Wanderful is well known for being an international community of travel-loving women, but it also touts a massive group of travel creators. From journalists to influencers to bloggers to videographers, Wanderful offers it all. So when Visit Montgomery, the tourism board of Montgomery County, Maryland, reached out to the local Wanderful DC hub to do a familiarization tour, we replied with a resounding YES.
Montgomery County, Maryland’s Cultural Capital
Montgomery County lies right on the DC border, so if you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, MoCo (as the locals call it) is exactly where you need to head. Easily accessible by the Metro Red Line, visitors can reach Montgomery County in just a matter of minutes. And then? Let the fun begin. Montgomery County is chock full of incredible international restaurants, family-friendly activities, local Maryland shopping, and historical sights galore.
MoCo’s International Cuisine Scene
As Maryland’s Cultural Capital, it’s only fitting that the restaurant scene would be beyond amazing. And the Wanderful tour included plenty of delicious food. When visiting the area, be sure to check out the MoCo Eats webpage for endless options.
Thai Chef was kind enough to open our fun-filled day tour. Located smack dab in the center of Rockville Town Square, its interior decor alone is enough reason to stop by. That being said, the traditional Thai dishes and drinks can’t be beaten. Thai Chef specializes in Bangkok-style street food and is owned and operated by the daughter-parents team of Chalisa Fitts, Pornnapa Pongpornprot, and David Weston. A must-stop when in Rockville.
El Mercat Bar de Tapas would finish off the day offering us an array of vibrant Spanish tapas. Owned by Brazilian immigrant Chef George Rodrigues, El Mercat Bar de Tapas represents the very essence of Spanish cultural diversity. With a concept of simple and delicious food, and serving shareable, seasonal, house-made dishes, the menu allows guests to savor different dishes with the most exciting flavors of true tapas fare. The Wanderful ladies may have been stuffed full of excellent food and drink after a long day, but nothing would stop us from finishing off every dish set in front of us here.
Montgomery County’s Tastemakers Trail
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include an entire section devoted specifically to Montgomery County’s Tastemakers Trail. With 13 breweries, 6 wineries, 2 cideries, and more, Montgomery County won’t let you down if you’re a hops-head or wine-lover. So of course a Tastemakers stop was in order.
Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company absolutely knocked our socks off. Lone Oak is not just a brewery at a farm. Rather, it’s a farm with a brewery. With more than 28 acres, they grow their very own barley for brewing. Lone Oak firmly believes that beer is more than just a beverage—it’s a celebration of history, community, agriculture, and the natural world. The property itself is expansive, and includes fields with picnic tables, a pond, a playground, a barn, and—for Wanderful—a yurt! Where’d we enjoy pizza, pretzels, charcuterie, and a tasting after our brewery tour.
While a physical visit to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard wouldn’t be in the cards this particular day, I think it’s safe to say that each and every one of the Wanderful creators will be back to explore on our own time. We enjoyed a lovely tasting—on the go—of their 2021 Viognier and their 2019 Comus Red, both of which will make even the most discerning palette’s taste buds dance.
Montgomery County’s Activities Scene
It is entirely possible to spend weeks, even months, just visiting restaurants and breweries in Montgomery County, but we did take a break from food and spirits consumption for a little fun at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring.
With nearly 250 unique zip-line and ropes courses, The Adventure Park is the largest aerial climbing course in the country and the largest outdoor man-made climbing park in the world. A family-owned establishment, the park offers courses of varying difficulty levels for kids (and adults!) of all ages.
And that’s not all. They have digital ax-throwing. Which provided us with some super fun target practice and even a little exercise.
Local Shopping In Montgomery County
Oh, you didn’t think a MoCo day would be complete without some local shopping, did you? Because Montgomery County has that, too. And our day would bring us to a couple different spots you need to visit the next time you’re in town.
The Family Room in Laytonsville offers Maryland-themed goods from more than 30 different Maryland makers. Owned and operated by the mother-daughter team of Kim and Corinne Glab, The Family Room offers classes and workshops for the community featuring local artists and authors, and food, beverages, ice cream, and coffee from—you guessed it—Maryland’s own Quartermaine Coffee Roasters. The perfect stop for gifts, crafts, and community.
The Wanderful women would also visit MWBC’s Shop Local in Rockville. MWBC—or Maryland Women’s Business Center—created Shop Local as a business incubator program featuring 6–10 women-owned small businesses per year. Through cultivating retail entrepreneurship and removing barriers for the creation of successful businesses, MWBC has helped more than 20 businesses to date. 10 of these businesses now have brick-and-mortar store fronts, while the remaining businesses have formally opened online stores. Support local small businesses and check it out!
A Wanderful Taste of Montgomery County Indeed
Many times, we travelers are guilty of viewing the world of travel through the narrow lens of international-specific destinations. Or, we explore major cities without venturing out much further. But Visit Montgomery is here to disrupt those stale notions. And they were generous enough to take the ladies of Wanderful DC on an unforgettable day of local immersion. Reminding us all not to forget about exploring our own backyards.
Not from the DC area? Add the cultural capital of Maryland, Montgomery County, to your list. Travel deeper, explore more, and support local small businesses. You won’t be disappointed.
Huge thanks to Jill Collins PR and to Kelly, Cory, and Yodit of the Visit Montgomery team for putting together such an epic familiarization tour for their local Wanderful ladies. And it wouldn’t have been the incredible day it was without the generosity of the local MoCo businesses that hosted us, of course. A big online round of applause goes out to the owners and staff of Thai Chef, El Mercat Bar de Tapas, The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, Lone Oak Brewing Company, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards, The Family Room in Laytonsville, and MWBC’s Shop Local. You haven’t seen the last of us!