Olney, along with its smaller neighbors Sandy Spring and Brookeville, lies in the northeast of Montgomery County, Maryland. All three are quiet, wealthy towns and exurbs of Washington, D.C., home to a good-sized Quaker population, and with a more rural, slow-paced character than other suburbs of D.C.
This area's first European settlement was a Quaker community in Sandy Spring in the early eighteenth century. Nearly one century later, a Quaker couple of the names Thomas and Deborah Brooke founded both the town of Brookeville and the village of Olney (named after the hometown Ms. Brooke's favorite English poet, William Cowper). During the first half of the nineteenth century, Sandy Spring in particular was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, as the Quakers (the Society of Friends) were devoted abolitionists and early proponents of racial equality in America. Long a sleepy agricultural area, Olney in the second half of the twentieth century outgrew its neighbors by a large margin, becoming an home for affluent D.C. commuters.
Get in Edit
By car Edit
Car is the only way to travel in this area, and MD-97 (Georgia Ave) is the principal north-south route cutting through both Olney and Brookeville, and coming up from Washington, D.C. via Wheaton/Aspen Hill. The most prominent east-west route is MD-108 (Olney-Latonsville Rd/Ashton Rd), which connects with I-95 via MD-32 (Patuxent Fwy).
By bus Edit
A few bus routes will get you here from D.C., but you will likely need someone to pick you up by car once you get there.
The Z2 Metrobus[dead link] runs straight from the Silver Spring Metro Red Line station to the intersection of MD-97 and MD-108, traveling mainly along New Hampshire Ave. The Y2, Y7, Y8 Metrobus routes travel to the same intersection, and also just beyond to Montgomer General Hospital, but do so from the Glenmont station (last stop on the Metro Red Line), traveling along Georgia Ave.
- 1 Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Rd, Sandy Spring, ☏ . M W Th 9AM-4PM, Sa Su noon-4PM. Designed after the fashion of an eighteenth century Sandy Spring farmouse, the museum is charming, with exhibits on local history, space for catered events and meetings, and frequent events (especially in the summer), largely jazz and classical performances, art shows, and lectures. The museum shop is neat, with an assortment of locally made crafts and art.
- 1 Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, 16701 Norwood Rd, Sandy Spring, ☏ . M-Th 9AM-8PM, F 9AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-10PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Zip lines, rope rigs, and wooden bridges of various difficulties, located in a forest setting. Good for children and adults.
- 2 Olney Manor Recreational Park, 16601 Georgia Ave, ☏ . Public park with an indoor pool, dog park, skate park, racketball court, and tennis courts.
- 3 Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Rd, ☏ . Olney is lucky to have such a nice theater, specializing in 20th-century American theater, but also featuring from time to time contemporary works, concerts, and a Shakespeare summer festival. Dramatic performances generally run about $50/ticket.
- 4 Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park, 3610 Brookeville Rd, ☏ . Sa noon-4PM. A living history museum on a historic site of an African-American community that lived here from emancipation to the 20th century.
- 5 Sandy Spring Meeting House, 17715 Meetinghouse Rd, ☏ . Su 9AM-2PM. If you have ever wondered what Quakerism is about, attending a meeting couldn't be easier. The best Meeting for Worship for a visitor is on Sundays at 11AM (except the first Sunday of the month). Just go in a few minutes beforehand, take a seat, and be prepared to sit for about a half hour in silent reflection. (Quakers do not dress up for worship, so it is fine to come as you are.) The locals are a friendly bunch who are more than happy to answer any questions you have afterward. The Meeting House itself is a pretty, historic, brick building dating back to 1817.
- 6 Underground Railroad Experience Trail, 16501 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring (Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Imagine that it is 1850, and slavery is still legal in Maryland and elswhere, although the Quakers of Maryland had prohibited its members from owning enslaved people back in 1777. Meanwhile there are some locals who patrol the area looking to catch enslaved people who had escaped from their owners. In Sandy Spring, where many Quakers live, there are people who quietly help the Underground Railroad, helping these escapees to safety. Through this self-guided walking trail, you will learn more about the experiences of these escapees as they seek safety and freedom. free.
- 1 Olney Farmers and Artists Market, 2801 Olney Sandy Spring Rd, ☏ . Su 9AM-1PM. Fruits, vegetables, and crafts. Limited parking is available next door at the Olney Professional Park.
- 2 Past and Presents, 16650 Georgia Ave, ☏ . Sa Su 11AM-6PM, M W-F 11AM-5PM, closed Tu. Antique store jam-packed with interesting items.
- 1 Brew Belly, 18065 Georgia Ave, ☏ . F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su-Th 11AM-9PM. Many different types of steak and cheese subs and a large selection of local beers.
- 2 Carmen's Italian Ice, 3233 Spartan Rd, ☏ . Daily noon-10PM. Many different flavors of Italian ice, almost too many to choose from!
- 3 GrillMarx Steakhouse and Raw Bar, 18149 Town Center Dr, ☏ . M noon-9PM, Tu-Th noon-10PM, F Sa noon-11PM, Su 10:30AM-9PM. Comfortable steak and seafood restaurant with a popular bar, outdoor seating, and a Sunday brunch. Their black bean burger is a delicious choice for both vegetarians and omnivores.
- 4 The Manor at Silo Falls, 19501 Georgia Ave, Brookeville, ☏ . F Sa noon-11PM, Su-Th noon-8PM. Upscale restaurant located in a historic mansion.
- 5 Olney Ale House, 2000 Olney Sandy Spring Rd, ☏ . Su Tu-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM. A local institution with the "feel of a traditional Irish pub and the historic American roadhouse." A great place for a casual dinner or some great sandwiches and a couple beers. $7-20.
- 6 Royal Bagel Bakery, 3490 Olney Laytonsville Rd, ☏ . M-F 5AM-8PM, Sa Su 6AM-4PM. Some of the best bagels in the area. Their cookies and pastries are also excellent.
- 7 Sisters Sandwiches and Such, 16834 Georgia Ave, ☏ . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa Su 8AM-5PM. Tasty breakfast and creative sandwiches for lunch in a quaint building, with outdoor seating available.
- 8 Taco Bar Olney, 18100 Georgia Ave, ☏ . Mexican street tacos. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available.
- 1 Brookeville Beer Farm, 20315 Georgia Ave, Brookeville, ☏ . M-Th noon-8PM, F Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Local brewery that uses ingredients it grows on-site in its beer. Sit indoors or sit at one of their many picnic tables out on their large lawn. Serves light snacks and pizza, and food trucks occassionally visit on weekends.
- 2 Olney Winery, 18127 Town Center Dr, ☏ . M-W noon-9PM, Th-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-6PM. Wine bar with occassional live music.