Tell me about Bethesda, MD!

So I recently got a job in Bethesda, and am trying to decide between living there and DC. I guess what I’m primarily looking for is a place that is fun! for a 23 year old woman who likes to go out and socialize, and wants a culturally diverse, cosmopolitan area. At first I assumed I would live in DC, but then I realized it was a 40 min commute by Metro (and the Metro stops running at midnight), and that Bethesda is supposed to be a really cool place in and of itself. Any thoughts?

Also, are there young, single people in Bethesda who are involved in the DC legal/policy/governmental scene? I am working more in the science-area, but would like to meet people from the policy side of DC life, and am wondering if any live in Bethesda, or if they’re all on the Hill :).



Expensive, very expensive. But there are a lot of resturants. I’m not much of a person who goes out, but I don’t think of Bethesda as the first place I would go. There are bars and places like that, but I can’t name any night clubs off the top of my head. We tend to go there to eat, maybe catch a movie in one of the smaller theaters, but that’s about it for us.

Bethesda is a very expensive suburb. When I was growing up, at least, it also had the reputation of being very heavily Jewish (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). It’s a great location for someone who would be commuting downtown. There’s not a whole lot of twentysomething nightlife in Bethesda itself, but it’s very close to DC, Georgetown and some of the livelier suburbs like Rockville.

grew up in Gaithersburg, MD

There is The Yacht Club of Bethesda.

I don’t think of Rockville as livelier than Bethesda.

First of all. . .Bethesda is pricey. But, there seems to be plenty of nightlife there. . .at least a lot more than you normally think of when you think “suburb”.

It has a lot of restaurants and bars. . .a lot that seem to be locally owned, then a lot that are sort of “upscale chains”. Like places that might have a few restaurants, but are really nice, not like a Chili’s or Olive Garden.

It has some art galleries. They have at least two art festivals per year there. Bethesda Row in October, and Bethesda Festival of the Arts in the Spring.

They used to have a bike race there. They still might.

As burbs go, it’s definitely more liberal than some of the Virginia burbs.

It’s not as happening at DC, of course. But, I’ve always kind of liked Bethesda. It has NIH there, and some large businesses, so it’s far from your typical “bedroom community”.

If you’re still living in MD (which I see you are), your opinion here is probably more valid than mine; I haven’t called Montgomery County home since 1998.

To echo what a lot of other posters have said it can be very pricey. There aren’t a lot of “clubs” persay but it does have its fair amount of bars and a large number of very good restaurants. I would say it is pretty cosmopolitan but I would hesitate to call it culturally diverse. I used to hang out there a lot during high school and for the most part all I saw was a whole bunch of white people (nothing wrong with that of course, I’m white myself).

If I may make a suggestion I would try looking at housing in Silver Spring. It used to be a pretty run down suburb of Washington but in the last 5 years or so it's really exploded with the opening of the Discovery Channel world headquarters and a whole bunch of new shops and restaurants. The downtown area of Silver Spring is extremely pedestrian friendly with bars and restaurants, and things like Borders Books and Whole Foods. I believe they are also planning on putting up an indoor ice rink and civic center. SS is becoming more like Bethesda, just much more diverse. It's also only about a 15 minute drive from Bethesda if you hop on East-West highway.

Hi guys,

Thanks for all the info. I realize it’s pricey, but I think that it would be worth it to live near my job (I’m working at the NIH). How do-able is the commute between Bethesda and DC by Metro? The thing is, I’m not sure how often I’d even want to go out on weekdays, and on weekends, the metro runs till 3:00, so I feel like on weekends I could go to DC . . .

Aaaah, but DC is sooo much cooler . . . right?

Conflicts, conflicts.

Housing appears to be equally expensive between the two, however.


Oh, as to the racial-diversity there.

I’m not white, I’m Indian (of the Asian kind). This seems like a ridiculous questions, but that won’t cause any kind of uncomfortableness or conflict or anything, right? I hear a lot about it being very, very white, which I’ve never really encountered before.



Living in DC and commuting out to the suburbs, you would be going against the flow of traffic both ways. It would probably be fairly easy…for the DC area.

I can’t think of ANYWHERE within 30 miles of DC that an Indian would feel weird or out of place. Bethesda is predominantly white (over 85% according to the last census), but it’s hardly a breeding ground for the Klan. These are college educated, cosmopolitan people for the most part. :slight_smile:

Yea, you shouldn’t have any concerns race-wise at all. Even though it isn’t diverse I cannot think of any instances in which you would feel uncomfortable.

