The Best Suburbs in Washington, D.C. (A 2019 Guide)

The Best Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options-house styles, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, the convenience of location-it all can be quite overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to. You’ve no doubt seen our Washington, D.C. City Guide, which includes a short section on a few of D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods.

This list and our “Best Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.,” “The Best Up and Coming Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.,” and our “Best Neighborhoods for Families in Washington, D.C.” lists are more in-depth neighborhood guides meant to examine what it’s like living in each of these highlighted areas, with links to popular destinations, as well as available houses for sale and apartments for rent (and by the way of introduction, we’re Bellhops—movers in Washington, D.C. and beyond).

So you’re interested in moving to D.C.?

Good choice. Few spots in the States have blended rich culture, amazing food, public parks, historical monuments, and renowned museums, as well as D.C. No wonder this city ranks high on the best places to live in the country.

If you’re hoping to find your perfect pocket of the city, this guide is for you. Look below for some helpful details and information on the four best places suburbs in Washington, D.C.

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Cathedral Heights

Despite its proximity to the center city (just 3.5 miles northwest), Cathedral Heights is quite residential. This suburb adheres to professionals working in D.C. And families appreciate the quick access to inner-city, calm atmosphere, safety, and large lots. Upper Northwest and Bethesda are close by, and Glover Archbold Park and Rock Creek Park are 10-minute walks away.

Besides the stunning centerpiece and namesake of the neighborhood (the Washington National Cathedral), Cathedral Heights is known for its traditional brick architecture and bounty of mature trees. The neighborhood draws a diverse, international crowd and offers a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Neighbors get to know each other, attending frequent open-house parties and community gatherings.

Friendly Factor in Cathedral Heights

Cathedral Heights is pet, bike, and pedestrian-friendly. Dog parks scatter the neighborhood, like the Newark Street Dog Park and Columbia Heights Dog Park. And locals enjoy this neighborhood’s scenic walkways, bike lanes, and public parks, like Newark Park and Turtle Park.

Things to Do in Cathedral Heights

Cathedral Heights offers a wonderful array of culturally diverse food. Try the traditional Japanese dishes from Raku, or tasty Tex-Mex from Cactus Cantina. Or sample the authentic Italian dishes at Casolare and Baja-style fare at Millie’s. The Kreeger Museum features 19th and 20th-century artists and several acres of sculpture gardens.

Homes in Cathedral Heights

Houses vary from large single-family homes to multi-family units.  Smaller semi-detached houses, condos, and co-ops are also prevalent. A small condo in the neighborhood currently costs around $170k. Houses range in price and can cost over a half million. Here are the current houses for sale and for rent available in the neighborhood.

Schools in Cathedral Heights

Schools serving Cathedral Heights include Mann Elementary School, Hardy Middle School, and Wilson High School among others.

Bethesda

Bethesda is the popular home for many of Washington’s elite. At only about 7 miles northwest of or a quick metro ride to downtown D.C., Bethesda’s location is on point. With a median household income of $133,000, this neighborhood ranks as one of the wealthiest in the area. And polls of bachelor and graduate degrees places Bethesda as one of the highest educated areas of the country.

If these numbers intimidate you, don’t worry. Bethesda’s community is welcoming and supportive. Residents’ also display a high involvement in charitable, volunteer, and nonprofit activities. Protecting space and resources for the seniors in the community is important and acted upon. And the city takes care to provide housing options that are affordable to people of all incomes.

But that’s not all this neighborhood has to offer. The state of Maryland designated Bethesda as an Arts & Entertainment District, and for good reason. The Imagination Stage produces numerous professional theatre shows year round. The Bethesda Jazz and Supper Club serves Creole dishes and hosts jazz and blues shows.

And Strathmore offers world-class concerts and art exhibitions at the music center.

Friendly Factor in Bethesda

Bethesda warmly welcomes bikers, dog-walkers, and pedestrians. Their downtown streets are walkable and often-used by shoppers, joggers, and stroller-pushers alike. They even have a pamphlet with info about the best bike routes, public transportation, and bike-share locations. Tack on several dozen dog parks, you’ve found yourself a friendly place to live.

Things to Do in Bethesda

One of this neighborhood’s winning attractions is the indoor/outdoor Bethesda Row. This shopping destination is full of boutiques, home decor shops, and art galleries. Long benches next to bubbling fountains and local restaurants are available for post-shopping fatigue.

Check a local’s calendar, and you’ll most likely find a note marking the annual Taste of Bethesda. This food and music festival gathers over 60 restaurants, five stages of entertainment, and 40,000 attendees who hit the Woodmont Triangle.

Want exceptional local grub in your new neighborhood? You’ve got it. Addie’s is a local favorite and one of chef Jeff Black’s six restaurants, not to mention his two bars and fish market. This elegant corner of Potomac Ave. serves decadent dishes like the Seafood Tower, a fresh seafood sampling the chef selected that day.

Passage To India serves authentic, exotic Indian food. Their flavor-packed menu includes dishes like Aloo Tuk, with crisped potato skins, cilantro-yogurt, and cranberry chutney. Duck Duck Goose is a modern French brasserie serving small plate dishes and bottomless mimosas at brunch. Kōbō is secretly tucked away – a restaurant within a restaurant. This private, 6-person counter within Sushiko provide guests with a multi-course meal, served to them by the chef himself.

