Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 155: Tennis Anyone?

Tennis at Cabin John Park

On a day like today, a beautiful June afternoon, you simply MUST get outside and enjoy the fresh warm air and sun before it gets so hot and humid that you feel like a big dog is breathing down your back.  The dog days of summer are coming but today was pretty perfect really.

One of the parks we enjoy most on a day like this is Cabin John Park at 7401 MacArthur Blvd.  This 6-acre park is a short drive from downtown Bethesda and offers a nice blend of facilities for ball games of all kinds – basketball, softball and of course, tennis.  For the little people, there is a little playground and grassy area with a couple of picnic tables too.  That’s where we enjoyed our sushi picnic last week.

7401 MacArthur Blvd

Parking is usually readily available here and it’s a great place to just lay out and relax or challenge your best bud to a tennis match before it’s just too darn hot this year.  There are some nice ball fields here as well but I must warn you not to bring your band of brothers out here to play without booking the field in advance.  The reservation/permit process is easy and it will save you the disappointment of losing out to some other baseball or softball bunch who was smarter than you and planned ahead.  To book the ball field, first open a ParkPASS account (click here for step-by-step instructions) at www.parkpass.org.  Then you’ll be able to go to the Montgomery County website and reserve your facility of choice at any of our local County Parks for a few bucks.

The good news is that you don’t have to do any of that to play tennis at little ‘ole Cabin John Local Park – just show up with your racquets and balls and hope for the best!  If you can’t find an open court, no worries.  There’s some good beer waiting for you down the road at The Irish Inn at Glen Echo!     ~Amy

Day 142: The Wilds of Bethesda

The southern most point of the trail head

While on our recent sushi picnic at Cabin John Park, Brian and I noticed a trail head near our picnic bench.  Curious, we investigated further, as it was taunting us to just follow the little brown trail.  But thankfully, we did not blindly attempt a little afternoon walk in our work clothes and shoes.  This “Cabin John Trail” appeared from the map to be one heck of a hike!  Upon closer examination, we learned that this little nature walk through the woods and wilds of Bethesda followed a meandering and sometimes steep path through the Cabin John Stream Valley Park, up Seven Locks Rd – past Greentree Rd – past Democracy Blvd – past Tuckerman Ln – through Robert C. McDonnel Campground and ultimately up to Goya Rd near the intersection of Gainsborough and Seven Locks Rd.  The little ole’ hike is comprised of 8.8 miles of natural surface trail with some very picturesque views and sites (and some not-so-picturesque parts like a short walk next to River Rd).  Now don’t let me fool you into thinking I have hiked the thing.  I absolutely have not.  But I must admit, I want to!

If you, like me, want to explore all or part of this trail, there are several ways to skin this cat (that’s a terrible expression really).  You could take the 2.6 mile section from McArthur Blvd (Cabin John Park) to River Rd; the 1.2 mile section from River Rd to Bradley Blvd. or you could even bike the 1.8 mile section from Bradley Blvd to Democracy Blvd., among other options.  Please note that the first 1.2 mile section from Cabin John Park to its intersection with Seven Locks Rd is open only to hikers and presents some challenges in the form of very steep terrain.

The beginning of adventure

So when you tire of the big city and need some fresh air, exercise and a little adventure, you might fill your pack with water and some healthy snacks, don your sunglasses, bug spray and hiking boots, grab your walking stick and head on out to Cabin John Trail.  Please let us know if you do!  I would love some insider information on what to expect if I should dare go on this hike.  The last time I went on a hike ill prepared and unaware was at the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac and I nearly stepped on a snake and nearly slipped off a cliff!  Who knew I would have such high adventure just a short distance from our little quiet town of Bethesda?!  Perhaps Cabin John Trail will offer a little bit of the wild side of Bethesda.      ~Amy

P.S. Here is a link to the full map:  Cabin John Trail Map

Day 141: Care for a Sushi Picnic?

