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If you are looking for the neighborhood in London, please see London/Notting Hill-North Kensington.

The Christmas display

Kensington is a small suburb of Washington, D.C. in the Capital Region of Maryland. It borders Bethesda to the southwest and Silver Spring to the east.


The main reasons to visit are antique shopping at Antique Row, to see the enormous Mormon Temple, the bizarre National Park Seminary, and one great pizza place. Aside from that, it's just a quiet suburban town with some odd quirks. Sections of the "Town of Kensington" are really beautiful, with big old Victorian homes set in a nice community by parks and Antique Row—looking much as it did when Kensington was a summer getaway from the big city.

Usually a quiet little suburb, Kensington made the headlines of the national news three times in one year. First, the mayor banned Santa Claus from the neighborhood in late 2001, citing the separation of Church and State. How on earth can this be possible, you ask? The mayor responded to a complaint that only a Christmas tree was displayed on the grounds of the Town Hall, to the exclusion of other religious symbols. The town government responded by removing the tree. Then, realizing that there were similar grounds for objection to the local fire department flying around the neighborhood with Santa Claus in tow, tossing candy to kids, the Mayor banned Santa Claus from his usual fire engine tour of the town. Following national media attention, there was an enormous Santa Claus protest, where hundreds of Santa Clauses arrived on motorcycles to assure Kensington that St Nick would indeed be coming to town! But what's truly amazing about this whole saga is that the mayor was reelected...

The second and third news events were not so comical, however. In early 2002, a MARC train derailed in spectacular fashion, and injured over one hundred commuters. Fortunately, and somewhat amazingly, no one was killed. Later that year, the D.C. sniper's first day of spree-killing included the murder of a resident, filling up her gas tank at the local Shell.

Get in[edit]

Kensington map.png
Arriving via the Beltway

By car[edit]

The main arteries leading north from Washington, D.C. and the Beltway are Connecticut Ave and Wisconsin Ave. Connecticut Ave runs straight through the center of Kensington. Turn right at Strathmore/Knowles Ave and follow it to the end to get to Antique Row.

Despite being so easy to see from the Beltway, the Mormon Temple is quite difficult to find. The easiest and most navigable path is to take Beach Dr east from Connecticut Ave.

By rideshare[edit]

Uber is a popular method of transport in Kensington for those without a car.

By train[edit]

MARC operates service to/from Union Station in Washington DC on the Brunswick Line. The train also stops in Frederick, Gaithersburg, and Germantown. The train station in Kensington is on Antique Row. Trains are not frequent and usually only run during rush hour.

By bus[edit]

The bus fares are $1.75 and can be paid using a SmarTrip debit card.

Ride On Bus #5 operates service from the Silver Spring Metrorail Station. The bus stops near the Mormon Temple and on Antique Row.

Ride On Bus #34 operates service from the Bethesda, Medical Center, and Wheaton Metrorail Stations.

Get around[edit]

It's easiest to get around Kensington by car, but Bus 4 will take you to both Antique Row and the Mormon Temple, as well as the "downtown" area (where you can get some great fast food at Continentals Pizza)! To get to the National Park Seminary, however, your only option is by car.

See[edit][add listing]

  • LDS Mormon Temple Visitor Center, 9900 Stoneybrook Dr, [1]. 10AM-9PM daily. The Mormon Temple is by far and away Kensington's most significant attraction. Most people only see it from the Beltway, where it rises high above the treeline, looking similar enough to the Emerald Palace in the Wizard of Oz. It inspired a local graffiti artist to paint "Surrender Dorothy" on the overpass on the Outer Loop. (The temple is actually white, though.) It's not possible to enter the Mormon Temple itself unless you are a Mormon and hold a church-issued permit known as a "Temple recommend". However, the grounds are pretty, and there is a Visitor Center open to all and they've done a nice job with it. It hosts regular events (see website for calendar) and movie screenings throughout the day every day of the year, in addition to a permanent multimedia display. The building itself and the grounds surrounding it are immaculate and pretty. The season to visit the Mormon Temple is around Christmas. The light display is truly spectacular, especially given that the grounds and temple are impressive enough to merit a visit without the display. The light display runs throughout Advent, and is absolutely worth seeking out if you are in the area. In addition to the light display, the Visitor Center shows its best face, with more than a dozen large, decorated Christmas trees, international nativity scenes, and a live outdoor nativity scene. It's a great place for all ages, and is certain to stir a little of the Christmas spirit. Free.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Kensington Antique Row, Howard Ave (East of Connecticut Ave) (Take a right off of Connecticut Ave after the Knowles Ave intersection onto East Howard Ave), [2]. The largest and oldest antiquing center in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Items for sale include everything from furniture to books. On-street parking, as well as shop parking is usually no problem.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • China Gourmet, 3739 University Blvd W, +1 301 946-9400. M-F 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-10PM, Sa noon-10:30PM, Su noon-9:30PM. A run of the mill Chinese restaurant, which, while having nothing-special food, is a nicely furnished place to sit over a meal. There's a well stocked bar in the back. $8-16.
  • Continental Pizza, 10532 Connecticut Ave, +1 301 949-9797. M-Sa 10AM-8:30PM. Continental is a hole in the wall, with a unique-style, delicious pizza on the cheap. People drive from way out of town to get it. The steak and cheese sub is likely the best in the metropolitan area, and the fries are thick and smothered with Maryland's famous Old Bay. Cash only. Large pizza with toppings: $8.
  • The Dish & Dram, 10301 Kensington Pkwy, +1 301 962-4046, [3]. Food made with fresh ingredients. Extensive whiskey menu.
  • Frankly Pizza, 10417 Armory Ave (Antique Row), +1 301 832-1065, [4].
  • K-Town Bistro, 3784 Howard Ave (Antique Row), +1 301 933-1211, [5].

Drink[edit][add listing]

Kensington does not have any nightlife. Many of the restaurants listed above serve alcohol.


  • Java Nation, 10516 Connecticut Ave, +1 301 327-6580, [6]. Coffee, beer, and sandwiches.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Kensington does not have any hotels. Look in adjacent Bethesda or Silver Spring, both of which have plenty of hotel options.

Get out[edit]

The two natural destinations coming from Kensington, aside from heading back into Washington, D.C., are the dining and nightlife scenes in Silver Spring and Bethesda.

Routes through Kensington
SpringfieldBethesda  W noframe E  Silver SpringGreenbelt

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!