Monday, November 15, 2010

On any given weekend in Silver Spring

It is truly amazing how much there is to do in Silver Spring without venturing to the “outside world”.

The opportunities for partaking in quality entertainment, enjoying nature, and dining out are truly endless… Add to that the many occasional ‘special events’, and you have a place to call home that is beaming with activity, with life, with endless opportunities.

It started Thursday night. After dedicating Veterans Plaza in the morning and participating in some of the excellent afternoon workshops, the free Veterans Day concert in the Civic Building simply rocked. The music was stellar; and the local performers were truly outstanding… And, it was all free… The folks that pulled this event-full day deserve a loud ‘shout out’! Congratulations to Montgomery County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs and the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. (See pictures here.)

On Saturday evening we had the opportunity to attend “Yo, Tambien” (“Me, Too”) a made-in-Spain movie that is part of the European Union’s Film Festival and the Spanish Film Festival at the American Film Institute. (The EU Festival ends next week; the Spanish Film Festival runs through early December.) It is easy to take the AFI for granted; after all, it fits into the Silver Theatre as if it was always intended to be there. Yet, I am still awed whenever I watch a film in that theatre… And – as was the case Saturday – when you get to hear the Producer speak after the film, it adds a special flavor to the experience. (To see what’s showing at the AFI, visit

Walking out of the AFI and seeing the new Roundhouse marquee announcing its current offering, it is not difficult to imagine how much more ‘alive’ the block will feel in a year when the Fillmore opens across the street. Then, to stroll down Ellsworth – our number one place to simply ‘people watch’ – this feeling is augmented with a sense of place that is full of energy, people from all walks of life, and just plain ‘fun’. (And did I mention parking is free on weekends?)… Have you visited Downtown Silver Spring’s web-site lately? Pretty neat! (See it here.)

Then came the toughest decision of my weekend: Where to eat Saturday night? The options are truly endless… With the wonderful restaurants in downtown, the hidden gems in Montgomery Hills and Takoma Park, and the eclectic offering in Long Branch, it is a very difficult decision… Do you go high end, with a bottle of wine and plush atmosphere, or do you go bar-food type; how about a hole-in-the wall type; or a neighborhood hangout?... It is all here; your choice!

We opted for visiting La Casita on Piney Branch (west of Dale) literally down the street from my house. La Casita is part grocery store, full part restaurant in a tiny strip with five other businesses. You order the food at the cash register; then they’ll call your number (in Spanish) when it is ready to be picked up at the counter (which doubles up as a meat counter.) Don’t let the eclectic feel fool you. This is real food – real good food!... And the prices? Let’s just say that a full meal for two – including the incredible yucca con chicharron and a well deserved healthy tip – was well under $25. (Become their 'friend' by visiting their Facebook page here.)

We woke up Sunday to yet another beautiful day. When the weather is this perfect it is so easy to drift to the outside and forego that long list of inside chores (organizing paperwork; getting the closet ready for winter, etc.)… When the weather is this perfect you have to go for a walk… We are so fortunate in Silver Spring to have so many options “to go for a walk”. In a past posting we talked about how much there is to do within one mile (20 minute walk) of anywhere in Silver Spring. There is also the option to ‘just walk’ – without a destination in mind, without having ‘anything to do’. (See here for that posting.)

Sligo Creek Park offers one of the most enjoyable, serene, accessible walks around. The Park bisects Silver Spring, running North-South (or South-North?) from Wheaton Regional Park all the way down to Hyattsville. It is accessible from every major east/west street. Yesterday I got to it by simply walking down Piney Branch, going up to Colesville, and – just for the sake of returning a different way – came back up on Dale. The fall colors were still there – not quite at their peak, but still awe-inspiring. As I walked on Sligo Creek Park, at times I felt as if I were in the middle of Shenandoah Park. (I could not help but post some of those beautiful pictures here… For more info on the park, the Friends of Sligo Creek maintain a very neat map catalog here.)

On any given weekend Silver Spring is simply magnificent…

As we wade through the arduous hours in civic meeting after civic meeting, hearing after hearing, and the countless conversations about the minutia of the future, let’s not forget that we live in the now – and that there is a lot of ‘now’ to enjoy in this wonderful place we call Silver Spring.

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