Located in Maryland just northwest of Washington DC, the neighborhood of Bethesda has a medium population of about 63,000 people, which sounds small, but Bethesda has so many things to do and explore.
Bethesda is one of the most impressive towns in Maryland, if not the entire country. It ranks first on Forbes’ list of most educated small towns, and placed first on Time Magazine’s list of towns with the most income. It has been referenced numerous times over the years in popular culture, hosts incredibly profitable and wealthy businesses such as Lockheed Martin, Honest Tea, and the massively successful video game development studio that named itself after the neighborhood, Bethesda Softworks.
Bethesda is a mixed-use neighborhood with a good balance of residential areas and businesses. Just a short drive down the road from Washington DC, there are plenty of opportunities and activities to take part in without leaving the neighborhood. Here are a few things to take note of when visiting this Bethesda, including sights to see, sites to visit, and other highlights you may want to experience while there.
1. Over 20 Art Galleries to Explore
Bethesda has slowly but surely revitalized itself over time to become the affluent artistic neighborhood it is today. There are more than 20 art galleries in town, all with their own flair or particular artistic niche, waiting to be explored by lovers of the arts and locals alike.
The Waverly Street Gallery, for example, is a contemporary visual art museum, whereas the Glenstone Museum is an outdoor art museum that aims to “form a unique connection between art and visitor.” There are more art galleries in Bethesda per sq. mile than many similar U.S. cities, so be sure to keep a lookout for new exhibitions and presentations every day.
2. The Strathmore Cultural Center
The Strathmore is a fine art, performance, and cultural center split into two parts: the Mansion and the Music Center. It has remained relatively the same since it was built in the early 1900s, with very few updates to the architecture.
The Mansion is a colonial-style mansion built at the turn of the 20th century that houses hundreds of pieces of art, sculptures, and holds exhibitions of these artworks as well as intimate live music to audiences of less than 100. The Music Center seats nearly 2000 people and presents more than 150 shows each year alongside constant music classes held in other areas of the building.
3. The Ratner Museum
The Ratner Museum is a Jewish cultural and history museum owned and funded by Dennis and Phillip Ratner. The museum hosts a permanent exhibition of the art of the latter, as well as rotating exhibitions of new and old Jewish artists alike. All kinds of artistic styles are on display and represented here, everything from water color to photography to quilts and linens.
There are three buildings at the museum, a Resource Center and library, children’s art and literature museum and a conference space, The Museum itself has two levels, a central space, and some outside exhibition spaces, and Phillip Ratner’s art studio and the Museum Offices. The Ratner Museum offers tours, concerts, and public lectures for visitors, and has no admission charge.
Neighborhood Schools and Crime Ratings
Schools in Bethesda are part of the Montgomery County Public School system, and test scores are well above national averages as well as Maryland averages. There are many options for schools in Bethesda, and nearly all of them are above average or greatly exceed expectations of other schools. Compared to the other schools in Maryland, schools in Bethesda do far better, about 68% test score compared to the state’s 41%. When compared to national averages, the story is the same, as the national average test scores are about 49%.
In general, crime in Bethesda is far below the averages for the state and nationwide at about 1,250 crimes for every 100,000 people. Compared to Maryland averages at about 2,750 crimes per 100,000 people, and the national average of about 2,800 per 100,000 people, Bethesda is much safer than many neighborhoods in Maryland and Washington DC.
The median value of a home in Brightwood is about $656,800, down about 1.5% since February 2017, mostly due to the higher rate of foreclosures in the neighborhood than the rest of the city. Just 6 years ago in 2012, homes were worth about $382,000, meaning that values have almost doubled in that small time. It is much more affordable than many areas of the city, but still above the national average home price and rising. The housing market in the neighborhood is estimated to rise a small amount, about 1.2%, in the next year.