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Approximate Duration: 2 hr

Top Rated Attractions in Bethesda

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Ratner Museum

Ratner Museum is a fine art museum, housing various paintings done in crayons, water colors and pencils. The frequently changing exhibits include wood work, sculptures, cloth designing and much more. The museum spans across three buildings, comprising of a conference room, a public library and children's literature center. There are various concerts, tours and lectures on various topics, that take place in the museum. So if you want to spend your day appreciating works of art and culture, Ratner Museum is your place to be.

Bethesda Row

Escape a few miles north outside of the hectic district and beltway and relax at the stylish, trendy, and quaint Bethesda Row. Choose from a wide variety of over 30 international restaurants including Irish, Thai, American, Asian, Spanish, Mediterranean, and American for a nice outdoor lunch or dinner. Enjoy desserts at specialty shops such as Dolcezza Gelato or Sweetgreen. There are plenty of new boutiques and stores to please all types of shoppers. Bethesda Row also holds many events such as Movie Nights and art fairs.

Downtown Bethesda

The thriving Downtown Bethesda neighborhood is located at the intersection of the Wisconsin Avenue, Old Georgetown Road and East-West Highway. It features some of the most vibrant areas in the city, including the Bethesda Row, a hub for arts and culture. Besides a range of eating establishments and entertainment centers, Downtown Bethesda is also home to one of the Madonna of the Trail monuments and the Capital Crescent Trail.

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery houses an extensive collection of European and American art in two spectacular buildings. In the grand, neoclassical West Building, Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough are well-represented. The permanent collection includes works from the 13th to 20th Centuries, including a section devoted to Impressionism. An underground concourse with a cafeteria, an excellent gift shop and a walled-in waterfall takes you to the East Building. Designed by I.M. Pei, this triangular building is a key city landmark and home to famous pieces of art and other temporary exhibitions.

Freer Gallery of Art

One of two Smithsonian museums that feature Asian art, the Freer Gallery houses more than 26000 works from all points of the Asian continent, including China, Japan, Korea and India. These works include Asian porcelains, Japanese screens and Islamic art. The works of American artists influenced by Asia are also featured. The most spectacular of these is James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room, designed for a British shipping magnate and moved to the United States from London in 1904. The Sackler Gallery is interconnected with this gallery via underground exhibition space and houses an impressive collection of Chinese paintings, ceramics and jades.

Dumbarton Oaks

From El Greco's "The Visitation" to Byzantine and pre-Columbian artworks, jewelry and mosaics, Dumbarton Oaks is filled with elegant treasures. Built in 1801, the estate achieved its height of glory in the wealthy 1920s when it served as the high-society showpiece of Robert Bliss and his heiress wife, Mildred. The gardens occupy 10 acres above Georgetown and include terraced lawns, winding footpaths and elaborate fountains.

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