Great beers are easy to find at Owen’s Ordinary, a neighborhood tavern with a beer garden, serving 50 regional craft beers on draft. On their menu, these beers are sub-sectioned into the flavor profiles hop, fruit & spice, roast, smoke, malt, tart & funky, and crisp.

Homes in Bethesda

The average cost of homes in Bethesda levels out at around $800k. But shop around because prices range drastically throughout the neighborhood. Renters typically pay $1500-2k/month. Check out the houses for sale and for rent in the area.

Schools in Bethesda

Schools serving Bethesda include Winston Churchill, Poolesville, and Thomas S. Wootton among others.

Alexandria

This pretty residential pocket, about 8 miles south of downtown D.C., is home to some of the oldest houses in the area. In portions of the neighborhood, these character-rich homes line worn, cobblestone streets. The entire east length of the neighborhood lines the Potomac River, giving Alexandria its spectacular waterfront views. With its flourishing restaurant and bar scene, Alexandria has become a hot-spot for people interested in living close to the city. And downtown is relatively easy to get to. Here are the public transportation options for the area.

Friendly Factor in Alexandria

Alexandria is known for its love of dogs, and a multitude of local businesses offer “yappy hours” where patrons can bring their pups along with them. In fact, it’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t allow pets on the patio! But Alexandria doesn’t stop at dogs – bikers, walkers, joggers, and stroller-pushers are all welcome here. Here is a helpful resource on the many lanes, paths, and trails made especially for peddling pedestrians.

Things to Do in Alexandria

This neighborhood offers its special blend of history, culture, arts, food, and entertainment. The Torpedo Factory Art Center boasts of more artist studios (82, to be exact) available for public visits than anywhere else in the country.  Plus, they offer seven galleries that will fill any art-lovers pining heart.

The Alexandria Black History Museum honors the African American experience and the cultural diversity within the neighborhood. Jones Point Park weaves a path through the city’s past. Tours pass by the DC boundary stones laid in 1791, a lighthouse established in 1855, and a World War I shipyard.

Alexandria also offers a plethora of trip-worthy restaurants. We recommend you try out Sugar Shack Donuts, most likely the most unique and creative donut shop you’ve been to. Having friends visit from out of town? Take them to Don Taco, a tasty taqueria serving Mexican street food and margaritas.

And there’s more! Vermilion, a farm-to-table hub hosts promotional events about local farmers and foragers. And Brabo, a  fancy French stop cooks up some kick-butt cocktails. But our list doesn’t scratch the surface. For a full appreciation of Alexandria’s robust food scene, try out the 3.5-hour history tour of Old Town, with intermingled stops at top restaurants.

Homes in Alexandria

Homes sell for around $500k, and the median monthly rent in Alexandria is around $1500. Here are some options for buying a home or renting a space in the neighborhood.

Schools in Alexandria

Schools serving Alexandria include Lyles-Crouch Elementary School, Charles Barrett Elementary School, George Washington Middle School, and T.C. Williams High School.

Jefferson Monument in Washington DC

Navy Yard

This popular residential hub is snug against the Anacostia River and a hop away from center city and two major highways. The area has caught local attention for its great location and easy public transportation, outdoor activities, waterfront views, and a thriving restaurant scene. But one of Navy Yard’s strongest draws is its low rental prices. For such great perks, Navy Yard is more affordable than its neighboring Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, and people are jumping on this residential sale.

Friendly Factor in Navy Yard

Navy Yards is walk and bike friendly, and dozens of local restaurants and bars open their doors to their patrons’ furry friends. Dog-lovers are well supported in this neighborhood, as the vast majority of residents own pets.

Things to Do in Navy Yard

Green spaces are treasured and protected in Navy Yard, and residents enjoy their piece of the outdoors in the midst of the city. The Yards Park features a waterfall, performance venue, and riverfront boardwalk. And with Ballpark Boathouse close by, residents and visitors are commonly seen paddling along the Anacostia River.

The recent opening of the Nationals Park sports stadium has made Navy Yard more of a destination. And free, local events like the Capitol Riverfront Outdoor Movie Series, and the summer concert series, Laser Cat, is gradually building the developing community.

For some of the best Italian food in the city, visit Osteria Morini. Ice Cream Jubilee creates innovative ice cream cones like black pepper and honey, lavender, or Thai iced tea. The neighborhood brewery, Bluejacket, serves a delicious list of IPAs, stouts, and sours alongside satiating grub.

Homes in Navy Yard

With apartment buildings popping up left and right, most residents in Navy Yard rent their homes, and they find spaces that cost about $1500/month. But locals also find and buy homes that range in price and level out at around $430k. Here are the current homes for sale and houses for rent in Navy Yard.

Schools in Navy Yard

Schools serving Navy Yard include Van Ness Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School Academy, and Eastern Senior High School among others.

There you have it: the best suburbs of Washington, D.C.

We hope this was helpful, and if you decide to take the plunge, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhops. Like we said, we coordinate local and long distance moving services in Washington, D.C. and we would love to help.

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