet high, just in time to be reassigned — they sustained 50 percent losses in the battle of Antietam. An astute observer can see the earthen rampart and Greek Cross formation in the remains of one of the blockhouses. A small parking lot is on River Road.

Ride a replica canal boat

Great Falls Tavern

11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac, 301-767-3714

www.nps.gov/choh/Calendar/Canaller.html

www.canaltrust.org

During the peak of the C&O Canal's days as a commercial venture, some 500 mule-drawn boats were making the 184-mile trek between Georgetown and Cumberland, Md. By Great Falls Tavern, visitors can board the "Canal Clipper" boat, modeled after the commercial barges, and interpreters are often aboard to answer questions on weekends. The bad news is that the Canal Clipper may be inoperable this spring — a storm last fall caused a breach in the towpath leaving a long stretch of the Canal unwatered, but efforts are under way to refill that stretch as soon as possible. Facilitating that process is the C&O Canal Trust, which is helping the Park Service raise funds for the repairs to the towpath.

See a canal lock in operation

Great Falls Tavern

11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac

301-767-3714 www.nps.gov/choh/Calendar/Canaller.html (Click "Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center")

How did canal boats ascend and descend through the elevation changes in the C&O Canal? They went through 74 lift locks on the 184-mile trip between Georgetown and Cumberland, Md., each one maintained by a lockkeeper who lived in a house beside the canal. Lock 20 by Great Falls Tavern is operational, and park rangers give periodic demonstrations on how the locks functioned. Park rangers at Great Falls Tavern give Lock 20 demonstrations Wednesdays through Fridays, 2-2:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30-2 p.m.