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Bethesda, Maryland sits just off the northern boundary of the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. The area is primarily known for its medical research facilities, as both the National Institute of Health and the highly regarded Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are located within its boundaries. Like many of the D.C. suburbs, it’s also home to a number of big-name corporations like Lockheed Martin, the Discovery Channel, and Marriott Hotels.
Book an RV in Bethesda, and you'll have a fantastic way to see Washington D.C. while retaining your own transportation. However, when you pick up a motorhome rental in Bethesda, it’s probably a good idea to use public transportation whenever you take trips into the capital. Several buses and metro lines can get you there in about half an hour, which will save on parking costs and will save you the trouble of navigating traffic on D.C.’s narrow streets.
Washington D.C. and its surrounding suburbs are some of the most densely populated parts of the United States, but fortunately, as this is the nation’s capital, quite a few beautiful green spaces have been woven into the fabric of the city. Cabin John Regional Park is one of the closest to downtown Bethesda and is a great place to bring to the kids. It has an ample playground area along with a small train that takes children on rides around the park. There’s also a dog park attached to it.
The Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary in the nearby town of Chevy Chase has an excellent nature walk on its premises. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just someone curious about animals, you’re sure to find some interesting wildlife on the trail. The sanctuary trails also connect up with those at the Jones Mill Road Park that runs along Rock Creek.
Also close by is the Great Falls Park, a rather small 800-acre recreation area where the Potomac River gracefully cascades over a series of rock ledges. There are several hiking trails that run along both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the river and some great picnicking spots on its southern end. Running parallel to the river is the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which allows river traffic to bypass the rapids. The towpath constructed alongside it is popular with both runners and cyclists and extends 184 miles to Cumberland, Maryland.
The sheer density of the D.C. metro area can make it a bit challenging to find a place to park your rig when you get an RV rental in Bethesda. There are a couple of campgrounds on its outskirts worth checking out though, with the Cherry Hill Park being one of the closest spots. They have full hookups, a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, movie nights, and a shuttle that can take you on a tour of the capital.
For a more rustic experience close to the city, consider taking your camper rental from Bethesda over to Swains Campsite on the Potomac River. There are no hookups, but toilets and drinking water are available. This is a good site for nature lovers as the area is heavily forested and you’ll have easy access to the river; with a proper license, you can do some fishing there too.
If nothing else, you might be able to camp in the parking lot of one of the area's Walmarts when you choose a travel trailer rental in Bethesda. It's best to get the manager’s permission first, and there won’t be much in the way of amenities, but it’s not a bad place to spend a couple of nights.
When you rent an RV in Bethesda, much of your time will probably be spent exploring the many amazing attractions in the capital. A complete tour of the city includes the National Mall (Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol Building), the Smithsonian Museums (Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of American History, etc.), the Jefferson Monument, and the White House – and those are just the most obvious attractions.
However, the Bethesda area also has a lot to offer on its own, outside of the D.C. attractions. The National Museum of Health and Medicine offers a fascinating look at the history of medical practitioners from the Civil War through modern times. Many of the exhibits are devoted to battlefield injuries, how doctors treated them, and why this led to so many deaths during the war. The bullets that killed presidents Lincoln and Garfield are also on display.
For a much less morbid experience, wander over to the Washington D.C. Temple, the central place of worship for followers of the Latter Day Saints movement in D.C. The temple grounds are open to the public and have some absolutely beautiful gardens. If you’d like to learn more, there’s also a visitors center with loads of information.