The Metro has a stop right at NIH, on the red line. If you live close to the red line it shouldn’t be too bad. I know the NIH campus is pretty big, but it wouldn’t suprise me if there were busses from the metro.

You might be able to find apartments that are somewhat cheap in the area. I knew some people who worked at NIH that lived close and they couldn’t have made that much money. Though it was like living in a dorm.

Bethesda, and surrounding areas, I’m sure have a decent Indian population.

But, going from DC to the NIH wouldn’t be a huge hassle if you’re really drawn to living in the city. People go the other way in droves, and that’s much worse.

I commute from Baltimore to the burbs, and it’s not that bad.

Commuting from DC to Bethesda by Metro isn’t going to be too bad since most of the commuters will be on trains going the other way. It will be most convenient if you live somewhere on the Red Line. Those neighborhoods are not going to be any cheaper than Bethesda which is one of the most expensive suburbs.

The drawbacks to DC are that your taxes may be higher and the services will be a giant pain the ass. Getting a license, getting a car registered or worse getting it inspected are all going to be a hassle living in DC and will tend to suck up time. The drawback to living near where all the nightlife is that the nightlife will be there even if you don’t feel like going out. Adams Morgan is pretty noisy and it looks remarkably dirty on a Sunday morning.

Racewise, you won’t run into any trouble either in DC or the DC suburbs. There are a lot of Indians in the Virginia suburbs so you won’t stick out either.

Okay, one more question for y’all,

How does Bethesda’s social scene rack up against DC’s? I was reading that it has a lot of the same stuff (art museums, independent theater, restaurants, bars) as DC, but is safer, and is in a more confined area. True/false? Also, is there a substantial population of people in their mid-twenties, or is mostly older, established people? Finally, do a lot of people go to DC on the weekends for entertainment? Thanks!


I live in Bethesda. I like it. I go into D.C. every day for work, and on most weekends…the Metro from the Bethesda station to Judiciary Square is around twenty minutes. To Woodley Park (which is where my girlfriend lives) from Bethesda is about ten minutes.

I don’t think of Bethesda as its own city, really; to me it’s just a pleasant extension of D.C.

I live in the DC area and here is my 2 cents. Bethesda does have a concentration of young professionals and there is a nightlife scene (bars, restaurants). I have been out in Bethesda quite a few times and it’s fun and full of young professional people of all races and nationalities.

I live in Arlington VA, which is just south of DC, whereas Bethesda is just north of DC. Bethesda reminds me a lot of Arlington, in that it’s expensive and full of young urban professional types, and it has similar social scenes.

If it were me, I would prefer to live in Bethesda rather than DC…

Yeah, something that you might not quite be getting a good picture of is that Bethesda is basically part of D.C., though it’s legally on the Maryland side - there’s no delineation between the two and you’ve have a hard time realizing when you were in one and not the other. It’s not like there’s any sort of distance between the two of them, as most people think of a “suburb.” It’s more like the difference between Manhattan and Hoboken or Brooklyn.

If you don’t mind the rent, then the inner suburbs of DC to the north and west and south (Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda, Arlington, Falls Church, and parts of Alexandria) are generally good bets for young hip professionals, plus you get the added bonus of voting for congressmen and actually having your trash picked up and snow plowed. Stay away from Northeast/Southeast DC and Prince George’s county.

You’re getting into opinion areas.

Bethesda ain’t DC.

But, like I implied before, it’s not all tract housing, soccer moms, and minivans either.

If I was in my 20’s, was single, and had a decent job in Bethesda, I’d probably want to live in DC. I work in Silver Spring, and choose to live in Baltimore, so clearly I’m basied towards city life.

I’ve always thought that Bethesda was slightly uptight – in that “not in my backyard” way. At least more than DC. While I’m sure that it’s welcoming, it doesn’t have nearly the diversity of DC. DC’s a big US city. If you’re coming from LA, New York, or even Seattle or San Fran, you might feel more comfortable living in DC.

It’s got all the amenities and hassles of living in a big city.

Not that anyone did say this, but I would NOT characterize Bethesda as having all the amenities, and none of the hassles. I find getting around in places like Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring infuriating.

DC is pretty cool. There’s a ton to do. I think you’ll find places near where you live to make your own, and get to know people.

Do people go in on the weekends? Probably. People go down from B-More to DC so I assume they go from Bethesda. Depends on how active you are. But, if you want to live in DC, it’s definitely do-able.