Our sushi picnic

Today was truly a wonderful spring day in Bethesda – the perfect temperature, not too humid, sunny but not too hot and a slight breeze – ideal for a picnic!  Brian and I were in the mood for fish though – not your normal picnic fare.  So how can you seriously enjoy fish and a picnic?  Kanpai Sushi at 7307 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo is your answer.  Since 1985 Kanpai Sushi has been serving its loyal customers who thoroughly enjoy their fresh and beautiful creations.

We popped in today at the recommendation of a client we met recently who happened upon the place and shared their excitement with us about their visit.  I had never noticed the place because it is a small and obscure little shop.

The nicest men were working and happily took our sushi order while busily making rolls and nigiri for their customers.  Our order included two spicy tuna hand-rolls (one of my favorite sushi delights) as well as salmon nigiri, tuna nigiri and a California roll with fresh crab.  Of course our snack was accompanied by wasabi, ginger and little containers of soy sauce to go.  We added some San Pellegrino and off we went to Cabin John Park to enjoy our sushi picnic!

Japanese grocery items

We were not sure what to expect from this small little sushi shop in Glen Echo but we were truly delighted with the mouth-watering creations made by our sushi masters.  That spicy tuna hand-roll was true to its name and was one of the spiciest ever!  I was very glad for the San Pellegrino!  Brian and I will definitely be back for more sushi take out…soon!

Fresh whole fish

We also learned that Kanpai Sushi offers beautiful and quite affordable party platters as well as fresh whole fish, bags of asian rice (always a trick to find), edamame and other asian delights.  In fact, Kanpai Sushi is called a Japanese grocery store and you can find a nice selection of many Japanese food items in addition to their delectable sushi menu.  So if you’re interested in trying some great sushi take-out, Kanpai Sushi is your place and Cabin John Park is a nice spot to cop-a-squat and enjoy it!    ~Amy

Day 115: Miniature Train Ride!

Cabin John Park Miniature Train

Now that the weather is once again pleasant it’s time to head outside.  We like to head to Cabin John Regional Park.  The park is located on Tuckerman Lane not too far from Cabin John Shopping center. One of my boys favorite things to do here is ride the miniature train.  The train is a scaled replica of a steam locomotive from the mid 1800’s.  The train makes a large loop through Cabin John Park under a canopy of mature trees.  After leaving the station the kids seem to enjoy the periodic steam whistle the conductor blows as we pickup speed.  It’s a great break after running around and playing on the play equipment at the park.  The train is closed from November through March but just reopened for weekends only in April and May (Sat/Sun 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).  From June through August the train runs seven days per week (Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.).  Tickets are $1.75 each.  Wanna have a really cool birthday party?  Consider hosting it at the Train Station Party Room that features a train motif and a room that can accommodate up to 50 guests! The cost is $100-$175 for a 2 hour time slot. Call 301-650-2880 to reserve the room.

Hippo Fountain

The kids also enjoy two of the interesting features near the “Train Station.”  The first is a water fountain inside a large hippo’s mouth.  I’m not sure the kids would be so eager to be in this position if they knew that Hippos can run faster than humans on land and are considered the most aggressive and dangerous animal on the continent of Africa!  They also like to put trash in the “Porky Litter Eater.”  Porky is really a trash collection building reminiscent of the brick structure from the children’s story “The Three Little Pigs.”  A somewhat creepy voice encourages the children to place items that can be recycled inside the pigs mouth!

Flying merry-go-round

Of course the kids love the large playground nearby that features two large “jungle gyms” with slides, swings, and other contraptions to fall off and give parents heart palpitations.  Tonight I loaded a bunch of the kids on a large round steel merry-go-round that was suspended 6′ off the ground.  The kids held on tight as they swung around the axis of the center pole.  My youngest son chased them from underneath attempting to grab their dangling feet.  He was fast asleep before we even left the parking lot! ~Brian