Bethesda takes its name from the 1820 Bethesda Presbyterian Church (Bethesda Meeting House) on the Georgetown-Frederick Pike (Old National Road). The community is home to the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other research facilities, making it the second largest employment center in the state.
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Cabin John Regional Park, 7400 Tuckerman Ln., has tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, an ice-skating rink, a playground and a picnic area. A miniature train is a highlight for children. Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Blvd., is also part of the park. The center, which is open Wed. 9-4, Sat. 9-5 and Sun. 1-5, offers gardens, trails, a wildlife observation area, indoor and outdoor exhibits and the Nature Exploration Area play area for children. The park is open daily dawn-dusk but hours for park facilities vary. Phone (301) 765-8702 for the park, (301) 765-8670 for train information and (301) 765-8660 for the nature center.
Downtown Bethesda features dozens of murals and pieces of public art as well as several art galleries and theaters.