Signs of nightlife on Rockville Pike

Signs of nightlife on Rockville Pike

This is in Bethesda, but White Flint will be there soon. Photo by ehpien on Flickr.

If you’re planning a night out, you might naturally gravitate towards Bethesda, Silver Spring or the District. But what about here in White Flint? As it turns out, you could do worse than spending your evening on Rockville Pike.

By now, you’ve probably read the Washington Post article about Montgomery County’s nascent Night Time Economy initiative, intended to make the county a more attractive place to live for young professionals whom officials hope will stick around when they’re older. This dovetails nicely with the White Flint Sector Plan, which will turn White Flint into an urban hub with places to live, work and play, including after dark.

That’s great for the future, but how are we doing right now? In other words, can you have a successful night out in White Flint, say, this weekend?

Using Yelp and Google, I found 26 “bars” on Rockville Pike between White Flint and Rockville Town Square (and a few just off the Pike) that are open until at least 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends and serve alcohol. (I put “bars” in quotation marks because, save for a few exceptions, Montgomery County requires establishments that serve alcohol to sell an equal amount of food.)

Map of venues on Rockville Pike open until at least 11pm on weekends and 10pm on weekdays. Click for an interactive map.

Map of venues on Rockville Pike open until at least 11pm on weekends and 10pm on weekdays. Click here or on the image itself for an interactive map.

I was impressed by the quantity and variety of options. If we were to measure the “pub shed” of each establishment, mapping everyone within a quarter-mile walk of each bar or restaurant, I imagine that it would cover most of White Flint and Rockville Pike.

Yes, there are a lot of national chains like T.G.I. Friday’s (whose original claim to fame is inventing the singles bar), but there are also a number of local places as well, notably Cafe 20/20, a Korean karaoke lounge. (If you’ve never done Korean karaoke before, I highly recommend it – unlike American karaoke bars, each party gets its own room, protecting you from humiliation.)

Of course, one upside to hanging out in Bethesda or the District is that if you go to one bar or restaurant, there are likely others within walking distance, releasing you from the need for a cab ride or designated driver. That’s one of the benefits of New Urbanism: higher density means more people, which means you can support more businesses in a smaller area, be they supermarkets or hardware stores or Korean karaoke bars.

You can already see New Urbanist principles at work in Rockville Town Square, where there’s already a cluster of restaurants and bars open late. In addition, there are apartments and condominiums above, meaning that you can even live above the bar. (With adequate soundproofing, of course, because you have to go to sleep eventually.) As White Flint grows, we’ll see more developments like it, allowing you even more chances to have a night out in Montgomery County.

By the way: if you have any suggestions or corrections to this map, please let us know!

dan reed!


Dan Reed writes about planning issues in Montgomery County and is interested in how people, especially young people, experience the urban realm. He grew up in Silver Spring and earned a double degree in Architecture and English at the University of Maryland. Dan recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master's in City Planning. Since 2006, Dan has written his own blog, Just Up the Pike, about eastern Montgomery County.

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