We all love going on a nice long vacation to a new destination or a foreign country. But sometimes those fancy trips aren't feasible, which means you should be making the most of your weekends locally instead.
If you are anything like me, the thought of driving out to Rockville from D.C. just for a meal, or to spend a few hours, may seem unappealing. But I’ve always wanted to explore the area's wealth of “real Chinese food" and more, so I just decided to make a weekend of it, and treat myself to a staycation instead. There really is so much to do in Rockville, so put your skeptical self aside and go explore the area.
1. Stay at the Canopy by Hilton
Okay, technically this is in North Bethesda which is just adjoining Rockville, but it makes for the best central point to experience the fancy Pike and Rose development as well. The Canopy brand is inspired by the destination so expect to find local touches throughout the hotel, from local distilled spirits, art in the common areas, and an assortment of snacks. I like the Canopy for their comfortable functional rooms, the common areas where you can lounge, evening local wine and beer tastings, and the rooftop happy hour. Also, the complimentary breakfast (the quiche is delicious!) dog-friendly rooms and bikes to explore the area are all a nice touch.
2. Challenge yourself at Go Ape zipline and treetop
For adrenaline junkies, or those who want to test their fear of heights, this is the place to be. This treetop course is a fun activity with a diverse variety of challenges that include tarzan swings, ziplines, ladders and ropes. This self-guided adventure will take you about two to three hours to complete, and costs $49 for all ages.
3. Get on the water at Lake Needwood
Enjoy the beautiful 75-acre Lake Needwood in rental kayaks, row boats, canoes or pedal boats. You can also take a Pontoon boat tour and check out the native wildlife. Fishing is allowed with a permit. There are paved trails for hiking, biking and rollerblading.
4. Take a spa day
For relaxation and “me time”, pamper yourself with a visit to the spa. The Red Door Spa and Salon is located right in the Canopy hotel and offers everything from body wraps, massages and facials, to hair styling and makeup for your night out.
5. Visit 7 Locks Brewing
The tap room is located in an industrial building, but what they lack in charm they make up for in friendly service and cold beer. A good variety of craft beers can be found –the Saison is a crowd favorite - with 10 beers on tap. If you're looking for a chill vibe, this is your spot.
6. Eat all the food
Okay, let’s be real .. we are all here for the food, right? There are endless choices but some of my favorite stops are noted here. You have to eat Chinese food when in Rockville! Some of the old school popular choices are A&J restaurant for excellent no frills dim sum, Joe’s Noodle House for spicy Sichuan flavors and killer ma po tofu, and Shanghai Taste or Bob’s Shanghai 66 for soup dumplings. For more modern digs, try the new Urban Hot Pot, which features endless hot pot and toppings for a set fee (making it a great option for groups), or Akira Ramen and Izakaya, which has delicious ramen and a fantastic soba noodle set that is perfect for the dog days of summer. If you stop by Urban Hot Pot or Akira, get yourself a boba tea from Gong Cha, which is in the same shopping complex – I especially like their winter melon drink!
While you MUST have a taste of the Chinese food in the area, there are also plenty of other fantastic restaurants to try. La Limena is popular for Peruvian cuisine, the new Kuya Ja for Filipino favorites (I hear the crispy pork belly is phenomenal), and Mykonos for Greek.
The Pike and Rose development (where the Canopy hotel is) also has a number of good options – try Stella Barra for pizza and a buzzy atmosphere, Pinstripes for upscale bar food with a side of bowling, and the Baked Bear for custom ice cream sandwiches.