Sandwiched between Glen Echo and Potomac in Montgomery County, Cabin John has only one square mile of land and about 850 households, but on weekends, its small stretch of MacArthur Boulevard resembles a Tour de France route. Cabin John preserves small-town charm with parades, creek cleanup and holiday gatherings in the community center.

Cabin John Creek. Photo by Curt Seiss

Cabin John Creek

Was Cabin John named for Captain John Smith, the first man to map the Potomac River, who explored the area in 1608? That's one theory, but the name might honor a hermit named John who lived in a cabin along the creek before the Union Arch Bridge was built between 1857 and 1863. No matter, few people know about the challenging hike along Cabin John Creek. The 1.2-mile trail has lovely views and a few easy stretches, but it's rocky with short, steep climbs.

Fish Taco restaurant in MacArthur Plaza. Photo by Curt Seiss

MacArthur Plaza
7945 MacArthur Blvd.

For a strip mall just 170 feet long, MacArthur Plaza has an unusual wealth of dining options. Stephanie and Damian Salvatore started it all in January 2011, when they opened Wild Tomato . Its success begat Fish Taco two years later. With both places crowded on weeknights as well as weekends, the Salvatores decided to add an Asian fusion restaurant, Indigo House.

Bethesda Co-op. Photo by Curt Seiss

Bethesda Co-op
6500 Seven Locks Rd.

Manager Helen Atkocius says, "We're quirky, like Cabin John, but modern and upscale, too." Along with a vast bulk section on the back wall, local craft beers and organic wines, this nearly 40-year-old co-op also stocks biodynamic wines, which are considered representative of their place of origin. Biodynamic principles set forth in the 1920s incorporate spiritual practices and alignment with the forces of the universe, and have odd compost ingredients (flower-filled animal organs) and mystical elements.

Salon Jean & Day Spa. Photo by Curt Seiss

Salon Jean & Day Spa
7945 MacArthur Blvd.

After a long bike ride, a massage is in order. Hiking and pedicures are a good pairing, too. When owner Jean Bae opened her salon, she knew there would always be a charity component. Love for all dogs, including her 20-year-old, 2-year-old and a 5-year-old blind dog inspired a fundraising calendar supporting pet adoption. Other fundraising efforts have benefited House of Ruth and childhood-cancer organizations.

Lock House 10. Photo by Curt Seiss

Lockhouse 10
Clara Barton Parkway

Step back in time by eating off 1930s china, putting groceries in the 1930s fridge, reading vintage Life magazines and sleeping under an Army blanket. The two-floor, two-bedroom quarters, rentable for $150 a night, was built in 1830 for lockkeepers and restored to a 1930s aesthetic: no TV, no WiFi. Rock away stress on the screened-in porch.


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