5 Hidden Gems in Silver Spring, Maryland

By Alex Perdikis

Sometimes you can live in a city for years without taking time to see its highlights. If you live in or near Silver Spring, or happen to be passing through, don’t miss these five hidden gems.

  1. Silver Threatre & American Film Institute and Cultural Center

         8633 Colesville, Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Can a hidden gem be right there in front of you? YES!  If you live in Silver Spring, you’ve heard about the renovation of the Silver Theatre. You’ve probably even driven by it on your way to elsewhere.  This weekend, forget “elsewhere” and head to Silver Theatre.

Originally built in 1938, this gem-in-disrepair faced the wrecking ball. Saved by the citizens of Montgomery County, Maryland, and the American Film Institute (AFI), it was deemed an historic site. The new complex is amazing both aesthetically and technically. This place is for anyone who loves beauty, appreciates art, history, and, of course, the wonder and technicality of film.

A shining gem of aesthetic splendor, the renovated theatre will transport you back to the glittering era of Art Deco design. With the addition of 32,000 square feet of new construction, which houses two stadium theatres, won’t fail to impress. Dedicated to artists, educators and audiences of the world, the Silver and AFI seek to “present the richness of American and world cinema, exploring all forms of the moving image ….

To that end, they have a state-of-the-art moving exhibition and learning center.  And, last, but not least, the Silver Threatre has the cinematic technology to present silent films as they originally were seen.

  1. Tastee Diner

         8601 Cameron St, Silver Spring, MD 20910

“What is that railroad-car-looking-thing over there?”  The one, and only, answer to that question is, “It’s the coolest restaurant in Silver Spring.”

Established 1946 in what was later known as the classic railroad car design, Silver Spring became the home of the Tastee Diner. It’s still serving up the Americana like no place around.  Although Tastee faced demolition in the 1980s, it was saved by loyal employees, who petitioned the County Council to make it an historic landmark. Rightfully, it became one! Gene Wilkes, the successful owner of two other Tastee Diners in the D.C. area, bought and refurbished the place to its former glory. In 2000, the building was literally picked up and moved to its current location.

While one may not think that a diner can have real historic significance, it just ain’t so. Precious relics from the bygone era of neon lights and shining chrome still exist in Tastee’s. So feel free to invite those out-of-towners to slide into a booth and order up two eggs, wrecked and a side of hotcakes. And don’t be surprised if the server brings you a cup of mud.

  1. Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad Station

         8100 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Still in use in 2000, the Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station was originally built in 1878.  On the foundation the original station, in 1945 a new station was constructed. During the years of its operation, the station was flanked by bustling commercial enterprises. So said one passenger, President Harry Truman in 1953. According to Montgomery Preservation Inc., Truman used to take the train from Silver Springs home to Missouri, thus avoiding the crowds at Union Station. Apparently, he also enjoyed driving to the station to meet his family when they came to visit.

Although the station is no longer active, it was restored to its 1945 appearance. Restoration efforts were extraordinarily meticulous, as artisans reconstructed the station with incredible detail that’s truly worth seeing. The station was deservingly added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

  1.   Meditation Museum I

           9525 Georgia Avenue, Suite 101,Silver Spring, MD – 20910

In the midst of the fast-paced lives we lead (especially in D.C. metro area), a visit to the Meditation Museum might offer the few moments of calm that we seek. Or, it may simply give us insight into what meditation means to Sister Jenna Mahraj, who founded the Museum.

What to expect? As an excellent 2015 Washington Post article put it, the Meditation Museum is really more “about spiritual advocacy than a museum in the traditional sense.”  The Museum is dedicated to personal and spiritual change. It is therefore designed to be interactive with displays that engage visitors and training sessions tailored to providing tools for personal and spiritual change.

The Museum states that its purpose is to allow “the art works… and the space [to] nurture your inner being…which is often neglected in the world of… constant distractions.” For anyone intellectually or spiritually curious about the West’s growing trend in mediation, a visit to the Mediation Museum may indeed further stimulate that curiosity.  You might even feel compelled to return for one of its 200-plus free workshops.

      5.     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

              1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD, 20910

“Gateway to NOAA” is a new and permanent exhibit on Silver Spring’s NOAA campus. Adults and children alike will be fascinated by it. The exhibit is beautifully displayed, not to mention easy to understand and interact with. Above all, it’s incredibly interesting. It provides over 200 years of the agency’s history. It demonstrates, in understandable terms, the way in which NOAA monitors the pulse of the earth each day and how it explores the deep sea to protect the coastal waters and ocean resources.  This is definitely an exhibit you could visit more than once, which is great because it’s FREE! So, come one; come all. And then come again.